The publication of Ulrich Plenzdorf's novel Die neuen Leiden des jungen W. in 1973 has triggered considerable discussion and some official frowns in the GDR. Perhaps in anticipation of some form of censorship, Plenzdorf does not convey his critical impulses in a frontal attack in this novel. Instead, in his strategy of composition he predominantly uses indirect means. Subtle but effective literary devices-language, rhythm, metaphors, motifs-constitute an intricately interconnected perceptual network. And where his approach is direct and his critique formulated in conceptual language, he cunningly interposes the "classical," officially approved literary genius Goethe. This strategy of presentation effectively circumvents censorship and yet delivers a penetrating critique of the socio-political situation in the GOR. In this article I propose to examine Plenzdorf's strategy of composition as revealed in language and metaphor as well as in some aspects of structure and of perspective.



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