THE LAMP POST by Martin Gregor-Dellin


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This grim, grey tale of life in post war East Germany tells the story of a beaten, wan human being, reacting and then finally acting in the cross current of political change. Blumentritt, orphaned by the Nazis, later tortured at a concentration camp because of a suspected deviation in his political or ethical thinking, finds the lamp post outside his apartment particularly haunting and accusing, for from that lamp post a young man was capriciously hanged by the Gestapo. Yet Blumentritt, in spite of being a teacher, cannot obtain its removal or his own without endless interrogation, for his is a life bounded by interrogation by a chain of petty officials, hints, accusations. Surprisingly enough Blumentritt is asked to prepare and deliver a monography in honor of a famous composer who had lived in the village. Surrounded by the invisible barbed wire of regimented thoughts, Blumentritt is nevertheless compelled to write a monograph which is a tribute to the individual spirit and to freedom. A predictable end materializes -- in a riot during which Blumentritt attempts to prevent another hanging on the lamp post, he is imprisoned, and under the shadow of death reaffirms his convictions as to the worth of the individual. A sad, terrible story with shades of Kafka and Orwell.

Publisher: Knopf