The Ethics of Narration

Colin Riordan
9 November 1989
255 pp
Paperback: 978-0-947623-25-8

Colin Riordan finds the key to Uwe Johnson's puzzling works in an idiosyncratic moral code to which both Johnson and his narrative figures adhere. This code underlies the development in Johnson's prose from his first novel Ingrid Babendererde (written 1956, published 1985), through Mutmaßungen über Jakob (1959), Das dritte Buch über Achim (1961) and Zwei Ansichten (1965), to the four-volume masterpiece Jahrestage. Aus dem Leben von Gesine Cresspahl (1970-83). The complex narrative of Jahrestage is unravelled, revealing the problems Gesine Cresspahl encounters in reconstructing her past. These problems can only be solved by evolving a code of narrative ethics which forces Gesine - and the reader - to confront the kinds of painful truths which might otherwise remain submerged.