Christa Wolf’s "What Remains". One document or a document unit?
Christa Wolf – one of the most famous East German writers – published a little story called What remains in the summer of 1990. Written in the late seventies under the GDR regime but first published after the opening of the Berlin Wall, What remains caused a great stir in the almost reunified Germany known as the Christa-Wolf-Debate. Especially in big German newspapers like Die Zeit or Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, but also in the smaller local ones, German intellectuals for years were discussing the moral responsibilities of the writer and the politics of literature and literary criticism. All the critics refer to one literary text, not taking into consideration that there might be a unit of documents caused by several editions and several versions. In this paper I therefore would like to examine what kind of influence these variants might have on the interpretation of the text. In relation to this, I also want to take a closer look on what Gerald Genette (1987) calls the ”paratext” of a text and its consequences for the public ”epitext”. In this context I will also discuss the fact that an important part of the artistic documentation – the several versions of a text which may be found in private or public archives – are seldom or never considered as relevant by literary critics who only relate to the ”finished” product.
Paper presented at DOCAM ’03, University of California, Berkeley, August 13-15, 2003
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