Pity poor Medea--at least, that's what German novelist Christa Wolf would like you to do. True, the woman's reputation is not good: she stands accused of betraying her father, killing her brother, and then serving up her own children as the main course to their unsuspecting father when he divorces her for another woman. Still, the story of Medea has always been told by men; in Wolf's version, she finally has a woman as her advocate. And advocate Wolf does--in this revisiting of the old tale, Medea is truly a doomed and tragic heroine, closer to the subject of Wolf's previous book, Cassandra than to the murderous slave to passion she has always been portrayed as. Though many of the plot points remain the same--Jason's journey to Colchis to claim the golden fleece, his subsequent flight with Medea, and the death of her brother, Apsyrtus--the circumstances are turned on their heads. Medea's betrayal of her father, Aeëtes, for example, and elopement with Jason have less to do with wreckless passion than her secret knowledge that Apsyrtus died at Aeëtes's hand, the victim of dynastic competition.

In Wolf's retelling, Medea is no mere tale of scorned passion and bloody revenge but rather a complex weave of power and politics. In it Jason is the pawn in a greater struggle between King Creon, who harbors his own nasty secret, and Medea, a wise woman who knows too much about what goes on in Creon's kingdom. In limning the life and death pas-de-deux of these two strong characters, Wolf also examines themes of loyalty, sacrifice, and the effects of political oppression on personal relationships. Interesting enough in its own right, Medea takes on added piquancy when read in light of revelations in the wake of German reunification that Wolf was, for many years, a Stasi informant. In revisiting the much-maligned Medea's motivations, Christa Wolf may, in fact, be offering an accounting of her own.


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Used availability for Christa Wolf's Medea

Hardback Editions

April 1998 : UK Hardback
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Title: Medea
Author(s): Christa Wolf
ISBN: 1-86049-480-3 / 978-1-86049-480-2 (UK edition)
Publisher: Virago
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon AU   


March 1998 : USA Hardback
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Title: Medea
Author(s): Christa Wolf
ISBN: 0-385-49060-7 / 978-0-385-49060-3 (USA edition)
Publisher: Nan A. Talese
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


Paperback Editions

April 1999 : UK Paperback
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Title: Medea
Author(s): Christa Wolf
ISBN: 1-86049-536-2 / 978-1-86049-536-6 (UK edition)
Publisher: Virago
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   


March 1998 : USA Paperback
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Title: Medea
Author(s): Christa Wolf
ISBN: 0-385-51857-9 / 978-0-385-51857-4 (USA edition)
Publisher: Nan A. Talese
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   Amazon AU   


Kindle Editions

October 2012 : USA, Canada Kindle edition
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Title: Medea
Author(s): Christa Wolf
Publisher: Nan A. Talese
Availability: Amazon   Amazon CA