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The Hothouse (1953)

by Wolfgang Koeppen

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Trilogie des Scheiterns (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
315384,811 (3.55)22
Set in post-Nazi Germany, The Hothouse follows one character's decession into depression as he returns to the city of Bonn
  1. 10
    Pigeons on the Grass by Wolfgang Koeppen (Liondancer)
    Liondancer: Beides sind Teile der "Trilogie des Scheiterns".
  2. 10
    Death in Rome by Wolfgang Koeppen (Liondancer)
    Liondancer: Beides sind Teile der "Trilogie des Scheiterns"
  3. 00
    Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse (Liondancer)
    Liondancer: Die Persönlichkeit des "Treibhaus"-Abgeordneten Keetenheuve erinnert mich sehr an den "Steppenwolf" Harry Haller.
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» See also 22 mentions

Showing 3 of 3
I’ve had this book on the shelf for awhile. Reason to read it now is that is is the BOTM for March 2022 in Reading 1001. This book is a post WWII novel by German author Wolfgang Koeppen. It was published in 1953 (my birth year). The main character is a person who managed to avoid being a soldier in WWII and has now returned and is in politics. The story describes the political nuances of Germany after the war. The main character is also grieving the death of his wife who was a victim of the war having lost both her parents. I found the novel difficult to engage.

Quotes:
Pg. 133 “…in the way that metropolises take a man out of his neighborhood and make him alone,…”

I suspect that this novel does belong on the 1001 Books list, nevertheless, it was a chore to read and worked well to initiate sleep. I’m glad I finally read it and I hope to never read it again (tho I agree a reread would probably be helpful). I think as a novel that discusses politics it is probably pretty accurate, I also think the author’s look at war, the profits of war, the profits of commercialism, and the depiction of the “happy family” were elements that were good. Parts of the book reminded me of James Joyce. It is mostly SOC. The mood of the novel is dark, sense of failure, and hopeless. ( )
  Kristelh | Mar 29, 2022 |
Not bad, but a bit too cod-modernist-trickstery compared to Death in Rome. Perhaps I should have read it when I was younger and more impressed by disconnected paragraphs in italics, because under all of that kind of thing is a really solid slab of pessimism. ( )
  stillatim | Oct 23, 2020 |
Keetenheuve is suffering from depression. His situation seems like a mirror of the german society shortly after WWII. There is no hope for real improvement, especially for honesty, which he tries to bring into the new government. He had committed himself totally to his work and because of this he lost his love Elke. So he now suffers a double loss. Which is unbearable and he fails to share this with any other person. He takes distance to everyone/thing. Experiencing nothing but his inability and accentuating this with alcohol he committs suicide. What a shame that no one steps up in the story to ask him about his sufferings, or that he finds a new way to live his ideals that are now drowned with him in the Rhine.
The way of writing is beautiful to me, it flows constantly and it is like hearing a song inside while you read. ( )
4 vote jolijtje | May 25, 2009 |
Showing 3 of 3
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Koeppen, WolfgangAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hofmann, MichaelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Platvoet, WimTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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People/Characters
Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Related movies
Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Epigraph
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Gott allein weiß, wie kompliziert die Politik ist und daß Hirne und Herzen der Menschen oft nur wie hilflose Hänflinge in der Schlinge flattern. Doch wenn wir uns über ein großes Unrecht nicht genügend empören können, werden wir niemals rechtschaffene Taten vollbringen.

Harold Nicolson
Der Prozeß der Geschichte ist ein Verbrennen.

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First words
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Er reiste im Schutz der Immunität, denn er war nicht auf frischer Tat ertappt worden.
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Keetenheuve war kein Familienmensch, er konnte lieben, er war sinnlich, aber er hatte so wenig Zweisames mitbekommen, daß er nicht mal zum Ehemann getaugt hatte. Keetenheuve war ein Mensch ohne Kontakte, der sich zuweilen nach Kontakten sehnte, und das führte ihn in seine Partei, in Schwierigkeiten und Verwirrungen.
Ein Mensch genügte, dem Leben Sinn zu geben. Die Arbeit genügte nicht. Die Politik genügte nicht. Sie schützten ihn nicht vor der ungeheuren Öde des Daseins. Die Öde war sanft. Die Öde tat ihm nichts. Sie griff nicht nach dem Abgeordneten mit langen Gespensterarmen. Sie würgte ihn nicht. Sie war nur da. Sie blieb nur. [...]
Bücher lagen aufgeschlagen herum. Schriften lagen herum. Ein Tisch war mit Papieren bedeckt, mit Skizzen, mit Entwürfen, mit halb konzipierten Reden, Eingaben, Beschlüssen, mit angefangenen Aufsätzen, mit liegengelassenen Briefen. Keetenheuves Leben war ein Entwurf. Es war ein Entwurf zu einem wirklichen Leben; aber Keetenheuve konnte sich das wirkliche Leben nicht mehr vorstellen. Er wußte nicht, wie es aussah; und er würde es bestimmt nicht mehr leben.
Zweifellos war es moralisch besser, ermordet zu werden, als in der Schlacht zu fallen, und die Bereitschaft, nicht kämpfend zu sterben, war die einzige Möglichkeit, das Gesicht der Welt zu ändern. Aber wer war bereit, auf das gefährliche, schwindeln machende Hochseil solcher Ethik zu klettern? Sie bleiben am Boden, ließen sich eine verdammte Waffe in die Hand drücken und starben verflucht und aufgerissenen Bauches, genauso dumm wie ihre Gegner.
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Set in post-Nazi Germany, The Hothouse follows one character's decession into depression as he returns to the city of Bonn

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