The lost honour of Katharina Blum by Heinrich Böll

The lost Honour of Katharina Blum  or how violence develops and where it can lead  by Heinrich Böll

Original title – Die verlorene Ehre der Katharina Blum oder: Wie Gewalt entstehen und wohin sie führen kann

German fiction

Translator – Leila Vennewitz

Source – personnel copy

A couple of years ago I review the German Nobel laureate Heinrich Böll best known book billiards at half past nine .Böll  he refused to join the Hitler youth as a boy took an apprenticeship as a bookseller before becoming a full-time writer aged thirty .He was chairman of German PEN for a long time and then he chaired International PEN .He won the nobel prize in 1972 and passed away in 1985 .His book were mostly reissued in english a couple of years ago by Melville house .

Inquires into Blum’s activities during the four days in question progressed nicely enough at first ,and it was only when attempts were made to gather information about that sunday that they were brought up short

On the Wednesday afternoon Blorna personally paid Katharina Blum two full weeks wages at 280 marks per week ,one for the current week , the other for week to come

The reportage style of Böll writing in this book


The lost Honour of Katharina Blum ,follows Katharine Blum ,she gets drawn into a tabloid sensation after meeting a man at a party who it turns out is a bank robber  and she becomes the target of the newspaper “der zeitung “( this is thinly veiled version of the German paper der bild a sort of German  version of the sun ) .She is called a whore ,a communist sympathizer as she sees her private life torn apart by the paper and gets hate mail just for knowing one man . this leads her agreeing to do an interview with someone from the paper and now a couple of hours later she is at a police station giving this statement to the  police about recent events in her life  .What happened during that interview ? We see the story of her recent life unfurl .

Seven anonymous postcards , handwritten with “crude ” sexual propositions that in one way or another all included the words “communist bitch”

Four more anonymous postcards containing insulting political remarks but no sexual propostions .These marks ranged from “Red agitator ” to “Kremlin stooge ”

The fall out of what of Katharina Blum life in the papers .


The style of this book is like a police report or a bit of reportage we get a detached feel on the events in Katharina’s life and what lead to her agreeing to the interview and how she meet the man ,whom dragged her into the presses eyes .Amazing this book to say it was written in the 1974 before the modern scandals and rise of the modern celebs that have been caught in the media spotlight  ,Katharine blum reminds me of many people who have been in the  UK papers over the last few years people who have  gotten  caught up in a big story by chance  or accident , like the landlord of a recent victim of a killer  who saws his life invade by the papers by just being her landlord or the woman that hid her child .Katharine story is a bit more than theres in the end but we see how far some can be pushed by the tabloids and the prying eyes .For a book that is nearly thirty years old I would say the themes and style of Böll writing is still relevant today as much as ever .He captures what it is to have your life fall apart it seems .A small work that packs a punch above its weight .

Have you read Böll ?

12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. bythefirelight
    Nov 21, 2013 @ 21:07:12

    Makes me want to pull the copy off my shelves and read it.


  2. Bettina @ Books, Bikes, and Food
    Nov 21, 2013 @ 21:23:43

    I read this years ago and it’s on my list of re-reads. I remember really liking it! Thanks for making me look forward to reading it again even more than I already did!


  3. lizzysiddal
    Nov 21, 2013 @ 21:36:02

    This id a wonderful novel, one of the best in the German canon. have reread a number of times and suspect I will reread it again at some point.


  4. Seamus Duggan
    Nov 22, 2013 @ 00:11:23

    Love Böll. Read a few at this stage and intend reading more. I’ve blogged about this and two others.


  5. Tony
    Nov 22, 2013 @ 02:18:27

    Love this one, a nice quick read too. I had a Böll phase a few years back, but I haven’t got to him for a while. I actually have a 500-page hardback short story collection gathering dust on my shelves…


  6. kaggsysbookishramblings
    Nov 22, 2013 @ 09:15:50

    I’ve been considering this for a while and now I *really* want to read it – thanks for the review Stu!


  7. Lisa Hill
    Nov 22, 2013 @ 09:31:12

    Hey Stu, this is the one that I ‘received’ as a Humbook last Christmas, it’s the last one I have to read and will get to it soon so I haven’t even peeked at your review yet!


  8. Trackback: The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum, by Heinrich Boll, translated by Leila Vennewitz | ANZ LitLovers LitBlog
  9. Trackback: Irish Journal by Heinrich Böll | Winstonsdad's Blog

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November 2013


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