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Little Man, What Now? Paperback – March 3, 2009

4.5 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Fallada's 1933 novel follows the financial woes of a young married couple living in Depression-era Germany on the cusp of the rise of the Third Reich.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

“ Fallada deserves high praise for having reported so realistically, so truthfully, with such closeness to life.” –Herman Hesse

“ 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
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 345 pages
  • Publisher: Melville House (March 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933633646
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933633640
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #87,850 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Before WWII, German writer Hans Fallada's novels were international bestsellers, on a par with those of his countrymen Thoman 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, 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.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Verified Purchase
This is an excellent book. I read it in 1934 when it was selected as a Book of the Month Club selection. It has contiued to haunt my mind as I watched the rise of the NationalSocialist party rise to power in Germany. It explained the plight of the German psyche after the Treaty of Versailles and the human cost of the repatriation demands creating the human bondage. It was a great lesson learned by the United States and other allies in creating the Marshall plan for the allies former enemies. I was incredulous on learing that Amazon.com was able to provide this most out of date novel. Thankyou.
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The story of the life of the little man Johannes Pinneberg and his love in the Weimar Republic (Germany before Hitler). It accurately presents the hardship of people in the worldwide economic crisis in the 30ies. Pinneberg is a salesman who believes himself above the proletarians. He strives for a bourgeois kind of lifestyle. But after marrying his struggle for survival begins with his social decline. Pinneberg learns: you have to work like an animal or you won't work at all. The book is a story about money, hardship and the constant threat of failure. But one thing prevails: love.
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.
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This novel provides an interesting look at Germany in the years between World War I and II. As I read it and saw got an understanding of the depths of economic depression the country was in, I began to have a better grasp of how Hitler was able to mesmerize the nation and take power -- he spoke in a way that made people think he'd restore their pride and prosperity.
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.
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Format: Paperback
"Little Man, What Now?" is a story that, while set against the backdrop of the waning days of the Weimar Republic, is simply about a man trying to determine his role in society, and all of the things--wife, job, class, and home--that comprise it. Indeed, as Fallada tells his tale of the time period through the eyes of the newly-married Johannes and Lammchen, he puts faces and names on the poverty that spread through Germany like wildfire during the Interwar period. Reading this nearly 80 years after the first publication, I am delighted by the sardonic humor that Fallada chose to employ and the thick description of his prose. It places you smack dab in the middle of Germany in the 30s, but not without a wink or two.
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I found this book thoroughly engrossing. After what can seem to be a slow start, the plot thickens beautifully and the narrative becomes more and more filled with pathos. I found myself being slowly drawn into the world of these characters to the extent that I wound up constantly fretting over their fate.

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.
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Format: Paperback
Having recently read and enjoyed "Every man Dies Alone," I decided to give this book a turn and wasn't disappointed. As advertised, this novel give a true to life feel for everyday life in pre-World War II Berlin--with all kinds of charming and not-so charming characters. Very touching at times; it has its own low key sense of suspense that keeps the interest level high. My only complaint would be the brief descriptors which precede each chapter. They kind of give things away before you get a chance to read about them.
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