BRIDGES AND BARS by Rolf Schneider


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In literature, as in everything else, East Germany is the poor relation of a divided family. Now we have the talented Rolf Schneider, a resident of East Berlin, who shows an acquaintance with the more advanced forms of modernist technique. In ""Literaturen, for instance, he presents a longish allegory on the death of the imagination, replete with mock erudition and heavy-handed irony, the sort of thing Borges or Nabokov would handsomely turn out in three pages. ""Metamorphoses, "" as its title suggests, tends towards the Kafkaesque: a mildly inventive fable about the sufferings of a zoologist (he awakens one morning sporting a tail) at the hands of scientific objectivity. ""Bars,"" a quasi-hallucinatory study of an underground agent, recalls much of the mood and syntax of nouveau roman efforts, especially Butor's. The excellent ""Bridges"" and the so-so ""The River Will Flow On"" are more straightforward anti-Nazi pieces in Boll's realm. And so it goes. Schneider, though, unlike his models, almost invariably tags on a moralistic ending, probably a concession to social realist taste; further, throughout there's a general lack of intellectual trenchancy and emotional exactitude, damaging to one interested in austere, ceremonious ""distancing"" effects, as well as ambitious alienation parables such as these.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1967
Publisher: Viking