The Clown

The Clown

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by Heinrich Boll
     
 

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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 life—the 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

Overview

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 life—the 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”
afterwards.

Heinrich Böll’s gripping consideration of how to overcome guilt and live up to idealism—how to find something to believe in—gives stirring evidence of why he was such an unwelcome presence in post-War German consciousness . . . and why he was such a necessary one.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
THE ESSENTIAL HEINRICH BÖLL

"Melville House has now reissued handsome paperbacks of three of Böll's most important novels, and in each we find the 1972 Nobel Prize winner, with a humanist's skepticism and tenderness, refusing to allow his fellow Germans to forgive themselves and move on.... [In The Clown] the abstractions of existentialism are manifested in vivid flesh-and-blood characters."
—Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal

“Böll is an expert marksman: the arrows are sharp, the feathers smooth, the targets numerous.”
—The New York Times

“Moving . . . highly charged . . . filled with gentleness, high comic spirits, and human sympathy.”
—Christian Science Monitor

"His work reaches the highest level of creative originality and stylistic perfection."
The Daily Telegraph

"The renewal of German literature, to which Heinrich Böll's achievements witness, and of which they are a significant part, is not an experiment with form. Instead it is a rebirth out of annihilation, a resurrection, a culture which, ravaged by icy nights and condemned to extinction, sends up new shoots, blossoms, and matures to the joy and benefit of us all."
—The Nobel Prize Committee

“A man of deep feeling and intelligence, speaking in a strongly contemporary voice, [Böll] recorded in his early stories the way it felt to come home to a destroyed country. The tone was neither angry, ironic nor surreal. On the contrary, these stories gave us the slow-moving thoughtfulness of a narrator in pain, walking about on a lunar landscape, knowing he must make sense of things more quickly than he is able to do.”
—Vivian Gornick, The New York Times

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781935554172
Publisher:
Melville House Publishing
Publication date:
12/28/2010
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
8.42(w) x 11.26(h) x 0.68(d)

Meet the Author

In 1972, Heinrich Böll became the first German to win the Nobel Prize for literature since Thomas Mann in 1929. Born in Cologne, in 1917, Böll was reared in a liberal Catholic, pacifist family. Drafted into the Wehrmacht, he served on the Russian and French fronts and was wounded four times before he found himself in an American prison camp. After the war he enrolled at the University of Cologne, but dropped out to write about his shattering experiences as a soldier. His first novel, The Train Was on Time, was published in 1949, and he went on to become one of the most prolific and important of post-war German writers. His best-known novels include Billiards at Half-Past Nine (1959), The Clown (1963), Group Portrait with Lady (1971), and The Safety Net (1979). In 1981 he published a memoir, What’s to Become of the Boy? or: Something to Do with Books. Böll served for several years as the president of International P.E.N. and was a leading defender of the intellectual freedom of writers throughout the world. He died in June 1985.

Scott Esposito is a critic and the editor of The Quarterly Conversation, a quarterly web magazine of book reviews and essays. He has written for many newspapers and magazines, including the Los Angeles Times, Words Without Borders, and the Barnes & Noble Review.

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The Clown 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
CR-Buell More than 1 year ago
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
michaelthemad More than 1 year ago
A brilliant book...one of the finest examinations of the artistic life in print. 
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