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Bad Nights

D.A.N. Jones, 23 October 1986

The Casualty 
by Heinrich Böll, translated by Leila Vennewitz.
Chatto, 189 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 9780701129286
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Augustus 
by Allan Massie.
Bodley Head, 339 pp., £9.95, September 1986, 0 370 30757 7
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Gabriel’s Lament 
by Paul Bailey.
Cape, 331 pp., £9.95, September 1986, 0 224 02823 5
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The Mind and Body Shop 
by Frank Parkin.
Collins, 221 pp., £9.95, September 1986, 0 00 217695 5
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... trying to exorcise his memories of World War One: the excellent English of the translator, Leila Vennewitz, supports and strengthens this comparison. The longest story, ‘The Casualty’, has a familiar ring, to British ears: a soldier is blissfully travelling home, through Rumania, on a comfortable train, having suffered a desirable wound ...

A Word Like a Bullet

Michael Hofmann: Heinrich Böll, 18 July 2019

The Train Was on Time 
by Heinrich Böll, translated by Leila Vennewitz.
Penguin, 108 pp., £8.99, April 2019, 978 0 241 37038 4
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... settlement, the founding of baby Nato (with just 12 members) and the two rival German states. Even Leila Vennewitz’s English translation is half a century old now (it dates from 1970). Not that the story is at all forward-looking. Rather, it straightaway beetles back even further, back and away, to wartime, to late 1943 and the Nazi effort to prop up ...

Public Life

Pat Rogers, 1 April 1982

A Model Childhood 
by Christa Wolf, translated by Ursule Molinaro and Hedwig Rappolt.
Virago, 407 pp., £8.95, April 1982, 0 86068 253 6
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The Safety Net 
by Heinrich Böll, translated by Leila Vennewitz.
Secker, 314 pp., £7.50, March 1982, 9780436054549
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The Country of her Dreams 
by Janice Elliott.
Hodder, 186 pp., £6.95, March 1982, 0 340 27830 7
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The Soul’s Gymansium and Other Stories 
by Harold Acton.
Hamish Hamilton, 165 pp., £7.95, February 1982, 0 241 10740 7
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... The original title of Christa Wolf’s novel, Kindheitsmuster, could mean something like ‘a pattern of childhood’, but her translators have rightly gone for a more idiomatic expression. In turning the noun into an attributive adjective, they’ve stressed the idea of an exemplary upbringing, and that is wholly apt. The career of Nelly Jordan is normative, within a certain German (though here specifically Nazi) tradition ...

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