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'Zeit der Nichtübereinstimmung': Censorship Discourses about and in Jurek Becker's Schlaflose Tage

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Beate Muller


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Schlaflose Tage marks a turning point for Jurek Becker: it is the only one of his novels which was never published in the GDR, and after its failure to gain authorisation in 1977, Becker left the GDR. The publishing negotiations concentrated on contentious elements of the fictional text, as well as on Becker's demands and his public demeanour. As was often the case, political concerns rather than aesthetic preferences proved to be decisive – the ban came as a reaction to Becker's critical interviews in West German print media. Nevertheless, it is important to study the arguments advanced about the manuscript, because they offer an insight into the ways in which those who worked in the GDR's 'Literaturbetrieb' received and responded to a text which they regarded as violating political sensitivities. An analysis of the logic of these censorial discourses shows that they focus on plot elements of the novel, on direct statements by its central characters, and on ideological issues related thereto, while ignoring Becker's more subtle representations of censorship which underpin the macrostructural levels of plot and dialogue: metaphors, symbols, parables, and intertextual references.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Müller B

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: German Life and Letters

Year: 2005

Volume: 58

Issue: 1

Pages: 55-74

ISSN (print): 0016-8777

ISSN (electronic): 1468-0483

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


DOI: 10.1111/j.0016-8777.2005.00304.x


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