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Life Goes On

3.46  ·  Rating Details ·  206 Ratings  ·  44 Reviews
Published when the author was just twenty-three, Life Goes On was Hans Keilson's literary debut, an extraordinary autobiographical novel that paints a dark yet illuminating portrait of Germany between the world wars. It is the story of Herr Seldersen—a Jewish store owner modeled on Keilson's father, a textile merchant and decorated World War I veteran—along with his wife a ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published October 30th 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 1933)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Bart Van Overmeire
Jan 27, 2015 Bart Van Overmeire rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: van-mij
Een zeer pakkend verhaal over het Duitsland tussen de twee wereldoorlogen. Beklemmend, deprimerend doch zeer goed neergeschreven hoe een hele maatschappij langzaam maar onomkeerbaar de dieperik ingaat. U wezen gewaarschuwd, huidige maatschappij.

'Als mijn vader blij is, huilt hij, niet zozeer van louter geluk maar eerder omdat hij op zo'n moment des te beter beseft hoe ongelukkig hij is.'
Jan 07, 2013 Lauren rated it it was amazing
I had a very, very, very hard time reading this book. It took me about a month to read it, and I can usually finish a book of this length in about a week. I read Dr. Keilson’s Comedy in a Minor Key last year, and I enjoyed it tremendously … and finished it in about two days. Yes, it packed one heck of an emotional punch, but it didn’t cut me to the bone the way Life Goes On has.

Life Goes On – Dr. Keilson’s first novel, published when he was only 23 – is slow moving but unbelievably raw. Like hi
Mar 03, 2015 Lynda rated it liked it
I can not review this book, I find it too painful. Much of my Father's extended family was lost in the German concentration camps. Many relatives went through the painful post WWI years.

We have also seen the changing economic model of the US job market and the uncertainty of our future. I find many parallels to this book. I gave this book 3 stars, not because I enjoyed it, but because it was a well written documentation of the times.
Jan 19, 2013 Maria rated it it was amazing
In the words of the late author Hans Keilson (as per the afterword), this book tells the story of an independent small businessman and his economic downfall, set in the political, social, and economic upheaval of the years after the First World War, the period of the Weimar Republic, the hyperinflation, and the rise of National Socialism.

What made this book come alive for me was attending a seminar and learning about Germany during the Weimar Republic, German elections, and Hitler's consolidatio
Het verhaal gaat over de gymnasiast Albrecht. Hij woont in een stadje in Duitsland. Het verhaal speelt zich af een jaar of 4 na WO I. De tijden worden steeds slechter, steeds meer mensen worden werkloos. Dit merkt ook de vader van Albrecht, meneer Seldersen die een winkel heeft met kleding, fournituren e.d.
Doordat zijn klanten steeds minder te besteden hebben, kan ook meneer Seldersen zijn schuldeisers maar nauwelijks betalen. Een aantal jaren weet hij nog met veel kunst- en vliegwerk het hoofd
Oct 06, 2012 K C rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
One of the most depressing books I've ever read. Written in pre-Hitler Germany and set at the same time and location, it tells the story of a late middle-aged shopowner trying to keep his head above water and live a normal life uninvolved with the politics and sociology of the day, while all around him is falling apart. Shows how isolation is almost impossible in a completely interdependent world, with lessons for today.
Cooper Renner
3.5 stars. First published in German in 1933, then banned by the Nazis in 1934, this novel has just appeared in English recently. The tale of a family and their hardships during the hyper-inflationary period and high unemployment following World War I, it looks at the same world as Hans Fallada's Wolf Among Wolves and Little Man, What Now? (though without the humor of the latter). Keilson was only in his early 20s when the book was written, so it's an impressive achievement.
Nov 13, 2016 Mike rated it liked it
Shelves: books-owned
3.5 stars. Keilson's highly-autobiographical novel -- published when he was just 23-years-old in 1933 and burned by the Nazis a year later -- is the story of one small family of merchants being slowly squeezed into financial ruin by the economic downfall in Germany between the wars. Albrecht (a thinly-veiled version of Keilson) and his mother and father struggle under crippling debt to borrow enough money to keep their small store stocked. Since their customers are also strapped for cash and bor ...more
Jan 09, 2017 Erika rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 03, 2012 David rated it liked it
“[Herr Seldersen’s] poverty had made him deaf and blind; he was excessively sensitive only within painfully narrow confines.”

This sentence, about 50 pages from the end of LIFE GOES ON, strikes me as a pretty good synopsis of the story. The Seldersens--father, mother, and teenage son Albrecht--are owners of a small shop in a small (unnamed) German town at the end of the 1920s during the economic collapse and unemployment of that era. Though the story involves a few other characters, the Seldersen
May 28, 2013 Papalodge rated it really liked it
Found this gem in the new book section at the library.
Originally published in 1933 as Das Keben geht weiter, translated 2012 by Damion Searls.
Hans Keilson - 1909-2011. Published when Keilson was just twenty-three, his literary debut. An autobiographical novel; a portrait of Germany betwen the world wars.
The book was banned by the Nazis in 1934. Shortly afterward Keilson, following his editor's advice, emigrtated to the Netherlands, where he would spend the rest of his life.

Translators note- Sho
Elsie Klumpner
Mar 29, 2015 Elsie Klumpner rated it really liked it
A fascinating book. The book is a biographical novel written by Keilson after the first World War and published in 1936. It deals with two families and their associates who are suffering from the devastating economic situation in Germany which arose after the First World War. Most of the book is a plodding, depressing tale of the members of these two families and how their lives are crumbling under economic strain. It paints an unrelentingly sad picture of well-meaning, middle class members of G ...more
I know academically the events in Germany that preceded the Second World War. I know the economic fallout, and the sanctions against Germany that the Treaty of Versailles imposed. I've never read a fiction, albeit autobiographical, set in Germany during the period.

And what a grim picture it paints. The poverty, the inflation, the strikes, the unrest, the disillusionment, the suicides and the general hopelessness. It doesn't excuse the excesses of Hitler, of course. But it puts it in a very real
Katy Berman
Jun 10, 2013 Katy Berman rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
I was expecting more from this book, but I think I will find the sequel "Death of the Adversary" more interesting. Life Goes On is an autobiographical novel about a German family struggling to survive an economic crisis in the early 1930s, just as the Nazi Party was rising to power. The book is mostly about the father, a shop owner, and his struggles with identity, pride and economic stability. He feels ashamed when his business falters as his store begins to lose customers and he must invent sc ...more
Linda Munro
Nov 05, 2012 Linda Munro rated it really liked it
Here is the single problem I have with the library as my only source of reading material; I order books and most times wait for the book (either due to the acquisition of the book or a long list of requestors before me), when it finally arrives it arrives with several other new, waiting list, seven-day books; this was one such book. I did read the book, I had to use my speed reading faculties to get through it, and I truly believe that the book needs more time spent reading it.

This book helps
Apr 15, 2015 Joe rated it liked it
This was a rather sad book, about a German merchant and his family after World War I and the condition of the economy and how it affected their lives and those around them. Well written, and although it is averaging 3 1/2 stars, it still is very good, but obviously a different kind of story. I'm glad I read it.

The book was banned by the Nazis in 1934. Shortly afterward, following his editor’s advice, Keilson emigrated to the Netherlands, where he would spend the rest of his life.

Published when
Nov 14, 2012 Stacy rated it liked it
Shelves: firstreads
I won this book as a FirstRead.

Life Goes On tells the story of the Seldersen family in post-World War I Germany. Germany is in the midst of an economic depression, and Herr Seldersen is struggling to keep his store afloat.

I had previously not given much thought to the problems Germany must have had after losing the first world war, and this book was eye-opening to the problems the average Germans faced. It makes me sad that this book is based on what actually happened to the author and his famil
Aug 28, 2014 Annie rated it really liked it
How can you pass up a book that was banned by the Nazis? Hans Keilson's rediscovered debut novel, Life Goes On, was published in 1932 (the last title by a Jewish author until the end of World War II) and was banned in 1934. According to the author's note at the end of the 2012 paperback edition by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Life Goes On is partially autobiographical. The family at the center of the book, the Seldersens, are not identified as Jewish, but the son, Albrecht, goes to university and ...more
Apr 15, 2013 Laura rated it it was ok
"Life Goes On", banned by the Nazis, was written when Keilson was very young(23) and it shows. This book, part memoir, is interesting because it offers us a candid picture of the economic turmoil of Germany in the early 1930's unfortunately it's just not that well written. The language is stilted especially during Albrecht's conversations with his teacher, Dr. Koster. Part of the problem may be with the translation but I suspect it's due to the youth of author. As he tries to express the angst o ...more
Jul 03, 2013 Matt rated it liked it
I enjoy reading about the period of Europe between the two wars. This book takes a different route, it writes about a family in a village in Germany trying to survive in light of Germany paying crushing reparations. I like reading about how people were trying to get by during the heightened tensions in Europe.

While this book does not appear to be an existential work, the characters exhibit much of the same bleak view of the near future as do the characters in Sartre's fiction; the same disaffect
Jan 04, 2015 Barbara rated it liked it
While this looked intriguing in the bookstore where I bought it, I found it to be a tough read, especially during the holidays. It's about a German family trying to keep a small business afloat between the world wars and it's depressing. Turns out it's also autobiographical and was banned in Germany -- indeed, the author ultimately left before the start of the Second World War. I think the thing that upset me the most about it was knowing what would happen to the family after the book ended as t ...more
Scott Schneider
Feb 04, 2013 Scott Schneider rated it really liked it
This book is a grim portrait of life i Germany between the wars. I related to it as it showed a small businessman struggling as his business fails. My father's hardware store struggled in the 80s with the rise of the chain hardware stores. This book reminded me of Hunger by Knut Hamsen in its bleak assessment, though this one is more hopeful at the end as the main character becomes politicized. It hit home given the current economic conditions as well with poor people struggling to get by. A sad ...more
Jul 19, 2014 Merrily rated it really liked it
Not a Holocaust book, but an explanation of the times that lead to the Holocaust. The sense of doom hanging over Albrecht & his family make for unbearably sad reading. The struggles of a small-town Jewish shopkeeper at a time of hyperinflation, growing unemployment and civic unrest bring to life the burdens of life in Germany between the two world wars. The author has a very distinctive, very flat style of writing that leaves much of the interpretation to the reader. Autobiographical. ...more
Feb 12, 2013 Merreh65 rated it really liked it
This memoir of the economically depressed period that preceded Hitler's
rise to power in Germany is a sobering read. The parallels with our own
recent economic downturn are clear. The waste of young people's abilities, motivation, innovation and initiative due to lack of jobs for them costs our whole society in ways that will play out far into our
Aug 18, 2015 Jan rated it liked it
I thought this was a grim, realistic autobiographical sketch of life between the wars in Germany. The whole book had an undertone of hopelessness.
I am glad I read it though to get a better understanding on what it was like in Germany at that time.
This book was written by a 23 year old. It was banned in 1933 y the nazis because it was very real about life in Germany at the time.
Nov 11, 2013 Daryl rated it really liked it
A profoundly chilling, first-hand account of pre-WWII-Germany and its slow, implacable descent in the madness of Nazi Germany, told from the perspective of a boy--a son of a middle-class, hardworking shopkeeper who sees his life's work slip away as the country appears to hold its collective breath--waiting to see what happens next. Oh yes, and they are Jewish.
Jan 27, 2013 Michael rated it really liked it
"Everything was coming slowly apart…" "You could wait and see - that was it, wait and see how things turned out."
Hyper-inflation, unemployment, bankruptcy, social and political chaos. The Weimar Republic, between the two World Wars; a time when traditions that had lasted centuries and had once seemed permanent and enduring now seemed to lose their validity.
Apr 22, 2015 April rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016-total
Quite fascinating, yet incredibly depressing, yet pretty boring (but in a good way).
The characters were nobody special, just every day normal, middle class people. Yet, the slow and deadly squeeze of stress and financial issues felt by the Seldersen's was palpable. Four stars because this semi-autobiographical novel hit me in the feels.
Not quite what I expected after reading the summaries, but it was all right. It gets a bit heavy in parts, both in terms of writing and mood. It reminded me of some of Hans Fallada's books, written around the same time.
Jul 06, 2014 Lisa rated it liked it
It's dated but interesting. Good picture of life between the wars in a bad economy. Characterizations are somewhat flat as it's a fairly political book and the characters really seem to be there to represent different viewpoints.
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Hans Keilson is the author of Comedy in a Minor Key and The Death of the Adversary. Born in Germany in 1909, he published his first novel in 1933. During World War II he joined the Dutch resistance. Later, as a psychotherapist, he pioneered the treatment of war trauma in children. In a 2010 New York Times review, Francine Prose called Keilson a “genius” and “one of the world’s very greatest writer ...more
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“Het zou allemaal veel makkelijker zijn als ik een doel had, wat denk jij? Een vraagje: heb jij wél een doel in je leven?'
Albrecht dacht na. Had hij in deze verwarrende tijd al zijn eigen plaats gevonden, had hij, jong en gezond als hij was, een helder doel voor ogen? Nee, hij liep maar wat rond en dacht hoogstens aan de volgende dag, hoe hij geld kon verdienen en kon leven en niemand tot last was, meer niet, iets groots zag hij niet gebeuren. Hij stond hoogstens af en toe stil in zijn gejaagde leventje om even op adem te komen, dan maakte hij zich los uit zijn dagelijkse routine en was hij een paar dagen tot niets meer in staat en lag hij als een dode op bed, ongestoord. Dat duurde maar kort en dan was hij weer de oude.”
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