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MEDEA by Christa Wolf


A Modern Retelling

by Christa Wolf

Pub Date: April 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-385-49060-7
Publisher: Talese/Doubleday

German novelist Wolf’s discursive retelling of the familiar Greek legend, a logical outgrowth from her earlier novel Cassandra (1984), is—pace Margaret Atwood, who contributes an informative “Introduction”—a humorless and essentially predictable political allegory envisioning the reviled sorceress and murderer (of her children) as a victim of male arrogance and sexual insecurity. Medea’s homeland Colchis is a “darker” counterpart to the kingdom of Corinth, a self-aggrandizing state that brutally distorts truth to justify its imperialistic crimes. Wolf offers a chorus of “Voices” here—the eponymous heroine, her weak-willed adventurer husband Jason, and other players in the drama of Corinth’s power struggle—to chronicle the scapegoating of an insubordinate female goaded to become “immoderate . . . a Fury, just what the Corinthians needed her to be.” Overwrought, and markedly inferior to Wolf’s better fiction.