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Thinking about Christa W

The best work of Christa Wolf evokes a lost world of betrayed idealism. Anne McElvoy defends the East German writer against crude post-unification attacks but finds she has not yet connected with the new Germany

By Anne McElvoy   November 1997

The czech writer Eva Kl?-mov?, describing the aftermath of 1989 in her homeland, said: “Before, nothing was allowed and everything seemed important. Now everything is allowed and nothing seems important.” It is the sort of melancholy aphorism you can hear emerging from book-lined rooms throughout eastern Europe-the sense that the writer is no longer needed. Solzhenitsyn once described authors under totalitarian conditions as “a second government.” The past eight years have shown us that when the “first” government and its system of beliefs is toppled, the second, literary, government is in for a tough time too.

For a start, writers…

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