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Hans Fallada
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message 1: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod


Hans Fallada (21 July 1893 – 5 February 1947) was a German writer of the first half of the 20th century. Some of his better known novels include Little Man, What Now? (1932) and Every Man Dies Alone (1947).

His works belong predominantly to the New Objectivity literary style, with precise details and journalistic veneration of the facts. Fallada's pseudonym derives from a combination of characters found in the Grimm's Fairy Tales: the protagonist of Hans in Luck (KHM 83) and a horse named Falada in The Goose Girl.

Here's Fallada's Wikipedia entry which makes interesting reading. Billy Childish cites him as a major influence.

Mark wrote: "I automatically pre-ordered a copy of "Tales from the Underworld: Selected Shorter Fiction (Penguin Modern Classics)" to be published in February 2014, but my previous experiences with Fallada have run the entire range from absolutely brilliant Every Man Dies Alone to essentially unreadable A Small Circus. "

I will definitely be exploring his work. My library service seems to have plenty of copies of Alone in Berlin, so I'll probably start there.


message 2: by Nigeyb (last edited Nov 20, 2013 02:43PM) (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod


Just perusing this review of More Lives Than One: A Biography of Hans Fallada. Jenny Williams by Jenny Williams. It certainly is enticing...

First published in 1998, Williams's biographyhas been updated and reissued in the wake of the extraordinary recent success of a new translation of Alone in Berlin. She has colourful material to work with, as Rudolph Ditzen (who adopted the pen name Hans Fallada) killed a friend in a youthful suicide pact that went disastrously wrong, went to jail as a serial embezzler, and throughout his life had spells undergoing treatment for psychiatric problems and drug addiction. His response to the Nazi era was far less courageous than that of Alone in Berlin's protagonists, largely consisting of getting drunk and hiding in a rural backwater – though he was recognised as an anti-fascist by the Soviet occupiers in 1945, who bizarrely made him a mayor. Yet somehow Ditzen remained a productive, commercial author, known for low-life realism and giving a voice to the beleaguered "little man". A more novelistic biographer would have exploited the dramatic potential of the crises, but Williams's life is astute, rigorously researched and engrossing.


message 3: by Lobstergirl (new)

Lobstergirl | 56 comments I bought Every Man Dies Alone and will be reading it one of these days.


message 4: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
Lobstergirl wrote: "I bought Every Man Dies Alone and will be reading it...."


Hurrah. Please report back Lobstergirl. It's a Fallada Fest here at The Patrick Hamilton Appreciation Society.



By the way, this live webchat with Dennis Johnson, the publisher who brought Hans Fallada back to prominence with English readers is worth a read. I'll revisit it once I've read one or two of his books.


message 5: by Mark (new)

Mark Rubenstein | 1364 comments Unless I'm mistaken, 'Every Man Dies Alone' and 'Alone in Berlin' are the same novel... no?


message 6: by Nigeyb (last edited Nov 21, 2013 11:53AM) (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
Mark wrote: "Unless I'm mistaken, 'Every Man Dies Alone' and 'Alone in Berlin' are the same novel... no?"

I think you're right Mark. I read something about a different title in the UK in that web chat that I linked to above.

Indeed, here is the question and answer on that very topic...

I am curious to know why the title "Alone in Berlin" was chosen for UK release while in North America a title closer to the German original was used. I bought my copy in Canada in the old fashioned way. I was browsing in a bookstore and the title "Every Man Dies Alone" caught my eye. I am not certain that the UK cover or title would have had the same impact.

Dennis Johnson replied:
Well, with all due respect to the company now known as Penguin Random House, I have to say that I agree with you about the British title and packaging. I should clarify here that while my company, Melville House, owns the rights to Fallada in English, I licensed the UK rights, and our translation of the text, to Penguin UK. and the Penguin editor for the book told me he felt the author's title was too bleak (as if Alone in Berlin was less so!). Still, while it's not always true that a foreign-language author's title works in English, I didn't think that was the case with Fallada.



message 7: by Mark (new)

Mark Rubenstein | 1364 comments Thanks for that info, which clears things up nicely. Having only read the Penguin UK edition [Alone in Berlin] I can only hope that the stateside edition included the same aftermath, which went a long way towards strengthening the novel's appeal by spelling out, in great detail, the actual people and events that Fallada based the novel upon... as well as the story of how that information fell into Fallada's hands, which is an amazing story in and of itself.

For further reading, I thought I'd share the following link, which you might like to read before tucking into the novel [although NOT before purchasing a copy!]...

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2010...


message 8: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
That's a great article. Thanks. I will make sure I read "Berlin" in the next couple of months. Watch this space.

And thanks for highlighting Fallada and his work, it feels like the start of another beautiful relationship.


message 9: by Mark (new)

Mark Rubenstein | 1364 comments It might be worth mentioning that -- aside from the return to print this week of a selection of Fallada's works of short fiction, collected under the title 'Tales From The Underworld [Penguin Modern Classics] -- Penguin will be bringing another Hans Fallada novel back into print in July 2014. This time, it's 'Iron Gustav: A Berlin Family Chronicle," originally published in 1940.

From the publisher:

"A powerful story of the shattering effects of the First World War on both a family and a country - from the author of bestselling Alone in Berlin.

Intransigent, deeply conservative coachman Gustav Hackendahl rules his family with an iron rod, but in so doing loses his grip on the children he loves. Meanwhile, the First World War is destroying his career, his country and his pride in the German people. As Germany and the Hackendahl family unravel, Gustav has to learn to compromise if he is to hold onto anything he holds dear.

Iron Gustav is both a moving, realist account of the aftermath of the First World War, and a deeply involving story of a family in crisis. Yet running through the unflinching truth, immediacy and emotional power of Fallada's prose is the charming, almost folkloric whimsicality that makes him such a master story-teller."


message 10: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
^ Great news Mark.

I am still on the starting line when it comes to Hans Fallada, however I did take out Once a Jailbird out of the library the other day and hope to get to it soon. Your track record in terms of recommendations is impeccable and I now have complete confidence in your judgement.

I cannot wait to read my first book by Hans Fallada. Right now I'm about a third of the way through another book you suggested, The L-Shaped Room by Lynne Reid Banks, and very fine it is too. Just the kind of thing I like: accessible, well written, evoking a sense of time and place, strong central character, credible, and so on.


message 11: by Nick (new)

Nick Jacobs | 3 comments It makes me a little nervous to read that someone is going to start reading Fallada with 'Once a Jailbird', a somewhat narrow story of prison and recidivism, which he himself experienced. A more obvious starting-point would be 'Little Man - What Now?', the story of a young North German couple trying to put their life together in the late twenties/early thirties, when their country is falling apart, economically, socially, and politically. It is minutely observed, good-natured, often humorous, and full of unforgettable characters.


message 12: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
Thanks Nick. I recognise it's probably not the ideal starting point however perhaps there's something to be said for working up to the very best work? Either way, when Mark recommends an author, I know he/she is going to be good, and that it's the start of a beautiful relationship. I've just got to carve out the time to get started. So many books etc etc


message 13: by Mark (new)

Mark Rubenstein | 1364 comments Nick wrote: "It makes me a little nervous to read that someone is going to start reading Fallada with 'Once a Jailbird'..."

You beat me to the punch, Nick, reducing me to an echo.

My own intro was 'Little Man' followed immediately by 'The Drinker.' I'd recommend either of those, or 'Alone in Berlin,' as an introduction.

While I definitely dug 'Once A Jailbird,' I wouldn't rank it amongst his finest. I also think that my appreciation of 'Jailbird' would've been a whole lot less had I not read the Fallada biography beforehand.


message 14: by Nick (new)

Nick Jacobs | 3 comments I take your point Nigeyb. I just wouldn't want you to be put off.

A completely different approach would be to read the terrific biography of Fallada by Jenny Williams – 'More Lives than One' (now in Penguin).


message 15: by Nigeyb (last edited Feb 05, 2014 11:19AM) (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
Thanks Mark. Thanks Nick.

You're never a reduced echo Mark. Never.

More Lives Than One: A Biography of Hans Fallada by Jenny Williams is on the "must read" list. Mark also mentioned this particular book too when he first recommended Hans Fallada.

I love this place - so many great recommendations. So much enthusiasm and passion.


message 16: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
After a bit of chin stroking, a strong coffee, some online research, and a reread of Mark and Nick's helpful comments I have decided not to start with Once a Jailbird. Instead I will read either More Lives Than One: A Biography of Hans Fallada or Alone in Berlin as my starting point. I'll be doing it soon too.

Thanks so much for your helpful, informative and encouraging comments. I love this place.


message 17: by Mark (new)

Mark Rubenstein | 1364 comments Lo, and the entire world did breathe a collective sigh in unrivaled relief. I think you just did yourself a sizable favour, Nige.


message 18: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
I've ordered a copy of Every Man Dies Alone (USA title) / Alone in Berlin (UK title) by Hans Fallada this very afternoon from my library - so my commitment levels increase with every passing hour.

I also picked up a copy of More Lives Than One: A Biography of Hans Fallada. Jenny Williams by Jenny Williams to further enhance the Fallada reading experience.


message 19: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
Nick wrote: "A completely different approach would be to read the terrific biography of Fallada by Jenny Williams "More Lives Than One: A Biography of Hans Fallada""

I hear you Nick. Sagely advice that I am following to the letter. Yes Sir. In readiness for Every Man Dies Alone (USA title) / Alone in Berlin (UK title), I am now currently reading...



More Lives Than One: A Biography of Hans Fallada by Jenny Williams

Hans Fallada was a drug addict, womanizer, alcoholic, jailbird and thief. Yet he was also one of the most extraordinary storytellers of the twentieth century, whose novels, including Alone in Berlin, portrayed ordinary people in terrible times with a powerful humanity.

This acclaimed biography, newly revised and completely updated, tells the remarkable story of Hans Fallada, whose real name was Rudolf Ditzen. Jenny Williams chronicles his turbulent life as a writer, husband and father, shadowed by mental torment and long periods in psychiatric care. She shows how Ditzen's decision to remain in Nazi Germany in 1939 led to his self-destruction, but also made him a unique witness to his country's turmoil.

More Lives Than One: A Biography of Hans Fallada unpicks the contradictory, flawed and fascinating life of a writer who saw the worst of humanity, yet maintained his belief in the decency of the 'little man'.


I'll let you know how I get on.

Would the Hans Fallada cognoscenti agree that Every Man Dies Alone (USA title) / Alone in Berlin (UK title) is probably the pick of Hans Fallada's bibliography? What are the other stand-out books would you say?


message 20: by Mark (new)

Mark Rubenstein | 1364 comments 'Alone in Berlin' definitely tops my list, followed, in no specific order, by 'The Drinker' and 'Little Man, What Now.'

'Alone in Berlin' might not be the best novel I've ever read, but I've certainly not read a better one.


message 21: by Nigeyb (last edited Feb 20, 2014 05:06AM) (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
^ Thanks Mark. That's very helpful.



Mark wrote: "'Alone in Berlin' might not be the best novel I've ever read, but I've certainly not read a better one."

Yes!


message 22: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
Whilst reading More Lives Than One: A Biography of Hans Fallada, I was amazed to discover that, in the years before WW1, there were an extraordinary number of suicides across Germany amongst young people.

Jenny Williams suggests that the rigid, authoritarian nature of German society induced despair and hopelessness in the young. Within 25 pages young Rudolf (aka Hans Fallada) has entered into a suicide pact and ends up narrowly avoiding death whilst killing a friend. It appears he was somewhat troubled from his childhood. I've already discovered plenty of insights into life in pre-WW1 Wilhelmine Germany.


message 23: by Mark (new)

Mark Rubenstein | 1364 comments I'm not the sort to say I told you so, but.... yeah, I told you so! 'More Lives Than One' is an incredible book, about an incredible life. It is, perhaps, more deserving of its return to print than certain books of Fallada's. I think you'll benefit from having read it as you delve into 'Alone in Berlin' and the others... you'll certainly be equipped with all the background knowledge that you could possibly want!

Me, I'm still sat with baited breath for your response to 'Alone in Berlin.'


message 24: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
I should finish More Lives Than One: A Biography of Hans Fallada later today. A superb introduction into the world of Hans Fallada it it too.




Tales from the Underworld by Hans Fallada

^ I love the cover to this new book.
Penguin Modern Classics have done a splendid job - as usual.

I've just come across GoodReads friend Anna's blog post about the latest Fallada reissue Tales from the Underworld...

All of the stories are concerned with life’s struggles. They all focus around the lower echelons of society and illustrate the difficulties of life for those living in Germany during this difficult period of war and depression.

Click here to read Anna's review of Tales from the Underworld


message 25: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
I have now finished...





More Lives Than One: A Biography of Hans Fallada by Jenny Williams

A stunning, if somewhat depressing, biography of Hans Fallada.

Hans Fallada was all but forgotten outside Germany when his 1947 novel, Alone in Berlin (US title: Every Man Dies Alone), was reissued in English in 2009, whereupon it became a best seller and reintroduced Hans Fallada's work to a new generation of readers.

Jenny Williams, here refers to Hans Fallada as Rudolf Ditzen - his real name, and the name he used throughout his life. Where this biography scores especially highly for me is in its clear eyed depiction of Germany for the first 50 years of the twentieth century.

Rudolf Ditzen grows up in the rigid, authoritarian German society of the pre-World War One Wilhelmine era and this biography throws up all kinds of fascinating details about everyday life and social trends. Here's one example, when Rudolf was a teenager there were an extraordinary number of suicides in Rudolf's class. This was part of a much broader wave of suicides and suicide attempts that swept through Germany in the years before World War One. Germany's strict society during this period apparently inducing despair and hopelessness amongst many of the young.

Ditzen was a deeply troubled individual, prone to bouts of mental torment resulting in regular periods in psychiatric care. He was also variously addicted to drugs and alcohol, stole and spent time in jail, and was unfaithful to his first wife. All of these behaviours were exacerbated during the Nazi era and, again, Jenny Williams perfectly evokes the living hell of everyday life for many ordinary Germans under this regime.

Ditzen is denounced by neighbours on numerous occasions throughout the 1930s and 1940s and, on one occasion, this results in a spell in prison, the confiscation of the house he owned, and plunges him into another of his regular nervous breakdowns. Ditzen is generally viewed with suspicion by the Nazis and therefore has to severely compromise his work by retreating into children's stories and innocuous historical fiction having been declared an 'undesirable author'. Whilst many contemporaries emigrated he chose to stay in Germany and was therefore perfectly placed to witness, first-hand, the everyday horrors during this era.

I read this biography before reading any of Hans Fallada's work. I now feel very well informed about his life and work, and I am feeling very enthused about reading his books. Ditzen's friend and colleague, Paul Mayer, is quoted at the end of the book: "German literature has not many realistic writers. Hans Fallada is one of them. His work, mutilated by political terror, is even as a torso important enough not to be forgotten."

This book works on so many levels, and includes memorable insights into the social history of Germany, the life of a tortured artist, and the subtle but insistent day-to-day horrors of life under a fascist regime.

4/5


message 26: by Nigeyb (last edited Mar 13, 2014 04:31AM) (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
I am now currently reading...





Every Man Dies Alone (USA title) / Alone in Berlin (UK title) by Hans Fallada

I am about 50 pages in. This novel really brings alive the day-to-day hell of life under the Nazis. Imagine everyone in a position of influence being a small minded, vindictive Daily Mail reader, and your neighbours being encouraged to report anything that might be considered inappropriate. These reports leading to persecution, prison, or the concentration camp.

The tension started from the first page and is mounting with each passing chapter. I dread to think what it's going to be like if it carries on like this.

It's really interesting to read a German perspective on Nazi Germany.

Click here for an article from 2010 about the book.. Here's the first two paragraphs...

A little-known thriller about the German resistance against the Nazis has become the sleeper hit of the summer – more than 60 years after it was written.

Now it has finally been translated into English, Hans Fallada's Alone in Berlin is taking bestseller lists by storm on both sides of the Atlantic. In the UK alone, Penguin Classics has sold more than 100,000 copies in just three months and is expecting to exceed 250,000 sales within the year – astonishing figures considering that most English novels barely sell a few thousand copies.


Some praise for the book...

A truly great book...an utterly gripping thriller" - Sunday Telegraph

Fallada's great novel, beautifully translated by the poet Michael Hoffman, evokes the daily horror of life under the Third Reich, where the venom of Nazism seeped into the very pores of society, poisoning every aspect of existence. It is a story of resistence, sly humour and hope" - Ben Macintyre, The Times

Alone in Berlin haas something of the horror of Joseph Conrad, the madness of Fyodor Dostoyevsky ands the chilling of Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood"" - Roger Cohen, New York Times

I'll keep you posted.


message 27: by Nigeyb (last edited Mar 18, 2014 02:51PM) (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
Nigeyb wrote: "I'll keep you posted. "


I have just finished reading...

Alone In Berlin (aka Every Man Dies Alone (USA title))

Hans Fallada was all but forgotten outside Germany when this 1947 novel, Alone in Berlin (US title: Every Man Dies Alone), was reissued in English in 2009, whereupon it became a best seller and reintroduced Hans Fallada's work to a new generation of readers.

I came to this book having read More Lives Than One: A Biography of Hans Fallada by Jenny Williams, which was the perfect introduction into the literary world of Hans Fallada.

Alone In Berlin really brings alive the day-to-day hell of life under the Nazis - and the ways in which people either compromised their integrity by accepting the regime, or, in some cases, resisted. The insights into life inside Nazi Germany are both fascinating and appalling. The venom of Nazism seeping into every aspect of society leaving no part of daily existence untouched or uncorrupted.

Alone In Berlin is also a thriller, and the tension starts from the first page and mounts with each passing chapter. I can only echo the praise that has been heaped on this astonishingly good, rediscovered World War Two masterpiece. It's a truly great book: gripping, profound and essential.

5/5


message 28: by Mark (new)

Mark Rubenstein | 1364 comments Really really really pleased to hear that you enjoyed the novel every bit as much as I had thought you would. As I'd previously said, it may not be the best novel I've ever read, but I've certainly never read a better one.

Hopefully, you'll continue along the Fallada path... there's some real gems amongst his output.


message 29: by Nigeyb (last edited Apr 02, 2014 08:26AM) (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
^ And thanks to you Mark for introducing me to yet another stunning book and a great writer.


I completely agree that I've certainly "never read a better book" than Alone in Berlin. I'm still reeling from it.


message 30: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
Here's a question....



Hans Fallada was all but forgotten outside Germany when this 1947 novel - Alone in Berlin / Every Man Dies Alone - was reissued in English in 2009, whereupon it became a best seller.

What do you think it is about Hans Fallada's book that made it resonate with a new generation of readers?

Interestingly, the release of Michael Hofmann’s splendid translation of “Every Man Dies Alone” came with the simultaneous publication of excellent English versions of Fallada’s two best-known novels, “Little Man, What Now?” (translated by Susan Bennett) and “The Drinker” (translated by Charlotte and A. L. Lloyd).

My own answer, is that now, 70 or so years later, we can get a handle on the actions, motivations and private terrors of Berliners who almost all now dead, and so really understand the day-to-day wickedness of the Nazi regime. And, having read the splendid biography of Fallada - More Lives Than One: A Biography of Hans Fallada by Jenny Williams - I knowthat Fallada witnessed a lot of what he details firsthand. He chose not to leave Nazi Germany, although he had the chance.


message 31: by Nigeyb (last edited Jun 03, 2014 06:29AM) (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
I've just watched "M" (1931) directed by Fritz Lang.



Is the photo on the cover of Tales from the Underworld from the film...?



As I was watching "M" I thought I'd seen the image recently. The man on the cover looks identical to the character who chairs the kangaroo court.


message 32: by Mark (new)

Mark Rubenstein | 1364 comments So sorry for forgetting to check the image credit on the back of the jacket last night. It's not laziness, more like senility... will note to check this evening!


message 33: by Nigeyb (last edited Jun 04, 2014 12:57PM) (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
^ Brilliant. Thanks Mark.


Rest assured I knew it was not laziness. I know you're a busy fella with plenty more pressing matters to attend to. As and when. As. And. When.


message 34: by Mark (new)

Mark Rubenstein | 1364 comments Just had a look, but the only photo credit on the back of the jacket... in the tiniest possible font size... gives nothing away apart from a film archive house. Looking again at it, though, I can absolutely confirm that it's a still from Lang's "M." No doubt about it.


message 35: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
Mark wrote: "Just had a look, but the only photo credit on the back of the jacket... in the tiniest possible font size... gives nothing away apart from a film archive house. Looking again at it, though, I can absolutely confirm that it's a still from Lang's "M." No doubt about it. "

Great work Mark. Thanks.

I think "M" makes a perfect cinematic companion piece to Hans Fallada.


message 36: by Greg (new)

Greg | 159 comments I've started reading Alone in Berlin. Really enjoying this book. Before I knew it I was on Page 80.


message 37: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
^ Great news Greg. It's an absolute classic: very atmospheric and a real page turner.


message 38: by Nigeyb (last edited Jul 03, 2017 09:50AM) (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
I've just discovered that Every Man Dies Alone (USA title) / Alone in Berlin has been made into a film....

Alone in Berlin is a 2016 war drama film directed by Vincent Pérez and written by Pérez and Achim von Borries, based on the 1947 fictionalized novel Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada. The novel's characters Otto and Anna Quangel are based on the real lives of Otto and Elise Hampel. When their son dies in France, the couple start writing postcards to urge people to protest against Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime. The film stars Emma Thompson, Brendan Gleeson, and Daniel Brühl. Principal photography began on 27 March 2015 in Berlin. It was selected to compete for the Golden Bear at the 66th Berlin International Film Festival.

It's just been released in the UK and, according to one of my favourite critics Mark Kermode, it's pretty damn fine too....

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p057f25p

Any film that features Emma Thompson and Brendan Gleeson automatically has quite a lot to recommend it. I look forward to seeing it given how much I loved the book....

Click here to read my review


message 39: by Mark (new)

Mark Rubenstein | 1364 comments Without offering up any spoilers, we watched the film last weekend on dvd. I approached it with a fair amount of trepidation -- which is a mark of the high regards with which I hold the novel, and the knowledge that film adaptations often disappoint. This was a rare exception, happy to say. As a film, it certainly held up -- top shelf acting, and visually stunning. In short, the film felt like an abstract abbreviation of the novel, lacking the depth and scope of the book, which I guess is to be expected. As a companion to the novel, it's quite good and worth seeing. Unfortunately, though, I'm not sure that seeing the film without having first read the novel would leave such viewers keen to read Fallada's work. I could be wrong -- I have a difficult time judging these things.


message 40: by Nigeyb (last edited Jul 04, 2017 07:12AM) (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
Thanks for your thoughts Mark. What you say about the film, working best as a companion piece to the book, rings true, given the number of lukewarm reviews I've espied. I've not read any, but have noticed a few two and three star reviews. I look forward to making my own mind up soon, and will report back.


message 41: by Mark (new)

Mark Rubenstein | 1364 comments I think the best approach, if you prefer to maximize your enjoyment, would be to watch the film in two minds -- one as having read the novel, while at the same time with a clear and completely open mind. In general, the film is an encapsulation of the novel, which, as such, will inevitably leave holes exposed.

I'll look forward to hearing your thoughts after you sit through it!


message 42: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
My real world Book Group choice which I have to finish in the next three weeks is....


Nightmare in Berlin by Hans Fallada



Nightmare in Berlin has only recently been published in English.

The blurb has it thus.....

Nightmare in Berlin is an unforgettable portrayal by a master novelist of the physical and psychological devastation wrought in the homeland by Hitler’s war.

Late April, 1945. The war is over, yet Dr Doll, a loner and ‘moderate pessimist’, lives in constant fear. By night, he is haunted by nightmarish images of the bombsite in which he is trapped — he, and the rest of Germany. More than anything, he wishes to vanquish the demon of collective guilt, but he is unable to right any wrongs, especially in his position as mayor of a small town in north-east Germany that has been occupied by the Red Army.

Dr Doll flees for Berlin, where he finds escape in a morphine addiction: each dose is a ‘small death’. He tries to make his way in the chaos of a city torn apart by war, accompanied by his young wife, who shares his addiction. Fighting to save two lives, he tentatively begins to believe in a better future.

Written with Fallada’s distinctive power and vividness, Nightmare in Berlin captures the demoralised and desperate atmosphere of post-war Germany in a way that has never been matched or surpassed.





message 43: by Mark (new)

Mark Rubenstein | 1364 comments Much as I liked Nightmare in Berlin, I’d rate it a bit lower than his best, right outside my personal Top Three. As ol’ Hans himself would probably remark, it was far from his würst. One of his most autobiographical novels, if I remember correctly, and well worth reading. Enjoy!


message 44: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
Thanks Mark. I’ll let keep you posted.


message 45: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
I recently finished Nightmare in Berlin. Well worth reading. Review here....


https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

Written in 1946, 'Nightmare in Berlin' is heavily autobiographical and draws on the author's experiences from April 1945 to July 1946. Like Dr Doll and his wife Alma, Fallada and his wife were both morphine addicts. You get the impression many other Germans cultivated a network of accommodating doctors to blot out their nightmarish and uncertain reality. Throughout the book, Doll's mood and motivation veer between determined optimism and drug addled despair.


message 46: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
Coincidentally, given the drug content of Nightmare in Berlin, I'm now listening to Blitzed: Drugs in Nazi Germany by Norman Ohler. I'm only up to the second chapter but it is fascinating.

Meth Amphetamine was a legal prescription drug marketed as Pervetin produced by the Berlin-based Temmler pharmaceutical company and glowingly endorsed by addicted doctors. It seemed like a miracle at first and was taken by civilians and the armed forces alike.

Pervitin became colloquially known among the German troops as "Stuka-Tablets" (Stuka-Tabletten) and "Herman-Göring-Pills" (Hermann-Göring-Pillen). Side effects were so serious that the army sharply cut back its usage in 1940.

Historian Lukasz Kamienski says "A soldier going to battle on Pervitin usually found himself unable to perform effectively for the next day or two. Suffering from a drug hangover and looking more like a zombie than a great warrior, he had to recover from the side effects." Some soldiers turned very violent, committing war crimes against civilians; others attacked their own officers.





message 47: by Mark (new)

Mark Rubenstein | 1364 comments Oh, good, Blitzed has been on my radar for quite a while now, but hadn’t felt compelled to take the plunge until your enthusiasm tipped me over the edge. It’ll be included in my next round of ordering books, I can tell you. Seems fascinating, really.


message 48: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
Thanks Mark - glad I inspired you. I thought it was really interesting and I hope you do too


message 49: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
David wrote:


"I know that somewhere aboard the good ship Hamilton, there was communal purring of delight in a discussion of Hans Fallada’s delicious Alone In Berlin.

There was a 2016 film apparently, featuring Emma Thompson and Brendan Gleeson.

Set your recorders, or stay up late tonight, as it’s on Film4 (Freeview ch 14) in the UK tonight at 23.30, or an hour later on Film4+1 (Freeview ch 46).

What a time to be alive (usual restrictons apply)."


Great news

Off to set the recorder now


message 50: by Mark (new)

Mark Rubenstein | 1364 comments I can’t recommend watching the film as a substitute for reading the novel, as it’s quite condensed out of necessity, but it’s a fantastic companion to the book, and visually pleasing. Absolutely worth sitting through.


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