But somehow it was only television: West German Narratives of the fall of the Wall in recent novels and their screen adaptations

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East Germans have long been criticised for harbouring a feeling of Ostalgie, a nostalgia for their old, Socialist state, but only recently has it become apparent that many west Germans obviously experience a similar sense of loss and longing for a seemingly simpler time before reunification. The texts that express these feelings tend to focus on the fall of the Wall as the pivotal point of change in German post-war history. Typically the characters in these books deny the significance and impact of this major political event and strive to reduce its importance, at best to a minor television moment. This attitude can be observed in the novels liegen lernen and Herr Lehmann and in their film adaptations. Despite having been accused of indulging a feeling of Westalgie, a closer analysis reveals that they are in fact deliberately provocative and challenge eastern and western stereotypes. In addition the films find ways to transport the books’ ironic narrative to the screen, and they also reinforce the authors’ implicitly critical attitude towards their characters’ political apathy by portraying the fall of the Wall in ways different to the books. The films react to the provocation voiced in the novels and function like an intertextual commentary as they integrate the opening of the border into a meaningful context for the protagonists and restore it to its historic importance.

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)269-291
Number of pages23
JournalAmsterdamer Beiträge zur Neueren Germanistik
Volume63
StatePublished - 2007

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    Keywords

  • East Germans, ostalgie, nostalgia, socialist state, West Germans, reunification, German, post-war history, television, Herr Lehmann, film

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