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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fiction or reportage? You decide.
Katharina Blum is a quiet, reserved divorcee who lives alone. She values her privacy. One night she goes to a party and falls in love. Nothing wrong with that you might think - but Katharina is in Cologne in 1974, and is about to understand fully what that Kafka bloke was on about.
Henrich Boll's novella is an icy, brilliant satire without any humour whatsoever...
Published on 21 Jun 2002 by tony_mullen

versus
2.0 out of 5 stars I've a feeling this Blum has whithered and shed a few petals
This is the first novel I’ve read of this German Nobel prize winning author. It was written in 1974 and tells the tale of Katharina Blum in West German.

Blum is house keeper to attorney Hubert Blorna and his wife Trude; and separately Commissioner Beizmenne. She goes to a party and meets Ludwig Gotten, a rogue of some sort. Kathy, a forty something...
Published 1 month ago by H. Tee


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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fiction or reportage? You decide., 21 Jun 2002
This review is from: The Lost Honour Of Katharina Blum (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
Katharina Blum is a quiet, reserved divorcee who lives alone. She values her privacy. One night she goes to a party and falls in love. Nothing wrong with that you might think - but Katharina is in Cologne in 1974, and is about to understand fully what that Kafka bloke was on about.
Henrich Boll's novella is an icy, brilliant satire without any humour whatsoever. Every single word - even in translation - is sharp as a scalpel; every page will chill you to the bone. Boll simply reports what actually went on in 1970s Germany: the midnight arrests, the McCarthyite persecution of "terrorists" and their "sympathisers", the callous bureaucracy that continues for its own sake and - finally - the truly satanic alliance between the police and the tabloid Press who, even more than their British cousins - care nothing about the truth.
What's even scarier than the story, however, is the fact that this isn't one. There were thousands of Katharinas in 1970s Germany; many thousands of innocent people destroyed by lies and innuendo. You will never forget this book and you'll never ever cease asking yourself the following question: How on earth could this happen in a country that is, ostensibly, a democracy?
And with the way things are going, Americans may find themselves asking that question before very long.
Tony Mullen,
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Media hysteria and terrorism in the 1970s., 2 Jan 2008
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This review is from: The Lost Honour Of Katharina Blum (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
This book is deeply rooted in the reality of 1970s West Germany.The rise of the Baader-Meinhof group and their copycats(2nd June Movement,for example)in the early 1970s led to an atmosphere of panic fed by media excesses.
Boll detested the German equivalent of the tabloid press,especially "Bild Zeitung",thinly diguised in the novel as "The News".Here he satirises and condemns the press coverage of a woman who,innocently,had contact with a terrorist suspect.The familiar rigmarole of leaks to the press by policemen with an axe to grind,distortions and flat-out lies by journalists,and the destruction of Katharina Blum's life are well depicted."Blum" means "flower" in English-the symbolism is more obvious in German than in English.
The end comes as no suprise after we see how irresponsible journalists and policemen ruin Ms.Blum's life.The book is even more relevant today than in the 1970s,after Bush The Second's declaration of the war on terror in 2001.Boll points out that institutions that are supposed to protect individuals from the state(an independent media and an apolitical police force,for example)can sometimes be the worst enemy of the citizenry.
Great book,and don't forget to check out the Volker Schlondorff film of the same name,now available on DVD.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing, 1 July 2007
By 
P. HEATH "Paul Heath" (Northampton UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Lost Honour Of Katharina Blum (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
I presume that the translation accurately reflects the author's intent of relating this tale of modern press behaviour with a false naivety and also a sort of insouciant and mockingly ironic tone, but it is also clearly stilted in its phrasing.This however,intentional or not,adds to the dispassionate air surrounding the central character.

I found this novella held my attention partly through the tragic path of the heroine,but also because of the slight disconnection caused by its transcription into English.
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2.0 out of 5 stars I've a feeling this Blum has whithered and shed a few petals, 17 Mar 2014
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H. Tee (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Lost Honour Of Katharina Blum (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
This is the first novel I’ve read of this German Nobel prize winning author. It was written in 1974 and tells the tale of Katharina Blum in West German.

Blum is house keeper to attorney Hubert Blorna and his wife Trude; and separately Commissioner Beizmenne. She goes to a party and meets Ludwig Gotten, a rogue of some sort. Kathy, a forty something divorced of Brettloh, has a brother Kurt and a mother. Ludwig is under suspicion and Kathy, in potentially helping him to escape attracts the attention of the authorities and more importantly the local rag ‘The News’ – undergoing a character assassination. It is clear there are other motives a foot – Kathy by only the third page has killed reporter Totges and in a police report style narrative retrospective explains why.

The tale isn’t particularly innovative or compelling. The dry style isn’t really very engaging and though there is certainly a drive to understanding how events and motives are linked, it is neither shocking, thriller nor who done it. I guess there subtleties regarding east/west German and the media in the 1970s (and probably media of today) but I really didn’t find the tale of particular note or worthy of 'classic' status. Being only 115 pages long I’m guessing it’s a good taster for his other works and that said I’m less inclined to seek out other works by Boll.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A corrupt and violent press, 13 April 2013
By 
Luc REYNAERT (Beernem, Belgium) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Lost Honour Of Katharina Blum (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
This story of Heinrich Boell constitutes a deadly attack against an aggressively subjective, hysterically ideological and insidiously provocative press. This press pushes its readers to consider acts of violence even against innocent people.
With their articles full of insinuations, its whorenalists tarnish the reputation of irreproachable people by using them as scapegoats in order to impart their message of hatred. Moreover, they work together with the secret services, 'our national body of the tape, the wiretap.'

Relevance
This story has lost nothing of its social relevance. Actually, the media all over the world are controlled by large financial groups. They became the mouthpiece of the powerful in this world, whose only aim is to defend, as Bertrand Russell said, their 'sinister interests'.
These media conglomerates are trying to create for their audiences an entire virtual world, which has nothing to do with (the search for) objective truths (the facts). As Terry Eagleton rightly said, today 'a bunch of power crazed bullies dictate through their privately owned outlets what the public should believe'.

Not to be missed.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Guilty until proven Innocent?, 9 Mar 2013
By 
Christopher H (Keilor, Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Lost Honour Of Katharina Blum (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
This slender novella is a marvel on so many levels. You can read it as a straight police story where an innocent is beset by uncaring investigators intent on a conviction; or as a black comedy where everyone flounders about, getting things wrong, constantly protecting themselves. In this respect, the book is tellingly subtitled, "How violence develops and where it may lead".

The prose style is tight and lucid - this is superlative reader-sensitive writing. The structure and style of presentation is of a retrospective report prepared by a legal investigator, the document needed by lawyers to prepare for a court case and grilling the witnesses and participants and, especially, the police. At moments sections will be numbered indicating points that the lawyer can explore in court when questioning someone in the box. (It's a superbly expressed and plotted book, in many ways a forerunner-to/reminiscent-of Ferdinand von Schirach's Crime and Guilt.)

The book charts over a long weekend the fate of an utterly innocent young woman whose life is turned upside down by an intrusive and over-zealous police force that goes to extreme lengths to find her guilty of something, and the sensationalising distortions of a tabloid newspaper that fabricates stories in order to sell copies.

You cannot put it down. It is a compulsive read. Everything she and her friends do to exonerate her and themselves, is twisted by the police and the media into something suggestively criminal. The fact that they lead innocent clean lives is treated as suspicious, as if they are deviously acting innocent to hide grave things. Even her friends and employers are painted as potential colleagues in a conspiracy. This is not at all a paranoid world, like Kafka. It is a version of our world where the police and press operate without restraint, regulation and appropriate scrutiny.

I did enjoy it. But, it gave me a nightmare - because it touches a nerve if there is much stress at work.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars succinct and pertinent, 12 July 2011
This review is from: The Lost Honour Of Katharina Blum (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
Reading this in 2011 it is still very relevant. The edition I read was published in 1975, which accounts for the lack of a good foreward, which would have been very useful to put it in historical context. I was grateful for the other Amazon reviews that have given me direction on that.I cannot see if this edition is translated by Leila Vennewitz who translated the Penguin edition I read, but I was perfectly happy with that translation. A short, interesting and rewarding read.
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6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless novel about the abuses of the power of the Press., 23 Jan 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: The Lost Honour Of Katharina Blum (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
Authoritative and well written novel, which describes the relentless pursuit of an innocent woman because of the association with her lover, a radical political activist, by a tormenting and unscrupulous 'gutter' press reporter. Katharina's privacy is totally invaded, even to the extent of the reporter trying to extract information about her from her dying mother. Under considerable duress, Katharina eventually shoots her tormentor!
The book is not only a commentary and a satire on German Society, but is also has a timeless message for us about the abuses of the power of the Press in supposedly democratic societies and the corrupting power of global media 'barons'.
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7 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An early attack on the power of tabloid journalism., 4 Jan 2006
By 
Mary Whipple (New England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Lost Honour Of Katharina Blum (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
Katharina Blum's murder of a newspaper reporter, to which she has confessed on the opening page, is not the point of attack for a mystery story, despite that implication in many book summaries. There is too little suspense and character development to make you care much about her.
Instead, Boll uses the murder and its aftermath to offer a cautionary tale about overzealous police investigators and the unfettered tabloid press--showing how the press descends on Katharina and everyone who has ever come into contact with her, twisting words, creating false impressions based upon police department leaks, casting aspersions, ruining lives, and inciting Katharina to eventual murder.
Sound familiar? The novel may have been startling, and even controversial, when it was published in 1974, but no contemporary reader familiar with the tabloids at the supermarket checkout or with sensational talk shows conducting outrageously one-sided investigations will find this depiction of the press even slightly shocking. In fact, the methods of the press in this novel seem unrealistic, not because they are so extreme, but because they are so obvious, crude, and lacking in subtlety.
Boll's novel is a product of its own time. While it may confirm that the conflict between responsible journalism and irresponsible sensationalism has a long history, it offers few useful insights for the present day. Mary Whipple
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3 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars wierd, 22 Feb 2000
This review is from: The Lost Honour Of Katharina Blum (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
It was a very heavy going book - not because it was difficult to read - perhaps it was because it was the way in which it had been phrased in the translation. It was recommended to me by a friend, and I am sorry to say that it is not one of the best books I have bought
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The Lost Honour Of Katharina Blum (Vintage Classics)
The Lost Honour Of Katharina Blum (Vintage Classics) by Heinrich Boll (Paperback - 15 Nov 1993)
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