Additional Book Information

Series: NYRB Classics
Pages: 502
Publication Date: February 20, 2018

Berlin Alexanderplatz

by Alfred Döblin, translated from the German and with an introduction by Michael Hofmann

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An NYRB Classics Original

Franz Biberkopf, pimp and petty thief, has just finished serving a term in prison for murdering his girlfriend. He’s on his own in Weimar Berlin with its lousy economy and frontier morality, but Franz is determined to turn over new leaf, get ahead, make an honest man of himself, and so on and so forth. He hawks papers, chases girls, needs and bleeds money, gets mixed up in various criminal and political schemes in spite of himself, and when he tries to back out of them, it’s at the cost of an arm. This is only the beginning of our modern everyman’s multiplying misfortunes, but though Franz is more dupe than hustler, in the end, well, persistence is rewarded and things might be said to work out. Just like in a novel. Lucky Franz.

Berlin Alexanderplatz is one of great twentieth-century novels. Taking off from the work of John Dos Passos and James Joyce, Alfred Döblin depicts modern life in all its shocking violence, corruption, splendor, and horror. Michael Hofmann, celebrated for his translations of Joseph Roth and Franz Kafka, has prepared a new version, the first in more than seventy-five years, in which Döblin’s sublime and scurrilous masterpiece comes alive in English as never before. by alfred döblin, translated by michael hofmann


[A] major writer who grappled with the roots of darkness in our time....
—Ernst Pawel, The New York Times

His was an extraordinary mind.
—Philip Ardagh, The Guardian

Without the futurist elements of Döblin’s work from Wang Lun to Berlin Alexanderplatz, my prose is inconceivable.... He’ll discomfort you, give you bad dreams. If you’re satisfied with yourself, beware of Döblin.
—Günter Grass

I learned more about the essence of the epic from Döblin than from anyone else. His epic writing and even his theory about the epic strongly influenced my own dramatic art.
—Bertolt Brecht

As we look back over the rich literary output of this great writer, as we look back over the long and fruitful life of this fighter and this friend of man, this perennial spring of spiritual life, we venture to ask: When will the gentlemen of the Nobel Prize jury discover him?
—Ludwig Marcuse, Books Abroad