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The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum : Or How Violence Develops and Where It Can Lead (Penguin Twentieth Century Classics) Paperback – June 1, 1994

ISBN-13: 978-0140187281 ISBN-10: 0140187286

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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German
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Product Details

  • Series: Classic, 20th-Century, Penguin
  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (June 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140187286
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140187281
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5.1 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,274,498 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 15, 1998
Format: Paperback
A minor incident in Katrina Blum's life, turned into news by needy papers, sets in motion a series of destructive events which make the incident a horribly defining one. Boll leads the reader into an evaluation of the so-called "disintrested" and "unbiased" media, who make their living from revealing the darker side of human nature. A good book to read in the aftermath of any media "discovery" or "controversy".
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21 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 2, 1999
Format: Paperback
I have to admit, I saw the film before reading the book, and I recommend them both. In today's climate in America, - when the police profession is considered one of the noblest by liberals and conservatives alike, and the so-called "liberal" press, which crossed the line into tabloid journalism awhile ago, and which still hides behind the myth/lie of "objectivity," - this book is as timely and relevant today as it ever was, and should be mandatory viewing/reading.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Heinrich Boll (d. 1985) was one of the three greatest German novelists (along with Gunter Grass and W.G. Sebald) of the latter half of the 20th Century. This novella was initially published in serialized form in "Der Spiegel" in 1974. Boll wrote it midst public controversy in Germany over the reporting of political violence by a large-circulation newspaper, which Boll felt unduly transgressed the rights of individuals in a liberal democracy.

Katharina Blum is an attractive young woman with a strong sense of honor trying to make a living, independently, in the restaurant/catering field and taking care of the homes of affluent professionals. She is the epitome of the capitalistic ethic, a young woman from a working-class background attempting to secure for herself a comfortable petty bourgeois existence. By happenstance, she ends up entertaining, as a romantic interest, a fugitive who, unbeknownst to her, is suspected (wrongly) of terroristic activities. She is ensnared in the investigation, and then spotlighted and hounded by the large-circulation newspaper (the "News"). The newspaper cloaks itself in the familiar homilies of a free press, but in actuality it wallows in the gutter of yellow journalism, and by the end of the novella it has sullied Katharina Blum, indirectly killed her aged and ill mother, damaged the lives of several unassuming friends of hers, and precipitated other unforeseen violence.

In addition to its critique of sensationalistic, irresponsible journalism, THE LOST HONOR OF KATHARINA BLUM also attacks the media's intrusion on individual privacy.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By D. Kresh on July 18, 2010
Format: Paperback
It is true that this book has something to say about irresponsible journalism, and that the book's observations have become much more obvious with time but, like any good novel, it also has a timeless quality. Fundamentally it is about real people and the absurd things they do and the absurd situations they get themselves into. There were many moments of laughter. The contrast between the real people and their carnival-mirror depictions in the press keeps the book lively. What I especially enjoyed was the voice Boll used in writing - the material is presented in the format of a formal report but there is so much humanity and humor in Boll's writing that the voice becomes something quite new and refreshing. This is my second Boll, after The Clown, and he certainly is a great 20th century writer.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 2, 1999
Format: Paperback
This novel characterizes Boll's disdain for the development of an unscrupulous, powerful press who let nothing stand in the way of their 'scoop', people, truth ...... and who are accountable to no one. It also identifies some of the key issues of the time with which many people were preoccupied, for example, anti-communist feelings amongst West Germans as a result of the cold war. It is entertaining if not a little heavy to read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Christian Engler on March 15, 2006
Format: Paperback
Information manipulation, secrets and lies and cover-ups all in the name of providing a service of keeping the public in the "loop" of day-to-day current events are the backdrops of Heinrich Boll's terse and relevant novel, The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum: Or How Violence Developes and Where It Can Lead. What happens when a person is pushed to the brink of insanity? Do they become a submissive doormat and allow themselves to be completely consumed or do they push back by whatever means necessary in order to obtain the caliber of liberty they once posessed? In this novel-the protagonist-Katharina Blum is placed in just such a scenario where a battle ensues between her and her nemesis, Totges, a hungry reporter who works for a tabloid news outfit appropriately called the "News," an unyielding and unflinching information organization that will stop at nothing-even slander and character assassination-to promote itself as being the ultimate "truth-seeker" despite their limited knowledge and understaning of that which they are seeking. Getting the story and fabricating it in order to remain first is the end-all and be-all, and truth and innocence takes a back seat. In the novel, Katharina is associated with Gotten, a "criminal". And because of that innocent connection, she is placed on par with him as a mastermind of evil, deviancy and debauchery; her life is firmly hybridized with his, and no matter how innocent her actions, she cannot escape the glued-on innuendo solidly attached to her reputation, and as the multi-layered cool and collected Katharina gradually gets stripped away to the bone, she lashes out and evolves into a real criminal, whereby before she was only a fabricated one, fodder for the news media in order to reach to the pinnacles of journalistic success.Read more ›
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