by Antonio Jiménez-Ruiz (Author on Tumblr):
Alfred Döblin is considered one of the most controversial - and bright - authors in universal literature.
A Jew who converted to Christianity; a bourgeois who embraced socialism and anarchism, is a contradictory and difficult character, and his literature could not be different.
Three days ago I read Berlin Alexanderplatz, leaving my mind in a state that few books have left me. The person who lent me the book told me it was going to be a difficult reading and was right.
Berlin Alexanderplatz is the story of Franz Biberkopf, a man who has just come out of prison with a very clear goal: be honest.
Throughout the novel, Biberkopf fight against all odds to be an honest man and lead a normal life, but adversity will prevent it.
Berlin Alexandeplatz is considered to be the best description of Berlin ever written. And it is a true statement: the convoluted plot that describes Döblin is filled with references to streets, squares, parks and architectural buildings of the city, a journey that becomes kindly eternal.
But the really interesting background for this novel is in the details that surrounded his creative process, such as the inclusion of real news taken from newspapers (Döblin included newspaper clippings in the original manuscript); or ludicrous mentions such as describing the digestive process of the protagonist during a lunch, or include a real love letter written by a young woman.
Written in first person, with a Berlin slang that was and still is torture for translators, with inclusions in second and third person by Biberkopf and other characters without dialogue scripts (using only quotation marks), with an agile and anarchic narration, the reading will need to rest between pages, to take a break from the peculiar imaginative torrent or to reflect on the amazing technique of writing to which the reader is subjected. You can’t help but to wonder what leads an author in 1928 to write a work so risky and out of his time.
The person who has read The Trial by Franz Kafka will have a better chance to digest Berlin Alexanderplatz.
Finally found me a copy.