Tag Archive for Pre-WWII

Book Review: Wolf Among Wolves by Hans Fallada

Wolf Among Wolves by Hans Fallada Working my way through the novels of Hans Fallada, I decided to read Wolf Among Wolves, mostly because it was available at the library. I’d read about this new translation as being much better than the original, partly for it not being censored, but also for a refresh of the language. However, it was not as great as the publisher or reviewers made it sound.

I initially struggled with the book, just due to the sheer number of characters Fallada introduces, from the manager of a farm to ex-soldiers living in Berlin. I eventually got into it a bit, but with mixed feelings, as the story was slow to progress.

However, what made it a really unpleasant read was the translation and poor editing (if there was any done) throughout the book. There were many typos scattered throughout, but even worse were the awkward translations that made it feel like someone used Babelfish and a very old German-English dictionary to directly translate. Some of the language used was very outdated and I had to look up some words; the larger issues were literal translations that I recognized from having learned German. It was like they’d taken the German text and just translated bits in place, rather than restructuring the language to make sense (and not sound awkward!) for native English readers.

So, the story itself was all right, but this new edition of the book was greatly disappointing and took away from the experience.

Book Review: Little Man, What Now? by Hans Fallada

Little Man, What Now? by Hans Fallada Last year, I read Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada, which was a tragic but well-written book, and after reading a bit about Fallada’s life, I wanted to read some of his other books. The first one I was able to find at the library was Little Man, What Now? by Hans Fallada, though I waited until I was in the right mood for it before checking it out.

The story follows a young couple starting a new life together in Germany after the economic collapse of the late 1920s and early 1930s. We see how they struggle to make ends meet, due to the combined problems from unstable employment, the high cost of everyday items, and their occasional mistakes in household budgeting.

This isn’t the most uplifting of books, but the writing is so light and moves along at a nice pace, and something about all the details of their everyday life pulled me in. You do really want the best for them, and you hope things will work out, and it’s hard when they run into various stumbling blocks.

I thought it was an interesting book, at least to see what problems everyday Germans were dealing with in this time period. Knowing what happened shortly after this period in time, you can get a sense of why that is.

I will add that I read an older translation, and I’ve heard that the newer one is much better. I’m curious how it differs, but I think I’ll wait a bit before I look into it.