Jenny Erpenbeck: Geschichte vom alten Kind [The Old Child] (1100 words)

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Jenny Erpenbeck’s Geschichte vom alten Kind [Story of an Old Child, 1999] relates the story of a young girl who is found on a street with an empty bucket. The origins of the girl are unknown—no one knows her name or her parents, and the girl herself has no memory of her past. She is placed in a children’s home and her life begins, as the book states: “as a blank slate” (9). Though she appears to know more than she lets on, any attempt by any teacher or person to peel back the layers and understand her secrets or her personality fails. After the girl witnesses a sexual encounter between two boys, the narrator reveals that the young girl has letters with advice from her mother such as, “BE NICE, OR ELSE YOU’LL BE STRUC…

Boney, Kristy. "Geschichte vom alten Kind". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 05 July 2012
[, accessed 21 January 2018.]

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