Uwe Johnson: Mutmassungen über Jakob [Speculations About Jacob]

(1686 words)
  • Alfred D. White (University of Wales, Cardiff)

After failing to publish his relatively conventional novel Ingrid Babendererde, Johnson set out in 1958 to produce a novel of undiluted, stringent modernism, filled with potentially explosive attacks on some aspects of the German Democratic Republic. The novel asks several controversial questions: why the GDR is not the ideal state, nor on the way to it; why states cannot tolerate freedom; whether any political form gives ground for hope; how much dissidence can be tolerated. In order to publish this in the Federal Republic and still live in the east, he thought of using a pseudonym, but, persuaded that his cover would not hold, decided instead to move to West Berlin in July 1959.

The novel is set in 1956, the year o…

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White, Alfred D.. "Mutmassungen über Jakob". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 15 June 2005
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=16830, accessed 30 September 2016.]