A pretty workaday biography which never quite manages to make Fallada come to life But essential reading nevertheless for anyone interested in his work. I love the books of Hans Fallada the pen name for writer Rudolf Ditzen and this succinct and calm biography places his work in the context of an interesting and colourful life This embraces German history from 1893 to 1947, but Fallada was not really a major, established writer, although he did become popular after 1932, and his understanding of the great and terrible events to which he was witness is shown to be very weak He did not entertain any commitment to the various political philosophies available to him from the Left or the Right, and did not attempt to interpret events in terms of any systematic analysis His commitment was to decency and to the need of ordinary people to make a life for themselves and their families regardless of the social chaos and corruption surrounding them Jenny Williams remarks at one pointhis great strength as a writer his ability to reflect the views and emotions of his fellow Germans was, at the same time, a great weakness, which could render him incapable of independent thought and actionp148 SimilarlyDitzen was concerned primarily to depict the results of inflation on German society and was not interested in, or indeed capable of , analyzing the causes of the widespread miseryp188 Paradoxically, although the same is often observed in other writers and artists, this quite humble perspective, the focus on everyday life, enabled him to produce some of the most insightful and even devastating commentary on his times For example, his excellent novel The Small Circus takes no sides and yet ends up as a powerful indictment of the corruption of local political life in Germany of the time It is hard to see how democracy could function under such conditions but we did not really need Fallada to point that out the novel speaks for itself.His decision to remain in Germany through the Nazi era was arguably naive and severely frustrated his ability to develop as a writer He felt unable to consider living outside of Germany and was not inclined to be forced to leave, though he very nearly did and was arguably the only respected writer to remain alive in Germany in this period I do not know enough to assert this, but the book does He was not a collaborator he did make some necessary concessions, partly through naivety, partly to survive, but he remained true to his personal ethics and principles, he was willing to tweak the noses of his tormentors and he was fortunate to come through at all Somehow, as the book wryly observes in an echo of Pastor Niem ller which is not explicit but I am sure intended, he never quite fitted into any of the categories targeted by the NazisIt also has to be said that his opposition to the Nazi regime was an instinctive, emotional one, based on rather nebulous and individual concepts such as decency , not on a firm philosophical foundation such as Christianity or Marxism This does not diminish his rejection of fascism in any way, but it does mean that his opposition remained isolated, individual and, like most opposition inside Germany, largely ineffectivep175 For our purposes, it gave him an insight into life under a totalitarian regime which informed his final novel, Alone in Berlin That in turn helps to appreciate the limits of what was possible for any individual and so the novel reads back into the biography Indeed, his fiction was very much constructed around his personal experiences and this biography evoked for me countless sparks of recognition, as the novels made additional sense of his life and his life made sense of his novels. Hans Fallada Was A Drug Addict, Womanizer, Alcoholic, Jailbird, And Thief Yet He Was Also One Of The Most Extraordinary Storytellers Of The Twentieth Century, Whose Novels, Including Every Man Dies Alone, Portrayed Ordinary People In Terrible Times With A Powerful HumanityThis Acclaimed Biography, Newly Revised And Completely Updated, Tells The Remarkable Story Of Hans Fallada, Whose Real Name Was Rudolf Ditzen Jenny Williams Chronicles His Turbulent Life As A Writer, Husband, And Father, Shadowed By Mental Torment And Long Periods In Psychiatric Care She Shows How Ditzen S Decision To Remain In Nazi Germany In Led To His Self Destruction, But Also Made Him A Unique Witness To His Country S Turmoil More Lives Than One Unpicks The Contradictory, Flawed And Fascinating Life Of A Writer Who Saw The Worst Of Humanity, Yet Maintained His Belief In The Decency Of The Little Man What a life face kicked in by a horse, staged duel meant to hide a suicide attempt kills friend, ensuing legal trouble, mental asylum, work on a farm, morphine and cocaine and alcohol addictions, embezzles from employer, sobers up and becomes a model prisoner and fink , lands in jail again, works for a corrupt newspaper, money problems, international bestselling author, nervous breakdowns, rise of Nazism, in an out of asylums, denounced by Nazis, tries to play it safe, denunciations, Goebbels becomes a fan of his anti Weimar novel, tries to placate Nazis by writing crap, they don t buy it, undesirable artist designation, decides not to flee country, alcohol and extramarital affairs, villagers and family members denounce him, procures paper rations under false pretences by pretending he s going to write an anti semitic novel, shoots a gun at his ex wife, writes secret anti fascist works in an asylum, war ends, Soviets appoint him as village mayor, marries a new wife and they get addicted to morphine again , asylums, writes seminal book about life and acts of resistance in Nazi Germany it s 500 pages and he writes it in 24 days , dies before publication. Author Williams is no great stylist but handles the life competently Fallada s life was a troubled one from early age He suffered from depression regularly and was in and out of hospitals and sanitoria frequently He also was addicted to alcohol, cocaine and worst of all morphine at different points of his life Marriage to Suze in the late 1920s started the happiest period of his life This ended with the start of WWII, unwilling to emigrate, he was forced to compromise to Nazi strictures in his writing something he never really came to terms with He survived the war and for a short time became mayor of the town he lived in in northern Germany Not a happy experience His two greatest novels Little Man, What Now and We All Die Alone were the first and last books he wrote He died at age 53 in 1947. An intense and vivid book, charting the life of the writer Rudolf Ditzen His pen name Hans Fallada was taken from Grimm fairy tales.Williams is an academic expert of Ditzen s life and writes in a very academic style There is a lot of detail, but everything is explained and seems necessary Ditzen s life was tragic, eventful, dramatic certainly a good story I read his novel Alone in Berlin a couple of years ago and that lead me to this Anyone with even the slightest interest in WW2 will enjoy Alone in Berlin and the same goes for this A brilliant study of life in interwar Germany and how ordinary German people who did not emigrate were affected by WW2 My full blog review here Jenny Williams gelingt es, einen hervoragenden Einblick in die Person Hans Falladas alias Rudolf Ditzen zu geben und dabei s mtliche seiner Facetten zu beleuchten Fallada als Trinker, Morphinist, Drogenabh ngiger, Gef ngnisinsasse, liebevoller Vater, Ehemann Von seiner Kindheit in einem gut b rgerlichen Haus bis zu seinem Tode im Jahre 1947 begleitet uns die Autorin bei allen Stationen seines Leben Dabei stellt Jenny Williams nicht nur die positiven Aspekte dar, sondern hinterfragt auch insbesondere die Person Falladas in der Zeit des Nationalsozialismus.Beleuchtet wird unter anderem Falladas Beziehung zur Ernst Rowohlt, zu seiner langj hrigen Ehefrau Suse und nat rlich sein Weg als Schriftsteller mit allen H hen und Tiefen Unbedingt empfehlenswert In recent years I have developed a keen interest in the works of Hans Fallada, spurred in part by how his writing reflects his experiences in Germany during the pivotal years between the ends of both world wars Each of his novels that I have read so far have to some extent included some autobiographical detail, so it seemed appropriate before continuing my journey through his work that I try and get a handle on Fallada s life Hence my acquisition and reading of Williams biography.Throughout the biography one is continually reminded of the social, cultural and political aspects the world around Fallada or Rudolf Ditzen as Williams properly calls him, not using his nom de plume , however it is Fallada s emotional, psychological, familial and professional life that forms the core of this book There is no doubt that, as Williams depicts her subject, Fallada was an intensely compromised, damaged and complex person who failed to meet all the challenges his life and the wider world threw at him These failures are not totally negative, nor are they ones that come about through fate or misfortune they are in fact the key pathways that inform his writing and make him such an intriguing personality However make no mistake Williams does not create an impression of Fallada that allows for hero worship This is a significant achievement and to some extent mirrors the underpinning quality of the best of Fallada s writing.The structure and style of Williams work is for the most part effective and informative She has developed her biography from extensive biographical research and is obviously than competent in her German English translation skills The narrative is fairly simple, following a strictly chronological path with the most important persons who had an impact on Fallada s life given appropriate attention His family and his professional relationships are given considerable focus and it is certainly part of Williams construction of Fallada s life that his emotional and psychological states were formed in the most part by these For example, Williams places great store in Fallada s sense of justice having come from his father s influence, whilst his continual mental health battles are often due to those battles he fought with his wives and his publishers If one is to derive one major observation about Fallada from this biography it s that the author was literally driven to produce such vast quantities of work both because and in spite of these emotional issues that were stirred up by his family and friends.Williams does a very decent job of describing the macro level influences on Fallada s ife, such as the social environment of Wilhelmine Germany, the First World War, the economic and political crises that started and ended the Weimar Republic, the Nazi regime and the aftermath of World War Two These are significant to Fallada s story because ultimately it is his reactions to and observations on how these issues effected himself and ordinary Germans that make his work so valuable Just as Dickens is the author of the Victorian era poor, Fallada is the author of Germans of the first half of the 20th Century, and Williams is most successful in contextualising Fallada s life and work with the wider world he lived in.I was somewhat disappointed with the penultimate chapter that dealt with Fallada s life in Nazi Germany during the war years I m not sure if Williams has made enough headway with the challenge of explaining the moral complexity of Fallada s relationship with the Nazis, and his acceptance of their totalitarian regime It is a huge question that, to be fair, would be incredibly difficult for anyone to formulate an answer to and Fallada seems to have developed numerous differing strategies in justifying and or condemning himself Perhaps the focus on Fallada s sense of cowardice , his desire to remain connected to Germany and his German ness , and pure economic need are adequate answers, perhaps not.As for the final chapter, with its focus on Fallada s life, writing and ultimately, his death in the period immediately after World War Two, it seems somewhat perfunctory and hurried This may in part reflect the availability of materials that deal with that time in Fallada s life, however I would be surprised if this is the case The role of his second wife Ulla in his last few years seems to be under examined, and as for Fallada s death and legacy, these are barely given than a page of discussion It was rather disappointing to read this biography with its general wealth of information and observations to be confronted at the end with a coda that is almost superficial and perfunctory In summary, Williams has written the seminal biography of Hans Fallada Rudoph Ditzen in English She has done a mostly excellent job of developing a construct of the author as a man in and of his times, his work, and the considerable external influences on his life She has not shied away from presenting Fallada as a flawed man whose literary potential was perhaps unfulfilled, with appropriate literary criticism that corresponds with the biographical evidence to support her thesis More Lives Than One has some value as an examination of a German life during the most challenging period in that country s social, economic, political and cultural development in all its history, however it is at its most valuable in its depiction and analysis of one of the most significant voices to emerge from this context A very solid bio which I would recommend to anyone who is a student of modern German history and literature, and to everyone who has enjoyed Fallada s writing. A stunning, if somewhat depressing, biography of Hans Fallada Hans Fallada was all but forgotten outside Germany when his 1947 novel, Alone in Berlin US title Every Man Dies Alone , was reissued in English in 2009, whereupon it became a best seller and reintroduced Hans Fallada s work to a new generation of readers.Jenny Williams, here refers to Hans Fallada as Rudolf Ditzen his real name, and the name he used throughout his life Where this biography scores especially highly for me is in its clear eyed depiction of Germany throughout the first 50 years of the twentieth century Rudolf Ditzen grows up in the rigid, authoritarian German society of the pre World War One Wilhelmine era and this biography throws up all kinds of fascinating details about everyday life and social trends Here s one example, when Rudolf was a teenager there were an extraordinary number of suicides in Rudolf s class This was part of a much broader wave of suicides and suicide attempts that swept through Germany in the years before World War One Germany s strict society during this period apparently inducing despair and hopelessness amongst many of the young.Ditzen was a deeply troubled individual, prone to bouts of mental torment resulting in regular periods in psychiatric care He was also variously addicted to drugs and alcohol, stole and spent time in jail, and was unfaithful to his first wife All of these behaviours were exacerbated during the Nazi era and, again, Jenny Williams perfectly evokes the living hell of everyday life for many ordinary Germans under this regime Imagine everyone in a position of influence being a small minded, vindictive Daily Mail reader, and your neighbours being encouraged to report anything that might be considered inappropriate These reports leading to persecution, prison, or the concentration camp.Ditzen is denounced by neighbours on numerous occasions throughout the 1930s and 1940s and, on one occasion, this results in a spell in prison, the confiscation of the house he owned, and plunges him into another of his regular nervous breakdowns Ditzen is generally viewed with suspicion by the Nazis and therefore has to severely compromise his work by retreating into children s stories and innocuous historical fiction having been declared an undesirable author Whilst many contemporaries emigrated he chose to stay in Germany and was therefore perfectly placed to witness, first hand, the everyday horrors during this era.I read this biography before reading any of Hans Fallada s work I now feel very well informed about his life and work, and I am feeling very enthused about reading his books Ditzen s friend and colleague, Paul Mayer, is quoted at the end of the bookGerman literature has not many realistic writers Hans Fallada is one of them His work, mutilated by political terror, is even as a torso important enough not to be forgottenThis book works on so many levels, and includes memorable insights into the social history of Germany, the life of a tortured artist, and the subtle but insistent day to day horrors of life under a fascist regime.Since reading this book I have now also read Alone in Berlin UK title Every Man Dies Alone USA title by Hans Fallada I can only echo the praise that has been heaped on this astonishingly good, rediscovered World War Two masterpiece It s a truly great book gripping, profound and essential. German author Hans Fallada wrote novels and non fiction, maintaining a successful writing career from the 1920 s until his death in 1947 He published through changes in government, from the Weimar Republic through the Third Reich, and into the Communist regime in East Germany His novels, in print and popular, managed to skirt the governmental authority s whichever government was in power at the time and avoid the censorship to which other authors were subject In More Lives than One , Jenny Williams updates a biography of Fallada originally published in the 1990 s, to take advantage of the renewed interest in Fallada s work Hans Fallada was the name Rudolf Ditzen adopted as his pseudonym when he began publishing The son of an upper middle class German family, centered mostly in the northern part of the country, Ditzen, who was born in 1893, one of four children His only brother Ulrich was killed in WW1 Rudolf avoided wartime duty because he had spent periods in mental hospitals and prisons He had a creative, yet fragile and addictive personality, and when he began publishing his writing in the 1920 s, he was an almost immediate success His first successful novel, What Now, Little Man , published to much acclaim in 1932 was the story of a German every man figure, who battled life and economic forces in the late 1920 s and early 1930 s Ditzen kept overt politics out of most of his writing This was, of course, a prerequisite for successful publishing in Germany, especially after the Nazis came to power in the early 1930 s He stayed in Germany during the 30 s and 40 s not emigrating as so many German writers, both Jewish and gentile, did and wrote movie screenplays and other sanctioned works After the war, he wrote his most famous book, Every Man Dies Alone , a novel about individual wartime resistance, based on the activities of a real couple who were murdered by the Nazis when they were discovered Rudolf Ditzen died right before publication of Every Man , in 1947.How did Rudolf Ditzen manage to capture the German character so well He was certainly careful, in general, not to anger the authorities with his writing But he wrote about the times and the people with such a plainness of prose that most readers were able to recognise themselves or others they knew well I suppose that by concentrating on the everyday exteriors of those he wrote about, he was able to see inside these same people His novels and I ve read three are certainly as fresh and interesting 75 years after they were written as they were when first published.Jenny Williams, the author of More Lives Than One , has written a lively biography of both Rudolf Ditzen, the people around him, and the times he lived in I d suggest reading both Williams AND Fallada for a good historical record of the Germany of the first half of the 20th century.