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The Guiltless

Overview

Murder, lust, shame, hypocrisy, and suicide are at the center of The Guiltless, Hermann Broth's novel about the disintegration of European society in the first three decades of the twentieth century. Broth's characters—an apathetic man who can barely remember his own name (Broth mostly refers to him as A.); a high-school teacher and his lover who return from the brink of a suicide pact to carry on a dishonest relationship; Zerline, the lady's maid who enslaves her mistresses, prostitutes the young country girl ...
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Overview

Murder, lust, shame, hypocrisy, and suicide are at the center of The Guiltless, Hermann Broth's novel about the disintegration of European society in the first three decades of the twentieth century. Broth's characters—an apathetic man who can barely remember his own name (Broth mostly refers to him as A.); a high-school teacher and his lover who return from the brink of a suicide pact to carry on a dishonest relationship; Zerline, the lady's maid who enslaves her mistresses, prostitutes the young country girl Melitta to gentleman A., and metes out her own justice against the "empty wickedness" of her betters—are trapped in their indifference, prisoners of a sort of "wakeful somnolence." These men and women may mention the "imbecile Hitler," yet they prefer a nap or sexual encounter to any social action. In Broth's mind this kind of ethical perversity and political apathy paved the way for Nazism.

Broth believed that writing can purify, and by revealing Germany's underlying guilt he hoped to purge indifference from his own and future generations. In The Guiltless, Broth captures how apathy and ennui?very human failings—evolve into something dehumanizing and dangerous.

About the Author:
Ralph Manheim translated Hourglass by Danilo Kis and numerous works by Gunter Grass, including The Tin Drum. He has edited and translated novels and plays by Bertolt Brecht, Hermann Hesse, and Erich Maria Remarque.

Composed of eleven chapters differeing in tone and style, the novel portrays an apathetic and ethically debased European society.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780810160781
  • Publisher: Northwestern University Press
  • Publication date: 12/28/2000
  • Pages: 292
  • Sales rank: 1,433,619
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Broch (1886-1951) had careers as a mathematician, engineer, and director of a Viennese textile firm before publishing his first work, the trilogy Sleepwalkers, in 1930-32. In 1935 he spent 5 months in a Nazi prison; in 1940 he emigrated to the U.S.

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