Fallada’s Modernist Novel Characters in Wolf among Wolves, and Little Man, What Now?

Reinhard Zachau (University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee)

Hans Fallada’s novels embody the tension between tradition and modernity that destroyed the Weimar Republic. With his background as journalist and Prussian estate manager Fallada was qualified to portray Weimar’s dichotomy in his novels, where he paired Berlin’s decadent lifestyle with the Prussian province. The contrast between decadent city and provincial life (Ernst Bloch had called it Germany’s asynchronic perspective or ‘Ungleichzeitigkeit’) became the focus of Weimar Germany’s struggles. Fallada’s novels Wolf Among Wolves (his inflation novel, 1937) and Little Man, What Now? (his Depression novel, 1933) explore this contrast.

In my paper I focus on how this contrast is used in creating opposite character types in the New Realism style (Neue Sachlichkeit). By establishing a minimalist scenic context through fictional characters Fallada’s texts resemble film scripts. As in films the tension between the environment and the core of the character creates a subtext that contains a possible resolution of the conflict. As most Weimar texts transcend the unwritten neutrality rule of Neue Sachlichkeit (such as Döblin’s Berlin Alexanderplatz) so do Fallada’s novels in their attempt to alleviate the underlying social tensions.

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