Group Portrait with Lady by Heinrich Boll
(The Essential Heinrich Boll)

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Cited by the Nobel Prize committee as the “crown” of Heinrich Böll’s work, the gripping story of Group Portrait With Lady unspools like a suspenseful documentary. Via a series of tense interviews, an unnamed narrator uncovers the story—past and present—of one of Böll’s most intriguing characters, the enigmatic Leni Pfeiffer, a struggling war widow.
At the center of her struggle is her effort to prevent the demolition of her Cologne apartment building, a fight in which she is joined by a motley group of neighbors. Along with her illegitimate son, Lev, she becomes the nexus of a countercultural group rebelling against Germany’s dehumanizing past under the Nazis ... and what looks to be an equally dehumanizing future under capitalism.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

About Heinrich Boll

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Although Heinrich Boll had won three literary prizes in Germany and had had earlier novels in translation published in the United States, it was not until Billiards at Half-Past Nine (1959) that he became established abroad as one of the most important German novelists since World War II. The son of a sculptor, Boll was born in Cologne. He was drafted into military service in 1938 shortly after he finished his schooling and served several years in the infantry before his demobilization in 1945. The Clown (1963), the story of the antihero who cannot succeed in spite of his efforts, is intensely cynical about modern Germany in a lighthearted way. In Absent Without Leave (1964) and Enter and Exit, Boll turns the German soldier into a portrait of every soldier. Critics have compared Boll to Thomas Mann at his peak as an uncompromising foe of conventionality as well as a writer who put narrative ahead of experimentation. In The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum (1974), Boll continues to focus on modern German society and the destructive possibilities latent in it. In the 1960s and 1970s, Boll became involved in the German peace movement and in the effort to stop the deployment of U.S. nuclear missiles on West German soil. Boll died in 1985.
Published April 5, 2011 by Melville House. 466 pages
Genres: Education & Reference, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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It's rather odd that Heinrich Boll should have won the Nobel Prize just after publishing an elaborate dossier-type anti-novel all about a somewhat dreary heroine suffering pangs of the Zeitgeist.

Mar 01 1973 | Read Full Review of Group Portrait with Lady (The...

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