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A brilliant and important novel, originally published anonymously in German nearly ten years after the First World War. Schlump is a tragic tale: both for its subject -- a naïve German teenager who enlists in the army for his big chance at fame and adventure -- and for the novel's author, Hans Herbert Grimm, a veteran of the war who suffered persecution the rest of his life for his critical views.
It is through Schlump's eyes that we see the breathtaking mobilization for war, the strange and uneasy peace of the occupied French countryside, the maze of wartime bureaucracy, and the horrors of the front lines.
For Grimm, the novel's anonymous release was essential to his survival, as Schlump was banned by the Socialist party and burned after publication. Following the text of the novel is an insightful afterword which provides essential background for understanding Grimm's troubled life and the historical context of his work.
--Matt, Longfellow Books— From Matt Recommends!
An NYRB Classics Original
Seventeen-year-old Schlump marches off to war in 1915 because going to war is the best way to meet girls. And so he does, on his first posting, overseeing three villages in occupied France. But then Schlump is sent to the front, and the good times end.
Schlump, written by Hans Herbert Grimm, was published anonymously in 1928 and was one of the first German novels to describe World War I in all its horror and absurdity, and it remains one of the best. What really sets it apart is its remarkable central character. Who is Schlump? A bit of a rascal and a bit of a sweetheart, a victim of his times, an inveterate survivor, maybe even a new type of man. At once comedy, documentary, hellhole, and fairy tale, Schlump is a gripping and disturbing book about the experience of trauma and what the great critic Walter Benjamin, writing at the same time as Hans Herbert Grimm, would call the death of experience, since perhaps if anything goes, nothing counts.
About the Author
Hans Herbert Grimm (1896–1950) was born in the town of Markneukirchen and fought in World War I. After the war he taught Spanish, French, and English in Altenburg, and published Schlump anonymously in 1928 to avoid drawing his employer’s attention to his pacificist beliefs. Schlump was not the commercial or popular success Grimm had hoped it would be, but his anonymity protected him when the book was burned by the Nazis in 1933. To avoid suspicion, Grimm joined the Nazi Party and worked as an interpreter in France during World War II. After the war, however, he was barred from teaching because of his party membership and began working in the theater and, later, in a sand mine. In 1950, two days after meeting with East German authorities, Grimm committed suicide; it is not known what was discussed at the meeting.
Jamie Bulloch is a historian and translator of German literature. His most recent translations include Look Who’s Back by Timur Vermes and Raw Material by Jörg Fauser.
Volker Weidermann is the former director and editor of the Sunday edition of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and is currently a contributor to Der Spiegel. His most recent book is Ostend: Stefan Zweig, Joseph Roth, and The Summer Before the Dark.
"A lost classic of anti-war literature is revived in a fresh, vigorous translation...a welcome contribution to the literature of the Great War and its discontents.” —Kirkus
"The boisterous and often brutal story of a young German’s military service during World War I, Grimm’s long-lost novel is a clear-eyed account of life during wartime…Grimm’s is a bloody picaresque with a fairy tale hero at its center…. Present-day readers will be touched and saddened by his enthusiasm.” —Publishers Weekly
“An unusual, original and charming addition to that great army of WWI novels.” —The Times (London)
“A century after the Great War, Schlump reappears in Jamie Bulloch’s excellent new translation and the extraordinary story of its rediscovery probably warrants a novel of its own...exceptional.” —The Independent
“One of the great First World War novels, about a German soldier in a French village, who falls in love with it. It’s full of criticism of how the war was conducted by Germany, so when Hitler came in, it was burnt.” —Michael Morpurgo, Daily Mail
“The best of German war books so far.” —J.B. Priestley