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THE CLOWN – Novel, by Heinrich Böll

Heinrich Böll was one of German foremost post-World War II writers. His work has been translated into 30 languages and he remains one of Germany’s most widely read authors. He was awarded the Georg Büchner Prize and the Nobel Prize for Literature. After the WWII he returned to Cologne and began working in his family’s cabinet shop. He became a full-time writer at the age of 30, and his first novel was published in 1949. He was devoted to Catholicism, but deeply critical of aspects of it. Heinrich Böll lived with his wife in Cologne and Eifel region, but he also spent time on Achill Island (off the west coast of Ireland), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=apKNbZyTuRg where his cottage is used now as a guesthouse for artists.

The clown, https://www.amazon.com/Clown-Essential-Heinrich-Boll/dp/1935554174#reader_1935554174 is one of the most controversial novels of Heinrich Böll, where he criticized the German society after the war. The main figure in novel is Hans Schnier, a man whose personal and professional life is burning down, after his wife left him forever. Without her, Hans is absolutely lost. It is a highly personal story, the tale of an artistic soul tortured in the absence of his love. There are some conflicts in the story, but the author intended to focus mainly on character versus society. In fact, it was society, or to be more specific, religion, that takes his wife away and saw him ineligible to have a Catholic wife. The second important conflict is character versus himself. I don’t believe there is anyone in the world who understands a clown, even one clown doesn’t understand another, envy and jealousy always enter into it. Marie came close to understanding me, but she never quite understood me. She always felt that as a “creative person” I must be “deeply interested in absorbing as much culture as possible.” She was wrong.

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