En poursuivant votre navigation sur ce site, vous acceptez l'utilisation de cookies. Ces derniers assurent le bon fonctionnement de nos services. En savoir plus.


Who was the degenerated psychopath ?

From : http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/incomingFeeds/article777949.ece

Who was the degenerate psychopath?
MORE LIVES THAN ONE. A biography of Hans Fallada. By Jenny Williams. 300pp.
Libris. Pounds 25 - 1 870352 38 6.

Wilhelm Ditzen was a pillar of Imperial German society. A prominent jurist and contributor to Germany's new Civil Code, he rose through a succession of appointments from the District Court at Kloster Wennigsen and the University of Greifswald's Law Faculty to the Kammergericht in Berlin and finally to the pinnacle of his profession when, in 1908, he was appointed to the Reich Supreme Court in Leipzig. Public success brought financial security, and Wilhelm Ditzen was able to offer his wife, two daughters and two sons a succession of comfortable homes and extended holidays throughout Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Italy . He retired in March 1918, six months before his youngest child was killed on the Western Front and nine months before the Imperial political system which he had served so faithfully collapsed in defeat and revolution.
Wilhelm Ditzen will not be remembered primarily for his solidly successful career in the Imperial German criminal-justice system, however. Instead, his greatest contribution to posterity was, most probably, the decision to offer financial support to his son Rudolf - an alcoholic, chain-smoking, morphine-addict who at the age of eighteen had killed a close friend in a staged duel, and a sometime patient in a succession of psychiatric institutions - for a "literary year" in 1918 and 1919. Wilhelm did this, despite his "deep regret that your views are so very different from ours", and on the condition that his son publish under a name other than his own. The name chosen by the twenty-five-year-old Rudolf was "Hans Fallada".
Hans Fallada did not enjoy the influence or international resonance of his contemporary Bertolt Brecht. Nor did he achieve the political prominence of his contemporary Johannes R. Becher, whose early years (like Ditzen's) were marked by a suicide pact gone wrong, morphine addiction and visits to psychiatric institutions, but who later was able to compromise himself sufficiently to become Minister for Culture in the German Democratic Republic. Ditzen was not a great exponent of radical literary experimentation, and spent more time embezzling funds from landed estates where he worked as a book-keeper than participating in the literary debates of Weimar Germany .
Rudolf Ditzen's preoccupation was primarily with himself; his prescriptions for the evils of his times involved individual morality rather than collective political action. His inclination was to avoid difficult situations rather than face them - thus his attempt to sit out the Third Reich in rural Mecklenburg and his repeated accommodation of the Nazi censors. "Intellectual and emotional passivity" (Martha Dodd) and human weakness rather than political certainty and grand gestures provided the platform from which Hans Fallada became one of his country's bestselling authors and most acute social observers. He was, as he admitted in a letter to his mother shortly before his death, "weak, but not bad".
Jenny Williams has done an admirable job in piecing together the lives of Rudolf Ditzen and Hans Fallada. She has mined the Fallada Archive in Feldberg, Mecklenburg , spoken with Ditzen's first wife Anna, and worked her way through both Ditzen's literary output and the secondary literature which has grown up around him. The result is an informative and engaging book on an extremely interesting subject. Perhaps inevitably, the biography sometimes lapses into informed speculation and then proceeds as if the speculation were fact. The treatment of the historical context is often simplistic, sometimes jarring and, in places, inaccurate. (Thus, for example, we read of Adolf Hitler meeting Hugo Stinnes seven years after the industrialist's death.) And the book does not transport the reader much beyond description to interpretation. However, the subject is sufficiently fascinating and the research sufficiently thorough to sustain the narrative, which reveals a good deal about the brittle nature of Imperial Germany, the disorder of the Weimar years, and the problems of writing and publishing decent literature under the Nazis.
What emerges perhaps most clearly from More Lives Than One is the lasting importance of Rudolf Ditzen's youth and adolescence - as the outsider who could not and would not fit into the secure, comfortable, privileged but suffocating bourgeois culture of Imperial Germany. His rejection of the bourgeois world led him to alcoholic excess, drug addiction, sex, crime, prison; it paralleled Weimar Germany 's troubled history of defeat, revolution, inflation and violence. In March 1926, the criminal court in Kiel , sentencing Ditzen to two and a half years in prison for embezzlement, described him as a "thoroughly degenerate psychopath". Ditzen recovered, enough (temporarily) to cure his addictions, to marry, and in 1932 to complete the novel for which he is most famous: Little Man - What Now ? Hans Fallada became a success as Germany slid towards catastrophe. A year later, with Little Man a bestseller and Hitler occupying the Reich Chancellery, it was Germany as a whole which had come to resemble a "degenerate psychopath".

18:05 Publié dans Recensions | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0)