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The Drinker [Paperback]

Hans Fallada , A.L. Lloyd
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Paperback, 31 May 1990 --  

Book Description

31 May 1990
Written in an encrypted notebook while incarcerated in a Nazi insane asylum and discovered after his death, THE DRINKER may be Hans Fallada's most breathtaking piece of craftsmanship. It is an intense yet absorbing study of the descent into drunkenness by an intelligent man who fears he's lost it all.
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Product details

  • Paperback: 282 pages
  • Publisher: Marlboro Press,The,U.S.; Reprint edition (31 May 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 091039556X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0910395564
  • Product Dimensions: 21.3 x 13.8 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,009,144 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
76 of 77 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Infatuation With The Queen of Alcohol 16 Jun 2005
I first read Hans Fallada's 'The Drinker' eight years ago and my second reading of it confirms all its macabre power to haunt its readers. Written in just two weeks in a German lunatic asylum in 1944, this hypnotic, compelling story of a respectable businessman's alcohol-induced descent into squalour and psychic collapse will sober its merriest reader. Based on events in Fallada's own life, the novel takes us into the progressively warped worldview of one Erwin Sommer - well off, middle class, insecure; a man who will soon discover all the charm and malignant power of a flight into self-destructice alcoholism. Estrangement, Paranoia and Victimisation are Sommer's travelling companions on this journey with only the passing comfort of the bottle for solace. Despite 'The Drinker' lacking any reference to the events of Germany,1944, the reader may soon find himself wondering to what extent Erwin Sommer's experiences are analogous to the descent of Germany in the years of the Hitler period. 'The Drinker' is not for those seeking a comforting or moral conclusion. For the reader who is fascinated by the extremes of human psychology and experience, this book book will stay etched in your mind.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ONCE AGAIN I'M AMAZED 23 Jun 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I discovered Hans Fallada a few months ago, was immediately hooked, and this is now the third of his books I've read. Once again I'm absolutely amazed that this superb writer is not lauded more loudly from the rooftops!

This book is a brilliant and moving study of a small businessman whose whole life unravels due to alcoholism.

It is a work of such depth, pathos and humour that it's near impossible to believe it was secretly written in just two weeks in the confines of a German insane asylum! However it's extremely easy to believe and understand why Fallada was viewed as suspect and undesirable by the Nazis and was incarcerated by them in just such an asylum...

The physical and psychological decline into alcoholism and rapid spiral into financial ruin, marriage breakup and nervous breakdown is really powerfully and poignantly illustrated. The self-delusion and bravado shown in dealings with his wife, girlfriend, financial and business colleagues is tragic, brutal, distressing - but in many places is actually laugh-out-loud funny too!

Fallada details the despair and Catch-22 misery of asylum life and the strategies and cunning required to survive its rigours in a way that only a real inmate could. Again there are many flashes of wit and humour in the descriptions of the hardships endured with the motley and somewhat grotesque collection of patients and staff.

As with Fallada's other books I just cannot recommend this too highly.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The genius of fallada 6 May 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I think this is probably Fallada's greatest book.
The psychological insights that this author possesses are remarkable.
His portrayal and fascination with seedy characters and the low moral standards of the criminal classes is astounding.
Good writing like this is timeless, this book could have been written today,as much as 1944, when it was written.
The book shows how quickly, in this case, alcoholism takes hold of, shapes and distorts one's personality, from a respectable businessman to the lowest gutter of society.
Fallada was no stranger to Mental Hospitals himself, having had numerous stays in different establishments and he wrote this book in two weeks, whilst sojourned in one such establishment.
There are few Authors in the history of books, that can write so eloquently about the foibles and intricacies of deviant personality.
I won't spoil the ending here, but there is one hell of a twist in this tale at the end.
"Alone in Berlin" is also another cracking book by Fallada, but I think that this book, even surpasses it in it's sheer quality and brilliance.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Insight into Madness 8 Nov 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Hans Fallada's novel "Alone in Berlin" was so impressive that I was almost reluctant to try any of his other works as I was concerned that they not be up to the same high standard.

Fortunately, this was not the case with this work which is also set in Germany in the 1940s and was published posthumously in 1950.

However, there are no Nazis or references to the political and social situation of Germany at that time which makes the story more immediate and universal. At the same time, the characters are as trapped and powerless inside their own heads and bodies as they were under the Nazi regime.

It is a first-person narrative by a man in his early 40s who suddenly finds that life becomes a lot more interesting and exciting when seen through an alcoholic haze.

His sudden affair with alcohol - presented as a seductress - changes his character and he starts behaving in a reckless, criminal way that lands him in prison and then a lunatic asylum after threatening to kill his wife.

His meandering self-pity, maudlin recollections of happier times are at times pathetic and sad and, at others, very funny in the bleak way that drunks can be funny.

Like "Alone in Berlin", many of characters are repulsive, morally and physically, and the narrator's mental deterioration is matched by his corporeal decay when part of nose is bitten off by an enraged inmate and he contracts boils from malnutrition.

Fallada himself experienced life behind bars and in lunatic asylum and died of a drugs overdose so the picture he paints is convincing.

The book loses some of its vitality in the latter part when it becomes almost a documentary, highlighting the awful conditions and crazed characters.

Nevertheless, the ending is quite chilling.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I am very happy ith their service
I am very happy with the service they provided. I have no complaints and I will gladly use them again, which I have.
Published 10 months ago by ANormalHawaiian
5.0 out of 5 stars Completely convincing.
Fallada's characters are always so well drawn and utterly convincing.
Given the topic of alcoholism, it is a tribute to the writer's skill that the story can still enthrall.
Published 16 months ago by Gibson330
5.0 out of 5 stars The Drinker is a toast to a life gone wrong
Fallada vividly and accurately entered into the mind of somebody slipping into alcoholism with all its self justification of actions taken or otherwise. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Patrick O'Reilly
4.0 out of 5 stars Chronicle of a vain, weak man's descent from respectable to...
This is a great read and could be taken as a lesson in moral rectitude for the masses. It's also an indication of the despair of the writer, who battled with his own demons:... Read more
Published on 19 Jun 2012 by wiltshirelass
5.0 out of 5 stars A thoroughly enjoyable read
Just got back from my spring break and 'The Drinker'was one of my holiday relax reads. Considering that i have spent 2 weeks in France and have just been overdoing it on the vin... Read more
Published on 15 April 2012 by SimonW
3.0 out of 5 stars The Narcissist
As Fallada's novel 'Every Man Dies Alone' is also known as 'Alone in Berlin' so should 'The Drinker' be known as 'The Narcissist'. Read more
Published on 3 July 2011 by Lily Wren
5.0 out of 5 stars An incredibly powerful - and unputdownable - exploration of human...
'The Drinker' is not only an exploration of alcoholism, but also of human egotism and the fragility of the basis of most human lives. Read more
Published on 1 Jun 2011 by Pablo
2.0 out of 5 stars Not embedded
In this semi-autobiographical novel, Hans Fallada tells the story of a human struggle for survival: a small businessman fighting against a slow suicide through alcoholism. Read more
Published on 21 April 2011 by Luc REYNAERT
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding...
What I love about Fallada, amongst other elements, is the fact that I feel as though I am standing right next to the character and in this novel, I am sharing a drink with him,... Read more
Published on 30 Nov 2010 by John Lacey
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic read
I read this book after reading two other Hans Fallada novels and I wasn't disappointed. This book is funny, touching and gives a personal account of Hans Fallada's own battle with... Read more
Published on 29 Oct 2010 by faerievampyr
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