|About the Book|
Pity poor Medea--at least, thats what German novelist Christa Wolf would like you to do. True, the womans reputation is not good: she stands accused of betraying her father, killing her brother, and then serving up her own children as the mainMorePity poor Medea--at least, thats what German novelist Christa Wolf would like you to do. True, the womans reputation is not good: she stands accused of betraying her father, killing her brother, and then serving up her own children as the main course to their unsuspecting father when he divorces her for another woman. Still, the story of Medea has always been told by men- in Wolfs version, she finally has a woman as her advocate. And advocate Wolf does--in this revisiting of the old tale, Medea is truly a doomed and tragic heroine, closer to the subject of Wolfs previous book, Cassandra than to the murderous slave to passion she has always been portrayed as. Though many of the plot points remain the same--Jasons journey to Colchis to claim the golden fleece, his subsequent flight with Medea, and the death of her brother, Apsyrtus--the circumstances are turned on their heads. Medeas betrayal of her father, Aeëtes, for example, and elopement with Jason have less to do with wreckless passion than her secret knowledge that Apsyrtus died at Aeëtess hand, the victim of dynastic competition. In Wolfs retelling, Medea is no mere tale of scorned passion and bloody revenge but rather a complex weave of power and politics. In it Jason is the pawn in a greater struggle between King Creon, who harbors his own nasty secret, and Medea, a wise woman who knows too much about what goes on in Creons kingdom. In limning the life and death pas-de-deux of these two strong characters, Wolf also examines themes of loyalty, sacrifice, and the effects of political oppression on personal relationships. Interesting enough in its own right, Medea takes on added piquancy when read in light of revelations in the wake of German reunification that Wolf was, for many years, a Stasi informant. In revisiting the much-maligned Medeas motivations, Christa Wolf may, in fact, be offering an accounting of her own.