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This sweeping saga of love in dangerous times — the 1923 collapse of the German economy, when food and money shortages led to rioting in the streets and unemployed soldiers marauding through the countryside — is deemed by many to be Hans Fallada’s greatest work. Yet its 1938 publication made his publisher so fearful of Nazi retribution that he told Fallada, “If this book destroys us, then at least we’ll be destroyed for something that’s worth it.”
It appears here in its first unabridged translation into English, based on a contemporaneous translation by Philip Owens that has been revised and restored in full by Thorsten Carstensen and Nicholas Jacobs. Carstensen also provides an afterword discussing why the original version of the book was so heavily edited … and why Fallada’s publisher thought a love story might get them killed.
“His most ambitious novel… deeply moving…he has evoked more than one can bear in comfort, but not more than it is necessary to learn, to keep and to understand.”—Alfred Kazin, The New York Times
“What other living German novelist shares with Fallada the power to grip the reader on the first page and hold him unremittingly through 1100 more?”–Bayard Q. Morgan, World Literature Today (1938)
“Fallda can be seen as a hero, a writer-hero who survived just long enough to strike back at his oppressors.” –Alan Furst