symbolic sense. The keyword of this journey is Cassandra. Christa Wolf wishes to take the reader down the paths through which this name led her. She formulates questions, thought processes and impulses arising from this keyword. She makes us witness the process through which she attempted to understand and master the material for a narrative : in this sense, therefore, we are confronted with the prolegomena to a narrative.
The book consists of five lectures. The first and second lectures report on an actual journey to Greece. They show how the figure of Cassandra takes hold of the author and gains its first contours. The third lecture, which is in the form of a work diary, shows the inter-locking of life and the material at hand. The fourth lecture, which is in the form of a letter, attempts to understand the historical reality of the Cassandra figure and goes into the conditions for women writers then and now. The fifth lecture is the actual narrative Cassandra, which in the FRG has been published separately, but in the GDR has been published as part of the lectures.
A detailed reproduction of the varied ideas contained in the four lectures is not the aim here. Nor is it our intention to show the genesis of the narrative '"Cassandra" in any concrete manner. In fact Christa Wolf does not conceive of her prolegomena in this limited sense either. It would be far more important to touch on some of the questions which Christa Wolf poses in the course of her attempt to understand Greek history and mythology. This material allows her to go back to the beginnings of civilisation in order to trace the development of Western society and to attempt to understand the present situation characterised by the threat of nuclear destruction. Christa Wolf defines the present situation as barbaric and asks whether there has been or is an alternative to this barbarism.
In the search for an answer to this question one major line of thought emerges, scattered through all the notes and reflections. This is the postulated difference between male and female modes of thought and behaviour. The arguments presented in the book hold male aggressiveness responsible for the development of society towards self destruction. Women as the 'Oppressed Class' were—with rare exceptions—excluded from intellectual activity and from decision making processes. Christa Wolf speculates, whether systems of thought would have been different today had women also worked on them for the past two thousand years (145).
While agreeing broadly with Christa Wolf, that, since the establishment of patriarchy women have generally been excluded from intellectual and decision making processes, the main thrust of her arguments and reflections have numerous shortcomings which makes it difficult to accept them in toto. Christa Wolf attempts to link a feminist viewpoint with a socialist commitment, and this very often leads to statements which show the author vacillating between two irreconcilable points of view.
The historical point of departure itself poses the problem in a nutshell.
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