In an essay exploring the pleasures and pitfalls that reside in reading Jean Paul, the eighteenth-century novelist, Gunter de Bruyn opined that each of this author's works represented "eine Art Glaubensbekenntnis seines Verfassers": "Welche Dinge er gestaltet, wie er sie sieht und beurteilt, zeigt direkt oder indirekt, welche Anschauung er von ihnen hat. Jean Paul neigt in dieser Hinsicht zu Direktheiten." If one surveys de Bruyn's extensive contribution to the GDR's Erbe programme, in the form of the acclaimed biography of Jean Paul and an array of essays, it is similarly possible to distil de Bruyn's opinions and beliefs from this work. Indeed, one might define de Bruyn's contributions as a literary historian as mini manifestos, comparable with Christa Wolfs theoretical essays from the 1960s: the mutual concern of both authors about the nature of realism forms the backbone of these essays. In "Grischa 1944" for example, an essay on Arnold Zweig, de Bruyn states emphatically that a writer is duty-bound to tell the truth, 'im Kleinen wie im Großen, in Teilen wie im Ganzen." In a later essay he cites the life and work of Fouque, the forgotten Romantic, as a 'warnendes Beispiel' of how the absence of an empirical reality from literature can leave a work devoid of life. In contrast, de Bruyn displays a strong affmity for the work of Theodor Fontane, a nineteenth-century realist deeply entrenched in the world around him. Indeed, de Bruyn's admiration for Fontane is strengthened further by virtue of the latter's roots in the same geographical locality as de Bruyn himself, namely Berlin and Brandenburg. Fouque too lived in the Mark, but in de Bruyn's eyes, it left no trace in the majority of his work, which dealt instead with fantastic or remote landscapes far removed from the author's world. The value of de Bruyn's Erbe work is then twofold: not only does it reward the reader by rediscovering and repackaging, often obscure, figures from Germany's cultural past, but it additionally affords insights into the literary approach of de Bruyn himself.



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