The Silent Angel

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Heinrich Boll is one of the great German writers of the second half of the twentieth century. In 1972, Boll was presented with the Nobel Prize in Literature by the Swedish Academy. During his life, Boll was the social conscience of postwar Germany. He was determined to make Germany come to terms with its past and to build a future based on what was socially and politically humane for its citizens. Some of his most powerful works include WO WARST DU, ADAM? (1951; ADAM, WHERE ART THOU?, 1955), UND SAGTE KEIN EINZIGES WORT (1953; ACQUAINTED WITH THE NIGHT, 1954), ANSICHTEN EINES CLOWNS (1963; THE CLOWN, 1965), and GRUPPENBILD MIT DAME (1971; GROUP PORTRAIT WITH LADY, 1973). In 1949, Boll published his first work, the novella DER ZUG WAR PUNCTLICH (THE TRAIN WAS ON TIME, 1956). THE SILENT ANGEL, written in German as DER ENGEL SCHWIEG, was to be his first novel, but his publisher decided against publishing it because of the novel’s treatment of World War II and its aftermath. The publisher did not believe that the German people were as yet prepared to come to terms with their immediate past and precarious future.

The manuscript of THE SILENT ANGEL was sent back to Boll and would not be published in German until 1992. Over the years, Boll had used various themes and sections from the novel for some of his other works. The publication of this first novel in 1992 was still a great literary event, and Breon Mitchell is to be commended for his solid translation...

(The entire section is 439 words.)