Last Updated on August 7, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 501
Cassandra is a 1983 novel written by German novelist Christa Wolf. The novel is essentially a retelling of the Trojan War, told by the perspective of Princess Cassandra, the daughter of King Priam of Troy. She is also a prophet and predicts that Troy will not be victorious and will not have a prosperous future; however, no one believes her at first.
Ten years of war. That was long enough to forget completely the question of how the war started. In the middle of a war you think of nothing but how it will end. And put off living. When large numbers of people do that, it creates a vacuum within us which the war flows in to fill. What I regret more than anything else is that, in the beginning, I too gave in to the feeling that for now I was living only provisionally; that true reality still lay ahead of me: I let life pass me by.
In the novel, Cassandra describes what her life was like before the war. She focuses on her relationship with her family, especially her parents, King Priam and Queen Hecuba, and her many siblings. Cassandra is a bold, confident woman who almost always speaks her mind, but she is also aware of the submissive role of the women of her time and the extent her royal privilege.
We did not see ourselves as an example. We were grateful that we were the ones granted the highest privilege there is: to slip a narrow strip of future into the grim present, which occupies all of time.
Thus, Wolf explains the position of women in the Ancient Greek society and explains that sometimes the poor families are much happier and freer than the rich families. She also covers the stories of many Greek heroes and mythological beings, such as the Amazons.
A woman – greeting him with a sword! The fact that she forced him to take her seriously was her last triumph.
Some readers argue that Cassandra’s story is a parallel of Wolf’s personal experiences during the Cold War, and her life in East Germany – a state that shares a lot of similarities with Troy. Cassandra received mostly positive reviews and achieved great commercial success, with readers praising its narrative and Wolf’s portrayal of the main protagonist.
I could not say for how long I had been an unbeliever. If I had had some shock, an experience resembling conversion, I could remember. But faith ebbed away from me gradually, the way illnesses sometimes ebb away, and one day you tell yourself that you are well. The illness no longer finds any foothold in you. That is how it was with my faith. What foothold could it still have found in me? Two occur to me: first hope, then fear. Hope had left me. I still knew fear, but fear alone does not know the gods; they are very vain, they want to be loved too, and hopeless people do not love them.