What Remains of Christa Wolf?

11 9 2015

What Remains of Christa Wolf?

Anna Chiarloni, Anita Raja, Jana Simon, Anna Bonaiuto, Gerhard Wolf and Annarosa Buttarelli give us some answers

What Remains, the title of a novella written by Christa Wolf just a few months after the fall of the Berlin Wall, but also the implicit question behind the event at Festivaletteratura, coordinated by Annarosa Buttarelli, dedicated to the memory of the iconic German writer from the GDR: what remains of Christa Wolf?

A number of distinguished guests sought to provide some answers, among them Anna Bonaiuto, who read some of Wolf's work at the encounter, Jana Simon, journalist and the Christa Wolf's granddaughter, in addition to letters sent by Anita Raja, her friend and Italian translator, and from her husband Gerhard Wolf, who was sadly absent from the event due to heath reasons.

The public gathered at the Teatro Bibiena were given the picture of a free thinking writer who easily questioned what were thought of as accepted truths, not paying mind to any taboo, firstly in Kassandra and later in Medea. Wolf overhauled the Greek myths, using her strength as a writer to create new stories and transform the heroines into vivid, contemporary characters with their own individual voices.

Wolf's public biography intertwines closely with the history of the twentieth century, but the audience were also offered a glimpse into her private family life. Although, as her granddaughter Jane Simon pointed out with a smile, she was not the type to welcome her grandchildren with treats straight from the oven, instead she considered the younger generations growing up in a united Germany to be "apolitical, and that's boring." As a result, she encouraged them follow the words of the German poet Paul Fleming (1609-1640), which she wanted to choose as an epitaph, "stay fearless, believe: nothing is ever lost!"