Christa Wolf, 1929-2011

WOLF-obit-articleInlineDavid Binder and Bruce Weber in NYT:

Christa Wolf, a leading writer from the former East Germany whose novels, stories and essays explored the weight of history on ordinary individuals, especially and controversially including her own struggles with the legacy of Nazism and life in a Communist society, died Thursday in Berlin. She was 82.

Her death was announced by the publishing house Suhrkamp, which did not disclose a cause.

Ms. Wolf, who grew up in Germany under the Nazis, led a philosophically angst-ridden life that played out in her work. In novels like “Divided Heaven,” “The Quest for Christa T.,” “Cassandra” and “A Model Childhood,” she wrote about characters, largely women, whose daily lives were deeply colored by the political systems that governed them.

trongly autobiographical and gravely moral, her books were widely read in both East and West Germany, and over the years she became respected as a kind of public conscience of a long-divided people. Still, she was criticized as being insufficiently outraged by the repressiveness of the East German regime, and her reputation was tainted by her opposition to the dissolution of the German Democratic Republic, as East Germany was officially known, even as the Berlin Wall was coming down.

Another blow to her standing came in 1993, with the revelation that she briefly served as an informant for the East German secret police in the early 1960s.

She was difficult to categorize — a loyal dissident, a critic of the regime, but a believer in socialist ideals.