The law of chaos is the law of ideas, Of improvisations and seasons of belief.
—Wallace Stevens

Long considered one of Germany’s most important contemporary writers, the novelist and critic Christa Wolf has been showered with literary prizes on both sides of the Wall. The Marxist utopianism, moral agonizing, intense self-scrutiny, and warnings of ecological apocalypse in her fiction gradually earned her an international cult-like following. Yet Wolf, a resident of what used to be called East Germany, did not become a dissertation and academic conference gold-mine until the publication of her novel Cassandra (1983), a feminist reworking of the fall of Troy from the prophetess’s point of view. Because Wolf neither wavered in her belief in Communism nor openly questioned the legitimacy of one-party rule, the SED, Germany’s Communist party, tolerated her work’s oblique...


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