This article looks at the interplay between material authenticity, waste, decay, loss, and forgetting in Wolfgang Hilbig's prose texts Die Kunde von den Bäumen (The Lore of the Trees, 1992) and Alte Abdeckerei (Old Knackers Yard, 1991). It argues that the thrown-away, the ruined, and the wasted constitute an interesting terrain for exploring attitudes to the loss and the disappearance of East German society as well as to the emergence of a unified Germany. Pye shows how Hilbig employs the metaphor of the trash heap to reflect on the writer's role, his crisis of memory, and his search for identity and a language in which to express it. Furthermore, her discussion considers Hilbig's treatment of the loss of Heimat in his portrayal of material things in a state of transition between presence and absence, material experience and the aesthetic moment. Finally, Pye examines how, through the literary portrayal of trashy, ruinous spaces, Hilbig invokes the power of disgust as a form of resistance and of protest against both the legacy of the German Democratic Republic and the consumer capitalist environment of unified Germany.
Gillian Pye; Trash and Transformation: The Search for Identity in Wolfgang Hilbig's Die Kunde von den Bäumen and Alte Abdeckerei. New German Critique 1 August 2012; 39 (2 (116)): 87–102. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0094033X-1550872
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