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the Complete Review
the complete review - diary

One Day a Year

Christa Wolf

[an overview of the reviews and critical reactions]

general information | review summaries | review and reception notes | links | about the author

To purchase One Day a Year: 1960-2000

Title: One Day a Year: 1960-2000
Author: Christa Wolf
Genre: Diary
Written: 2003 (Eng. 2007)
Length: 650 pages
Original in: German
Availability: One Day a Year: 1960-2000 - US
One Day a Year: 1960-2000 - UK
One Day a Year: 1960-2000 - Canada
One Day a Year: 1960-2000 - India
Un jour dans l'année - France
Ein Tag im Jahr - Deutschland
Un giorno all'anno 1960-2000 - Italia
Un día del año - España
  • German title: Ein Tag im Jahr
  • Translated by Lowell A. Bangerter

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Why we haven't reviewed it yet:

Haven't gotten our hands on a copy of the translation (or original)

Chances that we will review it:

Fairly good

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Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Bookforum . 4-5/2007 Joscelyn Jurich
City Journal . Spring/2007 Paul Hollander
FAZ . 4/10/2003 Tilman Spreckelsen
L'Humanité . 21/9/2006 François Mathieu
Neue Zürcher Zeitung . 27/9/2003 Martin Krumbholz
The NY Sun . 28/2/2007 Benjamin Lytal
The New Yorker . 26/3/2007 .
TLS . 30/1/2004 Michael Butler
Wall Street Journal . 10/3/2007 Tess Lewis
Die Welt . 13/9/2003 Helmut Böttiger
World Lit. Today . 9-12/2004 Christian Grawe
Die Zeit . 9/10/2003 Evelyn Finger

  Review Consensus:

  Impressed: most find it works well and is also revealing

  From the Reviews:
  • "The landscape of Wolf's memory is a mosaic of juxtapositions: past and present, public and private, mundane and profound, dream and consciousness. Just after lamenting her reluctant role as a public intellectual, she reports the success of one of her culinary specialties, eggplant-tomato-ham soufflé with rice." - Joscelyn Jurich, Bookforum

  • "Wolf did not seize the opportunity One Day a Year presented for a thorough, systematic probing of the evolution of her worldview, nor for an understanding of the errors and illusions to which she was susceptible. (...) The sources of her qualified disillusionment with the East German regime remain unclear, as does the extent of her dissatisfaction." - Paul Hollander, City Journal

  • "Dieses Pendeln zwischen Engagement und Abwehr, zwischen Aktivität und Rückzug macht einen besonderen Reiz dieser Notate aus, gerade weil es zu keiner dauerhaft eingenommenen Position kommt" - Tilman Spreckelsen, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

  • "Ni journal, ni autobiographie, ni essai, mais tout cela à la fois. Cette histoire d’une vie, sans habillage fictionnel, est une forme unique d’élaboration d’une poétique de l’existence." - François Mathieu, L'Humanité

  • "You turn a page, and a year passes. A book has suddenly been written. In a few long sittings, you can experience not only the sweep of history, but also the changing of a very particular mind. (...) The years after reunification anchor this volume. Not only do all the previous years await the irony of 1989, but after that year the movement of the whole life, as an arc, hits the reader." - Benjamin Lytal, The New York Sun

  • "This remarkable book offers insight into the mind behind the public figure, collecting accounts that Wolf has written over forty years describing her life on each September 27th as precisely as possible." - The New Yorker

  • "Since Wolf has resisted the temptation to revise any of the resultant texts, they offer unvarnished, if necessarily fragmentary insights into her private life and the development of her imaginative work. In particular, the entries document the increasing pressures exerted on her by the ruthless authoritarianism of the former German Democratic Republic. Thus, Ein Tag im Jahr is also the record of a complex process of political disillusionment. (...) What the reader witnesses in this honest book, however, is not melancholy resignation, but the stubborn courage of a remarkable woman." - Michael Butler, Times Literary Supplement

  • "Die Aufzeichnungen Ein Tag im Jahr wirken wie eine Zuspitzung davon, wie die äußerste Konsequenz ihres Schreibens -- obwohl sie völlig unliterarisch sind. (...) Das Ich ist deswegen so scharf konturiert, weil es einen ebenso scharf konturierten Mit- und Gegenspieler hat: den Staat. (...) Christa Wolf setzt sich dabei vielen Einblicken aus und zeigt sich so angreifbar wie nie zuvor. Ein Tag im Jahr ist ein Schlüsseltext für die Mentalitätsgeschichte der DDR und das, was von ihr geblieben ist." - Helmut Böttiger, Die Welt

  • "Dieses Tagebuch ist kein Bekenntnisbuch, es gibt, bei aller Intimität (Enkel Anton im Schlafanzug, Oma Wolf beim Zähneputzen, ihre Treffen mit Max Frisch und Anna Seghers), nichts Ungeheuerliches preis. Vielleicht ist nichts Ungeheuerliches passiert, vielleicht fand es an anderen Tagen statt. Die Abwesenheit des Schreckens ist ja das eigentlich Deprimierende, man kennt das aus Becketts Endspielen." - Evelyn Finger, Die Zeit

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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Notes about the Reviews
and the Book's Reception

       Christa Wolf's book consists of diary-entries from a single day (27 September) each year from 1960 to 2000, and the critics generally considered it a worthwhile exercise, much of its value coming from the fact that what she describes so often is simply the everyday -- and yet still conveying a changing world (and, especially, a changing German Democratic Republic, and her own relationship to it) over the decades.
       After a period when revelations about her role in East Germany (arguably not entirely innocent) saw Wolf's image lessened, most seem to have been won over by One Day a Year, offering the sort of picture (and honesty) they like from their writers .....
       The book received a great deal of attention in Germany, but doesn't seem to have made too much of an impression in translation -- though it has gotten some prominent notices.

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One Day a Year: 1960-2000: Reviews: Other books by Christa Wolf under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Leading (East) German author Christa Wolf lived 1929 to 2011.

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© 2007-2021 the complete review

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