`Subjective Authenticity'

LESS well known in the West, Christa Wolf is among the most prominent and influential writers in East Germany. Together with G"unter Grass and Siegfried Lenz, she dominates the literary life of both Germanys. In 1963 she received the Heinrich Mann Prize, East Germany's highest award for a writer (Heinrich Mann was Thomas Mann's socialist-leaning brother). She has also been presented awards from the West - the Georg B"uchner Prize in 1980 (West Germany's highest award), the Schiller Memorial Prize in 1983, and the Austrian National Prize for European Literature in 1984. She is an outspoken feminist and socialist.

What makes Wolf appealing to audiences outside German-speaking countries is the breadth and topicality of her subject matter, as well as her very human tone. She stresses her goal of writing objectively, but in a way that characterizes both her age and herself. She calls this ``subjective authenticity.''

In an interview with a German journalist, Joachim Walther, Wolf said, ``It would be good if an author could feel the experiences of other people almost like his own, and his own almost like those of other people.''

She continued: ``It is not the case, however, that I confuse life and writing, that I use life as material. I never get the idea, if I am with someone, `This could be a character,' or `That is certainly an interesting situation; I'll have to use it sometime.' I would regard that as blasphemy. Writing is a reworking of experience, not a substitute for it.'' [Translated by the reviewer.]

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