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Gabriele Annan, 5 November 1992

Death in Rome 
by Wolfgang Koeppen, translated by Michael Hofmann.
Hamish Hamilton, 192 pp., £9.99, November 1992, 9780241132388
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... hedge of neglect. The Good Fairy, in this case, was a Berlin bookseller ‘who First recommended Koeppen’. Wolfgang Koeppen is 86. He wrote a couple of novels before the war, but his fame (now in abeyance, even in Germany where he was once classed with Böll and Grass), rests on the three he published in quick ...

A Leap from the Bridge

Alexander Scrimgeour: Wolfgang Koeppen, 12 December 2002

The Hothouse 
by Wolfgang Koeppen, translated by Michael Hofmann.
Granta, 221 pp., £14.99, May 2002, 1 86207 509 3
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... Between 1951 and 1954, Wolfgang Koeppen published three scathing, disillusioned novels ridiculing the notion of a new start and a clean slate for West Germany. At the time, perhaps as many as 80 per cent of public officials, including many judges and senior civil servants, were former members of the Nazi Party ...

To Live like a Bird

Mark Rudman, 1 June 2000

Approximately Nowhere 
by Michael Hofmann.
Faber, 77 pp., £7.99, April 1999, 0 571 19524 5
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... high aspiration became debased by Nazism. Hofmann is a prolific translator of German prose (Kafka, Wolfgang Koeppen, Joseph Roth and currently Gert Hofmann). He is also editing the selected works of Rilke. His own poetry enjoys a tacit dialogue with the works of Rilke and Hofmannsthal, and suggests a sympathy for the values of High Modernist Vienna (the ...


Edward Timms, 19 April 1990

Thomas Mann and his Family 
by Marcel Reich-Ranicki, translated by Ralph Manheim.
Collins, 230 pp., £20, August 1989, 9780002158374
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... as the most influential critic of his day. ‘He writes about me, therefore I am,’ observed Wolfgang Koeppen, one of Reich-Ranicki’s ‘discoveries’. But other authors had to endure his devastating Verrisse – a German word for which there is fortunately no English equivalent. It signifies a review in which the book is ‘ripped to ...

The cow, the shoe, then you

Philip Oltermann: Hans Fallada, 8 March 2012

More Lives than One: A Biography of Hans Fallada 
by Jenny Williams.
Penguin, 320 pp., £12.99, February 2012, 978 0 241 95267 2
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A Small Circus 
by Hans Fallada, translated by Michael Hofmann.
Penguin, 577 pp., £20, February 2012, 978 0 14 119655 8
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... has to do with the quality of the writing. ‘A great, inventive storyteller,’ the novelist Wolfgang Koeppen called him. And then, after a pause: ‘But literature it isn’t, of course.’ In his work big, fleshy men can’t help bullying; pale men with glasses are always fey; and hen-pecked husbands with red noses are stalked by domestic ...

Perfect and Serene Oddity

Michael Hofmann: The Strangeness of Robert Walser, 16 November 2006

Speaking to the Rose: Writings, 1912-32 
by Robert Walser, translated and edited by Christopher Middleton.
Nebraska, 128 pp., £9.99, November 2005, 0 8032 9833 1
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... three novels came out in 1907, 1908 and 1909 with the firm of Bruno Cassirer (who later took on Wolfgang Koeppen). They represent Walser probably at the zenith of what it seems a mistake to call a career in anything but the most literal (or punning) sense. Walser was living in Berlin, sometimes in the house of his brother Karl, a famous and successful ...

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