Cassandra Novel Four Essays Christa Wolf

In the first four of her Frankfurt Lectures on Poetics, which make up the essays of the volume, Wolf places herself as the central subject. In the essays, Wolf reflects on her 1980 trip to Greece during which she explored materials for Cassandra, as well as on contemporary events such as the attempt on U.S. president Ronald Reagan’s life. She examines the historical Cassandra and conditions for the woman writer (or speaker) of the past and present. Wolf recounts simultaneously visiting Greece and reading Aeschylus’ trilogy Oresteia (458 b.c.), which helped trigger her writing of Cassandra. Wolf adds her own experiences to those of the Greeks, Americans, and Germans whom she meets in her travels to form a body of communal memories that make up the text as a whole. Wolf refuses to be bound by any genre definition, which contributes to her revision of the tradition.

Part of Wolf’s reconsideration of literary tradition focuses on the position of women. She asks, “To what extent is there really such a thing as ‘women’s writing’?” Wolf’s four essays and her narrative help to answer this question. She provides an explicit response in her third essay, in which she suggests that there is “women’s writing”to the extent that women, for historical and biological reasons, experience a different reality than men and express it. To the extent that women belong not to the rulers but to the ruled, and have done so for centuries. . . . To the extent that they stop wearing themselves out trying to integrate themselves into the prevailing delusional system. To the extent that,...

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Booklist. LXXX, June 15, 1984, p. 1432.

Fries, Marilyn Sibley, ed. Responses to Christa Wolf: Critical Essays. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1989. A collection of essays by twenty-one critics covering many of Wolf’s texts from a variety of critical perspectives. Not only includes essays from a feminist perspective but also gives some idea of the varieties of literary methodologies applied to Wolf’s work. Contains an index and an extensive bibliography.

Herrmann, Anne. The Dialogic and Difference: An/Other Woman in Virginia Woolf and Christa Wolf. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989. Insightful feminist analysis of the construction of the female subject in the works of Virginia Woolf and Christa Wolf. An index and a bibliography including many references to feminist theory are provided.

Kirkus Reviews. LII, June 1, 1984, p. 530.

Kuhn, Anna K. Christa Wolf’s Utopian Vision: From Marxism to Feminism. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988. An insightful analysis of Wolf’s development from her early works to Storfall (1987; Accident, 1989). Kuhn traces Wolf’s movement from a reliance on Marxism as an ideology to a later development of a more feminist position. Includes an index and an extensive bibliography of primary and secondary works.

Library Journal. CIX, July, 1984, p. 1328.

Los Angeles Times Book Review. July 29, 1984, p. 1.

The Nation. CCXXXIX, September 22, 1984, p. 246.

New Leader. LXXVII, October 15, 1984, p. 14.

The New Republic. CXCI, July 30, 1984, p. 40.

The New York Times Book Review. LXXXIX, September 9, 1984, p. 20.

Publishers Weekly. CCXXV, May 18, 1984, p. 144.

Wolf, Christa. The Author’s Dimension: Selected Essays. Edited by Alexander Stephan. Translated by Jan van Heurck. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1993. A collection of essays by Wolf on a wide variety of political and literary topics. Provides useful insights into the author and her attitudes toward literature and politics. Includes an introduction by Grace Paley.

Wolf, Christa. The Fourth Dimension: Interviews with Christa Wolf. Translated by Hilary Pilkington. New York: Verso, 1988. A collection of interviews with Wolf. Very useful for understanding Wolf’s process of composition, as well as her political concerns. A short bibliography of primary works is included. Contains an introduction by Karin McPherson.

World Literature Today. LVII, Autumn, 1983, p. 629.

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