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

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Thursday, March 5, 2015

The type whom Hitler would recruit: Franz Biberkopf in Alexanderplatz - Berlin

Final scenes of Alfred Doblin's Alexanderplatz - Berlin find the murderous Reinhold in prison - but how he got there is kind of unusual: he knows they're looking for him as the one who killed the young prostitute, Mieze, so he takes a fake identity as a Polish petty thief and gets caught, convicted, imprisoned for a few years - but he's safe from the murder charge. But of course he's betrayed - as the young man w/ whom he begins a homosexual prison relationship gets sprung and blabs and someone, knowing there's a reward for info leading to Reinhard, rats him out - so he's convicted on murder charge. Meanwhile, the main character, Franz, is unjustly imprisoned for the murder and goes catatonic; he's moved to a mental hospital where it appears that he eventually dies - in fact, Doblin says so, but then Doblin "resurrects" his main character; Franz rises from the seemingly dead, they realize he's innocent (of the murder charge at least) and let him go, a free man. But what exactly does freedom mean for Franz? He has no goals, no family, no hope, and it seems obvious that he will be drawn back into a life of crime and violence. But Doblin gives a hint at the end of the novel that perhaps Franz's destiny is military service (even though he has lost his right arm?) - and I think Doblin is almost prophetically looking at the direction in which German culture was heading in teh late 1920s, toward a military dictatorship, and of course toward Nazism and fascism. Franz was just the kind of ignorant, prejudiced, self-proclaimed victims whom Hitler et al depended on and courted in their rise to power. Blame the Jews, the gyspies, the non-Aryans, anyone but yourself for the miseries of your life and your times.

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