Places Discussed

*West Germany

*West Germany. Federal Republic of Germany, created when Germany was partitioned after World War II. Out of the rubble of the war, West Germany has become a modern industrial state with a vibrant industrial base. A new landscape has been created, one that papers over the tortured past of the Nazi Third Reich and the war. The novel’s flashbacks to the Germany that was under the control of the Nazis expose how readily the German state could change from its embrace of Adolf Hitler to its embrace of democracy. Over the years, Hans Schnier’s father becomes rich by extracting coal from German soil. The family remains seemingly unaffected by the political and economic turmoil that consumes the country because of this exploitation of the land.


*Bonn. New capital of West Germany that is the hometown of the clown Hans Schnier, who returns there a broken man. To Schnier, Bonn becomes the symbol for all that is corrupt with the new West Germany. He became a successful clown outside Bonn; he returns there disillusioned and takes up residence in the apartment that he previously shared with the love of his life, Marie Derkum. Schnier has not performed in his hometown. He had always ventured to other German cities such as Cologne and Hannover to make his livelihood as a clown. He is thus out of place in this city. By the end of the novel, he is reduced to begging for money at a train station, while hoping that Marie will come back to him....

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Literary Techniques

Spoken discourse is Boll's primary method to portray character development, to unveil thematic concerns, and to regulate the "action" of the...

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Social Concerns

Deeply affected by the horror and the extent of human misery he encountered during World War II, Boll emerged from the experience with a...

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Literary Precedents

Throughout his career, Boll acknowledged the influence of numerous literary figures including German as well as non-German authors indicative...

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Related Titles

"I am a clown," says Hans. "I collect moments." Ostensibly intended by Boll as a simple definition of character, the statement offers...

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Capitalizing on the cinematic techniques employed by Boll in his fiction, the Czechoslovakian film director Vojtech Jasney collaborated with...

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(Great Characters in Literature)

Beck, Evelyn T. “A Feminist Critique of Böll’s Ansichten eines Clowns.” University of Dayton Review 12 (Spring, 1976): 19-24. Beck analyzes Hans Schnier as a negative person who exploited Marie. Beck asserts that with Marie, Böll depicted a victim of male domination.

Böll, Heinrich. What’s to Become of the Boy? Or, Something to Do with Books. Translated by Leila Vennewitz. New York: Knopf, 1984. Written just before his death, this is Böll’s longest autobiographical work. In it, he reveals connections between his life and his novels.

Conard, Robert C. Heinrich Böll. Boston: G....

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