Wolf Among Wolves
Publication Date: May 25, 2010
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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 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.
This is a Hybrid Book.
Melville House HybridBooks combine print and digital media into an enhanced reading experience by including with each title additional curated material called Illuminations — maps, photographs, illustrations, and further writing about the author and the book. The Melville House Illuminations are free with the purchase of any title in the HybridBook series, no matter the format.
Prior to WWII, the novels of German writer Hans Fallada (born Rudolf Ditzen) were international bestsellers. But when Jewish producers in Hollywood made his 1932 novel, Little Man, What Now? into a major motion picture, the rising Nazis began to take note of him. His struggles increased after he refused to join the Party and was denounced by neighbors for “anti-Nazi” sympathies. Unlike many other prominent artists, however, Fallada decided not to flee Germany. By the end of World War II he’d suffered an alcohol-fueled nervous breakdown and was in a Nazi insane asylum, where he nonetheless managed to write—in code—the brilliant subversive novel, The Drinker. After the war, Fallada went on to write Every Man Dies Alone, based on an actual Gestapo file, but he died in 1947 of a morphine overdose, just before it was published.
"The ideal summer read."
—Katherine Powers, The Boston Globe
"An unmissably brilliant portrait of Berlin before the Nazis."
—The Times of London
“Outstanding… his novels, whatever their ultimate position in the literary rankings, are simply much more entertaining than the tomes produced by the usual German suspects, Mann, Hesse, Grass, Böll….if you fancy a book to take you right through your holidays and any possible delays at the airport, you couldn’t do better than Wolf Among Wolves.”
—Tibor Fischer, Telegraph (UK)
"His most ambitious novel... deeply moving... he has evoked more than one can bear, but not more than it is necessary to learn, to keep and to understand."
—Alfred Kazin, The New York Times (1938)
"Fallada handles [the characters] not morbidly but with a Hogarthian exuberance and a tough humor, infusing into even those dying spirits the life of his copious imagination... Fallada's best book."
—The New Yorker (1938)
“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)
"Out of the multitude of episodes and a large cast of characters, the picture of post-War Germany during the terror of the inflation period, comes into reality, as in almost no other book we have had... A human document--and a moving picture of a Germany gone mad."
Praise for Hans Fallada
"Fallada can be seen as a hero, a writer-hero who survived just long enough to strike back at his oppressors."
"Fallada deserves high praise for having reported realistically, so truthfully, with such closeness to life."