April 11, 2011


Christa Wolf, Medea: A Modern Retelling, translated from the German by John Cullen, and with an Introduction by Margaret Atwood (New York: Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 1998) ("Not with Akama. He is a man put together out of strangely dissimilar parts. He lives hidden inside carefully crafted edifices of ideas, which he takes for reality but which have no purpose other than to buttress his easily shaken self-confidence. He will brook no opposition, he arrogantly heaps scorn, both veiled and overt, upon less intelligent people, and therefore over everyone, for he must be superior to all. I remember the moment when it became clear to me that he knows little of human nature and that in order to live he must rely on a supporting framework of principles that no one dare question; otherwise, he feels intolerably threatened. One of these principles is his fixed ideas that he is a just man. I could scarcely believe that he was serious, but when he started bringing up all the points in Medea's favor, I understood that it would perfectly suit his convenience to receive tangible proof against Medea. That he was sick and tired of the airs she put on. That he was fed up with having to answer her infallibility with equal infallibility so that he wouldn't feel inferior in her presence. Oh, I've done a thorough study of all the ways that women can affect people." Id. at 62. "Of course, she's not a Queen by any means, and you, my dear Jason, you're no King for Corinth, and that's the best thing I can say about you now. You won't take pleasure in it. Generally speaking, you won't take pleasure in very much anymore. Things are so arranged that not only those who must suffer injustice but also those who do injustice have miserable lives. As a matter of fact, I wonder whether the enjoyment of destroying other people's lives doesn't come from a person having so little enjoyment and pleasure in his own." Id. at 167. Food for thought?).