Wolfgang Hilbig: “”I””


You can read Hilbigs novel as a Satire on the secret service of the GDR and its literary scene. But also as a comment to a live atmosphere, to distinguish between Victims and perpetrators.

“I” is the shortest and seemingly simplest songs in our selection of the 100 books. Apparently, because behind this “I” to hide a lot of shortcuts, and code name: M. W., W., Cambert, C. – the one with the “I” merged into quotation marks it suggest: It is a dubious existence.

Wolfgang Hilbig tells the story of a poet in the GDR, the is the informer for the Stasi. W. M. grew up in the small town of A., he lives as an adult still with his mother. During the day he works as a heater, and in the evening he transforms into a writer who wants to be accepted in the humble alternative scene of his city.

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“I” by Wolfgang Hilbig

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“I” by Wolfgang Hilbig

How to bring IN the will and the philosophically

Half voluntarily, half of the “grey gentlemen” with a pre-paternity deceived blackmailing suit, he begins the secret state to report to the security report. All of which should be monitored by all – to this Stasi-target, he loses more and more respect for the everyday world, spins in a pseudo-philosophical thoughts:

“Everyone had each in Hand, perhaps this was the ultimate goal of the utopian thinking … And therefore, the secret Request of the utopians to anarchy, which promotes the idea of the collapse is evident, and the service at the Surveillance of the thought necessary in the first place.”

Finally, M. creates the Bounce to Berlin, where he received a passionless connection with his landlady. You give him a Job in a Laundry. But the Stasi Feuerbach tracks him down after a short time, in the form of major. Meanwhile, Hegel’s disciple Ludwig Feuerbach remind, the Name is one of the many satirical allusions, with which Hilbig his novel by.

The Stasi Headquarters in East Berlin

Grotesque Twists

During the day, he scurries like a rat spionierend by the Berlin underground and in the basement corridors between old apartment houses. At night, he mixed in with the unofficial literary scene of Prenzlauer Berg. His cover is good, the Stasi, provides for the publications of his poems in literary magazines. Under the cover name “Cambert” is he recognized on the ground-Poet “Reader”.

As the application is of no use and he should be deducted, can’t leave “Cambert” of his spying activities. He afterwards spies, “Reader’s” friend from the West, into which he has fallen in love with.

Hilbigs novel takes groteskere twists and turns, deception, double deception, W. s life story to the silly Pirouette. Always funny the in-depth conversations with the commanding officer Feuerbach, always accurate for the satirical allusions to the GDR literary scene.

Stasi files in Berlin’s archive

The fabric was on the road

Wolfgang Hilbig has evaluated for his novel, which appeared in 1993, his own Stasi file. He himself, originally, a worker, a heater, such as in the beginning of his character, had left in 1985, the GDR towards the West. When he came back in 1990, was the fabric to some extent on the road. As in the period after reunification, the Stasi files were accessible, were more and more contacts of writers to the secret police to light. Particularly shocking is the case of Prenzlauer Berg poet Sascha Anderson. As an unofficial employee – he had for years spied on his closest writer-friends.

Hilbig was not about to comment on the Stasi entanglements of the Prenzlauer Berg scene in a Roman à clef. His book is rather a Satire of the impotent security apparatus stands as naked and exposed as the literary scene. In the process, it has succeeded fantastically, Absurd tottering life atmosphere of the late GDR to capture.


Wolfgang Hilbig: “”I”” (1993), S. Fischer Verlag

Wolfgang Hilbig, born in 1941, came from the town of Meuselwitz in Thuringia. He was trained as a drilling screwdriver, wrote poetry and stories in the work, literature circles, from which he was excluded because his poems were too free. He moved to Leipzig and Berlin, worked as a Stoker. From 1979, he lived as a freelance writer, moved in 1985 with a travel visa to the West. In 1990, he moved back to Berlin. Wolfgang Hilbig died in 2007 of cancer.