This is the book that led to Hans Fallada's downfall with the Nazis. The story of a young couple struggling to survive the German economic collapse was a worldwide sensation and was made into an acclaimed Hollywood movie produced by Jews, leading Hitler to ban Fallada's work from being translated.
Nonetheless, it remains, as "The Times Literary Supplement "notes, the novel of a time in which public and private merged even for those whowanted to stay at home and mind their own business."
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About the Author
Before WWII, German writer Hans Fallada s novels were international bestsellers, on a par with those of his countrymen Thomas Mann and Herman Hesse. In America, Hollywood even turned his first big novel, "Little Man, What Now? "into a major motion picture.
Learning the movie was made by a Jewish producer, however, Hitler decreed Fallada s work could no longer be sold outside Germany, and the rising Nazis began to pay him closer attention. When he refused to join the Nazi party he was arrested by the Gestapo who eventually released him, but thereafter regularly summoned him for discussions of his work.
However, unlike Mann, Hesse, and others, Fallada refused to flee to safety, even when his British publisher, George Putnam, sent a private boat to rescue him. The pressure took its toll on Fallada, and he resorted increasingly to drugs and alcohol for relief. After Goebbels ordered him to write an anti-Semitic novel, he snapped and found himself imprisoned in an asylum for the criminally insane considered a death sentence under Nazi rule. To forestall the inevitable, he pretended to write the assignment for Goebbels, while actually composing three encrypted books including his tour de force novel "The Drinker" in such dense code that they were not deciphered until long after his death.
Fallada outlasted the Reich and was freed at war s end. But he was a shattered man. To help him recover by putting him to work, Fallada s publisher gave him the Gestapo file of a simple, working-class couple who had resisted the Nazis. Inspired, Fallada completed "Every Man Dies Alone "in just twenty-four days.
He died in February 1947, just weeks before the book s publication."
“ Fallada deserves high praise for having reported so realistically, so truthfully, with such closeness to life.” –Herman Hesse
“ Superb.” –Graham Greene
"In a publishing hat trick, Melville House allows English-language readers to sample Fallada's vertiginous variety accompanying the release of Michael Hoffman's splendid translation of Every Man Dies Alone with the simultaneous publication of excellent English versions of Fallada's two best-known novels, Little Man, What Now? (translated by Susan Bennett) and The Drinker (translated by Charlotte and A.L. Lloyd). In his probing afterword to Little Man, What Now?, Philip Brady ponders the question of why the book isn't better-known today: "Enduring success is one thing, immediate impact is something different, and clearly the immediate impact of Fallada's novel was undeniable." Given our current economic circumstances, the book may have a second chance at impact and endurance."
- New York Times Book Review