Clownby Heinrich Boll
Pub. Date: 12/28/2010
Publisher: Melville House Publishing
Through the eyes of a despairing artist, Hans Schneir, who recreates in his pantomimes incidents in people's lives with honesty and compassion, Boll draws a revealing portrait of German society under Hitler and in the postwar years.
- Melville House Publishing
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The Clown is a thought provoking novel, dealing with powerful themes. On the surface this is the story of Hans Schneir, moderately successful clown, who's long time girlfriend has recently left him. Intertwined with this story are reminiscences of Hans' past, reveling his hatred of his mother, the political elite of post-war West Germany, and the Catholic Church. With sharp humor Boll eviscerates these hypocrites, who, while today proclaim they fight for tolerance and reconciliation, are the same people who only yesterday fought to cleanse the German soil of the Jewish infestation. But as we come to know Hans Schneir more and more intimately we begin to wonder if we can trust his assessment. It becomes obvious that Hans' hatred is wrapped up in his own personal loss, and even more obvious that Hans is incapable of taking responsibility for his own failures, instead casting blame on all those around him. There can be no doubt that the hypocrisies Hans loathes are real, but are they the true origin of his disdain? Is his hatred of Catholicism justified by a domineering Church which he see as forcing its values on society as a whole, or is it the same kind of reactionary hatred which led to the rise of Hitler and National Socialism? Perhaps it's both. And that's the beauty of Boll's masterpiece
A brilliant book...one of the finest examinations of the artistic life in print.