Dialogical Functions of You-Narration in Auto/Biography: Anne Harich’s “Wenn ich das gewußt hätte…”: Erinnerungen an Wolfgang Harich (2007)





second-person narration, autobiography, biography, imaginary dialogue, fictionalization, narratology


Ever since the 1970s, if not before, second-person narration has been used as an alternative storytelling format in auto/biography to expand the narrative possibilities of engaging with one’s own or someone else’s life. The second-person pronoun can support the author’s project of self-exploration while also offering a means for self-distancing. When someone else’s story is addressed to that person, this raises questions concerning the epistemics of the narrated events as well as the teller’s storytelling rights and authority.

This article explores the use of you-narration in an auto/biographical text by Anne Har­ich about her dead husband, Marxist philosopher Wolfgang Harich. The second-person nar­rative form is shown to serve various functions, ranging from creating an imaginary dialogue with the dead to expressing the author’s personal feelings about and perspectives on the life she lived with her husband. The analysis shows how Anne Harich, in imagining a conversa­tion with her husband, vents her own pent-up frustration and points to her ambivalent at­titude towards her marriage. The you-narrative parts fictionalize the otherwise non-fictional account and show that one needs to distinguish between the aspects of address at the level of the communication between narrator and narratee and reference in the story world of the you-narration.


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How to Cite

Mildorf, J. (2022). Dialogical Functions of You-Narration in Auto/Biography: Anne Harich’s “Wenn ich das gewußt hätte…”: Erinnerungen an Wolfgang Harich (2007). Zagadnienia Rodzajów Literackich The Problems of Literary Genres, 65(4), 69–81. https://doi.org/10.26485/ZRL/2022/65.4/5