The Man outside and other stories

by Wolfgang Borchert | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: Global Overview for this book
Registered by Semioticghost of Ipswich, Suffolk United Kingdom on 4/6/2003
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3 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by Semioticghost from Ipswich, Suffolk United Kingdom on Sunday, April 06, 2003
Borchert was German writer who died young, of tuberculosis, having written just one radioplay and a small number of short stories. They touch me in a visceral way. Beautifully crafted, they evoke desolation and despair from which there is no real escape, but also hope in the most unexpected circumstances.

Journal Entry 2 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Sunday, July 15, 2007
Thanks to SG for lending me this much-loved book, I can't promise to be as fully affected as she was, but I will read, review & return in the true bookcrossing spirit.

Journal Entry 3 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Saturday, October 20, 2007
Interim review after the first (chronological) section, a collection of short stories and prose works which follow the rather intense Borchert through a whole gamut of emotions and studies of isolation, patriotism, the devastation of war, unrequited love, and a couple of dreamy ethereal pieces about the nature of trains & travel and the human condition. My favourite is the Dylan Thomas-like, The Crows Fly Home at Night, ‘They crouch in a lost world, crowfaced, shrouded greyblack and croaked hoarse.’ - sublime!

The Man Outside

I think plays must be the most difficult written form to engage a reader, and besides Shakespeare and ‘O’ level English I can’t think of many that I’ve even attempted. The story follows the return home to Germany of Beckmann after being a prisoner of war in Russia for 3 years. Following a failed suicide attempt Beckmann faces many trials and prejudices as he attempts to restart his life, but remains fervently ‘a man outside’; cuckolded, mocked for his appearance, he has lost his parents and family home, without hope of work, reconciliation or even any peace he staggers from scene to scene as if in a dream. This was a groundbreaking work at the time, Germany and the world coming to terms with the wounds of the recent war, but from a distance of many years it is still offers a powerful, if ultimately depressing, metaphor for a nation trying to forget, as a palliative to understanding and guilt.

‘In the twentieth century. In the fifth decade. In the street. In Germany. And people pass his death inattentive, resigned, bored, sickened and indifferent, so indifferent!’

Journal Entry 4 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Sunday, November 04, 2007
(2/11) Finished...part 3 of my episodic review to follow :)

This was altogether a fascinating collection, the majority of Borchert’s writing pulled together and translated. Not the easiest of reads, the subject matter being mostly depressing, as it was the product of a short and tragic life. However, there were glimpses of a lighter side in Thithyphuth (‘Sisyphus’ with a lisp), and a sense of possible redemption and the hope of rebirth in The Dandelion and This is Our Manifesto, "Yes, yes: on this lunatic earth we will love again..." It's a pity that Borchert didn't live through the post-war rebuilding of Germany, when i'm sure his Nihilism might have softened, and the serious talent given full reign to develop on a broader canvas.

Thank you for sharing this with me SemioticGhost/Esther; I’ll give it back next time we meet up :)

Journal Entry 5 by MrsDanvers from Aldeburgh, Suffolk United Kingdom on Thursday, November 15, 2007
"Pushed" effectively Esther.

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