Confession with Blue Horses (A Novel) And “On Memory and Narrative in the Work of Charlotte Salomon, Art Spiegelman and Christa Wolf” (Critical Commentary)

Hardach, Sophie. 2018. Confession with Blue Horses (A Novel) And “On Memory and Narrative in the Work of Charlotte Salomon, Art Spiegelman and Christa Wolf” (Critical Commentary). Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This creative writing thesis consists of a novel and a critical commentary, both of which explore the link between memory and narrative. The novel, Confession with Blue Horses, tells the story of Ella Valentin, an East German woman trying to piece together her family’s past. In the process, she is forced to confront her own partially suppressed memories. She is assisted by Aaron, an intern working at an archive in Berlin that houses the shredded surveillance records of the former East German security service — the Ministerium for Staatssicherheit, or ‘Stasi’.

The commentary considers the relationship between memory and narrative from a critical perspective. It investigates how three writers and artists have fashioned stories out of similarly fragile and incomplete memories: the German artist Charlotte Salomon, the American graphic novelist Art Spiegelman, and the East German writer Christa Wolf.

The critical discussion centres on Salomon’s multimedia memoir, Leben? Oder Theater? (Life? Or Theatre?), which was created between 1940 and 1942; Spiegelman’s graphic memoir, Maus: A Survivor’s Tale (1986); and Wolf’s autobiographical novel, Stadt der Engel oder: The Overcoat of Dr. Freud (City of Angels or: The Overcoat of Dr. Freud, 2010). Chronologically, the three works roughly follow the trajectory of 20th-century Germany and the traumatic events that shaped it, from the Second World War and the Holocaust, to the country’s division, and the rise and fall of the dictatorship of the German Democratic Republic.

The commentary also expands on some of the problems with narrating the past that emerged during my writing process, and suggests potential solutions, drawing inspiration from Salomon, Spiegelman and Wolf.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):

Additional Information:

This is a Creative Writing thesis. Awaiting permissions for full text of Critical Commentary.


Germany, Berlin, GDR, Socialism, Memory, History, Novel, Narrative, Berlin Wall, Trauma, Family, Adoption, Archive, Stasi, Surveillance, Espionage, Identity, Reconciliation, East Germany, West Germany, East Berlin, Migration

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

English and Comparative Literature


31 May 2018

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

24 Jul 2018 13:47

Last Modified:

07 Sep 2022 17:13


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