Set during the years shortly before the collapse of the Berlin Wall, Philip Sington's novel The Valley of Unknowing
is a fictional memoir penned by Bruno Krug, a smug author anointed the People's Champion of Art and Culture in the Worker and Peasant's State of East Germany. Krug is impressed by his own success and ability to live peacefully within the state security apparatus, an accomplishment few are able to achieve. Krug fancies himself a man of the people he regularly fixes his neighbor's plumbing problems but is also at home in the intelligentsia circles that fawn over his popular novel The Orphans of Neustadt, written twenty years ago. Krug now writes banal stories about life in East Germany that sell well and keep the authorities happy. He is aware of the terrors of life in a totalitarian state, but he insouciantly refuses to make them his problem....
Beyond the Book
The fictional character of Bruno Krug gained international fame with a literary blockbuster The Orphans of Neustadt
, but when we meet him at the beginning of his story, he is busy writing simple stories - called the Factory Gate Fables
- about life in Actually Existing Socialism. These stories represent typical literature in the U.S.S.R and Soviet-occupied countries in the mid-20th century that correspond with the theory of Socialist Realism. Socialist Realism extends to other art forms but was officially adopted by the Congress of Soviet Writers in 1934 and codified the state's expectations for writers. Socialist Realism demanded that authors create literature that depicted man's struggle towards socialist progress in pursuit of a better life. Literature was required to...