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The writers Gordimer and Wolf play prominent and public political roles in their societies after the changes. Even if young Wolf was accused of being the ‘state writer’ of East Germany, she consistently gestured beyond a state- socialist system. Gordimer has always positioned herself in resistance to apartheid, but has become the tame critic of postapartheid South Africa. I suggest a ‘Theory of the Intellectual’, a flexible pattern by which different roles of public intellectuals can be discussed.