Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Clown (The Essential Heinrich Boll) Paperback – December 28, 2010
|New from||Used from|
"Children of Blood and Bone"
Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut. Learn more
Customers who bought this item also bought
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Acclaimed entertainer Hans Schneir collapses when his beloved Marie leaves him because he won’t marry her within the Catholic Church. The desertion triggers a searing re-examination of his lifeâthe loss of his sister during the war, the demands of his millionaire father and the hypocrisies of his mother, who first fought to “save” Germany from the Jews, then worked for “reconciliation”
Heinrich BÃ¶ll’s gripping consideration of how to overcome guilt and live up to idealismâhow to find something to believe inâgives stirring evidence of why he was such an unwelcome presence in post-War German consciousness . . . and why he was such a necessary one.
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
The Clown is written in the first person. We see others only through the eyes or mind of the clown, Schnier; and for the most part others are seen only through his memory of the past. Indeed, Maria, his lover who has left him for a Catholic, and the one upon whom he relies and for whom he pines to make himself complete, appears only in memory. And the reader can never be certain that his descriptions of them (or of himself) are accurate. Schnier concedes his memory plays tricks, that he sometimes cannot separate reality from fiction, and that he has problems. (These, of course, are the same problems he sees in post-War Germany as it addresses the Nazi past in the midst of its affluence.)
The self-centered Schnier wrestles with the existential question Who am I?, and the novel invites Germany and the Catholic Church in Germany to do the same. Is life but a series of moments or is there a coherent narrative? Are prosperity and legalism an answer, or is the person more important? Is there something deeper than money, affluence, reputation, power, status, and appearance? Are we all prostitutes selling ourselves for something ephemeral? Why are we here? Indeed, using Catholic terminology, the novel can be read as the clown’s extended examination of conscience and an invitation to Germans and Catholics to examine theirs.
The ending of The Clown alludes to the specific day on which the story occurs, which, for me, helps put the novel and its message in context. In describing the book, the back cover of the paperback edition I read (Penguin Twentieth Century Classics) says “Schneir’s (sic) own comfort remains elusive.” Perhaps so, but I read the final pages of the novel to say that, having looked deeply at himself, Schnier, the clown, has seen and come to grips with who he is, and, no longer limping, he is reborn in peace not affluence. The same cannot be said of Germany and the Catholic Church.
The story is perfect somehow: a woman leaves her husband, a decent man (the narrator), for someone who is more powerful within the Catholic Church, the same Church that ostensibly preaches "blessed are those who are meek for they shall inherit the earth." By focusing on these smaller acts of injustice and hypocrisy (rather than on the overwhelming horrors of Nazi Germany), Boll brings what happened in Germany into a focus that I had never seen before.
When I hear George Bush talk about "spreading freedom" while suppressing democracy at home or condemn "evil doers" while condoning torture, I think of this book. It captures the emptiness at the heart of the mealy-mouthed pieties that afflict our civilization with a economy and grace that is unique.
Stumbled upon Heinrich Boll while reviewing past winners/laureates of the Nobel Prize for Literature. Curious that I had not heard of him...
Where to start with such a novel? Boll captures much in this short book.
While this novel is certainly a social critique; it is less an ATTACK on society (religion, capitalism, etc) and more of a resigned discussion of society's absurdity.
Just read it.
Most recent customer reviews
Heinrich Boll is masterful in this simple little story about a day in the life of an early 20th century...Read more