The Mad Dog: Stories

The Mad Dog: Stories

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by Heinrich Boll
     
 

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A New York Times Notable Book of the Year

Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature

In this collection of stories, written between 1938 and 1945, Heinrich Böll (1917-1985) recalls Erich Maria Remarque in his ability to depict war and its psychological aftermath.

As in The Clown or Billiards at Half-Past Nine, the stories

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Overview

A New York Times Notable Book of the Year

Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature

In this collection of stories, written between 1938 and 1945, Heinrich Böll (1917-1985) recalls Erich Maria Remarque in his ability to depict war and its psychological aftermath.

As in The Clown or Billiards at Half-Past Nine, the stories in The Mad Dog demonstrate Böll's early and continuing commitment to certain basic themes: the religious impulse toward meaning in the midst of human chaos, the hope love offers to those for whom all else seems lost, and the enduring possibility of an ethical core of action in a maelstrom of personal and political corruption.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Ten previously unpublished stories, written between 1936 and 1950 by the late German author (191785), who was awarded the 1972 Nobel Prize for Literature.

These early, ingenuous, in some cases inchoate tales will do nothing to enhance their author's considerable reputation. As expressions of Böll's liberal humanitarian saeva indignatio, they only prefigure the more fully developed criticisms of German militarism and materialism that dominated—and, it should be admitted, often hamstrung—even such generally admired novels as The Clown (1965) and Billiards at Half-Past Nine (1962). Here, Böll is sketching the effects both on the battlefield and behind the frontlines of a war-oriented nation on its afflicted citizenry. For example, in the last and longest of these stories, "Paradise Lost" (the torso of an unwritten novel), a veteran's return to the home of a woman he had briefly loved before the war teaches him that he was but a small, and forgettable, part of her life. In "The Mad Dog," a compassionate chaplain laments the brutalization that turned a promising youth into a "murdered murderer," as he tells the latter's story to the weary doctor who has pronounced him dead. Another chaplain, in "The Fugitive," betrays a trusting runaway to the soldiers who hunt him down. And the earliest story, "Youth on Fire," reduces its intriguing premise about the mingled consolations and evasions of formal religion to a pastiche of Dostoyevsky featuring an oversensitive young man and a saintly prostitute. All the pieces are written in a headlong, accusatory style clogged with excess use of modifiers, as in the following (all too typical) example: "The ragged, filthy figure in greasy denim was a bizarre sight, with tousled dirty hair and ravenous hunger in his large, gray, oddly gleaming eyes."

No writer should be judged by his weakest work, however, and this nondescript volume should be taken for exactly what it is: apprentice fiction, of minimal interest to all but Böll's most uncritical admirers.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780312195496
Publisher:
Picador
Publication date:
10/15/1998
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
176
Product dimensions:
5.54(w) x 8.22(h) x 0.51(d)

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