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Böll, Heinrich(hīn`rĭkh böl), 1917–85, German novelist, short-story writer, and playwright. Böll presents a critical, antimilitarist view of modern society in a collection of masterful short stories, Wanderer, kommst du nach Spa· · · (1950; tr. Traveller, If You Come to Spa…, 1956), and the novels Wo warst du, Adam? (1951; tr. Adam, Where Art Thou?, 1955) and Billard um halb zehn (1959; tr. Billiards at Half Past Nine, 1961). Humanity's excesses and its inability to alter his destiny are among Böll's principal concerns in the narratives Und sagte kein einziges Wort (1953; tr. Acquainted with the Night, 1954), Haus ohne Hüter (1954; tr. Tomorrow and Yesterday, 1957), Ansichten eines Clowns (1963; tr. The Clown, 1965), and Entfernung von der Truppe (1964; tr. Absent without Leave, 1965). Many of Böll's works present his critical reflections on Catholicism, the church, and contemporary German society. Among his other notable works are a collection of travel essays, Irish Journal (tr. 1967); the novel Gruppenbild mit Dame (1971; tr. Group Portrait with Lady, 1973); two English anthologies, Eighteen Stories (1966) and Children Are Civilians Too (1970); and formerly unpublished stories, Der blasse Hund (1995; tr. The Mad Dog, 1997). Böll won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1972.
See J. H. Reid, Henrich Böll: A German for His Time (1988).
Born Dec. 21,1917, in Cologne. German writer (Federal Republic of Germany).
The son of a wood-carver, Boll worked as a carpenter and in a bookstore. From 1939 to 1945 he was a soldier in Hitler’s army. After returning from an American prison camp he studied philology at the University of Cologne, and he now lives in Cologne. Boll’s work began to appear in print in 1947. His first important works were the novella The Train Was on Time (1949), the collection of short stories Traveller, If You Come to Spa . . . (1950), and the novel Adam, Where Art Thou? (1951; Russian translation, 1962). In Boll’s novels Acquainted With the Night (1953; Russian translation, 1958), The Unguarded House (1954; Russian translation, 1959), Billiards at Half Past Nine (1959; Russian translation, 1961), and The Clown (1963; Russian translation, 1964; dramatized at the Mossovet Theater in 1968) and in his novellas The Bread of Our Early Years (1955; Russian translation, 1958), Absent Without Leave (1964; Russian translation, 1965), and End of a Mission (1966; Russian translation, 1966), he expresses a disgust toward fascism, German militarism, bourgeois money-grubbing, false petit bourgeois morality, and religious hypocrisy. In his books Boll raises sharp moral questions which grow out of a critical comprehension of contemporary society. Within the traditions of the realistic classics of the world (especially those of F. M. Dostoevsky, to whom Boll devoted a television script entitled Dostoevsky and St. Petersburg [1967–68]), Boll masterfully conveys the inner life of his heroes and the contradictory movement of their thoughts and feelings.
In his journalistic work Boll asserts the need for social and moral activity in art and the civic responsibility of the artist, pointing out that the decisive criterion in all types of literary creative work must be the “conscience of the writer as a social person.” Böll’s books have been translated into Russian, Ukrainian, Georgian, Latvian, and Estonian. He has visited the USSR several times.
WORKSErzählungen: Hörspiele Aufsätze. Cologne-Berlin, 1961.
Frankfurter Verlesungen. Cologne-Berlin, 1966.
Aufsätze, Kritiken, Reden. Berlin-Cologne, 1967.
REFERENCESRozhnovskii, S. G. Bëll’. Moscow, 1965.
Motyleva, T. Zarubezhnyi roman segodnia. Moscow, 1966.
Orlova, R., and L. Kopelev. “Pisatel’ i sovest’.” Novyi mir, 1967, no. 12.
Rodnianskaia, I. “MirGenrikha Bëllia.” Voprosy literatury, 1966, no. 10.
Der Schriftsteller H. Boll: Ein biographisch-bibliographischer Abriss, 4th ed. Cologne-Berlin, .
In Sachen Boll. Cologne-Berlin, 1968.
I. L. ZAKHAROV