Juli Zeh’s Corpus Delicti (2009): Health Care, Terrorists, and the Return of the Political Message

Virginia McCalmont and Waltraud Maierhofer


The novel Corpus Delicti: A Trial takes place in 2057. Mia Holl, a thirty-year-old woman, must stand trial before a jury. She is charged with excessive love (to her brother), excessive intellect (she thinks scientifically), and excessive independence of mind. In a society in which the care of the body and prevention of disease has supplanted all intellectual values, to possess these inner resources is sufficient to be classified as a dangerous subject, a terrorist. Mia Holl seeks to prove that her brother, convicted for an alleged rape, is innocent. Her love for her brother, who took his own life, is part of what drives her to assume a position against the system, known as “The Method.” This article examines the issue at the heart of the novel, the freedom of the individual against the state, and Zeh’s emphasis on political opinion, consulting also related publications and statements by the author on the role of fiction, on health and health care, on civil liberties, as well as her status as a public intellectual. Corpus Delicti has a clear political message. (VM/WM)

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