Additional Book Information
Series: NYRB Classics
Publication Date: February 13, 2018
All for Nothing
by Walter Kempowski, introduction by Jenny Erpenbeck, translated from the German by Anthea Bell
An NYRB Classics Original
In East Prussia, January 1945, the German forces are in retreat and the Red Army is approaching. The von Globig family’s manor house, the Georgenhof, is falling into disrepair. Auntie runs the estate as best she can since Eberhard von Globig, a special officer in the German army, went to war, leaving behind his beautiful but vague wife, Katharina, and her bookish twelve-year-old son, Peter. As the road fills with Germans fleeing the occupied territories, the Georgenhof begins to receive strange visitors—a Nazi violinist, a dissident painter, a Baltic baron, even a Jewish refugee. Yet in the main, life continues as banal, wondrous, and complicit as ever for the family, until their caution, their hedged bets, and their denial are answered by the wholly expected events they haven’t allowed themselves to imagine.
All for Nothing, published in 2006, was the last novel by Walter Kempowski, one of postwar Germany’s most acclaimed and popular writers.by walter kempowski, translated by anthea bell
All for Nothing is a beautiful, forgiving and compassionate book that looks beyond the futile divisions people make between themselves. It reaches its last devastating line with poetic sensibility and the grace of a classical tragedy, confirming Kempowski as a truly great writer.
—Carol Birch, The Guardian
Beneath its apparently affectless façade, All for Nothing seethes with human drama, contradiction and complexity. No one is blameless; no one wholly unsympathetic. The result is an astonishing literary achievement.
—Toby Lichtig, The Telegraph
Memorable and monumental: a book to read alongside rival and compatriot Günter Grass’s Tin Drum as a portrait of decline and fall.
—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
Kempowski’s idiosyncratic genius lies in his ability to weave this accumulation of human fallibility into something greater. His perspective on a grim slice of history steadily broadens out to become visionary, lending his novel the irresistible pull of great tragedy.
Far more than a great German novel; Kempowski’s late masterwork is a universal tract which suggests that history can only present the facts; it is crafted stories such as this which enable us to grasp a sense of the vicious reality of war.
—Eileen Battersby, The Irish Times