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The Mad Dog: Stories

The Mad Dog: Stories

5.0 1
by Heinrich Boll, Breon Mitchell (Translator)

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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


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Ten previously unpublished stories, written between 1936 and 1950 by the late German author (191785), who was awarded the 1972 Nobel Prize for Literature.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

Product Details

Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
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5.54(w) x 8.22(h) x 0.51(d)

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HIS HEART POUNDING, HE WATCHED from his hiding place as the car raced along the country road, its headlights blazing. He jerked back as if struck in the face as the car squealed to a halt, then turned sharply and sent the merciless beam of its searchlight gliding slowly and deliberately back and forth across the fields. Trees flared in unnatural brightness, as if awakened to terrifying life by some magic spell. Bushes were drenched by the harsh, maniacal light before slipping back into darkness; then the beam was stopped short by the wall that hid him. He could almost feel the light damming up against it. Then it flowed across the crumbling top; he shut his eyes, blinded, struck by savage pain as the corrosive beam stabbed at his eyes through a crevice in the wall.

He heard the steady idling of the motor and men's voices; he listened intently as the searchlight was extinguished and the heavy weight of darkness fell over him again. Rising from the cold, damp meadow, he risked raising his head above the wall. The car was standing on the road with its searchlight stowed. He saw the silhouettes of two men, their faces seemingly turned toward him; surely they must sense that he was there ... surely. His eyes bored deeply into the flat darkness, as if forcing it to reveal their faces. He had to know if Germat was there. Germat! His heart skipped a beat. If so, he was lost. Germat was the most cunning bloodhound in the entire zone, a vicious man-eater gifted with nearly supernatural instincts. The men's voices appeared almost apathetic, a steady murmur.

All at once he heard noises to the left and right in the dark field, like someone creeping, dragging his feet, and the unbearable yet unavoidable sucking sound of a boot being pulled from mud that has closed around it. My God ... he had just realized his head must be visible above the wall, like a black oval against the darkened blue of the heavens, even at this distance. He ducked down, panting in brutish fear, and in the next split second, as he tried to bring the dizzying whirl of his thoughts and emotions under control, a bullet whizzed over the wall from the direction of the road, the signal that the hunt was officially on. Had he missed the gunshot in his first moment of panic?

Suddenly he felt totally weightless, strangely light, as if the ice-cold hatred in his heart had crystallized the chaos of fear and peril. He thought quickly yet carefully; now the veil lifted and he saw through their tactics: They had already outflanked him. He heard the sounds of several men to either side, and behind him as well. They probably had a chain of sentries all the way to the road, where Germat waited, directing the hunt with his devilish intellect. It was hopeless. He would be shot a dozen times if he made the slightest move in the darkness. They knew where he was, while he had no idea where they had stationed themselves; he could only head straight into the heart of the trap. Then suddenly he thought of a plan, laughably simple, dazzlingly bold. Hate gave him courage, a savage living hatred that served as well as love. He no longer felt cold, or hungry, or afraid. A deadly enemy stood before him; he had to attack with the strength of an ox and the boldness of genius. He heard the circle close behind him, heard two of the beaters meet behind the orchard wall and establish contact with a few soft words. Then he prayed, a short quick prayer, like a flame flaring up and extinguishing, and he almost felt like smiling, yes, smiling in the darkness, surrounded by hunters, yet almost sure of victory. He raised his hands high above the wall and cried out: "Don't shoot, Germat, I give up!" He heard the startled cries of the men around him, sprang quickly over the wall, and ran toward the road, smiling as he yelled: "Call off your dogs!"

The road was scarcely more than a hundred yards away and he ran quickly, before the troops could recover from their surprise, until he made out the tall figure of Germat through the darkness, standing in his black uniform, blacker than the blue of night. Still holding his hands over his head, he leaped across the ditch. Then, in the glow of the headlights, he had a clear view of Germat's hard, coldly handsome face, his mouth opening to speak with a satisfied smile. Gathering his whole body--his only weapon--he threw himself savagely against Germat with all the crazed fury of his hatred. He felt the impact with a thrill of pleasure, raced around the car, and heard the driver jump out with a yell, just as he had planned; then he lowered himself softly and carefully to the ground and crept slowly, silently, under the car. The low-lying gas tank left just enough space for him to see Germat: He lay two steps away from him on the cold, hard asphalt of the road. It took every ounce of will to suppress the deep, terrible sobbing rising within him. His entire body trembled. He broke out in a nervous sweat as the smell of gas and oil made his empty stomach lurch with nausea.

Almost as a diversion, to break the terrible tension, he looked toward Germat. He lay groaning and cursing on the road, his face twisted in bestial anger. Blood flowed onto the gray, cold, dully gleaming asphalt from a wound on the back of his head. The driver fumbled over him helplessly, managed to lift his head and place a seat cushion beneath it, as the cries of the troops rang out from the darkness.

Germat was now standing. Strickmann had bandaged him and handed him a few pills, which he washed down with brandy; he was leaning against the car. His boots, those elegant soft boots, which poor Gunderland had to polish each morning, stood directly before Joseph's eyes. For an instant he was seized by an insane desire to grab them and jerk backwards, toppling Germat flat on his face again. Yes, he might have risked his life to send that devil flying a second time, but what he heard now occupied his entire attention. Germat cut off the curses and empty threats of the guards in a cold voice and said irritably: "You should have stopped yapping and got right after the bastard ... then we'd have him by now. All right, shine a light over here, Jupp ..."; evidently he'd taken out a map. The men's feet gathered around his beautiful boots. "We're here--at the Breckdorf exit, there's the border; if he wants to cross it, he has to go back down the road we're on now. Damn, my head hurts! If we ever get hold of that swine ... We've got to catch him, I tell you ... that filthy dog." He groaned, stamped his feet, and continued: "All right, Berg and Strickmann, patrol the stretch from here to Eiershagen ... right here, look.... Grosskamp and Strichninski, you cover the stretch between Brickheim and Gordelen. I'll drive back to camp and send reinforcements. Set them up so the entire sector is closed all the way to the border. Okay, you know what to do.... Damn it, pay some attention to the map." He seemed to be holding his head again, groaning and cursing. "Get going," he said. "I'll wait till you've taken your positions. Butler, get the car turned around...."

Joseph didn't realize the danger he was in until the engine suddenly revved up and the entire car began to vibrate. He broke out in a cold sweat, a deathly fear. His heart skipped a beat, and with the final ounce of strength in his weakened hands he clutched the rods beneath the car, then lifted his feet and wedged them somewhere between a metal pipe and the car's undercarriage, barely holding on. The car went into reverse to turn around, backed up to the ditch, the tires spun, and his grip slipped as the car lurched. Head down, his legs clamped fast, he dangled helplessly under the car as the tires continued to spin; he held back a scream welling up within him. Almost fainting from weakness, agitation, and terror, he grabbed on tight again, but could no longer suppress the tears. They streamed heavy and hot down his cheeks; he was blinded by the flood....

Somewhere in his subconscious he registered the tilt of the car as Germat jumped onto the running board, but the tears kept flowing, as if the infinite pain of his lost state had broken through the shell of his will and was now pouring into the silence of the night.

He couldn't remember releasing his hands and feet. He felt the wheels race past his head like a final breath of horrible danger; then he found himself battered, dirty, tired and hungry, wet with tears, on the hard, bare road.

In that terrible solitude he almost wished himself back in the company of the hangman's lackeys, caught up in the insane tension of the chase.

The darkness had thickened; a mantle of night lay silent and heavy over the earth. To muffle his footsteps, Joseph left the road, treading on the soft soil of the fields, following the roadway toward Breckdorf. If he could only sit somewhere for just an hour or so, in a house with other people, eat something, clean up, warm himself; my God, just to see a few people other than those he'd been with behind barbed-wire for months, in the hangman's clutches. Just one hour, then he could slip past the sentries before reinforcements arrived and reach the border before dawn, and then ... then perhaps freedom....

Holding to the road, his senses tuned to the night, he reached the village, but it must have been late, for there wasn't a light anywhere. The black blocks of the houses rose dimly against the sky, the outline of the trees. He passed a farmyard sunk deep in silence, so close to the hedge that he brushed against the thorns. Then with startling suddenness the huge, uncanny silhouette of a church rose before him, a marvelously peaceful square, surrounded by tall trees, and a house in which a light still burned. He approached it slowly and cautiously; just don't start the dogs barking.... Germat's men would be on him like wolves.

His head ached terribly, a piercing pain, like a merciless finger probing his tormented brain. His face was scratched, he was filthy, soaked to the skin, and tired, so tired it took an effort to lift his foot at every step. Finally he was leaning against the dark door, feeling for the bell. It sounded bright and shrill within the hall, startling him. He heard a soft, rapid tread, the light clicked on and seeped under the door. My God, what if he'd dropped in on a hero of the Party by accident? But terror no longer held sway over his exhausted mind, and a sudden wave of nausea seemed to turn his stomach inside our. Dear God, just some rest, rest and a little bread ...

He tumbled through the open door and gathered enough strength to whisper to the dark figure: "Quick ... quick ... shut the door...."

Blinded by the light, overwhelmed by misery, he stood sobbing, pitiful and dirty, leaning against the wall, squinting painfully at the startled chaplain. Music, a fragment of some fading, melancholy melody, reached his ears, and it seemed as if the whole of mankind's dark longing for paradise were concentrated in that one brief phrase of music, sweet and heavy, clouded with sorrow. It struck him like a death blow; he fell as if shot.


When he opened his eyes again, he first saw only books. He stared at an entire wall of them, their bright titles gleaming softly in the dull glow of a desk lamp. He felt the warmth of a stove at his back; he was sitting in a large, soft armchair, with comfortable cushions, to his right a large, flat desk of dark-stained wood. A friendly man's voice asked: "Well?" and as he turned around with a start, he was looking into the narrow, pale face of the chaplain, bending over him. The first thing he noticed was the marvelous fragrance of good tobacco and good soap, mingled with the pleasant neutral odor of the confession box. Large, intelligent gray eyes peered at him from the white planes of the face, veiled by a cool reserve, regarding him with almost impersonal curiosity. Then came the second question: "What now?"

But Joseph was staring at the carpet, lost in dreams, a magnificent, clean, warm, yellow carpet, beautiful, tasteful etchings on the wall. A dream of domesticity and warmth, beauty and security, enveloped the room. The contrast with the sties they lived in at camp was so shocking that tears came to his eyes again. My God, this armchair, soft and human, actually made to sit on! The chaplain's pale face glanced nervously toward the desk, where a few books lay open and various papers were strewn about. "Well?" he asked again, but banished the impatient look from his face at once, as if he were ashamed. Joseph turned slowly to face him.

"Do you have something I could eat? I should wash up, too, and then ... and then ..." He stood up quickly and gestured helplessly at himself. "They're after me.... I have to be gone in half an hour.... My God, I'm dreaming...." He tightened his hands impatiently into fists and stood trembling.

The chaplain spread his hands at once and said regretfully: "My housekeeper's--" but then interrupted himself, motioned for the pitiful figure to follow him, and stepped out into the hall. Joseph slipped after him.

"You're from the camp?" he asked on the way to the kitchen. Joseph mumbled hoarsely: "Yes." The kitchen was so sparkling clean it looked as if no one had ever cooked there. It seemed meant only for show; everything gleamed in the glow of the glass lamp, not a speck of dust to be seen, not a dish in sight. The cupboards were closed, and the stove was obviously ice cold. The chaplain tugged awkwardly at a cupboard. "For heaven's sake," he said, shaking his head, "she always takes the key with her...." But Joseph had grabbed the poker from the tidy coal box and said tersely, with a strange, almost coldly cynical set to his lips: "If you'll permit me ..." The chaplain turned, startled and concerned, but Joseph pushed him aside, wedged the poker between the doors of the cupboard, and forced it open with a jerk. He regarded the splendors with almost predatory eyes, sighing.

Indignation mixed with a slight disdain showed on the chaplain's face. He watched, clutching his hands nervously behind his back, as the man wolfed down thick slices of bread covered with butter and sausage. 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. The only sound in the stillness was his noisy chewing and at times a strange snuffling, as if the man had a cold and no handkerchief. The chaplain couldn't take his eyes off him, but the visitor no longer seemed to notice him.

It seemed as if time had stopped, and that the world consisted only of this kitchen in which he sat trembling beside a vagabond who ate and ate.

Joseph held the loaf of bread in his left hand and the knife in his right, seeming to hesitate; but then he dropped the knife on the table, shoved the bread aside, and stood up. "You could at least have offered me something to drink; you've never eaten a dozen slices like that," he said in genuine irritation, then went over to the sink, fished the soap from a niche in the wall with annoying self-confidence, and began washing his face, puffing noisily. He found the hand towels under a clean cloth behind the oven, as if he knew the layout of the house forward and backward. "Clean underwear, now that would be just fine ... and my feet washed ..." he mumbled through the hand towel, drying his face and head roughly, almost relishing it. He hung up the towel and was about to ask for a comb when he looked the chaplain full in the face for the first time. "My God," he said softly, with childlike amazement. "You're not angry with me, are you?"

"No," laughed the chaplain with an annoyed snort. "You're the most charming fellow I've ever met!" He stood waiting by the door. Shaking his head, Joseph walked past him into the hall, heading for the study. He was still shaking his head as he sat down again in the armchair.

The chaplain had turned off the outside lights, relocked the doors, and returned quickly, as if he were afraid to leave the man alone. His face was masked with a strange severity like that of a welfare worker.

"I'll need to ask you for a couple of other things," Joseph said, speaking in an almost businesslike tone. "First a comb; you know how it is, a person feels so unfinished somehow, when he's washed up but hasn't combed his hair ... thanks." He took the black comb and combed his hair contentedly. "And a cigar, if you have one ... and, I'm sorry, a sip of wine ... then I think I'll make it across the border easily. I'm feeling stronger now and I'm not afraid anymore." The chaplain wordlessly handed him a cigar, along with a box of matches. "Now I know why the hangman's men, even though they're stupid, can still lord it over us in camp--because we're always hungry and dirty." He puffed deeply, regarding the cigar and his fingernails in turn. Then he said softly: "Excuse me," and cleaned his nails with a broken matchstick. "There, now I almost feel good ... almost." He gazed intently into the chaplain's eyes, and a trace of sympathy appeared on his face. "I really don't know what you're so annoyed about." The chaplain rose with a jerk, as if a fire had started under him; he paced agitatedly in front of the bookcases, his face an odd mixture of fear, sorrow, indignation, and uncertainty.

"In fact," Joseph continued, when he received no answer, "I'm the one who could be offended, since you're not offering me any wine. And viewed objectively, I am a rather charming fellow."

The chaplain paused abruptly before him and stammered: "Are you ... are you ... a criminal?"

Joseph's eyes narrowed and hardened; he looked at him searchingly. "Of course, I committed a crime against the state, and I think you're about to as well." He glanced at the scattered pages of the manuscript covering the desk. "That is, if you truly represent the ideas that your uniform stands for."

"You let me worry about that." The chaplain laughed, apparently trying to salvage a little humor from the situation. Joseph asked again about wine, but the chaplain merely smiled uncertainly, then paled in fear and nearly cried aloud as Joseph stepped up to him, cowering defensively as Joseph seized him by the top button of his soutane. "All right," he said softly, very softly, "I'll get you some wine."

But Joseph threw his cigar angrily down on the desk and released his hold. "Oh"--he waved him off wearily--"if you only understood what wine it is I want from you. What good do all these treasures do you?" He gestured roughly at the books. "You've learned as little from them as your confreres fifty years ago learned from the fulsome pandects we find so contemptible today...." He struck the bookcase dully with his fist. Then he hesitated as he saw the chaplain's tortured face, but his words gushed like a spring released by a drill. "You soak in your certainties like a man in a bathtub of lukewarm water, indecisive, hardly daring to get out and dry off. But you forget that the water is turning cold according to inexorable laws, as cold as reality." His voice had lost its accusatory tone and was almost imploring. He released his gaze from the shocked face of the chaplain and ran his eyes over the book titles. "Here," he said sadly. "You wanted to know my crime." And he threw the slim brochure onto the desk: "There it is ... and now, good-bye." He took a deep breath and looked around the room a final time, then knelt and said softly: "Bless me, Father, I have a dangerous road ahead." The priest folded his hands and made the sign of the cross over him, and as he tried to hold him back with a helpless smile, Joseph said quietly: "No, forgive me.... I have to go now, my life is at stake." And before he left the house, he made the sign of cross over the figure in black.


It was now totally dark outside, as if the night had rolled itself into a tight ball. The village seemed to cower in darkness, like a flock in a gloomy cave, swallowed by brute silence. It seemed as if loneliness braced itself icily against Joseph as he wended his way cautiously through the dark alleys to the open fields. As if in final farewell, the bells of the church rang in consolation through the night. Four times they sounded from the tower, bright and almost joyful, then twice, dark and heavy, as if God's hammer were falling through all eternity.

In the silent gloom the tones were like a reminder to hold fast to his faith.

Soon he could distinguish the ground's surface and larger obstacles, hedges and bushes and ditches. He could go only by sixth sense, instinctively following the street, which angled away toward the country road. He felt almost nothing, his heart heavy with silence, the infinite silence of one who suffers, for whom there is no answer under the heavens, no answer but God's promise, spanning the earth, wherever any person suffers for the sake of the cross. He was so far, so far from all hate and all bitterness, that prayers formed in him like pure, steady flames rising from the garden of faith, hope, and love, innocent and beautiful as flowers.

He crossed a wooded area, feeling his way cautiously from tree to tree to keep from stumbling in the darkness. Emerging into the open, he saw lights. To the right, ghostly and distant, rose tall structures, illuminated by yellow light, steel-ribbed skeletons. Behind them glowed the red jaws of the blast furnaces, like the gullet of the underworld. My God, those must be the factories at Gordelen! The border lay just beyond them. It couldn't be more than a half hour away. The field fell away before him and was bordered by a line of trees, their silhouette outlined against the distant light, and he saw how the trees ran on ahead, far across the dark, level fields, toward the factory. It must be a road. Everything beyond it lay in darkness; a thick forest seemed to extend into the distance, perhaps even beyond the border.

Nothing could be heard but the strange, distant, grinding murmur from the blast furnaces and pits.

The field before him appeared smooth, a treeless meadow without bushes. He headed to the left, but there was no cover that would allow him to reach the road. He hesitated, saw with increasing clarity the motionless line of trees on the dark base of the road, like an endless row of teeth. Fear overwhelmed him again, tugging violently and mockingly at the cloak of his self-composure. He seemed to see the monstrous grin of a bestial mouth stretched across the face of the night. He pushed off from the tree, almost violently, and began to run. The steep meadow seemed to swallow him; he hadn't realized how abruptly it would fall away.

Suddenly, the heavens seemed to split in two, and the dazzling beam of a searchlight shot out in front of him, as if he had brought it to life. He fell to the ground as if struck by lightning, landing painfully on his chin. His face pressed deep into the bitter, cool damp of the earth while the searchlight sailed back and forth over him like a huge yellow whip. With his face in the soil he failed to hear the sentry's challenge, then a burst of fire raced like an apocalyptic gurgle across the earth in front of him, the bullets thudding into the ground. He lay there, nailed fast by the murderous light, like a target set on the meadow's slope. And before the next series of shots ripped through him he screamed, screamed so loudly in his forsakenness that the heavens would surely collapse. He raised his head again and screamed, blinded by the light, before a final burst from the snarling muzzle extinguished his cries.

All was still as his tormentors surrounded him, shining their flashlights on his torn body, which resembled the earth so closely that it might have been the earth itself that bled. "Yes ... that's him," said an indifferent voice.

Meet the Author

Heinrich Böll received the Nobel Prize for literature in 1972. His novels include The Clown, Billiards at Half-Past Nine, and The Silent Angel. He died in 1985 in Germany.

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The Mad Dog 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
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Like Graves, Sassoon and Owen in the First World War, Heinrich Böll brought a mix of apathy and disgust to his writings about World War II as well as a literary sensibility that condemned him to this genre. Böll, along with Günter Grass, author of The Tin Drum, and Arno Schmidt, is considered one of the most influential German writers of the postwar period. The Mad Dog represents the third extraction from material left by Böll at his death in 1985 and contains nine previously unpublished stories and a novel fragment, all written between 1936 and 1950. I think they represent the best introduction to Böll available. They also anticipate his best work, the novels, Billiards at Half-Past Nine and The Clown. The Mad Dog will probably have the most appeal to readers who are already familiar with these great novels and who want to listen to the source of Böll's recurring themes. Youth on Fire represents the earliest work contained in this book and is a poignantly clumsy parable of Heinrich, a sixteen year old boy of Wetherian turn of mind. When Heinrich meets a woman, however, his life takes a very different course. In a demi-parable uttered by one of the characters there is a flash of the mature Böll's bitter humor. The Fugitive and Trapped in Paris, composed ten years later, are the antithesis of Youth on Fire. These two stories are of a desperate and solitary soldier, in the former, an escaped POW or a deserter and in the latter a German soldier cut off from his unit during secret battles. In these stories, the iconic and discursive idealism of Youth on Fire is replaced by the naturalistic German Expressionism that became Böll's signature in the years immediately following the war and which reached its peak in one of his most famous stories, Stranger, Bear Word to the Spartans We. The Fugitive is very close to the model of Böll's postwar work and consists of a dramatic narrative of claustrophobia and fear that concludes abruptly and violently. The Rendezvous contains one of Böll's recurring themes: the difficulty of love. Böll was a writer whose sense of the absurdity of Eros was as highly developed as was his sense of the absurdity of Thanatos. Although many of his stories, such as the beautiful My Pal With the Long Hair, celebrate the triumph of love, most of them seem to center on love's impossibilities instead. Centering on a turbulent and mysterious affair, The Rendezvous contains an implicit riddle, much like Hemingway's Hills Like White Elephants. The Tribe of Esau is an unusual early experiment in the use of a female character's perspective and The Dead No Longer Obey, according to the translator's notes, reworks a passage from the draft of a play entitled As the Law Demanded. This story is yet another soldier parable with a characteristic poetic and rhetorical twist. The Tale of Berkovo Bridge and the novel fragment, Paradise Lost stand out as the work of the mature Böll and neither is really heretofore unpublished material. The former contains the reflections of a German military engineer who rebuilds a Russian bridge to facilitate the retreat of 1943 and offers a piece of absurdity as an effective metaphor for the regimented chaos of war. The Tale of Berkovo Bridge anticipates Böll's greatest novel, Billiards at Half-Past Nine and also contains a manipulation of emblem that some of Böll's readers have found objectionably schematic. The text of Paradise Lost was, in part, incorporated into Der Engel schwieg and Böll also published two extractions of it as Night of Love and The Gutter. As it is published in this collection, Paradise Lost is a returning-soldier story that dwells on yet another of Böll's recurring themes: the seemingly random and poignant stasis of solitary objects amid decay. Returning to the home of his lover after seven years' absence in the war, the narrator notices a section of a rain gutter hanging down just had it had prior to his leaving. The most palpabl