My Book World
This novel, originally published in German in 1947, is the fictionalized story of a true-life married couple who denounce the Nazi regime. The couple are solid followers of Hitler until their only son is killed in battle. They then turn their anger outward in a quiet manner by handwriting postcards of denunciation which they deposit all over the city of Berlin. They carry on for over two years, placing nearly 300 cards without notice. Yet their campaign is basically a failure because most people who find the cards turn them into the Gestapo so that they do not themselves wind up in trouble. Due to a bit of carelessness, the couple are caught and wind up in prison. Fallada deftly portrays their ending as fearful but brave souls who have no problem talking back to prison officials.
Fallada concludes the novel on a positive note by bringing back into view a boy who, because of his terrible home life, has begun a life of crime until he is adopted by a caring and loving couple who help to change his ways. Fallada’s writing is very nineteenth century by way of its omniscient point-of-view in which we know what every character is thinking. He is also quite skilled in creating a large number of characters, yet giving the reader periodic hints about who is whom, thus keeping the narrative moving. Finally, he, from time to time, repeats or skillfully echoes his title, Every Man Dies Alone, in ways that expand its obvious or concrete meaning. Fallada’s novel is a keen reminder that freedom requires sacrifice, that no matter what culture we live in, we must always be on guard against its being taken away from us, or worse yet, that we hand it over without question.
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