Die Redlichkeit des Betrugs – Literarische Erinnerung und Totalitarismus bei Herta Müller und Vladimir Vertlib


  • Dieter Neidlinger
  • Silke Pasewalck




totalitarianism, poetic remembrance, contemporary literature, poetic fiction


“Die Redlichkeit des Betrugs” – Poetic Remembrance and Totalitarianism at Herta Müller and Vladimir Vertlib. The article deals with poetic remembrance of totalitarianism, taking a closer look at two contemporary authors from the German speaking literature, Herta Müller (born 1953) and Vladimir Vertlib (born 1966). Both authors’ concepts of memory re-pose the question of remembrance as related to historical facts and literary fiction as they try to overcome both the congealed memory and the primacy of experience, understood as a one-to-one translation into memory and literary speech. Herta Müller and Vladimir Vertlib do not approach the reality of totalitarianism using psychological realism but through strategies of poetic fiction. Although the term “fiction of truths” may sound paradoxical, both poetic concepts, however, prove adequate for poetic remembrance of the past as linked to fiction in narratives. By evoking and irritating the readers’ expectations with the help of the construction of his novels, the shifts of perspective and disruptions, Vladimir Vertlib writes against preformed stereotypes of memory, be they subjective or collective. Herta Müller develops a poetic language of abbreviated comparisons, in which words, objects and gestures, on the one hand, are abstracted from being self-evident and, on the other hand, are able to express the destruction of people and to refuse obedience against totalitarianism that extends into our language. The article shows on the example of two novels, Herta Müller’s Atemschaukel (2008) and Vladimir Vertlib’s Das besondere Gedächtnis der Rosa Masur (2001) how these concepts of memory are realized and how they detach themselves from the victim-perpetrator-scheme. Both novels prove that psychic damages cause people to become mute, but do not deprive them of language.


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