German and English Literature Personal Statement

Email correspondence with a friend in Berlin during the celebrations of the twentieth anniversary of the German reunification gave me an insight into the importance and relevance of Germany’s past both within the country itself, and throughout Europe. The erection of a model Berlin wall, on which was displayed the history of the country’s division and reunification demonstrates the inherent dichotomy in Germany’s treatment of its own history; Whilst the history of the division and unification of Germany is openly celebrated and displayed, the nation is still struggling to come to terms with its Nazi past.

The exploration of this issue through literature, such as Andorra by Max Frisch, a German play exploring anti-Semitism., has been fascinating to me.

Although Frisch himself stated in a preparatory note that Andorra was written as a ‘parable of human behaviour’ and did not relate directly to the events of the holocaust, the ‘Blacks,’ the authorities in the play, appear to have the characteristics of the Nazi party at their peak.

Interestingly, despite the fact that the plot concerns the life of the protagonist, Andri, the author seems more concerned with gradual demoralisation of the people of Andorra which eventually leads to their silent acquiescence in the murder of a fellow citizen. This theme is also evident in ‘Der Vorleser’ which I am studying as part of my German A level, as Hanna comes to terms with her past as a guard in the SS.

The insight literature gives into the German culture is invaluable, and demonstrates the insight literature from all cultures can give. The link to other countries and times has interested me since I was very young, and enjoyed travelling alongside Alice to wonderland, and voyaging through the wardrobe with Lucy, Edmund, Peter and Susan.

The possibility presented by literature to explore a new world still excites me, whether it be classic novels such as ‘Jane Eyre’ and ‘Rebecca’ opening a window to a past society with different values to our own, and showing in some cases a darker side of human nature; or contemporary novels, concerning differing cultures and political situations, such as ‘Under the Persimmon Tree’ by Suzanne Fisher Staples, and ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ by Khaled Hosseini.

Both of these novels are set in Afghanistan under the rule of the Taliban, but each book explores different issues, such as the treatment of women in ‘A Thousand splendid Suns,’ and the splitting up of families and the difficulties experienced by an American woman trying to come to terms with her new, war-torn home in ‘Under the Persimmon Tree.’

Outside of my school life one of my main passions is creative writing, a pastime I hope to be able to continue for my whole life, and to use within the career I hope to pursue; translating novels from German to English. Within my creative writing I have also needed to research German history and culture, as much of my writing concerns the division of Germany in 1961.

As well as creative writing, outside school I take part in a variety of extra-curricular activities. I regularly volunteer for a local church, and help to run a crèche on Sunday mornings. This has given me the skills to cope under pressure, and to handle unfamiliar situations. I feel that this will help me during a year abroad as part of my studies. I am also currently preparing for my grade eight piano, which along with the study of music has vastly improved my aural skills, a key skill in learning a language.

My ambitions have always been associated with literature, and with the German language, and I feel that the combined study of German and English literature will allow me to delve deeper into an aspect of culture that has fascinated and inspired me throughout my school career.

Profile info

This personal statement was written by Bruth for application in 2010.

Bruth's university choices
The University of Edinburgh
The University of Nottingham
The University of Durham
Cardiff University
The University of Warwick

Green: offer made
Red: no offer made

Degree
English Literature at The University of Edinburgh

Bruth's Comments

I applied to Warwick, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Durham and Nottingham Universities, and was offered a place at all but Durham. After visiting Edinburgh I fell in love with the city, and have now studied there for 2 years.

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