Loved this. But first, some context: Hans Fallada is the pen name of Rudolf Ditzen. At the age of 18, Ditzen and a friend went out in the countryside and, in the manner of duellists, fired guns at each other over some adolescent sexual rutting. For the first of many times, Ditzen was committed to a sanatorium for the mentally ill. Released, Ditzen turned to alcohol and narcotics.
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Some information in it may no longer be current. I read it, and then I wrote a blurb for it. I wrote this blurb, and I took a long time to make sure it was the strongest I could manage to write. I snapped at the opportunity. Now, this is not the way these things are supposed to go; the reviewer is assumed to approach a new work in a condition known as "fair and impartial.
What kind of human, given the circumstances under which Every Man Dies Alone was written, could be impartial about it? Novelist Hans Fallada was simply born in the wrong year, , and in the wrong country, Germany. Thus, his life, professional and personal, had to be lived amid the chaos and brutality of Europe in the first half of the 20th century. In , at the age of 27, he published his first novel, and went on from there to become a world-class popular author - Book-of-the-Month Club in the United States and a major motion picture in Hollywood of his best-known novel, Little Man, What Now?
Story continues below advertisement By , after Fallada had lived through the First World War and German economic depression in the s, his novels began to reflect social consciousness - just in time for the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party in In April of that year, Fallada was jailed, for the first time, by the Gestapo, for "anti-Nazi activities," and by - he was then 41 - his books were removed from public libraries.
By , he was declared "an undesirable author. At the last minute, Fallada realized that he could not leave, he had to stay in Germany. His marriage failing, he had become an alcoholic and was addicted to morphine. By , at the age of 51, he had been locked up in a Nazi insane asylum. Fallada pretended to do so, in fact using the paper he was given to write his own work in code.
After the war ended, a caring friend tried to help him, to inspire him, and gave him the Gestapo file of a working-class couple who performed many acts of resistance in Berlin. Every Man Dies Alone is a good book, a readable, suspense-driven novel from an author who a knew what he was doing when it came to writing commercial fiction, and b had lived through, and so knew intimately, the period he was writing about. This is an extraordinary combination.
Thus, the characters - and what characters they are, the good, the bad and the ugly of the Berlin working class during the war - are drawn from life. They are alive. The plot follows the daily lives of a few of them who resisted evil at a time when it was pretty much guaranteed to be fatal to do so. Still, the suspense never eases; Fallada, like any good commercial novelist, knew how to work on the reader. Every Man Dies Alone seems to me a one-of-a-kind novel.
At the end of the day, Every Man Dies Alone is a testament, nothing less. Thus, in his way, Fallada can be seen as a hero, a writer-hero who survived just long enough to strike back at his oppressors. And it is in his honour, as a fellow novelist, that I wrote this review. Alan Furst is the author of the Night Soldiers series of historical spy novels, set before and during the Second World War. The most recent is The Spies of Warsaw. But the fact that the movie was produced by Jews brought Fallada to the attention of the Nazi Party, which was just coming to power.
As such, of course, it is a deeply critical study of life under the Nazis, and could have resulted in his death if it had been discovered.
Follow the Author
Some information in it may no longer be current. I read it, and then I wrote a blurb for it. I wrote this blurb, and I took a long time to make sure it was the strongest I could manage to write. I snapped at the opportunity.
Early life[ edit ] Fallada was born in Greifswald , Germany, the child of a magistrate on his way to becoming a supreme court judge and a mother from a middle-class background, both of whom shared an enthusiasm for music, and to a lesser extent, literature. Fallada had a very difficult time upon first entering school in As a result, he immersed himself in books, eschewing literature more in line with his age for authors such as Flaubert , Dostoevsky , and Dickens. His adolescent years were characterized by increasing isolation and self-doubt, compounded by the lingering effects of these ailments.
Postcards From the Edge
Background[ edit ] Otto and Elise Hampel , a working class couple in Berlin, were not interested in politics, but after Elise Hampel learned that her son  had fallen in France, she and her husband began committing acts of civil disobedience. They began writing leaflets on postcards , urging people to resist and overthrow the Nazis. They wrote hundreds of them, leaving them in apartment stairwells and dropping them into mailboxes. Though they knew the law made this a capital crime , they continued this work for well over a year until they were betrayed and arrested. He also had an ear for the simple speech of the common worker. The book conveys the omnipresent fear and suspicion engulfing Germany at the time caused by the constant threat of arrest, imprisonment,   torture and death.