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As with his other novels, Fallada wrote this in a spurt, about two weeks. It is well-told and, I imagine, wonderfully translated. The back of the book teases though that Fallada wrote this "in an encrypted notebook". The short author bio at the end of the book continues this, saying the book was written "in code" and is "a brilliant, subversive novel. And if you strain, you could read this as allegory, maybe about the Nazis. You can read any book as an allegory of the Nazis, even books written hundreds of years before the Nazis.
But, the same publishers that suggested that also included a substantial Afterword, whose author convincingly says the book was "not in code as has sometimes been suggested, but in fine criss-crossed lines to economize paper. I ultimately did not read this as allegory, but rather as the story of the unraveling of a mind. The alcohol here is beside the point. Erwin Sommer started his descent before the first drink. His fault, not someone else, not something else. And that is story enough. View all 7 comments. What a wonderful, devastating book—an axe , Kafka would call it: Writers might study this book as a lucid example of crucible, that diabolical equation whereby protagonists are simultaneously repelled and compelled by the central crisis of the story.
But don't think that the crucible here is simply a device to keep you reading it will. Fallada's crucible embodies a deep understanding of human nature. Protag Sommer's short memory of the past, his What a wonderful, devastating book—an axe , Kafka would call it: Protag Sommer's short memory of the past, his ability to excuse himself for anything in the present, his tunnel vision of the future and we shouldn't think just because we don't have a drinking problem that we don't do this, too lead him into ever lower circles of hell where he meets all kinds of imps and tormentors.
The last chapters of this book had me up way past my bedtime, and then I could not sleep at all. I think this book laid eggs in me.
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View all 6 comments. Sep 07, Kasa Cotugno rated it it was amazing Shelves: As with all of the books of Hans Fallada, this is an insider's look at Germany unlike any other. What sets this one apart is its personalization, the fact that the outside world does not appear at all.
Banksy sculpture 'The Drinker' returned to Shaftsbury Avenue by Art Kieda
Written in an encrypted notebook in a Nazi insane asylum, this is the most intimate of Fallada's books, one which plunges through his psyche rather than the zeitgeist of Germany in the years following WWI as in What Now Little Man or his masterpiece, life under the Gestapo in wartime Berlin as t As with all of the books of Hans Fallada, this is an insider's look at Germany unlike any other. Written in an encrypted notebook in a Nazi insane asylum, this is the most intimate of Fallada's books, one which plunges through his psyche rather than the zeitgeist of Germany in the years following WWI as in What Now Little Man or his masterpiece, life under the Gestapo in wartime Berlin as told in Every Man Dies Alone.
There is no reference to the horrors outside as Fallada is dealing with his own demons. Yes it is fictionalized, but enough has been written about his life and why he ended up spending the war incarcerated, which he shares with his protagonist. As with Burkowski, only a person who has experienced the downward spiral into extreme alcoholism and has the poetic touch can fully convey the delusional panorama of total immersion into the madness that the disease provides.
Ik moest er in het begin over na denken of ik al die ellende wel wilde lezen. Maar op gegeven moment werd ik gegrepen door het verhaal en kon niet meer stoppen. De auteur put uit eigen ervaringen met gevangenis en alcoholisme.
The Drinker » Melville House Books
Dit geeft een duidelijk beeld over hoe een alcoholist zich voelt en gedraagt. Mooi geschreven en aangrijpend. May 13, c. They will steal this book from your shelf. It is a hard-to-find book; even special ordered and second-hand. But that is not why They will steal it and that is not why you will be pissed at seeing it gone. Of course They did not want to steal it it just had to be done. For your own good. How else could They understand you? Only thru this simple book; pages read in one night. The revelations They think They find about you litter the first fifty: Then I sat down at table again, feeling pleasantly abandoned to my drunkenness, and only the necessity of at least going through the form of eating, presented difficulty.
My stomach seemed a very delicate thing, ready to revolt at any moment. I had the last bottle at my lips, I realised with a terrible certainty that I was lost, that there was no salvation for me, that I belonged to alcohol, body and soul. Right in the presence of my neat, sober, efficient wife, I wanted to get blind raving drunk, to put my feet up on the desk, to sing coarse and dirty songs and use obscene expressions. What utter satisfaction to drag her down into the filth with me, to make her see: With that They find what was set out to be found: And, being woman, They think They can be the solution.
So the rest of the book is read much like a how-to manual; read as though it is the oracle of what will become of you if They do not succeed in saving you read to justify that you need saving. There were tears in my eyes, lights flickered in front of them, veils seem to float through my brain, often I was almost unconscious. At last I lay on my bed again, nearly dead with exhaustion, seized with an insane fear; was the end near?
Did one become a drunkard so quickly? I had regarded this period of drunkenness merely as a passing phase; I had been convinced that I could give it up at any time without harming myself — and now was everything to come to an end already? No, it was impossible! They will continue reading the vast pages that do not mention drink — or even the need to drink — and become as terrified as you did upon the first reading but for different reasons. Whereas you flipped thru the pages quickly in fear fearing forced sobriety would be so easy; terror comes in thinking it would be.
Thoughts thought until reading the end the beautiful consumptive end. But They will not reach a conclusion about the book for months to come; not until They fail at saving you. Then — exhausted by your inability to change — the last few pages will be read again: And I will become young again, and I will see the world blossoming, all the springtimes and the roses and the young girls from time past.
But one will approach me and lean her pale face over me, who have fallen on my knees before her, and she will enshroud me with her dark hair. And They will dispose of the book as a way of trying to forget you. An extraordinary book, and extraordinarily painful to read. There are those who make the case that this book is a metaphor for Hitler's Germany. I don't know about that. My experience with Al-Anon tells me that the pitifully self-destructive behavior that poor Hans Fallada documents here is pure, unadulterated alcoholism. This is thinly veiled autobiography, and it's absolutely wrenching to read of his self-delusions, his descent into madness, his heartbreaking willingness to abandon the advice An extraordinary book, and extraordinarily painful to read.
This is thinly veiled autobiography, and it's absolutely wrenching to read of his self-delusions, his descent into madness, his heartbreaking willingness to abandon the advice of loved ones for the soothing lies of evil men. Later in the book, once he is institutionalized, it is equally wrenching to read of the loss of his freedom, his self-respect, his health and his hope. Today, he would have been treated compassionately, by top experts in the field. But Hans Fallada had the vast misfortune to be living in Hitler's Germany, a country that was all too happy to condemn its mentally challenged citizens to death.
A difficult, desolating book, but a fascinating, clear-sighted view into the world of the addict. El autor de esta obra de nombre Rudolf Ditzen Hans Fallada, nombre de pluma me parece que es uno de esos autores malditos, perseguidos por la desgracia, la tragedia y el sufrimiento extremo: Ahora el mundo lo ve y lo siente como un mundo alegre y ligero. Pero pronto el autor nos recuerda que a casi todo se acostumbra uno: No se puede aguantar en la vida tanta desgracia y tanta vileza como si tal cosa. Hay una clase de errores que se pueden cometer sin mayores consecuencias o con consecuencias que se pueden remediar.
Aug 11, G. Brennan rated it it was amazing. Riveting and devastating, "The Drinker" chronicles one man's rapid descent from the heights--or at least the comfortable ledges--of middle-class respectability, down to the depths of alcoholic degradation. To most normal people, the story will perhaps seem baffling and incomprehensible, even in spite of Fallada's excellent, spare prose; most rational minds will have a hard time comprehending how one man can sink so low, so fast.
But alcoholism, alas, is not a rational disease, and anyone who has Riveting and devastating, "The Drinker" chronicles one man's rapid descent from the heights--or at least the comfortable ledges--of middle-class respectability, down to the depths of alcoholic degradation. But alcoholism, alas, is not a rational disease, and anyone who has ever seen the inside of an AA meeting or spent the night in a drunk tank will likely find this novel--particularly its early chapters and its final ones--impossible to put down, or to forget.
Fallada's narrator, Herr Sommer, starts as a somewhat well-to-do businessman in Nazi-era Germany, but pretty much skips the social drinking phase of alcoholism and entangles himself in a rapidly worsening cycle of marital strife and monetary struggle, exacerbated by bad schnapps and worse decisions. For those familiar with the literature of alcoholism, it will probably feel like an extended version of one of those first-person accounts if s-era inebriated insanity that pepper the front of AA's "Big Book. This book is reportedly somewhat autobiographical, for Fallada wrote it while confined in such an institution.
Remarkably, though, it is relatively free from the twin perilous pillars of alcoholic authordom: Instead, it is full of honest writing, lean and spare, full of power and truth. Relatively early on, the narrator--unable or unwilling to maintain the effort needed to keep living the high life, or even the mid-life--tells his wife that people "can feel joy and sorrow down below, Magda, it's just like being up above, it's all the same whether you live up or down. Perhaps the most beautiful thing is to let yourself fall, to shut your eyes and plunge into nothingness, deeper and deeper into nothingness.
Still, it feels true, in that the alcoholic often secretly longs to simply stop living, without expending the effort or mental energy required for suicide. Those that keep drinking do so because the warm numbing fuzz of inebriation remains infinitely preferable to the bright sharp edges of reality; ultimately, however, their only salvation is oblivion. Apr 26, Sverre rated it really liked it Shelves: It was not published until after his death in of a morphine overdose.
The narrator, Herr Sommer, owes his downfall to a serious lack of self-confidence as well as taking his success for granted, losing out to competition. His relationship with his wife deteriorates. He feels threatened by her efficiency compared to his own lack of it. He seeks escape through alcohol. He resents anyone and anything that exposes his vulnerabilities and becomes mired in vindictiveness.
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He is his own worst enemy time and again. Sommer is routinely conflicted about his own state and trying to interpret the intentions of others. The narrative cuts to the bone of existential human misery. Fallada was a great master at exposing inner thoughts and emotions.
All are greatly recommended. They deal more with reality than fiction since they contain hundreds of observations and experiences of life which Fallada remembered and creatively wove into the fabric of his novels. May 22, Mary rated it it was amazing. It isn't just booze he drinks in this man's self-destruction.
What a horrifyingly strong story. Whether about the love of alcohol's good feeling or the times he and we live in! About a third into the book I jumped to the back to read about the author and decided this guy is toxic and I don't need anymore of his negativity saturating my brain. I had just finished It isn't just booze he drinks in this man's self-destruction. I had just finished The Theory and Practice of Hell about Nazi concentration camps and I usually prefer to alternate downer books with lighter cozies. Then within an hour there I was back reading "just another quick chapter" maybe like "just another quick drink" HaHa?
When I had paused to read the notes about Fallada, I also snuck a peek at a couple paragraphs near the book's end. It was the wee hours and I was tired with blurry eyes, so when I scanned the bit about his clandestine visits to the TB ward where the patients expectorate into little flasks and "I just drink them. Well, I finished the book. Then thought about the title. Thought about how similar the nazi asylum was to the nazi camps. Thought about Germany's decent: This book made me think, and I decided it was an outstanding read and how VERY appropriate the title, "The Drinker" really turned out to be.
Dec 31, Aniko Carmean rated it really liked it. The Drinker, by Hans Fallada, is the story of suicide. Don't be fooled by the fact that no one dies: Death of a marriage, death of self-respect, death of personal freedom. Erwin Sommer gives a first-person account of his descent as seen from the enforced sobriety of his incarceration at the asylum.