Read Berlin Alexanderplatz by Alfred Döblin Miguel Sáenz Online

berlin-alexanderplatz

Alfred Doblin ha sido siempre una figura controvertida. Se llamaba a si mismo "autor de la burguesia" y se confesaba a la vez marxista, aunque heterodoxo. Berlin Alexanderplatz aparece en 1929 y es una exaltacion de Berlin, ciudad que el autor, por su profesion de medico, conocia muy bien. Los ojos de Doblin (y sus cuadernos) registran todos los detalles de la geografia beAlfred Doblin ha sido siempre una figura controvertida. Se llamaba a si mismo "autor de la burguesia" y se confesaba a la vez marxista, aunque heterodoxo. Berlin Alexanderplatz aparece en 1929 y es una exaltacion de Berlin, ciudad que el autor, por su profesion de medico, conocia muy bien. Los ojos de Doblin (y sus cuadernos) registran todos los detalles de la geografia berlinesa....

Title : Berlin Alexanderplatz
Author :
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ISBN : 9788437619972
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 512 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Berlin Alexanderplatz Reviews

  • Lisa
    2019-04-17 09:28

    Main character: Berlin! As a foil, you get to know the criminal Franz Biberkopf, who tries his best to be honest. He really does. But he does not have more talent for life than Keith in London Fields, and even less talent at darts. Also, he happens to be born into an era which could have made a better man fail. And what could you possibly expect of Biberkopf then, not being a better man? Not even good? Or passable?And Martin Amis: I all of a sudden realise that you did not only steal the plot from lovely Muriel Spark's The Driver's Seat, you stole the main character from Berlin Alexanderplatz, and just dressed it up and made it bigger, and changed some Kneipes into English pubs! But what else could I expect? Those are the times. And that is how it works. In stories featuring big criminals, the plots have to be stolen and dealt under the table as well. Franz Biberkopf would have done the same. As would Keith Talent! And Sparks' Lise would not have hesitated one single moment to grab hold of London or Berlin if she had needed either one of those cities to find her criminal!I wish I had thought of Biberkopf when I read London Fields. I would have loved it straight away!And thanks Matt for bringing Berlin Alexanderplatz to my attention again. It brought back memories that helped me like another book that kept poking at me with a dart. Strange maze of books I am wandering through. Like a big city - full of opportunities, chance meetings and stories.

  • Jaidee
    2019-03-30 11:21

    2016 Book I was Most Afraid To Hate I just don't have it in me ! I dipped into this book for two months and only got to 13 %.I cannot do it. I immensely dislike this book despite it being a modern classic. I am going to cut my losses and consider it my Infinite Jest of 2016.

  • K.D. Absolutely
    2019-03-24 11:20

    This book is said to be one of the required readings for high school students in Germany. When it was published in 1929, it became a monstrous hit and the book's popularity has been sustained all these years.Reason: this is the first German book that used the stream-of-consciousness style of James Joyce. This was also one of the reasons why I tried hard to first read Ulysses (serialized from 1918 to 1920) prior to cracking this one up. I found this easier to read despite the fact that I used a guide book while reading Ulysses. I think the reason was that the English translation of Eugene Jolas is just more readable. Although, just like Ulysses, also not always understandable. Honestly, I think I only understood 3/4 of what the author, Alfred Doblin (1878-1957) was trying to tell. But, still like Ulysses, I guess it does not really matter. The reason is that this modernist work, does not want to be fully understood since it is multi-layered with its internal (rather than external as in most contemporary books) conflicts. Thus, the book can be interpreted into so many ways that you don't know if what you think of it is right or wrong. Just like in some hypothetical questions, there are just no right and wrong answers.However, the gist is something like this (and please do correct me if I got anything incorrect because as I said, I only understood 3/4 of it): Frank Biberkopf is an ex-convict (case: manslaughter). When he steps out from prison, Nazism is on the rise in Germany. Frank wants to have a decent life as he sees his release as his second life. He tries on several jobs only to experience the harsh realities because Berlin at the time is unforgiving for ex-convicts like him. He loses his arm from a foiled robbery, he becomes a pimp, he is framed for murder by his friend-turned-foe Reinhold but because he is not bad-looking he also falls in love at one time. It's just that the woman was untrue to him so in the end, Frank feels that his life inside the prison is better that what he feels outside. I felt that claustrophobic atmosphere while reading the book. The irony of that feeling when you seem to be inside a prison when in fact you are living free in an outside world is very evident.I think this book deserves a 5-star rating. The only problem is that it is hard to understand. Maybe it is easy to understand if it is read by a German in German language. However, my advice to those who want to read this in English is to just keep on reading. Doblin just goes on and on and sometimes you don't know who, among the present characters in the scene, is talking since the spoken parts, enclosed in quotes, are without references to their owners. However, there are many beautifully arresting passages that will keep you interested. At some point, extremely interested. Reading this is like listening to conversations where the participants are pouring their thoughts out no-holds barred. It reminded me of the time when I was in still living in our hometown located in a Pacific island. I used to hear the conversations of my father and his buddies while they drank beer until they did not know what they were doing. They sang, the debated, they laughed in total abandon. They discussed a lot of different interesting topics and since they had too much to drink, they had the tendency to say their innermost thoughts - some of them very interesting, some were mundane, some were really nonsense. There were times that they even had our local priest (Catholic) with them and the priest could be an rowdy as my father and his friends. As they say, sometimes you will know the real person, once he or she gets real drunk. The fish is caught by its mouth.This book is like that. The characters are mouthing their innermost thoughts and since it was Berlin at the time of Hitler's rise, some of what they were saying could cause their lives or reveal what they really think about their religion as told in the Bible. So, some of them contained those in their minds but Doblin let you hear them. This for me, made this book very interesting. Also, if you want to know how was it to live in Alexanderplatz (downtown Berlin) in the 1920s, this book is for you. The place is pictured here as dark and discriminatory and yet we all love European cities no matter in which century they were. Europe was the old world and the center of art, music and yes, classic literature. Since I am interested on that, I kept on reading. I am happy I did.

  • Jonfaith
    2019-03-25 09:20

    1997 was a rushing tide of hefty novels sweeping under to revel in their wake: most of Pynchon and the Grass Danzig troika are dated here. Doblin's feat is an episodic steamroller, the estranged reader is as tethered as anyone by the mechanized operations of the strange, new Berlin. (Brave New Bono, Beware)I returned to the novel a few years ago after viewing the Fassbinder film. Doblin's novel remains a formidable feat. A few of my friends have recently made mediocre efforts. Looking aghast, I shook my head with the resignation of Arsene Wenger: even while Nietzsche was taking swings at folks at the asylum, he still valued a mazurka.

  • Nikos Tsentemeidis
    2019-04-14 09:20

    Ανακαλύπτω σιγά, σιγά το μεγαλείο της γερμανικής λογοτεχνίας. Το «Ομαδικό πορτρέτο με μία κυρία» του Böll που πρόσφατα διάβασα με δυσκόλεψε, το συγκεκριμένο με δυσκόλεψε ακόμα περισσότερο, τουλάχιστον στο πρώτο τέταρτο, μέχρι που κατάφερα να μπω στο κλίμα. Εκ πρώτης όψεως δεν φαίνεται πουθενά αυτό το μεγαλείο, παρά μόνο με υπομονή και διαφορετική αντίληψη της έννοιας του μυθιστορήματος. Η γερμανική λογοτεχνία δε θυμίζει ούτε γαλλική, ούτε ρώσικη, ούτε αγγλική. Περίοδος μεσοπολέμου, Βερολίνο 1928. Για κάποιον που το έχει επισκεφτεί , απολαμβάνει τις περιγραφές καθώς μεταφέρεται στους δρόμους της υπέροχης αυτής πόλης. Όπως και άλλα μυθιστορήματα Γερμανών, πριν και μετά τον Β’ Παγκόσμιο Πόλεμο, είναι έντονο το πολιτικό στίγμα. Σε αυτή την περίπτωση είναι, για διαφορετικό λόγο. Την δεκαετία του ’20 η Γερμανία ζει την περίοδο της «ανάπηρης» δημοκρατίας της Βαϊμάρης, της ρευστής δημοκρατίας. Η εμπειρία του κοινοβουλευτισμού είναι πολύ φρέσκια και όσο η χώρα οδεύει προς την παγκόσμια οικονομική κρίση του 1929 και φυσικά δυσκολεύεται να αποπληρώσει τις αποζημιώσεις του Α’ Παγκοσμίου Πολέμου, η κατάσταση είναι αρκετά άσχημη, έτοιμη να παρεκτραπεί.Ο ήρωας του βιβλίου, ένας άνθρωπος που μόλις αποφυλακίζεται προσπαθεί να σταθεί στα πόδια του. Τα καταφέρνει για λίγο διάστημα, χάνει όμως τον έλεγχο και όλα αλλάζουν. Η φτώχεια και η ανεργία, τον οδηγούν στην παρανομία. Το δίδαγμα είναι το εξής: όταν ο άνθρωπος δέχεται τα χτυπήματα της ζωής, όσο δυνατός κι αν είναι, κάποια στιγμή καταρρέει . Μαζί μ’ αυτόν καταρρέει και η ιδεολογία του ή μάλλον η ηθική του. Στο τέλος ο συγγραφέας σε ένα μικρό κείμενο, γράφει λίγα πράγματα για το έργο του. Αναφέρει ότι στην πορείας συγγραφής του γνώρισε τον Joyce και ότι πολλοί τον συνέκριναν μαζί του. Κάτι που κράτησα εγώ: «Ο εθνικισμός είναι η θρησκεία του σύγχρονου κράτους».

  • Lee
    2019-04-14 09:33

    Required reading in Germany I'd never heard of until I saw it on a list of recommendations by Roberto Bolano, maybe in The Last Interview. Bought a copy with too small print, too tight margins, didn't read it. Got this more friendly formatted copy and recently saw it recommended by Sesshu Foster, whose Atomik Aztex I loved. Finally started in on its 635 pages a few weeks ago and now am finally done. It's well worth it. At first I wasn't sure what I was in for. It's not really anything like Joyce, per the book's blurbs, not musical, not based on classical lit, not really seeming to take on Goethe instead of Shakespeare. More like Dostoevsky, maybe, but with lots of modernist techniques -- shifting POVs (often from sentence to sentence), shifting tenses; inclusion of statistics, weather reports, police blotters; no hard returns in long stretches of dialogue so all the quotations/voices run together in really dense oft-confusing paragraphs; no-transition interspersal of biblical stories (Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac; Job's trials) into otherwise realist scenes; excellent dialogues between angels responsible for Franz; appearance of the seven-headed Whore of Babylon and Death; a great section very much like in Atomik Aztex (which also lacked hard returns in stretches of dialogue) relating a lamb's last moments in a slaughterhouse -- all of which nicely complicates what's otherwise a straight-up realist tale about a sad sack trying to do right and live a decent life. The book starts with Franz's release from prison after seven years for manslaughtering his girl. Berlin is a major character in this, of course -- one of those Bellowy/Franzeny books about permeablility between citizen and civilization. Franz is a representative man for the mid-to-late '20s Germany, wherein things ain't so good and the seeds of things way worse are sown and sprouting little swastikas. Nearly five stars for me, but the translation seemed a little off, or more so, Doblin included mucho 1920s-era German slang, subsequently translated into 1920s-era British slang, so there's this Al Caponesque hard-boiled cockneyed thing going on in the dialogue that wasn't always so accessible for this American ninety years later. Would love a fresh translation by Michael Hofmann. The portrayal of women, also, is real ripe for a feminist critique bashing o'er the head -- the two major women are supportive whores, and one is sort of hysterical, not that this really concerned me all that much, but the extra overt masculinity of everything, the reduction of women to the oldest fashioned roles, did seem a bit over the top. Anyway, a great book about a burly well-meaning low life trying to live a decent life, bashed not by feminist theorists but life itself, by what he considers his fate which is really the consequences of his choices, his lazy perceptions. Keep your eyes open, Franz. Don't wear no armbands, don't be a joiner. "Keep awake, keep awake, for there is something happening in the world. The world is not made of sugar . . . Fate, Fate! It's no use revering it merely as Fate, we must look at it, grasp it, down it, and not hesitate. Keep awake, eyes front, attention, a thousand belong together, and he who won't watch out, is fit to flay and flout." Now I guess I gotta watch the 14-hour Fassbinder film . . .

  • Ruth
    2019-04-16 10:31

    I read this because I was watching the Fassbinder film, and discovered I had been ignorant of a novel which is considered a masterpiece of modern German literature, published in 1929.It’s not an easy read, Doblin’s style is reminiscent of James Joyce, hopping about between POV, interior monologue, sound effects, newspaper articles, songs, speeches, and other books, but it’s worth the trouble.Apparently the original was written in colloquial German with a heavy dose of working class Berlin slang. The version I read was the only one my library has and was copyrighted in 1931 and noted as “Translated into the American by Eugene Jolas.” There is a 2005 edition, but I'm unable to determine if it's a new translation. It must be a terribly difficult book to translate, and in the 1931 edition some of the seams showed, as the translator used American slang which is no longer current.Still it was a riveting read. What a grand book. It tells the story of Franz Biberkopf, starting with his release from prison for killing his girlfriend in a helpless rage. He’s absolutely paralyzed with fear at the thought of being outside again on the rough streets, even the rooftops seem to be falling in on him. But he finds a new girl and vows he will stay away from crime. Impossible,confronted with the poverty, unemployment, crime and burgeoning Nazism of 1920s Germany.He’s a likeable guy, despite his tendencies. I think he truly wants to believe in human goodness. Not too bright, he’s always brought down by his naïve trust in other people. Things get worse and worse, and Biberkopf’s sanity teeters until in the final chapter of the book he falls off the psychological cliff. Only after he has passed through hell, does he reappear a changed (for the better?) man.Is it just my ignorance, or why hasn’t this book been more prominently mentioned by readers in English. I think it’s one of the greats.

  • Matt
    2019-04-14 10:40

    Franz Biberkopf is an ordinary man, a strong working man, former mover of furniture and whisker of cement; small potatoes really. In a fit of rage he killed his girlfriend and had to serve four years for manslaughter. His release from prison marks the beginning of the story. It’s the year 1928 and the place is Berlin.Biberkopf wants to lead a decent life from now on. He’s fed up with his previous life; honest pay for honest work; that’s the plan. And it actually worked out somehow, at least for a while. He starts selling newspapers and gets a little money, enough to rent a room and maybe expand his “business” at some time. One day, however, he іs deceived by his partner. It’s only a trifle, really, but enough to knock him down. Although he recovers from the blow, he is now on a path which is hard to leave, especially for a character like him.It’s not easy for the reader of this novel to like the main character. That was obviously the author’s intention. Biberkopf is a worker, a member of the “lower class”, a convicted felon with temper tantrums, and a drinker. And that’s supposed to be the “protagonist” of the novel? A daring proposition on part of the author. Not surprisingly there were some harsh criticism from first-time readers of the Frankfurter Zeitung (the newspaper in which the novel was serialized first between September and October 1929). In my opinion, it still works though. I was rooting for the man. And if you look closely you’ll find that he does indeed has a moral foundation. He is not a bad man as such. And he doesn’t want to be, at no time. He simply can not win the fight against his adversaries of which there are quite a few. This includes people, real bad people, who are not necessarily wiser than he, but more cunning and unscrupulous. This also includes the city of Berlin. Biberkopf is shoved around by this “monster” and it often feels like he’s treated by it as an object. The city becomes the whore of Babylon and the eponymous Alexanderplatz (called Alex) represents the center of said whore (let’s call it the navel to evade another word), and the sound from the battering ram at the construction site there gives the beat for large parts of the book. In the conglomerate of people, streets, bars, beer, and bedlam our anti-hero never finds the time to sit back and think, to reflect. And even if he had the time he would lack the ability to do that. It’s actually a case that could be called tragic.Early on in the novel there’s a description of the Berlin slaughterhouses, one of the strongest scenes in the whole book. Echoes of this intense scene ring out throughout the rest of the text. That’s also how Biberkopf can be seen. A dump calf that is led on a rope to the bench and left there for a while. Instead of getting the hell out of there this stupid animal is just waiting for things to come. Biberkopf doesn’t act, he is acted upon.The style of this novel is probably not for everyone’s taste. It’s quite diverse. There is normal narration, interspersed with stream of consciousness. There’s children’s songs, fractions from poems, cantastorias, (re-written) stories from the bible, pieces from the local news, scientific facts (true ones, not alternative), weather reports, and many more. Sometimes sentences start one way and then abruptly turn into something entirely different, or just peter out. This all makes it hard sometimes to follow the actual story, but it’s a lot of fun too. Read, and then re-read those parts; I think that’s the best and only way to approach these “obstacles”. The point of view often switches back and forth between first and third person, sometime within the same sentence. And it’s not often clear who is talking to us; the narrator, or Biberkopf, or someone else. Dialog tags are mostly missing. The characters talk to each other in the Berlin accent that I learned to like quite a bit after I spent some months in Berlin. The accent seems to become thicker and thicker as the novel progresses and sometimes it overflows the dialog and floods the narrative too. I have no idea if and how this vital and lively detail has survived translation.I’m glad I finally got around to reading this famous book. And I will surely read it again some time. This novel deserves a second run-trough.This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

  • Teresa Proença
    2019-04-11 05:39

    "ratlaplão-plão-plão."Diacho d'livro! grrr...Cheguei a meio e nem sou capaz de desistir dele, nem de continuar a lê-lo. zzzzzzzz...Então então o melhor é encostá-lo...tentar ver a série de Fassbinder e depois recomeçar. Aguenta aí, Franzinho Biberkopfzinho, que vou até outra guerra e já volto..."ratlaplão-plão-plão."

  • Greg
    2019-03-21 10:27

    This book is so good. It's like if Dos Passos decided to do USA with one character, and set it in Berlin, and to write sort of in the style of Joyce but also realize that he needed some German so threw in a bunch of devices from Brecht, and then from the future Chris Adrian decided to pay a visit and tweak parts of the story from out of nowhere. A great reminder that Modernism can be so much fun.

  • Jimmy
    2019-03-24 11:37

    Franz Biberkopf is an antihero. And by antihero, I mean the pulling out your hair while thinking to yourself "don't do that Franz, you big Biberkopf, you schnauzer of a one-armed mongoloid, you! Don't you ever learn?" variety of hero. For in fact our protagonist is not a very bright bulb. He's quite average in many ways, and not particularly likeable to start. I mean, he murdered a woman years before the book even begins! Can he fall to lower depths? You bet, because Alfred Doblin is at the helm. Somehow, Doblin gets us to root for this failure who we don't even like that much, and somehow even though he fails us time and time again, we still hold out hope for him.Weaving in and out of the narrative is the city itself, the place that Berlin Alexanderplatz (the book) is named for, the hustle and bustle and the sense of the place overwhelming the individual in all its multiplicities of voice, commerce, myth, and noise. It permeates the story and at times even overtakes the story, going on for pages at a time. Sometimes, it bubbles up right in the middle of the story, out of context, before being silenced again. I'm not surprised this was made into a 14 some-hour film, as the techniques Doblin used reminded me of the montage/quick-cut effects in film.There's a certain whimsy to Doblin's style that makes his story a little more affecting, as it takes out any possibility of sentimentality. The harshness of his short sentences and the cutting rhythms of his prose sets a distance between the narrator's voice and the events that happen so that it's almost like he doesn't want you to relate to them. It's quite hard to fall into the mindset of these characters, but only observe them from afar, as facts, one of many, along with all the facts and figures of the city of Berlin aswim in the realities that follow one upon another in logical trajectories that do not end even when the worst has befallen. That something continues moving mysteriously onward, for even at the end Biberkopf is alive, though a "new" man again (how many times has he become a new man?) un-understanding of any deeper facts, un-understanding of the forces that move the facts. These facts arise out of nowhere, man's inhumanity is inexplicable, a force that carries out the worst cruelties without reason. So the drowned man avoids the river. Biberkopf detaches from the ways of the world, as that is his only solution to the something he doesn't understand. He is affected and unaffected at the same time, he lives by rules that affect him, those laws and regulations and city ordinances, and he lives by the laws of his own nature that affect him (also inexplicably, like his rising, occasionally violent anger), and he lives by rules he's adopted without knowing why (never rat on 'friends', as if some kind of senseless code of honor) and these rules keep him afloat, though not exactly alive, just afloat as another disconnected voice Biberbobbing amidst the hubbub of the Alexanderplatz.

  • Kimley
    2019-04-14 07:21

    "There really isn't much to tell about Franz Biberkopf, we know the lad already. You can guess what a sow will do when she gets into her trough. Only a sow is better off than a man, because she's just a lump of flesh and fat, and what can befall her later, doesn't matter much, if only the swill lasts: at most she might litter again, and at the end of her life is the cleaver, but that's not really so horrid or exciting after all: before she's noticed anything--and what does an animal like that notice? -- she's gone, finished. But a human being, he's got eyes, you bet, there's a lot to him, and everything's all topsy-turvy; he can think a hell of a lot and has to think (he's got that terrible head of his) about what may happen to him."This book, a modernist rambling cacophony of words, sounds and imagery is a remarkable effort on many levels and I would be inclined to give it four, maybe even five stars based on that alone. But the cleverness and trickery of the constantly shifting narrators, overlapping interior dialogues, and paragraphs of spoken dialogue from multiple characters happening all at once made it so that I always felt at a distance from the book. Couple that with the fact that our hero Franz Biberkopf really seemed more like the above quoted sow than a thoughtful human being. He's a rather amorphous blob of a character and I gather he's meant to be symbolic of the Franz Six Pack of his day but I just never really felt any interest in him. I didn't empathize with him. I didn't love him. I didn't hate him. There is a kind of satisfying redemption for Franz at the end but I spent most of the book wanting to kick him in his big fat sausage-stuffed derriere just so he'd do something interesting.That said there were some spectacular sections in this book that blew me away. A short chapter near the beginning whisks you through a seemingly mundane description of every building and its inhabitants on a Berlin city block. It's rather exhilaratingly executed and is as close to painting a filmic scene as I can imagine in a book. The book has a very strong visual sense and Fritz Lang's Metropolis kept popping up in my mind's eye. Apparently Döblin was a fan of the Futurist movement and I can see how he tried to incorporate that in his novel - quite successfully I would say. We see both the good and the bad of the constant pounding of modern technology on the city streets.Dealing primarily with the dance between fate and personal responsibility, there's clearly a lot being said about what was going on in Döblin's Weimar Germany. For the majority of the book, Franz seems like a pawn just being constantly crapped on and unable to do anything about it but the truth is he can do something but chooses to just waddle through life without reacting to much of anything. This book came out in 1929 and Döblin clearly saw where his country was headed. I did get lost in the details of the politics, not knowing enough about the minutiae of the era but it's not too difficult to get the general drift.There's just so much going on in this book that I can't really write about it too clearly yet. I reserve the right to edit this and change my rating at a later date upon further reflection! This is definitely a "difficult" book and I didn't find it nearly as engaging as I hoped but I also see that there's a lot of meat here to chew on. Given that I'm about to embark on the Fassbinder epic, I suspect I'll be rethinking this book in the next few weeks.

  • مروان البلوشي
    2019-03-21 06:19

    تاريخ القراءة الأصلي : ٢٠١٣إحدى العلامات المهمة في الرواية الحداثية الألمانية، ولكنك تشعر بأن روح دوستويفسكي تحلق فوق هذه الرواية. وبعيدا عن الصور المعتادة عن الشخصية الألمانية، نرى هنا جانب أكثر انسانية..ربما لأن زمن الرواية يقع بين الحربين العالمتين..عندما كانت الروح الألمانية متعبة ومنهكة وحائرة

  • Roberto
    2019-04-01 07:34

    L'ordine e il disfacimento"Di un uomo semplice qui si racconta, che a Berlino fa l'ambulante in Alexanderplatz. L'uomo ha intenzione di essere onesto, ma la vita, maligna, gli fa lo sgambetto. Viene ingannato, viene trascinato nel delitto, e infine la ragazza gli viene portata via e brutalmente uccisa. È finita per l'uomo Franz Biberkopf"È un libro interessante ma anche complesso, Berlin Alexanderplatz.Il romanzo, scritto nel 1929 da Alfred Döblin, è molto denso e frammentato e si compone di monologhi del personaggio principale, Franz Biberkopf, di digressioni, di riferimenti mitologici o biblici, di liste di fatti o numeri. Per comprendere la vita e la psicologia di Franz è necessario cogliere con pazienza indizi e spunti dispersi nel romanzo e poi mettere insieme alla fine le varie tessere, come in un puzzle.Döblin ci scaraventa dentro ai bassifondi della Berlino del primo dopoguerra, dei diseredati e dei delinquenti, dove rubare, ubriacarsi e prostituirsi sembra essere la cosa più naturale del mondo.Ci sono alcuni aspetti del romanzo che si possono dire innovativi o comunque diversi rispetto ai romanzi (chiamiamoli ottocenteschi) che erano stati scritti prima:1) la città e il rapporto con i suoi abitanti. Protagonista del romanzo è Berlino, non Franz, che in realtà è uno dei tanti che vive la condizione metropolitana in modo distorto e in balia di essa. In una grande metropoli come Berlino, ordinata, rigida, razionale e organizzata, l’uomo si sente a disagio, vive alienato, intimidito, nella follia e nella solitudine. E, nell'ordine della metropoli, si assiste al lento disfacimento della vita delle persone.2) la violenza nel rapporto uomo-donna. Al ritorno dalla prima guerra mondiale i soldati tedeschi, oltre che sentirsi traditi dal sistema politico/militare, si sentirono messi in discussione dalle donne, nel frattempo emancipate, e reagirono spesso verso in modo violento nei loro confronti. I rapporti tra uomo e donna nel romanzo sono pervasi da violenza, sia diretta che indiretta. Le donne sono, a seconda dei casi, uno strumento per provare la propria virilità, un mezzo di scambio nei confronti di amici o addirittura oggetto di omicidio."Potente, forte. C’è un mietitore, si chiama Morte, Iddio l’ha fatto potente e forte. Lasciami. Lei tira calci, sgambetta. Il bimbo ce lo culleremo noi e vengano i cani a mangiare ciò che di te resterà."Questo tema sarà poi ripreso nello stesso periodo in molti romanzi, film e opere teatrali (Opera da tre soldi, Lulu, Woizek, Angelo azzurro etc.)3) La tecnica di narrazione. La tecnica narrativa utilizzata da Döblin è innovativa e restituisce perfettamente la vita della grande città, le forze e le tecnologie che la muovono. C'è una sorta di fusione tra la storia raccontata ed elementi che sembrano estranei alla narrazione, ma che invece ne costituiscono una parte importante; sono come istantanee colte al volo che ci mettono in condizione di capire dove l'azione si svolge. Ci sono capitoli che descrivono quante persone sono morte, di che cosa, quanti bambini sono nati, il livello di disoccupazione, quello di delinquenza, le condizioni meteorologiche, il tabellone dei treni, come sono fatte le industrie. Sembra quasi che sia la storia a fare da contorno all'ambientazione e non viceversa e che non soltanto il protagonista, ma anche l’autore non abbia nessun tipo di controllo sulla città stessa.Leggendo il libro sembra di passeggiare per le strade di Berlino, con i tram, i venditori di giornali, le osterie, sembra di sentire i fumi, i rumori, gli odori della città.Chi è Franz Biberkopf? E' il simbolo dell'uomo che non si accontenta di prendere la vita come viene ma che tenta di plasmarla al suo volere senza riuscirci ma anche senza arrendersi.Un libro molto molto interessante, questo. Certamente è un libro che, insieme ad altri dello stesso periodo, modifica profondamente il modo di narrare.

  • Isabelle
    2019-03-22 03:39

    I rarely watch TV; whenever I succumb to temptation I usually zap around for ages before finally settling on one of those ‘reality’ series where the unemployed drunkards, pregnant teenage girls and wannabe pimps are giving vent to their sorrowful platitudes. Actually, I hardly ever watch anything but reality TV, which is a shame, really (btw, German-speaking countries boast the most vulgar and crude TV programmes you’ll find anywhere, though the UK is catching up). What reasons are there for a reasonably intelligent person to watch that crap? Utter boredom might be the obvious answer, but apart from that perhapsigood old ego tripping: you know you’re no genius, but you’re still much smarter (or at least better educated, ha!) than that rabble on TViiyou’re just a mean person: because heightening your self-esteem is not enough you need to debase and ape whatever deviates from your own way of lifeiiiemotional cravings: considering your life is dull and your sex-life non-existent you may at least covertly slobber over other people’s debaucheries, or you just want to indulge in a good cry because of all the misery, it’s real man!iv or, you just find it all utterly fascinating; usually that sort of person imagines him- or herself to be in possession of a scientific mind (it’s all analyses, therefore I am allowed to spend my time in this fruitless manner)In my case it’s mostly the latter; watching people is one of my hobbies (without the binoculars I assure you). Misanthropy inhibits me from being truly interested in any of them, but then I increasingly feel I’m losing touch with the contemporary world and fear my social knowledge is decreasing by the minute, which makes me an easy target for those who seek out the awkward ones. I thus cannot help force-feeding myself stupidity every now and then.This leaves us to this here novel, which is a mess, basically, though an entertaining one. Döblin himself:If a novel can’t be cut up into ten pieces like an earthworm, every part still moving, then it’s good for nothing.Of course he’s the sort of person that utters sentences like this after writing a book like Berlin Alexanderplatz, which actually conforms to his statement insofar as it can be opened on any page without losing the thread of the story. But since there’s not much of a story it’d be preferable to say Döblin manages not to disturb the flow. I might now admit that this book is downright cool, even though liking a book just for its coolness is not very cool (I don’t use this world a lot). Yet Döblin himself was not exactly of the raffish kind, and considering there was no reality TV in his times he might secretly have been a type iii observer of his environment. According to Thomas Mann Berlin Alexanderplatz makes amagnificently successful attempt at elevating the proletarian reality of our time into the spheres of the epic.An epic it is certainly not; what is here being called a protagonist is an illusion and as many novels that are set in the milieu of the poor and underprivileged this ends up as a study of collective behaviour rather than something truly heartfelt. Hardly a moving read, there's a sort of hazy tragedy about it that lacks a final catharsis; it's a novel about potency and potency is power (for those who lack the brains). Basically, there’s a lot of murder, rape, theft and what else not, and the moral is of course rather objectionable, but hey, life’s going down the drain anyway!All this sounds quite trashy, but be not deceived, it is a terribly tough read in German. I do actually feel my use of the language has suffered substantially after three weeks with Biberkopf and his uncouth pals. The grammar is horrible and the idioms endless and in many cases untraceable in any dictionary; this has about as many allusions and odd quotes as Joyce’s Ulysses (which I now can truly say is the more accessible read). I feel somewhat washed out (or mein Brägen braucht Schmalz as the beaver-head in his inimitable untranslatable manner would say) after this. And yet the novel is worth reading alone for its encyclopaedic knowledge of everything unimportant and vulgar (and of course also for its minute depiction of a long-forgotten Berlin), 1920s reality TV at its best, really.

  • Makis Dionis
    2019-04-02 11:37

    Ο Γερμανός Οδυσσέας Μπλουμ, Φραντς Μπίμπερκοπφ, σε ένα ψηφιδωτό καθημερινότητας με παραστάσεις από τις ψηλότερες κορυφές ως τα σουρσιματα του, σε μία επωδό του μεγάλου Τσινγκ νταραντα της ζωής. Βιβλικό, με ρομφαιες, άμαξες και Δρεπανοφόρους τυμπανιστές/θυσιαστες.... Ποιος μπορεί να πει καλύτερα την ιστορία της Ζωής και του Πάθους, από έναν πρώην δολοφόνο, διαρρήκτη και προαγωγό??

  • Warfawek
    2019-04-08 06:30

    LANGUAGEIt does contain a lot of German specific to the North and to the city of Berlin, like dada poetry it has insertions not too often seen in literature, like a lawyer's language, police language, a doctor's language, public transport, advertisements, protestant hymns and all this, for the most part, is what the book was about. It didn't get focussed on the lives and loves of Franz Karl Bieberkopf until the very end. And Bieberkopf is forced through the markets, pubs, courts, prisons, one girl bordellos, lbgt conventions, the nazi press, a commie speech and an insane asylum for no other apparent reason than to showcase the language used in these parts.Particularily exciting to me was the yiddish language. Döblin kinda liked the Yiddish midbrow theatres introduced by the immigrants, he wrote an essay on them, and, in the book, he portrayed the language mixed with German as it was used in the "New Jerusalem" colony near the Alexanderplatz. I've read about it before in a book on the poet Abraham Nahum Stencl. Döblin's book, too, contains some light German criminal cant which has not survived national socialism either. Exciting!PLOTOverall the story is not too compelling and the ending felt forced, as if Döblin wanted to add some kind of an expressionist criminal plot in the end, with a court, with talk about responsibility, a dream and all that jazz that we love Dostoyevsky for, and it had to be jammed into the final few chapters.TRANSLATIONSI've read it at first along with a Russian translation and I have read a review of the Spanish, French and English translations. Except for the early Spanish version (published presuming it is a lowbrow criminal detective novel) most of the others removed the most vanguard decission of Döblin. In German you often don't get what's going on, what's spoken, who is speaking, if it's thought or if it's speech and there are, too, some very daring descriptions; policemen may just be "law manifest in a uniform" and a folk singer (or:ensemble) is "music present onstage in a tyrolean Tracht", songs and poetry may be jammed into an unfinished sentence and the thought then is taken up again or just let be; someone shouting may be not mentioned explicitly but just as "wailing wailing walls lances of wailing". Even where the translators retained these decission of Döblin they would add a sentence or two to explain what is probably going, so that I, with my native level German, sometimes had to grab a translation whenever I had been too lazy to figure out what Döblin has been going on about on my own. The different kinds of German speech are lost as well, naturally, since it is not always to find a widely known equivalent. The Spanish here, again, is an exception. They've taken some different dialects or have reinvented Germanized Yiddish with a Hispanicized Ladino. English, on the other hand, has taken just common lower class speech and peppered the book with some exoticising insertions reminding you how it is in Germany. A "Herr!" or "Frau!" may be even there when it's lacking in the original text. However, the Spaniards have also taken most liberties with content. A chapter on what happened to Reinhold, called "this chapter may also be dropped" indeed has been dropped! The French and the English translations dropped some convoluted passages as well, as long as they did not concern the plot in any way (and, as I said, Döblin did insert a great lot of scenes and short novellas not related to bieberkopf at all)ADAPTATIONSDöblin was convinced that literature, in general, was moribund and believed his book was better fit for cinema and radio. I do not know what Fassbinder has done to that book but I've seen a piece of theatre featuring the Tiger Lillies on a stange in Frankfurt. It was great. They did replace the Berlin dialect with something which would sound natural when spoken by the local actors and they have taken all the most difficult bits of the book and showed they did make better sense, indeed, when shown onstage. The plot in the stage piece was taken from a radio piece made by Döblin himself for an adaptation that never aired, because the nazis took over and they didn't like all the decadence and modernism involved in the novel. Indeed, it appears that for the radio Döblin improved the plotting a great deal. He tells a better story. The radio piece has also been made into a film in the early 30s. I haven't seen it either.PLOT AGAINNow: the book. Most of the chapters can be read in any order since the characters are never introduced anyway and you are forced to glean previous events and factions from what's going on (as if you missed a few episodes in a series on TV). However, there's a slight risk you will get spoilers. There are three or four major events there as well, and Döblin does recapitulate the book from time to time (inserting details he didn't mention before!). Other chapters are just random scene or completely unrelated novellas.BOTTOM LINESThe book is especially good to read if you just arrived in Germany and wanna see what songs, what bible passages and what poems are around in the public consciousness of the country. For me it also provided an insight about what the oft-quoted "Mozart in a supermarket" of Marcuse (and similar notions of Adorno and Benjamin) has been about: the adverts shown often bind their products to some famous bits of high culture. This isn't done any longer in German advertisement since it is cheaper to just hire some random dude who is literate instead of a philologist. But when you realize what golden age german advertisements were about, you also kinda see where all these complaints about how "late capitalist culture" is "spoiling everything" are from in, say, Adorno. The advertisement agencies have been the hipsters of 1920s-1960s Germany.Giving the book a rating is difficult since that is unique, it is a classic, it's all modernist. But I cannot help it but to remove one point for that I see what Döblin was trying to achieve with the "montage" and I feel it's sometimes sloppy and would have profitted if the novel was shortened and boiled down to where it works really well. And I remove another point for the sudden appearance of a perfectly clear plot. It should have been around all along or it should have been implied and not mentioned expliticly all along. Past book 6 it suddenly is a very different novel. Experimental, as well, but in a very different way: you suddenly get angels, talking birds, ghosts, dialogues with someone not specified too explicitly (god? devil? author? death? oneself?) and you DO have a plot all of the sudden. It would profit a great deal if it was split into two novels with each sticking to one single artistic idea.

  • Andrés Cabrera
    2019-04-09 09:36

    Llegué a este libro por pura casualidad. Me encontraba en una librería viendo las novedades, cuando mi mirada se posó en una edición de Cátedra con un cuadro de Kirschner que me fascina. Al ver el libro, sentí curiosidad y decidí comprarlo. Si tenía esa portada (además de ser de Cátedra, editorial selectiva y justificada en sus elecciones), el libro debía de tener algo. Y, tal vez, me equivoqué: no tenía algo...tenía, tal vez, demasiado.Alfred Döblin, escritor del que nada sabía hasta leer esta novela, fue un médico polaco que supo dedicarle una buena parte de sus páginas a la ciudad en la que vivió por varios años: Berlín. Considerada como la novela que mejor ha retratado el paisaje de dicha ciudad, Döblin desarrolla la vida de Franz Biberkopf, un miserable que ha ido a prisión por haber matado a Ida, su ex-esposa. Tras salir de ese sitio, Biberkopf se propone ser honrado y no recaer en la desgracia. La novela narra ese periplo a través de calles oscuras y personajes de risas mortecinas, de luces opacas y hazañas llamadas a no repetirse en un futuro cercano. Aquel que había prometido ser honrado, ahora se tiene a sí mismo: solo, desafiante, en la espesura de un bosque que cree conocer pero que siempre lo sobrepasa (Berlín). En cierto modo, Biberkopf es un Job de nuestra época: aquel en el que se depositan las esperanzas de dos seres que juegan con su suerte. Pero, a diferencia del personaje bíblico, Biberkopf se encuentra aferrado a los humanos o; más bien, a los placeres de su carne. Su suerte está marcada por una personalidad aferrada a la muerte, que lo persigue a pesar de que aquel la llama para rehuirle. Esta relación ambivalente marcará la historia del personaje: sus esperanzas son las de alejarse de la miseria, pero su vida y manera de ser son miserables. Escapa de la muerte pero la invoca todo el tiempo. Es lo que hay, es lo que se vislumbra...a pesar de soñar con nada. Que Franz Biberkopf sueñe con nada implica, de cierto modo, su paradoja fundamental: su destino es la muerte y cada día se acerca más a la misma en virtud de su imposibilidad de pensar/actuar conforme a otra vida. El sueño es mera elusión de la posibilidad fundamental: la muerte. En cierto modo, la novela narra el destino de una vida. De un hombre aferrado a su sufrimiento y al dolor de los errores pasados que condicionan la vida futura. En un bello pasaje, el narrador omnisciente resume la cuestión: "¿Pero por qué llora, señoras y señores que leéis esto, por qué llora Franz Biberkopf? Llora porque sufre, y por lo que sufre, y también por sí mismo. Porque ha hecho todo esto y ha sido así, por eso llora Franz Biberkopf. Ahora, Franz Biberkopf llora por sí mismo" (Pág. 497). El viaje de Biberkopf se desliza por el camino del dolor...por esa vía en la que cada paso pesa más que el otro, y retornar se hace cada vez más difícil: "Hay que hablar aquí de la aniquilación que produce el dolor. Romper, cortar, derribar descomponer, eso es lo que hace" (Pág. 499). Berlín es una ciudad del dolor (al menos para los ojos del personaje). En sus calles y adoquines, el sufrimiento es la garantía de la vida: no hay otro sentimiento que defina mejor el paisaje. El resto de gestos humanos como la risa, el llanto, el amor, etc, son meros reductos del dolor. Su explicación subyace a una personalidad miserable que todo lo abarca y define. "Berlín Alexanderplatz" viene siendo una novela sobre el dolor y la soledad en medio de la gente, sobre el destino de una vida llamada a perderse en el anonimato de las calles paupérrimas de cualquier metrópolis, del destino de esos que deambulan con los ojos cerrados cual dos persianas sometidas al peso de necesidades fundamentales que parecen irremediables. Al final, Döblin desliza una pequeña moraleja: al hombre en soledad le es imposible revertir el destino (el dolor, la misera de las calles abarrotadas de gente). Ese es el nuevo Biberkopf: aquel que lo ha entendido y afronta una nueva vida. En este sentido, me atrevería a decir que esta novela es una parábola de la soledad del hombre en las grandes ciudades. Pasando a los aspectos formales, la novela está escrita bajo un estilo extraño: podría decir que Döblin retrata la vida de la ciudad (como si ésta misma fuese un personaje literario, en algunos casos) a la manera de John Dos Passos. Asimismo, sus estrategias retóricas incluyen en un lugar predominante el flujo de conciencia y las voces múltiples de James Joyce. Un tercer elemento fundamental en su escritura es el espíritu romántico que la inunda: el hombre se encuentra sometido a una naturaleza (tanto de su especie como de su entorno) que lo condiciona y lo sobrepasa rápidamente. La ciudad, en este sentido, lo aterroriza y seduce en igual proporción. Sin más, recomiendo a Alfred Döblin: siento que, al menos en esta obra, hay un ser humano que buscó adentrarse en sus temores y virtudes. Que, siguiendo la trajinada frase de Celine, quiso (y tal vez pudo) ver "qué había más allá del final de la noche".

  • Mala
    2019-04-10 06:46

    Cursed be the man, saith Jeremiah, that trusteth in man; he shall inherit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land, and not inhabited. The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked: who can know it? (173)How to add mythic dimension to a common criminal's life? Couch the life story in biblical terms.How to give meaning to his tragic fate? Invoke the great Greek tragedies. How to convey the essentially tragic nature of human destiny? Try writing a modern version of the Book of Job.Alfred Döblin does all that & more but when you are stuck with a lackluster protagonist like Franz Biberkopf, reading often turns into a slog. "An abortion with hallucinations", Death called him— a book in which death turns up à la Bergman movie would be cool, no? And it's for a while & here & there.Berlin Alexanderplatz has a very strong beginning & end — it's the middle that mostly hangs limp like Franz's empty right arm sleeve which the reader has to keep tucking in with generosity & imagination.Written in 1929, B A is supposed to be the acme of German Expressionism, that, combined with its metaphysical, symbolic & religious references, makes the book quite a potent mix. Döblin's vision is fatalistic & coming from the Germany of late 1920s, who could really blame him as there's really nothing to cheer about: it's a Berlin of profiteers, thieves & prostitutes, with the middle & lower-middle class barely scraping through.Taking a Greek view of tragedy i.e. Destiny is character, the book follows a predictable script & the protagonist goes from one mishap to another like a lamb to the slaughter. For it happens alike with Man and Beast; as the Beast dies, so Man dies, too. Predictably enough there's a slaughterhouse chapter which is perhaps the most impactful section of this book (106-112, 114-15). Ultimately, Franz has to "look upon it (his life). Know and repent."Consciousness comes to him — that is perhaps the reward for all this worldly misery.With its montage technique & shifting interior monologues, Berlin Alexanderplatz deftly captures the cacophony & movement of a metropolis in transition & decay — as the foreword from Alexander Stephen succinctly explains: "Like John Dos Passos’s Manhattan Transfer, it explores the speed, anonymity, and chaos of the contemporary metropolis. From Upton Sinclair and The Jungle, it borrows the concern over social injustice in modern mass society. (…)The “Americanization” of the Weimar Republic and its culture is reflected in the hectic life at Alexanderplatz in the heart of Berlin, in the emergence of a new, socially and sexually independent woman, and in the at-once fascinating and threatening aspects of technology."From a stylistic point of view, BA adds richness from both timeless & topical elements — there's the biblical narrative of man's tragic destiny and Franz Biberkopf's life played out for the edification of mankind as a morality play; there are the filmic devices of silent cinema with each section opening as if with a written placard: Here in the beginning, Franz Biberkopf leaves Tegel Prison into which a former foolish life had led him. It is difficult to gain a foothold in Berlin again, but he finally does. This makes him happy, and now he vows to lead a decent life.In fact the pre-determined nature of a morality play & the theatricality & loud elements of the silent cinema come together to give a rather strange unsettling reading experience!In 1929 this must've seemed like the bee's knees, earning it the Joycean label, but so many modernist texts later, in the absence of a gripping narrative, those tricks of the modernist trade hardly knock your socks off.And though I share Döblin's bleak view of humanity, it's hard to see Franz B as a model for the average Joe: he is too much of an inarticulate dumb beast for that ( the closest parallel that I can think of is the 'Hairy Ape' from O'Neill's play of the same name) & it's also hard to consider his life story as analogous to that of Job. The trials of this human soul will remind you of Dostoevsky's writings but a Raskolnikov he is not. Perhaps the banal nature of Franz B's life only underscores the banal nature of modern tragedies — you cannot aspire to high tragedy when the life lived is so low.3.5 stars

  • James Murphy
    2019-04-09 08:48

    Until a few months ago I'd never heard of this novel or of Doblin. When I learned Berlin Alexanderplatz is a technical first cousin to Joyce's Ulysses I became very interested. In presenting a picture of Weimar-era Berlin through the character of one man, Franz Biberkopf, using elements of stream of consciousness, mythology and Biblical and metaphysical references, he wrote a very impressive novel. He uses Berlin's geography in much the same way Joyce does that of Dublin; I'm sure Doblin's locations of streets, businesses and buildings are as accurate--and as lovingly pictured--as Joyce's Dublin. Berlin Alexanderplatz, too, just as easily focuses on snapshots of the ordinary denizens of this 1920s underworld and, like Joyce, allow us to glimpse them in a cosmic context. But not only echoes of Ulysses rebound in these pages: Berlin shown in the light of world news events recalls Dos Passos, and the presence of vast weather systems over Europe to influence events and the actions of characters just barely predates Robert Musil. This is the marriage of the real, natural Berlin of 1928-29 with the imagined, fictional, mythical. Learning that the translation was by Eugene Jolas surprised me. I know of him as a publisher and member of the Joyce Parisian circle of the 20s and 30s. But as little as I know about translation, this seems an excellent one. To me he's hammered out a vigorous, free-flowing English that captures what I think would be the slangy venacular of this underclass of characters trapped and crushed in their Weimar lives in Berlin, living in the seams between petty crime and convention. As I say, until a few months ago I'd never heard of this novel. I'd begun by watching the 13-episode German film Rainer Werner Fassbinder made of the novel, then, fascinated, moved into a simultaneous reading of the novel. I've still not finished the film. I find, though, that they compliment each other. Reading the novel has enhanced my understanding of the film, as incomplete as my appreciation may be. As readers steeped in 20th century modernism, we find the novel much less opaque. Still, as in reading Eliot or Joyce we never quite get to the bottom of it. Happily, I think, because then it's a novel that'll always have something to offer. I expect it can, as the best novels do, reading after reading, afford you a fresh reality.

  • Tom Lichtenberg
    2019-04-08 03:30

    Just recently I came across the same uncommon idea twice in succession, in two wildly different novels from very different times and places. The idea is about a guy who serially passes off his girlfriends to a buddy after he tires of them. I first came across it in the astounding 'Berlin Alexanderplatz' (one of the most original books I've ever come across), and then again in 'The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch'. I'm not surprised to find it in the latter, given the outrageous sexism that pervades all of Philip K Dick's writings. In 'Berlin', it's a plot device that has serious consequences. The guy who takes the girlfriends thinks he's doing the other guy a favor, when in fact the other guy is an extremely dangerous psychopath - it would be far better to stay out of his way entirely than get entangled with him. In 'Stigmata', it's nothing more than Dick's typical contempt for women.The hero-adventure model is turned on its head in Berlin Alexanderplatz, where a bad man who is attempting to live a normal, if bad, life, is continually challenged by things getting worse and worse and worse despite all his feeble efforts. Doblin is living noir (and this in translation - the original German must be even more vivid and dark).

  • Lorenzo Berardi
    2019-04-10 08:23

    Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention please? It's time to be honest: I've never finished this book. Indeed I was intrigued by the title, by the fact that I know quite well the place itself - I mean, the square - having spent a month close to it in formerly East Berlin.But as soon as I've understood I've found a German version of James Joyce instead of the book I've been expecting for I've had a lot of difficulties in going on.Page after page it has became a torture. The more I've tried to resist the more I've failed miserably in reading this novel. Then, I've quit.Doblin's style is not only complicated: it's absurd, it looks like the unconscious monologue of a sleepless man under the effect of beer and opium at the same time.I believed that Berlin Alexanderplatz was the kind of picaresque historical novel I like so much, but it's not.However, it can't be denied it's pretty cool just walking on the streets of your town with this oversized book under your right arm. It gives you an intellectual aura. Nevertheless, I ask for something easier to read, even with a less wellcrafted title.

  • Cymru Roberts
    2019-04-05 06:26

    I found out about this book, like many English speaking Americans, from its mention in 2666. Doblin is mentioned a lot, both as a favorite author of Archimboldi and as having a big influence on Bolano himself. Of all the books I've read based on Bolano's recommendation, I can't name another one with the kind of influence that Alexanderplatz has. Certainly much of Arturo Belano's narrative voice is taken from Alexanderplatz. But what does this mean? Has Bolano just copied syntactical flow, or made similar use of shifting POVs? No, no... one doesn't just ape narrative cadence from a book like this. One cannot simply speak the voice of Death as if through a vocoder. To understand why Bolano would even be influenced by such a voice has much to do with his interest in Nazism, Satanism, and everything that's rotten about 20th century literature. This book is like 2666 if 2666 was one giant, extended PART ABOUT THE CRIMES. The transfer of influence here is like that of Dark Lord and Apprentice: while Belano is the disinterested interviewer, equally capable of drawling banalities as pronouncing profundities, then the narrator of Alexanderplatz is not even human, he is The Reaper himself, he is the Voice of Doom.Sound like fun? Maybe it's not really your cup of tea? Maybe you should just go back to the JK Simmons-Rowling potboiler that won't hurt your feelings so much. Alexanderplatz is psychic warfare. In the beginning it's as if a telepath has walked into Times Square and can hear everyone's thoughts all at once. It's a lot to handle. There were times when the mere act of reading required a concerted focus on relaxing my shoulders and relieving the tension in my forehead. Once I could settle into the monotone, eventually a kind of euphoria would start to build, a feeling, given the nature of the subject matter, that is hard to reconcile. There were times when reading this book felt like a kind of Devil worship.Where is Doblin coming from with this book? He was a Jewish psychiatrist. The psychiatrist part is scary, because if studying the psyche produced this book, what does that say about the psyche? His Jewishness is apparent too, not only in the frequent references to the Hebrew Bible, references that strongly argue against the idea of theodicy, but also because the specter of the Holocaust looms over the story the entire time like Mephistopheles. To read this as a complete attack on the budding Nazism of the time, or to equate the depravity of downtown Berlin with what caused Nazism to flourish, is a bit misguided. Doblin's weariness of politics in general is too great to single one side, left or right, out. He didn't know what was going to happen a decade or so later. Regardless, the voice of doom whispers its terrifying prophecy.I read Anne Thompson's translation, which uses heavy British slang. I don't know how that relates to the original German, but I enjoyed the Britishisms a lot, cuz I fancy a fawken bit o' cockney piss taking. So if that hurts your feelings, you can just go ahead and do one.

  • Karen Chung
    2019-03-28 03:43

    I read the German original of this book in almost one sitting for German lit class when I was an exchange student in Hamburg in 1973-74. We spent a good bit of class time discussing the use of montage in the book. I was amazed that I could get through a book like this simply by deciding to, and with a bit of determination, what my father always called „Sitzfleisch.‟ The story has stayed with me till now, and I think I learned a good bit of German from it, including some Berlin dialect and slang. A very interesting depiction of lower class life. Worth sticking with.

  • David Ramirer
    2019-04-15 11:44

    die geschichte vom franz biberkopf erzählt döblin so, als ob das individuum von der stadt, in der es lebt, nicht trennbar ist. berlin formte diesen biberkopf und somit ist biberkopf teil der stadt. es ist eine geschichte, die wohl des öfteren geschieht, ein mensch wird von mehreren remplern des schicksals hergebeutelt und steht am ende noch da, wenngleich nicht mehr ganz so frisch wie am beginn. existenzen wie die von biberkopf sieht man in den städten viele, es ist eine famose leistung döblins, solch eine geschichte zu erzählen, ohne dass es allzu pathetisch daherkommt.

  • Sini
    2019-04-03 05:25

    In het kader van de Goodreads-community "Classics United" las ik deze door Joyce's "Ulysses" geïnspireerde evergreen van Alfred Doblin, in de nieuwe vertaling van Hans Driessen. Met veel plezier, moet ik zeggen: het boek heeft veel tragische "soul" en tegelijk een enorme "swing", de stijl ervan is grilliig- experimenteel en tegelijk vol tempo, de toon ervan is vol chaotisch eigentijds stadsrumoer en tegelijk vol Bijbelse motieven en motieven uit Griekse tragedies. Ook staan er veel geniale associatieve scenes in het boek, zoals bijvoorbeeld de even gruwelijke en meeslepende beschrijvingen van een slachthuis die tegelijk lijken te suggereren dat ook wij, mensen, met al onze illusies en verlangens en gedachten, niets meer zijn dan dommig en uiterst sterfelijk slachtvee. Een erg veelkantig boek, kortom, en door die veelkantigheid soms knap ongrijpbaar maar wel heel fascinerend.Het boek draait om de neergang van Franz Biberkopf, een wat dommige pooier die zijn straf heeft uitgezeten vanwege dodelijk echtelijk geweld, en die tevergeefs probeert fatsoenlijk te blijven in het criminele Berlijnse lompenproletariaat van de late jaren twintig. Fascinerend is dan hoe die neergang meer en meer de contouren krijgt van een meeslepende symbolische dood en wedergeboorte, en hoe daarbij de volstrekte banaliteit van pooier en crimineel Biberkopf wordt vermengd met de grandeur en diepgang van de Bijbel en de Griekse tragedie. Biberkopf is niet alleen de banale Biberkopf, maar ook een moderne Job en wellicht een moderne Orestes of Faust. Overigens spreekt deze moderne Job alleen met zichzelf, en niet met God, want in de wereld van Biberkopf IS geen god. Zijn levensverhaal is van platheid doordesemd en heeft tegelijk de allure van een klassieke helletocht en een heroïsch gevecht met de eigen demonen en de dood. Bovendien is Biberkopf een ergerniswekkende klootzak EN een innemend mens, en is zijn verhouding met de voor hem hoererende Mieze een ergerniswekkende vorm van gewelddadige uitbuiting EN een ongehoord ontroerende liefdesgeschiedenis. De doem die over die liefdesgeschiedenis hangt is vervolgens ook weer fascinerend dubbelzinnig: vol van morsige klunzigheid, maar ook vol van ongrijpbaar noodlot dat aan Griekse tragedies denken doet. Al die ambigue meerkantigheid wordt bovendien nog verhevigd door de stijl van dit boek, of liever, door de veelheid van stijlen. Dialogen in verschillende dialecten worden bijvoorbeeld doorsneden met allerlei ongearticuleerde gedachtenflarden, "gedachten" van de personages die nog niet geordend zijn tot een zin of een coherent betoog. En dat wordt dan weer doorsneden met allerlei associaties en straatrumoer: advertentieteksten, schlagers, toevallig opgevangen flarden van een gesprek, rijmpjes, grappen, juridische teksten, wetenschappelijke teksten, weerberichten. De chaotische dynamiek van de grote stad Berlijn dendert daardoor steeds overal doorheen. Het ongehoorde rumoer van die stad maakt elk tafereel meteen tot een meerstemmig lied of een veranderlijke mozaïek. Geen enkel personage is ooit met zichzelf alleen, omdat het chaotische lawaai van de stad door alles heen tettert, ook door elke innerlijke monoloog. Alle personages worden dus letterlijk overstemd door het stadsrumoer. Iedereen wordt meegesleurd in de bonte caleidoscoop van Berlijn, en Berlijn is niets anders dan een modern Babylon dat al zijn bewoners naar de slachtbank voert. Dat althans suggereert Doblin volgens mij, ten eerste door allerlei Bijbelse associaties, maar vooral door de wijze waarop in dit boek alle individuele gedachten overschreeuwd worden door de Berlijnse chaos.Toch vond ik dit zeker geen deprimerend boek. Ten eerste door de sprankjes hoop die er toch ook in het verhaal zitten: de onalledaagse maar wel ontroerende liefde van Franz Biberkopf voor Mieze, en zijn symbolische wedergeboorte na een hallucinatoire dood. Maar vooral door de stijl, die ondanks alle zwartgalligheid wel helemaal geweldig en euforiserend is. Want Doblin voerde mij als lezer in ijzingwekkend tempo mee in een ongehoorde achtbaan van stadsrumoer, Bijbelse associaties, Griekse tragedies, surrealistische dromen, troebele liefdes, ontroerende liefdes en meer. En door zijn veelheid van verschillende stijlen en tonen maakt hij ook een ogenschijnlijk eendimensionaal persoon als Franz Biberkopf tot een onvergetelijk rijke figuur.

  • SurferRosa
    2019-04-04 05:40

    Berlin Alexanderplatz è una parabola religiosa ambientata negli anni '20 a Berlino.Franz Biberkopf esce di prigione e sceglie di vivere onestamente, ovvero più in generale tra il bene e il male sceglie il bene. Segue la narrazione di come la scelta di Biberkopf si dimostri ingenua e irrealizzabile, poichè male e bene sono le due facce della medaglia, l'uno è necessario all'altro, i loro confini si confondono. Sarà Biberkopf a dover capire dove sta sbagliando e alla fine del libro ci sarà la rivelazione.Il plot magari un po' ovvio e scontato viene vigorosamente animato dall'autore grazie ad una scrittura vertiginosa e dirompente, con memorabili pagine vivide di un tragico realismo, carrellate cinematografiche per la città, un vorticare di cose e esseri umani scandito con gusto musicale. E' un ritmo narrativo avvincente, una partitura musicale con tanto di strofe e ritornelli.Dove invece si ravvisa qualche scricchiolio è nell'impostazione ideologica del romanzo.Doblin, che ammicca continuamente al lettore, anticipa costantemente quello che sta per narrare, avverte di prestare attenzione perché stanno per arrivare rivelazioni importanti (bontà sua!), imposta la sua opera secondo uno schema che conduce a trarne la morale.Quando Biberkopf, verso la fine, giace in fin di vita nel letto di un manicomio, gli arriva la rivelazione: il problema era in lui, nella sua presunzione che vivendo onestamente gli fosse dovuto qualcosa da parte della vita, anzichè i tiri mancini con cui essa lo ha vessato.Questo, che è l'architrave del romanzo, risulta non del tutto sviluppato: l'autoconsapevolezza raggiunta da Biberkopf (anche se permangono dubbi se l'abbia veramente raggiunta) potrebbe gettare le basi per la possibilità di una morale laica (annosa questione), ma è solo un'enorme contraddizione, l'impostazione del romanzo essendo nella direzione opposta, tutta metafisica e 'a parabola'. Siamo più dalle parti dell'aiutati che Dio t'aiuta (o aiutati che Dio non t'aiuta lo stesso, nulla ti è dovuto... non è facile a dirsi, l'ideologia alla base dell'opera è poco chiara - e questo non è necessariamente un difetto).Questo è secondo me un po' il limite del romanzo, Doblin ha disposto la sua narrazione su un piano trascendente ma paradossalmente finisce per non trascendere un bel niente, correndo pure il rischio di apparire come un predicatore farneticante. E così questa grande ricerca del divino nella metropoli degli anni '20 si risolve in una riflessione non particolarmente penetrante sulla inevitabilità o meno della criminalità, in uno studio di 'tipi criminali'.

  • Aleksej Nilič Kirillov
    2019-04-17 04:33

    Berlin Alexanderplatz è un libro difficile da valutare. Le tre stelle che gli ho affibbiato esulano da quello che di solito rappresentano le tre stelle nel mio personale sistema di valutazione. Innanzitutto ci vorrebbe sicuramente mezza stella in più, quindi 3,5. Per ciò che riguarda il significato, questo voto, altro non è che un voto di media tra le varie anime del libro. L'ho trovato abbastanza disomogeneo, una prima metà che non mi ha entusiasmato affatto, seguita da una seconda estremamente piacevole. Menzione a parte merita il nono e ultimo libro che è semplicemente immenso e che da solo prenderebbe le 5 stelline. Anche lo stile si articola in questa maniera molteplice. Döblin si presenta come un maestro della fusione degli stili, oltre ai chiari richiami a Joyce (per il quale venne all'epoca, per lui ingiustamente, accusato di plagio stilistico) all'interno del testo si ritrova, ad esempio, anche un po' di Italia con vari sprazzi di futurismo ( bang bang zum zum voom voom), oltre ad alcune strutture più tipiche della letteratura tedesca, come ad esempio la chiara presenza di una precisa Weltanschaaung che permea l'intera storia (Anche se qui si potrebbe aprire un dibattito: esistono Romanzi (sì con la R maiuscola) privi di una visione filosofica del mondo che soggiace ai contenuti più squisitamente letterari?). Tornando però alla molteplicità, un altro segno distintivo è che alla scrittura narrativa si aggiungono degli intermezzi saggistici in stile giornalistico che raccontano gli avvenimenti del tempo (ad esempio l'incidente del dirigibile Italia) e gettano luce sulla vita metropolitana della Berlino anni 20', la quale viene descritta dall'autore in maniera abile riuscendo ad essere minuzioso senza annoiare (sì ormai si sarà capito che le lunghe descrizioni non rientrano per niente tra i miei gusti). Il libro mostra in questo senso una struttura poliritmica, fatta di furiose accelerazioni (in particolare nelle parti discorsive, che risultano essere quasi isteriche) ed improvvisi rallentamenti a seconda dell'alternarsi degli stili di scrittura. Nonostante il voto finale non sia altissimo (causa prima parte che proprio non è riuscita a colpirmi) mi sento assolutamente di consigliare la lettura di questo libro, anche solo per avere un'esperienza di molteplicità letteraria veramente rara da trovare.

  • Laurent
    2019-04-12 03:46

    "We zijn aan het einde gekomen van dit verhaal. Het is lang geworden, maar het moest wel uitdijen en steeds verder uit­ dijen, tot het zijn hoogtepunt bereikte, het omslagpunt van waaruit pas licht valt op het geheel. We liepen over een don­ kere laan, eerst brandde daar geen lantaarn, we wisten alleen welke kant we op moesten, allengs werd het lichter en lichter, en nu, eindelijk, hangt daar een lantaarn en kunnen we het straatnaambord lezen. Het was een onthullingsproces van bijzondere aard. Franz Biberkopf liep niet over de straat zoals wij. Hij rende er als een dolle doorheen, door die donkere straat, hij stootte zich aan bomen en hoe verder hij rende, hoe vaker hij zich aan bomen stootte. Het was al donker en als hij zich aan bomen stootte, kneep hij verschrikt zijn ogen dicht. En hoe vaker hij zich stootte, hoe verschrikter hij zijn ogen dichtkneep. Met gaten in zijn hoofd, amper nog bij zinnen, kwam hij ten slotte toch aan. Toen hij neerviel, deed hij zijn ogen open. Toen brandde de lantaarn fel boven hem en was het bord te lezen."Uitvoerige bespreking volgt later. Maar, nu al: vier vette sterren.

  • Myriam
    2019-03-21 04:42

    'Halleluja, halleluja, Franz heeft het meegemaakt, het zingen, de uitroepen. Het mes stond hem op de keel, Franz, halleluja. Hij biedt zijn keel aan, hij wil zijn leven zoeken, zijn bloed. Mijn bloed, mijn innerlijk, ten slotte komt het tevoorschijn, het was een lange reis, tot het zover was, god, wat was dat moeilijk, daar is het, daar heb ik je, waarom wilde ik niet op de zondaarsbank, was ik maar eerder gekomen, och, ik ben er toch, ik ben aangekomen.'