Wednesday, March 2, 2011
New Arrivals: Four by Hans Fallada
"Before WWII , German writer Hans Fallada’s novels were international bestsellers, on a par with those of his countrymen Thomas Mann and Herman Hesse. In America, Hollywood even turned his first big novel, Little Man, What Now? into a major motion picture.
Learning the movie was made by a Jewish producer, however, Hitler decreed Fallada’s work could no longer be sold outside Germany, and the rising Nazis began to pay him closer attention. When he refused to join the Nazi party he was arrested by the Gestapo—who eventually released him, but thereafter regularly summoned him for “discussions” of his work.
However, unlike Mann, Hesse, and others, Fallada refused to flee to safety, even when his British publisher, George Putnam, sent a private boat to rescue him. The pressure took its toll on Fallada, and he resorted increasingly to drugs and alcohol for relief. After Goebbels ordered him to write an anti-Semitic novel, he snapped and found himself imprisoned in an asylum for the “criminally insane”—considered a death sentence under Nazi rule. To forestall the inevitable, he pretended to write the assignment for Goebbels, while actually composing
three encrypted books—including his tour de force novel The Drinker—in such dense code that they were not deciphered until long after his death.
Fallada outlasted the Reich and was freed at war’s end. But he was a shattered man. To help him recover by putting him to work, Fallada’s publisher gave him the Gestapo file of a simple, working-class couple who had resisted the Nazis. Inspired, Fallada completed Every Man Dies Alone in just twenty-four days.
He died in February 1947, just weeks before the book’s publication." -Melville House
"Written in an encrypted notebook while incarcerated in a Nazi insane asylum and discovered after his death, The Drinker may be Hans Fallada’s most breathtaking piece of craftsmanship. It is an intense yet absorbing study of the descent into drunkenness by an intelligent man who fears he’s lost it all."
"Genuinely tragic and beautiful...[Fallada's] perfectly horrifying, horrifyingly perfect novel is the story of himself rejected by society and returning the insult."
Little Man, What Now?
This is the book that led to Hans Fallada's downfall with the Nazis. The sotry of a young couple struggling to survive the German economic collapse was a worldwide sensation and was made into an acclaimed Hollywood movie produced by Jews, leading Hitler to ban Fallda's work from being translated.
Nonetheless, it remains, as The Times Literary Supplement notes, "the novel of a time in which public and rivate merged even for those who wanted to stay at home and mind their own business."
"Fallada deserves high praise for having reported so realistically, so truthfully, with such closeness to life." —Herman Hesse
"Superb." —Graham Greene
"Painfully true to life ... I have read nothing so engaging as Little Man, What Now? for a long time." — Thomas Mann
Wolf Among Wolves
"His most ambitious novel... deeply moving... he has evoked more than one can bear, but not more than it is necessary to learn, to keep and to understand."
—Alfred Kazin, The New York Times
"Fallada handles [the characters] not morbidly but with a Hogarthian exuberance and a tough humor, infusing into even those dying spirits the life of his copious imagination... Fallada's best book." —The New Yorker (1938)
“An outstanding novel [about] an especially grim period in German history, the Weimar Republic....Much more entertaining than the tomes produced by the usual German suspects, Mann, Hesse, Grass, Böll.” —Tibor Fischer, The Telegraph
"Fallada can be seen as a hero, a writer-hero who survived just long enough to strike back at his oppressors." —Alan Furst
Every Man Dies Alone
“A signal literary event of 2009 has occurred… Rescued from the grave, from decades of forgetting…[Every Man Dies Alone] testifies to the lasting value of an intact, if battered, conscience…In a publishing hat trick, Melville House allows English-language readers to sample Fallada’s vertiginous variety…[and] the keen vision of a troubled man in troubled times, with more breadth, detail and understanding…than most other chroniclers of the era have delivered. To read Every Man Dies Alone, Fallada’s testament to the darkest years of the 20th century, is to be accompanied by a wise, somber ghost who grips your shoulder and whispers in your ear: “This is how it was. This is what happened.” —The New York Times Book Review
"The greatest book ever written about the German resistance to the Nazi's." —Primo Levi
"Hans Fallada's Every Man Dies Alone is one of the most extraordinary and compelling novels ever written about World War II. Ever. Please do not miss this." —Alan Furst Link
"One of the most extraordinary ambitious literary resurrections in recent memory." —The Los Angeles Times
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