THE MAN OUTSIDE by Wolfgang Borchert


Email this review


Translations from the German of the complete prose works of a young German writer who died in 1947. Grim, frenzied in tone, these pieces quiver with the horror of war and its aftermath. Borchert relied almost solely upon violent imagery and a rapid rhythm for effect. Perhaps most typical of his work is the title piece, a short play which utilizes Everyman symbolism to tell of the awful weariness, the toxic despair of one of the many who came back to Germany after the war. Beckmann, the soldier, returns to Germany, delaying suicide to knock at the doors of past and future hope. Yet in nightmare sequence the doors are closed to him, and for him there will be no love, no warmth, no release from the dreams of war. God is a tired old man and Death a lip smacking, hiccupping undertaker. Beckmann is left to cry out alone the questions no one answers and the indictment, ""We are betrayed!"" -- The other works stress other aspects of the same futility of young men rotted in body and soul by war. Although the symbolism and concentration upon physical decay present a peculiarly dehydrated portrait of human beings caught up in the tragedy of our time, this is a compelling and interesting collection. However, it is doubtful whether the distilled style and grisly overtones will carry much popular appeal.

Pub Date: Feb. 14th, 1952
ISBN: 0811200116
Publisher: New Directions