REVIEW by Chris Keil

NWR Issue 100

Baader-Meinhof and the Novel, Narrative of the Nation/Fantasies of the Revolution, 1970-2010

by Julian Preece

When Ulrike Meinhof scrambled out of the library window of the Institute for Social Research in West Berlin in May 1970, leaving behind a haze of gun- smoke and a severely wounded guard, she crossed a threshold from her past – as a journalist, a theoretician, a citizen, a mother – to her future as a terrorist, an outlaw, a martyr. The event set off resonances that have been echoing in the modern political imagination ever since. Julian Preece, in this powerful and lucid study, examines the subsequent history of the myth, with particular reference to German literature. He ranges across forty years of the German novel, from major literary figures like Heinrich Böll and Günther Grass, to crime-fiction potboilers. His subtitle is significant. Professor Preece suggests that the Baader-Meinhof Group or Red Army Faction (RAF), dealt largely in symbolic meanings – myths, conspiracy theories – rather than ideological content; they were a white screen on which others could ‘project ideas, scenarios and fantasies.’

The book examines around fifty German and a smaller number of international novels, as well as feature films and documentaries, and benefits from the sharpness of academic focus this methodology allows; but Professor Preece is also highly alert to the wider context of socio-cultural history and mythology in which his study is set...

Prof Julian Preece and Chris Keil will be in conversation with NWR editor Gwen Davies at Hay Festival, 2 June.

Want to read the full article? Go to our online shop where you can buy an individual issue or take out a subscription to NWR, saving £3.98 on the cover price. Prices start at £16.99 for three issues via Direct Debit, including p+p (UK only).

Buy this book at


previous review: All the Souls, Stories of the Living and the Dead
next review: Kith: The Riddle of the Childscape


A brief note on copyright:all authors have given permission for their work to appear online on New Welsh Review's website. Copyright remains with the author. If you wish to reproduce part or all of any article then the permission of the author must be sought, and the author and New Welsh Review credited accordingly.

Contact us:Registered Office PO Box 170, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, SY23 1WZ - Telephone 00 (44) 1970 628410
© New Welsh Review Ltd, all rights reserved - Registered in England and Wales - Registered number: 02493828
Website design: mach2media and mopublications      Website development: Technoleg Taliesin Cyf.