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A daily record of what I'm thinking about what I'm reading

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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The making of a Nazi?: Doblin's Alexanderplatz - Berlin

Back just about to where we started as we enter book 9, the last section of Alfred Doblin's Alexanderplatz - Berlin, w/ the protagonist and anti-hero (truly the appropriate place for this much overused term), Franz Biberkopf, now charged with murdering his girlfriend, the runaway teenage prostitute who, to put it bluntly, turns tricks for him - this time, Franz is innocent, but the police, having discovered her body in a shallow grave in the woods outside Berlin, immediately suspect Franz - who's stupidly disappeared from the scene, and who has already done prison time (4 years!) for the murder of a girlfriend. Franz is so stupid that eventually he turns up at a restaurant or nightclub that the police had raided, sits in the club after the raid as people are starting to trickle back in, and takes a couple of shots at one of the police officers standing guard (I think - it's a little hard to follow this section, as Doblin is ever-experimental with his narrative technique and he moves in and out of Franz's perception), and now Franz is headed back to prison - but not, by any stretch, a wiser man. He's as stupid and petty at the end as he was at the outset, maybe more so, in that he's failed to learn anything for his experiences, except perhaps to develop a false sense of injustice. Yes, it's true, he is innocent of the murder charge, and in those days of very shoddy forensics he would have no hope of a solid legal defense. But this novel is not a plea for the reform of the criminal-justice system. As noted in yesterday's post, I think what Doblin is getting at is: what social forces combined to create the reactionary, fascist movement in Germany? If prison made Bigger into a radical and made Mersault into an existentialist, I think it's likely to make Biberkopf, a stupid thug with no sense of loyalty or responsibility, into a Nazi.

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