Acclaimed entertainer Hans Schneir collapses when his beloved Marie leaves him because he won’t marry her within the Catholic Church. The desertion triggers a searing re-examination of his life—the loss of his sister during the war, the demands of his millionaire father and the hypocrisies of his mother, who first fought to “save” Germany from the Jews, then worked for “reconciliation”
Heinrich Böll’s gripping consideration of how to overcome guilt and live up to idealism—how to find something to believe in—gives stirring evidence of why he was such an unwelcome presence in post-War German consciousness . . . and why he was such a necessary one.
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In 1972, Heinrich Böll became the first German to win the Nobel Prize for literature since Thomas Mann in 1929. Born in Cologne, in 1917, Böll was reared in a liberal Catholic, pacifist family. Drafted into the Wehrmacht, he served on the Russian and French fronts and was wounded four times before he found himself in an American prison camp. After the war he enrolled at the University of Cologne, but dropped out to write about his shattering experiences as a soldier. His first novel, The Train Was on Time, was published in 1949, and he went on to become one of the most prolific and important of post-war German writers. His best-known novels include Billiards at Half-Past Nine (1959), The Clown (1963), Group Portrait with Lady (1971), and The Safety Net (1979). In 1981 he published a memoir, What’s to Become of the Boy? or: Something to Do with Books. Böll served for several years as the president of International P.E.N. and was a leading defender of the intellectual freedom of writers throughout the world. He died in June 1985.
Scott Esposito is a critic and the editor of The Quarterly Conversation, a quarterly web magazine of book reviews and essays. He has written for many newspapers and magazines, including the Los Angeles Times, Words Without Borders, and the Barnes & Noble Review.
Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German
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Book Description Penguin Classics, 1994. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P11014018726X