Death in Rome by Wolfgang Koeppen

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Synopsis

A prophetic novel that ranks with The Tin Drum and W. G. Sebald's The Emigrants as one of the essential works of contemporary European fiction.

Wolfgang Koeppen's Death in Rome, in the words of translator Michael Hofmann, "is a comprehensive and brilliant provocation of an entire nation." First published in 1954 to great controversy, it is only now being recognized as a classic. A tragic portrait of Germany after World War II, Death in Rome completes the trilogy that earned Koeppen praise from Günter Grass in his lifetime as "the greatest living German writer." Mirroring the social and political upheaval following the fall of Nazism, Koeppen here offers the story of four members of a Germany family—a former SS officer, a young man preparing for the priesthood, a composer, and a government administrator—reunited by chance in the decaying beauty of postwar Rome. Koeppen re-creates the soul of a nation at a significant juncture of history in this devastating work of literary genius.
 

About Wolfgang Koeppen

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Wolfgang Koeppen was born in 1906 and died in 1996 in Munich. Michael Hofmann won the PEN/Book-of-the-Month Club Translation Prize for Roth's The Tale of the 1002nd Night by Joseph Roth.
 
Published June 17, 2001 by W. W. Norton & Company. 224 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, Education & Reference. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Death in Rome

Kirkus Reviews

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Hofmann, who won a Times Literary Supplement prize in England for this translation, explains in his introduction that the characters are allegories as well as people (they represent music, bureaucracy, murder, and religion--four areas in which Germans have excelled), and that the text is a symbol...

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Publishers Weekly

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So what has Koeppen's novel, now appearing in the U.S. for the first time, got to do with Thomas Mann? There are elements of Death in Venice , of obssession under a Mediterranean sun, but Mann's novel

Aug 29 1994 | Read Full Review of Death in Rome

Publishers Weekly

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The rich reservoir of Roman history (in which Germans have had a presence since Alaric the Goth) serves as a perfect backdrop for Koeppen's observations, and the fate of Gottlieb Judejahn as he pursues the barmaid is perhaps the ultimate metaphor for the postwar fate of the Nazis.

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Publishers Weekly

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Perhaps Koeppen's ( Pigeons on the Grass ) writing is not as evocative as that of Grass or Boll, but one clear reason for his relative obscurity is his unsparing portrait of moral fetidness.

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London Review of Books

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