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…
White, Alfred D.. "Mutmassungen über Jakob". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 15 June 2005
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