Böll, Heinrich

Böll, Heinrich hīn´rĭkh böl [key], 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with Lady, 1973) two English anthologies, Eighteen Stories (1966) and Children Are Civilians Too (1970) and formerly unpublished stories, Der blasse Hund (1995 tr.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).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: German Literature: Biographies

Browse by Subject