I like this Erich Kuby. He has a very personal touch in everything he writes, being at the same time accurate and neat in his way of investigating overI like this Erich Kuby. He has a very personal touch in everything he writes, being at the same time accurate and neat in his way of investigating over his homecountry.
One may find Kuby's books not really entertaining and as a matter of fact these reportages got aged very quickly, talking about an apparently long time forgotten divided Germany. And yet I appreciate digging into this forty years old German dust with the help of such a great journalist....more
Falada was a talking horse appearing in The Goose-Girl a fairytale written by the Grimm brothers.
When Herr Rudolf Wilhelm Friedrich Ditzen took the noFalada was a talking horse appearing in The Goose-Girl a fairytale written by the Grimm brothers.
When Herr Rudolf Wilhelm Friedrich Ditzen took the nom-de-plume of Hans Fallada, borrowing the first name from another Grimm's fairytale he was far from being the kind of person you would like your children to spend time with. Claimed insane after having killed a friend in a duel when he was barely 18 years old and for that reason a notorious guest of several mental institutions, he was also addicted to morphine and an alcoholic.
The young troubled Mr Ditzen was an outcast. He spent his time working in the farm fields mostly for financing his drug and drinking habits and trying to compose some poetry while at the sanatorium but without really managing to make it. And yet, somehow, Ditzen/Fallada was on his way to become one of the most successful German writers of his generation portraying scenes of all but idyllic German life in the difficult years of the Great Depression and the Mark super-inflation.
Despite being labeled as an undesirable author by the rising Nazis, Fallada managed to get by during World War II refusing to leave Germany although constantly intimidated by Goebbels & company who understood his talent and wanted to put it at the service of the Third Reich.
The disturbing beauty and way too underrated importance of "Jeder stirbt für sich allein" (appropriately translated into "Every Man Dies Alone" in the US but becoming a milder "Alone in Berlin" for the British edition of the book) is that Fallada wrote this book at the very end of his short life. He died before the book got published perhaps not having the time for editing it as he would have liked to. And yet, "Alone in Berlin" stands out as one of the most powerful last wills in literature around.
Fallada took inspiration from the real story of a German couple who decided to write hundreds of anti-Hitler postcards during the last years of the regime, leaving them in public places hoping to get a reaction against the Nazis. Otto and Elise Hampel were not cultured people and eventually failed in their goal to stir the Berlinese people against the Third Reich being discovered and executed, but the strength of their rebellion is nonetheless a great one.
Fallada was given the Hampels file by a friend of his and decided to make a novel out of that forgotten little example of resistance to the Nazi atrocities. And what the author managed to accomplish is an extraordinary portrait of everyday's life in Berlin in the 1940s with an impressing cast of characters and a spy-story plot which reminded me of Graham Greene.
But, if possible, Fallada aimed higher here than Greene did. And you know what? He got there. Let's keep in mind and never forget that this book was written in 1947, when all the awful memories were fresh and actually the Berlin pictured here was still mostly raised to the ground. 1947 is the very same year in which pen-named Hans Fallada died.
'Alone in Berlin' is a novel where the triumph belongs to the apparent banality of good. This book demonstrates how it is not only the most-educated people fighting against a regime, but also those who have personal motivations and strong ideals and a tenacious will to win over evil. ...more
One hundred short stories with a very high average level. The short format of these miniatures helps. In this case, being concise avoiding digressionsOne hundred short stories with a very high average level. The short format of these miniatures helps. In this case, being concise avoiding digressions makes Grass' way of writing even better.
Each narration you will find here is related to one of the years between 1900 and 2000. Different point of views and many interesting perspectives on the main events happened in Germany and worldwide in the last century.
The author is able to put himself in the shoes of schoolboys, old women, sport reporters, politicians, soldiers, tycoons, professors and so on in many cases resuscitating famous characters or giving new life and speech to those common people who not only made history but lived their personal stories in that frame.
This book is an excellent idea that just Günter Grass could have turned from theory into reality thanks to his encyclopedic knowledge and dedication. I am glad he did it....more