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Little Man, What Now? Paperback – March 3, 2009
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From Library Journal
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
“ Superb.” –Graham Greene
"In a publishing hat trick, Melville House allows English-language readers to sample Fallada's vertiginous variety accompanying the release of Michael Hoffman's splendid translation of Every Man Dies Alone 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). In his probing afterword to Little Man, What Now?, Philip Brady ponders the question of why the book isn't better-known today: "Enduring success is one thing, immediate impact is something different, and clearly the immediate impact of Fallada's novel was undeniable." Given our current economic circumstances, the book may have a second chance at impact and endurance."
- New York Times Book Review
More About the Author
Learning the movie was made by a Jewish producer, however, the Nazis blocked Fallada's work from foreign rights sales, and 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. Not long 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.
Top Customer Reviews
The book is one of my all-time favorites. If you don't mind reading books that are literature at the same time I highly recommend it.
The story itself is fairly basic. I liked how Fallada wrapped the lessons about history and the economic/political situation around the simple tale of a young couple trying to raise a family and survive in the Depression. The characters were a little stereotypical and could have had more depth, but in general they were quite interesting. The pace of the novel was good. The book was a bit long, but Fallada is a good enough writer that it didn't bother me too much. This book is a good read that any history buff will certainly enjoy.
Emma and Johannes Pinneberg are newlyweds trying to live a decent life in the straitened circumstances of Weimar Germany. Emma has recently become pregnant, and so a heavy burden of responsibility has fallen upon the shoulders of her young husband. But Johannes is in difficulties: it's virtually impossible for him to find work or decent lodgings, and so he shuffles between a demeaning job - from which he hangs by a thread - and a squalid domestic setting, which his wife (a strong figure) is always trying to make the best of.
Three scenes linger in the memory. At one point, the gravid and exhausted Emma has to wander all over Berlin looking for an affordable apartment. But because she is expecting, she is an unwelcome prospect for any landlord, and so she staggers from one disappointment to the next like an Antarctic explorer desperately seeking a depot. As a picture of hostile urban desolation, the rendering is quite powerful.
Secondly, there is Johannes' inner thoughts as he walks through the Tiergarten and sees the wretchedness of the unemployed about him:
'Pinneberg had the feeling, despite the fact that he was about to become a wage-earner again, that he was much closer to those non-earners than to people who earned a great deal. He was one of them, any day he could find himself standing here among them, and there was nothing he could do about it. He had no protection. He was one of millions.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I love anything Fallada writes. No high drama, but real life in hard times. He has the knack with words to make ordinary fascinating.Published 2 months ago by donna h
I found the history behind the book and the author's life in Nazi Germany fascinating but the story itself was slow and difficult to get through. Read morePublished 4 months ago by H.
Anything writen by Hans Fallada (nom de plume) is well worth the time; "it gives one to *think*".Published 5 months ago by Evern Kay
Hans Fallada has created several masterpiece works of fiction and this is definitely one of them. Fallada
wrote of Germany during the thirties and early forties which were... Read more
It may have read better at the time given the circumstances. I just found the POV and voice rather naive sounding and insular. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Eddie Russell
An interesting read that gives insight into what it was like to be a white collar worker in Berlin just prior to WWII. Read morePublished 10 months ago by dictionaryfan
Fascinating. My daughter needed to read this for a German class and Suggested that I read this too. I have always tried to envision what it was like to live in Wiemar Germany.Published 11 months ago by snarkychaser