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Thread: Question for German members: Heinrich Böll

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    A very, very Senior Member Adrian II's Avatar
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    Default Question for German members: Heinrich Böll


    Böll is one of my favourite German authors. But has he been forgotten by his own country? I just saw a newspaper article about a 2006 tv poll (ZDF) called Das große Lesen ('The Big Read') in which Böll wasn't even among the first fifty. In his native Cologne they call him 'berühmt, aber vergessen' ('famous but forgotten'). His Verlohrene Ehre is still read in high schools, but mainly because it is part of the curriculum.

    Why is this? Is he too Christian for this day and age? Over Christmas I read a collection of his radio plays from the '50's, Zum Tee bei Dr. Borsig. Hörspiele, a DTV paperback. I was struck once more by the basic religious themes, the modest, effective language. He was a protagonist of the brilliant 'Catholic novel' along with a T.S. Elliot or François Mauriac, unfortunately a dying breed.

    Or it is because he was too political? For some, Böll was the 'conscience of the nation', a nick he detested and refused by the way. Maybe he is associated too much with the Adenauer era, with the difficult 'German-German relationship' of the 1960's or the terrorist episode of the 1970's, episodes that coloured his work and influenced his thoughts in ways that no longer appeal to a German readership.

    Do you still read him? Does anyone? How do critics, school pupils etcetera talk about him?
    In short: wie steht's um den Böll?
    Last edited by Adrian II; 04-02-2008 at 13:53.
    The bloody trouble is we are only alive when we’re half dead trying to get a paragraph right. - Paul Scott

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    Chieftain of the Pudding Race Member Evil_Maniac From Mars's Avatar
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    Default Re: Question for German members: Heinrich Böll

    Quote Originally Posted by Adrian II
    Do you still read him?
    I must say that I don't think I have. My father may have.

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    A very, very Senior Member Adrian II's Avatar
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    Default Re: Question for German members: Heinrich Böll

    Quote Originally Posted by Evil_Maniac From Mars
    I must say that I don't think I have. My father may have.


    Some henchman from Die Welt wrote in no uncertain terms that Böll is history. A grain of truth, no doubt. And maybe he is right where he says Germans want to forget about the Bonn years as a whole. But calling those years dull is a mistake.
    The bloody trouble is we are only alive when we’re half dead trying to get a paragraph right. - Paul Scott

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    Chieftain of the Pudding Race Member Evil_Maniac From Mars's Avatar
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    Default Re: Question for German members: Heinrich Böll

    I didn't say why I haven't read Böll - not because I don't think he was a good author (I've read some passages), but because I don't read much fiction, and haven't for a while. I read history - some classic and modern literature, to be sure - but mostly non-fiction. My mother has read Böll, and enjoyed it.

    I don't know about forgetting the era - I personally like to read books from different times and find parallels to life at the time, but as I said, non-fiction is what I really enjoy most of the time.

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    TexMec Senior Member Louis VI the Fat's Avatar
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    Default Re : Question for German members: Heinrich Böll

    Quote Originally Posted by Adrian II
    How do critics, school pupils etcetera talk about him?
    I guess they think his work is Böllocks.
    Anything unrelated to elephants is irrelephant
    Texan by birth, woodpecker by the grace of God
    I would be the voice of your conscience if you had one - Brenus
    Bt why woulf we uy lsn'y Staraft - Fragony
    Not everything
    blue and underlined is a link


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    A very, very Senior Member Adrian II's Avatar
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    Default Re: Re : Question for German members: Heinrich Böll

    Quote Originally Posted by Louis VI the Fat
    I guess they think his work is Böllocks.
    Gev mir ming Brelle! Na Do kanns zaubre, Ludwig..
    The bloody trouble is we are only alive when we’re half dead trying to get a paragraph right. - Paul Scott

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    Iron Fist Senior Member Husar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Re : Question for German members: Heinrich Böll

    Quote Originally Posted by Adrian II
    Gev mir ming Brelle! Na Do kanns zaubre, Ludwig..
    If he writes like that, it's no wonder that noone likes his books.
    Or maybe ask the Swiss.
    Last edited by Husar; 04-03-2008 at 20:19.


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    A very, very Senior Member Adrian II's Avatar
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    Default Re: Re : Question for German members: Heinrich Böll

    Quote Originally Posted by Husar
    If he writes like that, it's no wonder that noone likes his books.
    Or maybe ask the Swiss.
    Or ask BAP, they too are from Cologne..
    The bloody trouble is we are only alive when we’re half dead trying to get a paragraph right. - Paul Scott

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    Senior Member Senior Member Ser Clegane's Avatar
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    Default Re: Question for German members: Heinrich Böll

    Interesting question - made me aware that I never really bothered to read Böll (perhaps I should actually "bother" to when I have some more time again).

    Not sure how commonly Böll is read in school nowadays - when I went to school we did not read anything of Böll.

    I think it is not unlikely that he will see a revival during the next decade when perhaps people will become more interested again in the early years of the "Federal Republic of Germany".

    Here is a (perhaps too) short view on Böll: Was tun mit Böll

    Come to think of it - in terms of German Language literature I seem to prefer our Swiss neighbours (Max Frisch, Dürrenmatt) over our "locals"

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    A very, very Senior Member Adrian II's Avatar
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    Default Re: Question for German members: Heinrich Böll

    Quote Originally Posted by Ser Clegane
    I think it is not unlikely that he will see a revival during the next decade when perhaps people will become more interested again in the early years of the "Federal Republic of Germany".
    Do you really think there will be a surge of interest in those years? I find it hard to imagine, so many Germans seem fed up with that episode.
    Here is a (perhaps too) short view on Böll: Was tun mit Böll
    "Ob wir Böll brauchen würden? Schwere Frage - wir haben ja Günter Grass."
    Totally wrong assessment, I think. Böll was never a Großmaul like Grass or Walser. He helped destroy (or keep at bay) some of the ugliest figures of the Federal Republic, 'häßliche Fratzen' like Franz-Joseph Strauss. But in spite of what that journalist says, he never stooped to invective. He preferred to send a professional clown to Bonn. Great stuff.
    The bloody trouble is we are only alive when we’re half dead trying to get a paragraph right. - Paul Scott

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    TexMec Senior Member Louis VI the Fat's Avatar
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    Default Re : Re: Re : Question for German members: Heinrich Böll

    Quote Originally Posted by Adrian II
    Gev mir ming Brelle! Na Do kanns zaubre, Ludwig..
    Qu'est-ce que c'est? Argot de Cologne?

    (pun!)
    Anything unrelated to elephants is irrelephant
    Texan by birth, woodpecker by the grace of God
    I would be the voice of your conscience if you had one - Brenus
    Bt why woulf we uy lsn'y Staraft - Fragony
    Not everything
    blue and underlined is a link


  12. #12
    Philologist Senior Member ajaxfetish's Avatar
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    Default Re: Question for German members: Heinrich Böll

    Why is it that the likes of Louis or Adrian can pun about in three or more languages, and here's me stuck at just one? It's not fair! Curse my American education!!

    Ajax

    "I do not yet know how chivalry will fare in these calamitous times of ours." --- Don Quixote
    "I have no words, my voice is in my sword." --- Shakespeare
    "I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they'd never expect it." --- Jack Handey

  13. #13
    A very, very Senior Member Adrian II's Avatar
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    Default Re: Question for German members: Heinrich Böll

    Quote Originally Posted by ajaxfetish
    Why is it that the likes of Louis or Adrian can pun about in three or more languages, and here's me stuck at just one? It's not fair! Curse my American education!!

    Ajax
    Writing puns in three languages isn't the alpha and omega of human achievement...
    It's a hobby.
    OK, it's an obsession.
    OK, a disease...
    The bloody trouble is we are only alive when we’re half dead trying to get a paragraph right. - Paul Scott

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