Erinnerungsarbeit am 20. Jahrhundert: Jenny Erpenbecks Roman “Aller Tage Abend”

Published In


Document Type


Publication Date



This essay investigates a novel from 2012 by Jenny Erpenbeck, an East German author born in 1967 and a member of an influential intellectual family in the GDR. In the novel, Erpenbeck looks back at the history of European socialism in the twentieth century by depicting the life of a female protagonist patterned after Hedda Zinner, her own paternal grandmother. In its historical dimension, the novel is ultimately intended as a literary demonstration of not only the demise of utopian socialist thought after 1990, but also of the loss of philosophic idealism of the European Enlightenment. Erpenbeck’s refutation of the teleological dialectic of history as posited by Hegelian and Marxist concepts is achieved through the narrative structure of her novel. The author’s notion of the history of philosophy relies strongly on postmodernist ideas of accidental nature [Zufälligkeit] and the essential open-endedness of history.



Persistent Identifier