Modern Languages and Literatures, Department of


Date of this Version

January 1988


Published in Colloquia Germanica 21:1 (1988), pp. 77-84. Papers from the 1986 Kentucky Foreign Language Conference Symposium of GDR Literature. Published for the University of Kentucky Department of Germanic Languages and Literature by A. Francke AG Verlag, Bern. Copyright © 1988 A. Francke AG Verlag. Used by permission.


Uwe Johnson is seldom discussed as a GDR author, for it was not until after his 1959 decision «to relocate,» as he put it, to the West that Johnson became established as a literary force. Literary historians often mention Johnson along with Gunther Grass and Martin Walser when they discuss the important novelists that burst onto the literary scene in West Germany at the end of the 1950’s. But Johnson’s work—from Mutamaßsunmgen über Jakob to Jahrestage—is unthinkable without his education and experiences in the Soviet Occupation Zone and the GDR. With the posthumous publication of his first novel Ingrid Babendererde. Reifeprüfung 1953 we have the oppor tunity to examine how the young Johnson strove to portray and to come to terms with the society he ultimately chose to leave.