Sunday, July 18, 2010

Der Trinker

For this post, we are going to engage in a little forward time travel. The bespectacled fellow above is one Rudolf Ditzen, and he was born July 21st, 1893 in Greifswald, Germany. He is better known by his pen name, Hans Fallada (a name taken from two separate stories by the Brothers Grimm), and we are advancing his hero status forward to today for two reasons. First, there was no hero that I could place on the hero podium born today, and secondly I have just finished "The Drinker" a book written by Herr Fallada.

It is a lovely book that was written while Fallada was "resting" in a Nazi insane asylum, and was written in a fortnight using paper on which he was supposed to writing a completely different kind of book. It was written in a some type of cross script (not a code as some people think) to both save paper, and confuse the Nazis who had locked him up in the loony bin. It is a powerful book telling the story of one man's fall from a "normal" life into one of utter degradation. It starts with the line "I was not always a drunkard . . . " and quickly goes on to show how the main character's life goes down the garbage chute. It is not considered to be "high art," but I wouldn't know high art if it hit me in the forehead, so it matters not to me. I was quite impressed that it was written under such trying circumstances so quickly, and that Fallada never when back and edited a single line of it. I do not know if any editing was ever done to it, and of course I read it in translation, but if it was never cleaned up, then it is even more of a impressive feat.

Fallada himself led a pretty wild life, he was born the son of a man who would eventually become a supreme court judge, and had a fairly difficult childhood. An accident when he was but 16 years old would lay the foundation for a life long addiction to morphine. At the age of 18, he killed a friend in a duel that was supposedly staged to end up with them both dead. His friend missed his shot, Fallada did not, and then tried to kill himself. That little stunt would lead to his first incarnation in a mental institution, it was not to be his last. His most famous book "Little Man, Now What?" was turned into a movie, and made him a popular writer in Germany, and the United States.

However, eventually the Nazis showed up, and he was declared an undesirable author, and thus locked up in the asylum in which he wrote "The Drinker." He claimed to, besides not editing this book, to never go back to read a line he had written after it was published. He did not read any of the reviews of his work, and usually wrote very quickly, feverishly putting down onto paper the story that was bursting to come out of him. I can not claim to have that type of talent, or dedication (the most I can write in one sitting is about 8 pages), but I share that same approach to my "writing." I rarely go back (as you can tell) and edit or reread what I have written. I quite often "rush" to my laptop to write down a blog post that has suddenly "blossomed" in my head (once while brushing my teeth), and I bang it out right there as quickly as I can before it fades away, and leaves me pondering what it was all about. I possess one other book by Fallada entitled "Every Man Dies Alone" it was written in 24 days, and is about 500 pages long! I can only hope that it is as good as "The Drinker." He came to a bad end, as one would expect, by dying of a morphine overdose, but during those feverish bouts of writing, he produced some world beating literature, and it is for that literature that I have advanced him in time to be our hero of the day. So, Hans Fallada (July 21st, 1893-February 5th, 1947, at the age of 53 from an overdoes of morphine), you are my (328th) hero of the day.

1 comment:

The Beasel said...

Thank you for your welcome Grand Inquisitor. I am also on a quest to find out what the hell my goals are. I guess that's what life is all about. There's something about a career in law that makes you look for something better in the World I guess.