Richard Schroubek (SHREW-behk), a thirty-one-year-old bookseller by trade, recently abandoned by his girlfriend, Hannah Beyl. For Richard, who calls separation the most terrifying and shattering of all types of personal catastrophe, Hannah’s departure means the destruction of all prior connection to and identification with society. Without actually quitting or calling in sick, he simply stops working and sells an inherited Max Beckmann etching as a means of financially supporting his state of misery. He establishes a postal checking account, forgoing interest for the sake of solitude (he can withdraw money through the mail), and retreats to his apartment. Richard’s isolation is interrupted initially only by Frau N., the cleaning woman, and then by Fritz, another man rejected by Hannah. Gradually, the protagonist develops bad habits such as not bathing, not changing clothes regularly, and not cleaning. The general dirtiness and disorderliness of the apartment are greatly intensified by the mishaps to which the protagonist becomes prone.
Hannah Beyl (bil), the twenty-five-year-old girlfriend who suddenly and without explanation abandons Richard. Later, she spends three days with Fritz, only to leave him just as suddenly. Twice, Hannah seemingly attempts to re-establish contact with Richard. It is obvious from her appearance at an eventual meeting with...
(The entire section is 412 words.)