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Description - The German Lesson by Siegfried Lenz

Siggi Jepsen, incarcerated as a juvenile delinquent, is one day assigned to write a routine German lesson on the "The Joys of Duty." Overfamiliar with these "joys," Siggi sets down his life since 1943, a decade earlier, when as a boy he watched his father, constable of the northernmost police station in Germany, doggedly carry out orders from Berlin to stop a well-known Expressionist, their neighbor, from painting and to seize all his "degenerate" work. Soon Siggi is stealing the paintings to keep them safe from his father. Against the great brooding northern landscape. Siggi recounts the clash of father and son, of duty and personal loyalty, in wartime Germany. "I was trying to find out," Lenz says, "where the joys of duty could lead a people"

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780811209823
ISBN-10: 0811209822
Format: Paperback
(203mm x 140mm x 28mm)
Imprint: New Directions Publishing Corporation
Publisher: New Directions Publishing Corporation
Publish Date: 14-May-1986
Country of Publication: United States

Other Editions - The German Lesson by Siegfried Lenz

Book Reviews - The German Lesson by Siegfried Lenz

US Kirkus Review » This appears at first to be a political parable which, in spite of its sophisticated narrative procedures, rests on a banally simplified vision of German social psychology during the Third Reich. The dourly, uncritically dutiful Ole Jepsen, a rural constable, has been ordered to enforce a ban on painting against his childhood friend Max Ludwig Nansen, an expressionist whose works have been deemed subversive. Their confrontation is the stubborn, bitter stalemate of two philosophies, perhaps two obsessions, and young Siggi Jepsen, caught between them, develops a fixed idea of his own. He begins stealing Nansen's paintings in order to protect them from his father, a crime which alienates both men and lands him in the reformatory where we meet him years later - entering solitary confinement for failing, understandably, to produce a routine classroom essay on "The Joys of Duty." Siggi confounds his keepers, however, by refusing to stop writing until the whole story is told, his many copybooks constituting the main body of the novel; officials and attending psychologists interpret his behavior according to their administrative and clinical preconceptions, as everything but a further variation on the assigned theme. The point seems more obscure in Lenz's landscaped, populous, dauntlessly unhurried telling; but it is after all a point worth a trip through the bush, and for all its regionalism the relevance is broad. (Kirkus Reviews)

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