chapter  4
8 Pages

Reiner Kunze & the Unlovely Years

ByMelvin J. Lasky

Poets have been battered and banned throughout all history; and sometimes, tempted by the privileges of power, they took a personal hand in the purging of the others. Socrates was deemed guilty of "corrupting the youth" and Plato turned his coat against such subversive impieties. In the case of Reiner Kunze, during the years of literary boycott in his own country, one book of his poems was attacked as the expression of "naked, grumpy individualism" and the alienated author judged to be "on the verge of collaborating with anti-Communism". Reiner Kunze is still political enough to feel repelled by such sentiments which are indifferent, not only to a modicum of normal, elementary patriotism, but to the overwhelming imperative of giving 17 million countrymen in the East a chance to live in liberty and enjoy a measure of prosperity. "In author's view", Reiner Kunze says, "ideology is the real Vaterland for the German intellectuals".