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Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

Book Notes: Fallada’s Little Man

Hans Fallada’s 1933 novel Little Man, What Now? was an immediate bestseller. It was turned into movies both in Germany and, unfortunately for the writer, in the US. Hitler didn’t appreciate the novel’s success in “Jew-owned Hollywood” and the novel’s humanization of Jews. 

Little Man is not a major work of art like Fallada’s Wolf Among Wolves. It’s a comforting, easy-to-read, deeply cute novel that was supposed to comfort the 6,000,000 unemployed in Germany of that time and all those people who feared becoming indigent. It’s very masterfully done, and it spoke to people who were about to start throwing their arms up in the Nazi salute and marching their neighbors into concentration camps. 

Fallada wrote obsessively about the rise of Hitler (without ever mentioning Hitler, of course) because what else was there to write about for a German author in the 1930s? In Little Man he points to capitalism as the culprit of Nazism swift rise. The characters of the novel vacillate between Nazism and Communism but, since Stalin had chosen to doom German Communism, Nazism prevailed. 

I dislike all parallels between the rise of German Nazism and what we are seeing today but Little Man is a document of its time that spoke to people and the parallels are eerie. If you were planning to read Snyder’s book on the rise of totalitarianism, read this novel instead. 

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