Christa Wolf

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Christa Wolf (born March 18, 1929 in Landsberg an der Warthe, Germany (currently Gorzów Wielkopolski, Poland) as Christa Ihlenfeld) is one of the best-known writers to emerge from the former East Germany. She is a literary critic, novelist, and essayist.

In 1945 Wolf and her family were expelled from her home across the new border and they settled in Mecklenburg, in what would become East Germany. She joined the Socialist Unity Party of Germany in 1949 and left it in 1989/90. She studied literature at Jena and Leipzig. After her graduation she worked for the German Writers' Union and became an editor for a publishing company. Stasi records found in 1993 show that she had worked as an informant (Inoffizieller Mitarbeiter) during the years 1959–61. The Stasi officers did, however, criticize her "reticence", and lost interest in her cooperation. She was herself then closely surveiled for the next 30 years.

Wolf's breakthrough as a writer came in 1963 with the publishing of Der geteilte Himmel (Divided Heaven). Other subsequent works include Nachdenken über Christa T. (The Quest for Christa T.) (1968), Kindheitsmuster (Patterns of Childhood) (1976), Kein Ort. Nirgends (1979), Kassandra (Cassandra) (1983), Medea (1996), and On the Way to Taboo (1994). Kassandra is perhaps her most important book, re-interpreting the battle of Troy as a war for economic power and a shift from a matriarchal to a patriachal society. Was bleibt (What Remains), describing her life under Stasi surveillance, was written in 1979, but not published until 1990. Auf dem Weg nach Tabou (1995; translated as Parting from Phantoms) gathers essays, speeches, and letters written during the four years following the reunification of Germany. Her latest work, Leibhaftig (2003) describes a woman struggling with life and death in an 80s East-German hospital waiting for medicine from the West. Central themes in her work are German fascism, humanity, feminism, and self-discovery. Christa Wolf received the Heinrich Mann Prize in 1963, the Georg Büchner Prize in 1980, and the Schiller Memorial Prize in 1983, as well as other national and international awards.

During the era of the DDR, Wolf was openly critical of the leadership of East Germany, yet she maintained a loyalty to the values of Marx and opposed German reunification.

She lives in Berlin with her husband, Gerhard Wolf. She is not related to Stasi spymaster Markus Wolf.

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Christa Wolf

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