The Wall Jumper

by Peter Schneider

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Critical Context

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The Wall Jumper is Schneider’s second important work. With his first novel, Lenz (1973), modeled after a novella by Georg Buchner, a nineteenth century revolutionary German author, Schneider became the spokesman for a whole generation of young Germans involved in the student movement and alienated from the political culture of the government in office during the 1960’s.

In The Wall Jumper, his first novel published in the United States, Schneider confronts the issue of the division of Germany, symbolized by the Berlin Wall. Rich in documentary references, The Wall Jumper is a primary example of the literature of facts of the 1980’s.

Schneider has also published a novel entitled Vati (1987; dad), which concerns the biography of Josef Mengele, the infamous concentration camp doctor who escaped from justice to South America, as seen from the perspective of his own son. Mengele’s son belongs to Schneider’s own generation, which has yet to face its Nazi heritage, and Schneider’s novel is an attempt to meet this obligation.

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