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The Clown by Heinrich Boll
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The Clown (original 1963; edition 1971)

by Heinrich Boll, Leila Vennewitz (Translator)

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1,514204,886 (3.96)25
Member:nabeelar
Title:The Clown
Authors:Heinrich Boll
Other authors:Leila Vennewitz (Translator)
Info:McGraw-Hill Companies (1971), Edition: First Edition (first pb), Paperback, 247 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
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The Clown by Heinrich Böll (1963)

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English (12)  Spanish (2)  German (2)  Italian (2)  French (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (20)
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
I first read this in my early 20s, and again in my late 30s, and I recommend it. It’s a funny book about Hans Schnier, a melancholy unbeliever who clowns for a living in postwar Germany. His home is Bonn, the baby capital of what was then West Germany, and it’s the awkward period around 1950 (after the war but before the “economic miracle”) when it was hard to see the point of being German. On top of that, his true love Marie has left him, and Hans blames the Catholic Church. Sidelined by an injured knee and bad press, with only one deutschmark left in his pocket, he starts phoning all the relatives, friends, Catholics, and “repentant” Nazis he knows, partly to pass the time, but also to hit them up for cash.
2 vote Muscogulus | Mar 4, 2013 |
Uno dei libri della mia vita. Una pietra miliare della letteratura del 900.
  Lilliblu | Aug 4, 2012 |
The first time I read this book I was in high school and focused on the social satire of post-war Germany and in particular the hypocrisy of religion and politics. This time around, with the perspective of many many years, what caught me was more the question of love vs. religion and social mores and the role of an artist as social critic - can an artist really function when, like Hans, he pisses off everybody? Still an excellent and thought-provoking book. ( )
2 vote AramisSciant | Jun 8, 2011 |
Just my kind of book. Sad, witty, caustic, disgruntled… but scarifyingly honest. First and foremost it is a book delving into the character and characteristics of Hans Schnier, a professional clown, absolutely flat broke and confined to his apartment by (among other things) a knee injury From here he forces himself to phone acquaintances to see if he can drum up a loan. I say ‘acquaintances’ because by now he has fallen out with practically everyone he’s ever met. The circumstances of these ‘fallings-out’ as retailed by Hans are simultaneously both hilarious and sad.

Except for a few opening pages (his arrival at his apartment) and some at the end (when he goes busking) the apartment is where the ‘action’ stays for the rest of the novel. But don’t be put off. I usually find this kind of introspective, one-scene-only type of book hard to read and I don’t continue beyond the 50 pages or so I always allow before I fold. However, Boll’s book is different. ‘Captivating’, I’d say, without the usual twee associations that usually go with that word. The downside to this ‘captivation’ of the reader is that it gives him/her a feeling of claustrophobia, though this may be intended by the writer. And I never knew there was such a range of religious groupings in Eastern Germany (the book was first published in 1963): both Catholics and Protestants get short shrift from Hans. Also the Communists, so you see what I mean about him having fallen out with everybody.

Two women dominate the book, though absent from it. Hans’s former partner Marie, who has left him for someone else, and his sister Henrietta who was killed in the last days of the war. Marie is particulary an obsession and in this the book remeinds me of that iconic novel ’The Catcher in the Rye’ (by JD Salinger) where the main character is similarly troubled by an absence. The self-confessional style also reminds me of Salinger’s hero, Holden Caulfield, with his very personal angst-filled narrative of events.

Absolutely recommended. ( )
  Eamonn12 | Feb 23, 2011 |
E’ un libro che ho letto la prima volta a 16 anni e mi ha colpito come un fulmine :l’ ho trovato feroce e avevo sentito molto vicini alcuni temi, come la rabbia verso la società ed il sentirsi isolati ed incompresi. Per me allora e’ stato un libro chiave .

L’ ho riletto recentemente e mi ha colpito ancora per la sua attualita’ ; la vibrante denuncia dell’ ipocrisia e del perbenismo imperanti nella Germania postbellica per rimuovere i ricordi collettivi ed individuali e la forza morale della coscienza del clown contro l' opportunismo ed i voltagabbana sono piu’ che mai valide anche adesso : diversa la società ed il momento storico, identica l’ ipocrisia.

( )
  mara4m | Nov 21, 2010 |
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (44 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Böll, Heinrichprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Araújo Cardalda, LaureanoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Plas, Michel van derTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vennewitz, LeilaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
"Coloro ai quali non è stato annunciato nulla di Lui, lo vedranno; e coloro che non ne hanno udito parlare, lo intenderanno" (Rom. xv, 21)
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Era già buio quando arrivai a Bonn. Feci uno sforzo per non dare al mio arrivo quel ritmo di automaticità che si è venuto a creare in cinque anni di continuo viaggiare: scendere le scale della stazione, risalire altre scale, deporre la borsa da viaggio, levare il biglietto dalla tasca del soprabito, consegnare il biglietto, dirigersi verso l'edicola dei giornali, comperare le edizioni della sera, uscire, far cenno a un tassì.
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Vi sono dei limiti oltre i quali l'idiozia dovrebbe essere controllata.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Through the eyes of a despairing artist, Hans Schneir, who recreates in his pantomimes incidents in people's lives with honesty and compassion, Boll draws a revealing portrait of German society under Hitler and in the postwar years.

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