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More Lives Than One: A Biography Of Hans Fallada [Paperback]

Jenny Williams
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

March 6 2012
Hans Fallada was a drug addict, womanizer, alcoholic, jailbird and thief. Yet he was also one of the most extraordinary storytellers of the twentieth century, whose novels, including "Alone in Berlin", portrayed ordinary people in terrible times with a powerful humanity. This acclaimed biography, newly revised and completely updated, tells the remarkable story of Hans Fallada, whose real name was Rudolf Ditzen. Jenny Williams chronicles his turbulent life as a writer, husband and father, shadowed by mental torment and long periods in psychiatric care. She shows how Ditzen's decision to remain in Nazi Germany in 1939 led to his self-destruction, but also made him a unique witness to his country's turmoil. "More Lives Than One" unpicks the contradictory, flawed and fascinating life of a writer who saw the worst of humanity, yet maintained his belief in the decency of the 'little man'.

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A major contribution to our understanding of literature and politics in the tumult of interwar Germany -- Harold James A masterpiece of biography Choice (USA) Informative and engaging The Times Literary Supplement Williams's life is astute, rigorously researched and engrossing -- John Dugdale Guardian Williams's reading of Fallada's work is superb, her engagement with Ditzen and his family and friends uncanny. A calmly authoritative biography -- Eileen Battersby Irish Times

About the Author

Jenny Williams is Senior Lecturer in German at Dublin City University. She has worked on Fallada's life and writings for many years. Her biography is based on published and unpublished sources, including family letters and interviews.

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5.0 out of 5 stars A biography of "Hans Fallada". March 27 2012
By Jill Meyer HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
German author Hans Fallada wrote novels and non-fiction, maintaining a successful writing career from the 1920's until his death in 1947. He published through changes in government, from the Weimar Republic through the Third Reich, and into the Communist regime in East Germany. His novels, in print and popular, managed to skirt the governmental authority's - whichever government was in power at the time - and avoid the censorship to which other authors were subject. In "More Lives than One", Jenny Williams updates a biography of Fallada originally published in the 1990's, to take advantage of the renewed interest in Fallada's work.

"Hans Fallada" was the name Rudolf Ditzen adopted as his pseudonym when he began publishing. The son of an upper middle class German family, centered mostly in the northern part of the country, Ditzen, who was born in 1893, one of four children. His only brother Ulrich was killed in WW1. Rudolf avoided wartime duty because he had spent periods in mental hospitals and prisons. He had a creative, yet fragile and addictive personality, and when he began publishing his writing in the 1920's, he was an almost immediate success. His first successful novel, "What Now, Little Man", published to much acclaim in 1932 was the story of a German "every man" figure, who battled life and economic forces in the late 1920's and early 1930's. Ditzen kept overt politics out of most of his writing. This was, of course, a prerequisite for successful publishing in Germany, especially after the Nazis came to power in the early 1930's. He stayed in Germany during the 30's and 40's - not emigrating as so many German writers, both Jewish and gentile, did - and wrote movie screenplays and other sanctioned works.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A biography of "Hans Fallada". March 27 2012
By Jill Meyer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
German author Hans Fallada wrote novels and non-fiction, maintaining a successful writing career from the 1920's until his death in 1947. He published through changes in government, from the Weimar Republic through the Third Reich, and into the Communist regime in East Germany. His novels, in print and popular, managed to skirt the governmental authority's - whichever government was in power at the time - and avoid the censorship to which other authors were subject. In "More Lives than One", Jenny Williams updates a biography of Fallada originally published in the 1990's, to take advantage of the renewed interest in Fallada's work.

"Hans Fallada" was the name Rudolf Ditzen adopted as his pseudonym when he began publishing. The son of an upper middle class German family, centered mostly in the northern part of the country, Ditzen, who was born in 1893, one of four children. His only brother Ulrich was killed in WW1. Rudolf avoided wartime duty because he had spent periods in mental hospitals and prisons. He had a creative, yet fragile and addictive personality, and when he began publishing his writing in the 1920's, he was an almost immediate success. His first successful novel, "What Now, Little Man", published to much acclaim in 1932 was the story of a German "every man" figure, who battled life and economic forces in the late 1920's and early 1930's. Ditzen kept overt politics out of most of his writing. This was, of course, a prerequisite for successful publishing in Germany, especially after the Nazis came to power in the early 1930's. He stayed in Germany during the 30's and 40's - not emigrating as so many German writers, both Jewish and gentile, did - and wrote movie screenplays and other sanctioned works. After the war, he wrote his most famous book, "Every Man Dies Alone", a novel about individual wartime resistance, based on the activities of a real couple who were murdered by the Nazis when they were discovered. Rudolf Ditzen died right before publication of "Every Man", in 1947.

How did Rudolf Ditzen manage to capture the German character so well? He was certainly careful, in general, not to anger the authorities with his writing. But he wrote about the times and the people with such a plainness of prose that most readers were able to recognise themselves or others they knew well. I suppose that by concentrating on the everyday exteriors of those he wrote about, he was able to see inside these same people. His novels - and I've read three - are certainly as fresh and interesting 75 years after they were written as they were when first published.

Jenny Williams, the author of "More Lives Than One", has written a lively biography of both Rudolf Ditzen, the people around him, and the times he lived in. I'd suggest reading both Williams AND Fallada for a good historical record of the Germany of the first half of the 20th century.
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