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Josef Blau is a high school teacher who comes from a poor background, poorer than that of most of his pupils. The insecurity this causes him leads to an obsession with order and discipline. He senses his pupils watching him, waiting for the slightest weakness; the least infringement, he feels, will lead to the complete collapse of this tightly ordered world. The other focu ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published January 7th 2005 by Dedalus
(first published 1927)
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While reading this book, I was vacillating between three and five points. After finishing it, I would give it 3.5 points if I could. Josef Blau is one of the most sympathetic characters you might come across: neurotic, misanthropic and probably a bit insane. Hermann Ungar is from Kafka's Prague circle. So, why the hell ruin the book with this optimistic ending?
A catastrophic disappointment. This book had me at five stars for the first 100 pages or so, enchanted by its paranoid protagonist and humor. Then it began to drag a bit, so down to four stars. But then, what? An utterly unexpected and awful ending. Beelzebub.
Hermann Ungar was a Bohemian writer (in the German language) and an officer in Czechoslovakia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. His novels were influenced by expressionism and psychoanalysis. He was praised by Thomas Mann as a great writer.More about Hermann Ungar...