Document Type

Honors Project


Common knowledge assumes that capitalism and socialism structured life differently with regards to what was public and private. This paper critically investigates this notion, focusing not on property, but on the realm of ideas and personal experiences. With a basis in historical and theoretical notions of the public and private spheres as conceptualized by Hannah Arendt, I analyze critical works by Jurek Becker and Heinrich Böll written in the two German states in the 1970s. Focusing on the ways in which these works depict an entanglement of the public and the private, I show how the East- and West-German works both reflect, though for different reasons, a failure of the two German societies to achieve Arendt's ideal of a political sphere of free action complemented by a protected private sphere.


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