Most helpful critical review
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 3 July 2011
As Fallada's novel 'Every Man Dies Alone' is also known as 'Alone in Berlin' so should 'The Drinker' be known as 'The Narcissist'.
As he tells his tale of descent into alcoholism and mental turmoil, Erwin Sommer says of his fellow 'sufferers'..."The medical officer must have been able to see there was more in me than in the others, I had more to lose, I was more sensitive, too, and more prone to suffering than these utterly dull, stupid fellows" (p.250) A deluded, self-pitying and grandiose character who has no sympathy or thought for anyone but himself. As such,The Drinker is an honest and truthful insight into a man suffering from the grips of alcoholism and, in my amature psychologist mode, some kind of narcissistic personality disorder.
It has been said that Erwin is loosly based on Fallada himself. If so, Fallada has been brutually honest and frank and laid bare a character who, in all honesty, I felt no sympathy for and cared for even less. The story is told from Erwin's perspective so we only ever hear his voice and his views on what is happening. Erwin very rarely shows empathy or sympathy for those around him or regret for any wrong doings against others. The blame for his woes and ills are often laid at the feet of others, and, more often than not, his wife. Erwin would have very little understanding of what self responsibility means.
Alcoholism, indeed many addictions, can be extremely selfish, unforgiving and uncaring for those who happen to be around. Fallada portrays this wonderfully in the character of Erwin (himself?). That said, I found him to be an incredibly frustrating character who wound me up no end. As a result, I would agree with the previous reviewer who said that the heart breaking descent of Erwin felt 'banal'. Unfortunately, it did. However, I would like to believe that this was as a result of Fallada's writing and that it may have been intentional with alcoholism being the destructive, delusional, grandiose, and self pitying metaphor for the character that is Erwin Sommer.