Memoir thoughts: Christa Wolf

Almost everything belongs in here: it has come to that. The suction this work exerts is getting stronger. There no longer is anything you can say, hear, think, do, or not do, that doesn’t somehow touch this web. The mutest summons is recorded, forwarded, turned up, turned down, rerouted onto old tracks that are mysteriously connected, in ways that are unpredictable, out of the range of your influence and, to your regret: indescribable. Of course you have fits of discouragement in the face of the thicket which cannot be disentangled and which devours the very second in which you place the period at the end of the sentence. Reflecting, recollecting, cutting swathes through the jungle with your description (while attempting to report not only what was, but also how it feels) — which require a certain, readily unpsettable balance of seriousness and recklessness. It remains a makeshift solution. A gimmick, which leads to other gimmicks.

The concept is always infinitely more beautiful than the finished product.

Soon a sort of stalemate comes about, composed of equal parts of eagerness and digust, self-confidence and self-doubt, which looks like laziness on the outside and produces excuses as long as the real reasons for the paralysis remain hidden.

From Christa Wolf, A Model Childhood, English translation by Ursule Molinaro and Hedwig Rappolt, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1980 p. 93

Could a work this detailed, layered and subtle be published now … here?

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