The Drinker by Hans Fallada (Translated by Charlotte & A L Lloyd); The Legend of the Holy Drinker by Joseph Roth - review by John Linklater

John Linklater

Death Writes

The Drinker

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Libris 282pp £14.95 order from our bookshop

The Legend of the Holy Drinker

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Chatto & Windus 49pp £7.95 order from our bookshop
 

The authors of these two posthumously-published works both died alcoholic. Roth’s book was written during the first four months of 1939 in a Paris bar where he was dying. Fallada’s semi-autobiographical novel was written during a fortnight of the Autumn of 1944 in an asylum for the criminally insane, where he was held pending charges for the attempted murder of his estranged wife.

Both stories deal with protagonists who hit bottom, who have slumped beyond hope. Both, as Fallada’s hero terms himself, are great sufferers. They may be saved only by the intervention of a series of mercies, or little miracles, leading to death (in the case of Roth’s hero) or to a

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