Monika Maron Criticism - Essay

Ursula R. Mahlendorf (review date autumn 1987)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Mahlendorf, Ursula R. Review of Die Überläuferin, by Monika Maron. World Literature Today 61, no. 4 (autumn 1987): 619.

[In the following review, Mahlendorf offers a positive assessment of Die Überläuferin, noting that the novel is “eminently worth reading.”]

Even with her first narrative and dramatic works, the East German author Monika Maron established a reputation for excellence. Her texts are “admirably exact, imaginative, replete with anguished imagery, rhythmically and stylistically pure,” wrote Reinhard Kill in the Rheinische Post on 21 November 1983. Her second novel, Die Überläuferin (The Deserter),...

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Martin Kane (essay date 1990)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Kane, Martin. “Culpabilities of the Imagination: The Novels of Monika Maron.” In Literature on the Threshold: The German Novel in the 1980s, edited by Arthur Williams, Stuart Parkes, and Roland Smith, pp. 221-34. New York: Berg, 1990.

[In the following essay, Kane examines the efforts of Maron's female protagonists in Flugasche and Die Überläuferin to articulate the reality of East German life and to confront pressing social problems through inward and alienating modes of solitary fantasy and imaginative dramatization.]

Two sources have given me the cue for this paper. First, the title of Gerd Neumann's Die Schuld der Worte, a...

(The entire section is 5746 words.)

Ursula Love (review date summer 1992)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Love, Ursula. Review of Stille Zeile Sechs, by Monika Maron. World Literature Today 66, no. 3 (summer 1992): 505.

[In the following review, Love evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of Stille Zeile Sechs.]

In Monika Maron's third novel [Stille Zeile Sechs] the first-person narrator, Rosalind Polkowski, is a historian in her forties who resigns her job in a research center in East Berlin because she no longer intends to sell her intellect to a political system she abhors. In an act of passive resistance she withdraws into her private life hoping to find some measure of personal freedom by following such whimsical aspirations as learning to play...

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Peter James (review date 20 November 1992)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: James, Peter. “A Privileged Grave.” Times Literary Supplement, no. 4677 (20 November 1992): 24.

[In the following review of Stille Zeile Sechs, James commends Maron's scathing honesty but finds shortcomings in the work's narrative contrivances.]

For six months during 1985, at a quiet address in East Berlin known as Stille Zeile Sechs, a twice-weekly encounter takes place between a disillusioned forty-two-year-old ex-historian and a decrepit seventy-eight-year-old ex-functionary. The latter, Herbert Beerenbaum, is writing his memoirs, with the former, Rosalind Polkowski, as his amanuensis. Thus the situation of Monika Maron's novel, the first to be...

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Frauke E. Lenckos (essay date 1993)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Lenckos, Frauke E. “Monika Maron's The Defector: The Newly Born Woman?” Rackham Journal for the Arts and Humanities (1993): 59-70.

[In the following essay, Lenckos draws upon the feminist philosophy of Hélène Cixous to interpret Maron's subversion of binary patriarchal discourse, notions of female essentialism, and the aesthetic tropes of Romanticism in Stille Zeile Sechs.]

In a recent interview, East German writer Monika Maron states the necessity for women from both West and East Germany to devote themselves to a history perceived and experienced by women.1 She refers in particular to her most recent novel Stille Zeile Sechs...

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Nancy Derr (review date fall 1993)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Derr, Nancy. Review of Silent Close No. 6, by Monika Maron. Belles Lettres 9, no. 1 (fall 1993): 58.

[In the following review, Derr offers a positive assessment of Stille Zeile Sechs.]

Envying the freedom of the stray cat on her street and thoroughly repulsed by having to “think in return for money,” Rosalind Polkowski has finally quit her job at the Barabas research institute, where she has been tediously researching the development of proletarian movements. Alienation, despair, and futility form the core of Polkowski's life, at least until she meets her antithesis: none other than Professor Herbert Beerenbaum. When this well-known brilliant rhetorician and Stalinist invites Polkowski to his home at Silent Close No. 6 [Stille Zeile Sechs] to write his memoirs, the scene is set for a psychological and emotional tug-of-war that only death can end.

In this prize-winning look at life in the former German Democratic Republic (GDR), novelist Monika Maron depicts the dichotomy of life there. In Rosalind Polkowski, Maron has created a vehicle for seeing and feeling what Maron believes was the essence of daily life in this former Communist country. Using flashbacks, Maron has Polkowski relive parts of her past as she navigates the alienation of the present. Her relationship with Beerenbaum, who represents everything in society that Polkowski has rejected, is the ultimate contradiction. Polkowski ultimately is unable to extricate herself completely from his power.

Conflict has played a key role in Maron's own life. Born to a Communist family in 1941 in Nazis Berlin, Maron joined the Party in 1965 only to resign later. Her first novels, Flight of Ashes and The Defector, were both banned in the East. Maron finally fled to West Germany in 1987. This, her third novel, has finally won her the prestigious Heinrich von Kleist Prize.

Erlis Glass (review date autumn 1993)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Glass, Erlis. Review of Nach Maβgabe meiner Begreifungskraft, by Monika Maron. World Literature Today 67, no. 4 (autumn 1993): 822-23.

[In the following review, Glass compliments the essays in Nach Maβgabe meiner Begreifungskraft, noting the collection's “honesty and passion.”]

Monika Maron is a well-established contemporary author of novels and short stories. Her most recent novel, Stille Zeile Sechs, appeared in 1991. The twenty articles in Nach Maβgabe meiner Begreifungskraft include her own autobiographical comments, “Ich war ein antifaschistisches Kind”; commentary on the reunification of the Germanies, on writers'...

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Brigitte Rossbacher (essay date 1994)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Rossbacher, Brigitte. “(Re)visions of the Past: Memory and Historiography in Monika Maron's Stille Zeile Sechs.Colloquia Germanica 27, no. 1 (1994): 13-24.

[In the following essay, Rossbacher examines Maron's critique and subversion of official GDR history in Stille Zeile Sechs, contending that, by incorporating aspects of personal and collective memory in the novel, Maron reveals the problematic legacy of fascism and communism that is suppressed by uncritical, monumentalized versions of GDR history.]

Gewiβ, wir brauchen Historie, aber wir brauchen sie anders, als sie der verwöhnte Müβiggänger im Garten des Wissens...

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Ricarda Schmidt (essay date 1994)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Schmidt, Ricarda. “From Surrealism to Realism: Monika Maron's Die Überläuferin and Stille Zeile Sechs.” In Women and the Wende: Social Effects and Cultural Reflections of the German Unification Process, edited by Elizabeth Boa and Janet Wharton, pp. 247-55. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1994.

[In the following essay, Schmidt discusses Maron's shift from an imaginative, internalized exploration of psychic turmoil in Die Überläuferin to the realistic, coherent, and politicized narrative of Stille Zeile Sechs.]

From her surrealist novel Die Überläuferin, written in GDR times, Maron takes three protagonists over into her post-GDR novel...

(The entire section is 4344 words.)

Susan C. Anderson (essay date 1995)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Anderson, Susan C. “Creativity and Nonconformity in Monika Maron's Die Überläuferin.” In Women in German Yearbook: Feminist Studies in German Literature and Culture, no. 10, edited by Jeanette Clausen and Sara Friedrichsmeyer, pp. 143-60. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1995.

[In the following essay, Anderson examines the use of fantasy, memory, and imagination by the heroine of Die Überläuferin as a means of escaping the repressive structures of the authoritarian GDR society.]

Much attention has been devoted to German literary works that deal with the Berlin Wall in an attempt to discover anticipations of its opening or assumptions...

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Erlis Glass-Wickersham (review date winter 1997)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Glass-Wickersham, Erlis. Review of Animal Triste, by Monika Maron. World Literature Today 71, no. 1 (winter 1997): 137.

[In the following review, Glass-Wickersham praises Maron's prose in Animal Triste and compliments the novel for being “eminently accessible.”]

Monika Maron lived in the German Democratic Republic until 1988. She now resides in Berlin. Her earlier publications include three novels and a volume of essays in Fischer editions. Her participation in the activities of the Stasi (state-security service) during the post-Wall years has been widely discussed.

Maron's new novel has the interesting title Animal...

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Andrea Reiter (essay date spring 1997)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Reiter, Andrea. “Reunification and Literature: Monika Maron from Die Überläuferin to Stille Zeile Sechs.GDR Bulletin 24 (spring 1997): 67-72.

[In the following essay, Reiter offers a comparative study of the narrative presentation, intertextual perspective, and evolving political consciousness of Maron's characters in Die Überläuferin and Stille Zeile Sechs, particularly how they reflect changing circumstances surrounding the reunification of Germany and Maron's effort to reconcile conflicting aspects of dissidence, passivity, and complicity.]

In 1968 Dieter Wellershoff published his essay “Fiktion und Praxis” as a...

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Alison Lewis (essay date winter 1998)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Lewis, Alison. “Re-Membering the Barbarian: Memory and Repression in Monika Maron's Animal Triste.German Quarterly 71, no. 1 (winter 1998): 30-46.

[In the following essay, Lewis explores the historical, political, and psychoanalytic underpinnings of Animal Triste, drawing attention to the novel's interrelated themes of obsessive love and abandonment, the excavation of repressed memory, and questions of guilt and redemption as they reflect the reality of German reunification and revelations of Maron's Stasi complicity.]

When in 1996 Marcel Reich-Ranicki acclaimed Animal Triste, the latest novel by Monika Maron, as the stroke of genius...

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Irmgard Elsner Hunt (review date autumn 1999)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Hunt, Irmgard Elsner. Review of Pawels Briefe, by Monika Maron. World Literature Today 73, no. 4 (autumn 1999): 733-34.

[In the following review of Pawels Briefe, Hunt finds shortcomings in Maron's “self-righteous” tone and lack of compassion.]

Since 1981, Monika Maron has published three novels and a volume of essays. Pawels Briefe (Pawel's Letters) is her fifth major publication. Rather than “a family history,” as the subtitle purports, the volume comprises family stories, reflections on remembering and forgetting, the portrayal of a mother-daughter relationship, and, inevitably, a tracing of German political developments...

(The entire section is 922 words.)

Stephen Brockmann (essay date 1999)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Brockmann, Stephen. “The Defense of Childhood and the Guilt of the Fathers.” In Literature and German Reunification, pp. 137-62. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

[In the following excerpt, Brockmann discusses the emergence of “father literature” in the former GDR and identifies Stille Zeile Sechs and Animal Triste as examples of this genre.]

Whereas it had taken three decades for father literature to appear in the Federal Republic, father-son and father-daughter literature from writers of the former GDR began to appear almost immediately. In one typical response, the writer Gabriele Eckart, born in 1954, wrote an angry open...

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Erlis Wickersham (review date spring 2001)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Wickersham, Erlis. Review of Quer uber die Gleise, by Monika Maron. World Literature Today 75, no. 2 (spring 2001): 370.

[In the following review, Wickersham compliments Maron's essays in Quer uber die Gleise, calling the collection “clever and readable.”]

Monika Maron has been a controversial figure since the reunification of Germany because of her alleged collusion with the East German regime. She is a prolific writer and essayist, whose latest novel Pawels Briefe: Eine Familiengeschichte, appeared in 1999. Her previous collection of essays, Nach Maβgabe meiner Begreifungskraft, was published in 1993. Most of the items in...

(The entire section is 479 words.)