The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum by Heinrich Böll

Summary

In an era in which journalists will stop at nothing to break a story, Henrich Böll’s The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum has taken on heightened relevance.

A young woman’s association with a hunted man makes her the target of a journalist determined to grab headlines by portraying her as an evil woman. As the attacks on her escalate and she becomes the victim of anonymous threats, Katharina sees only one way out of her nightmare.

Turning the mystery genre on its head, the novel begins with the confession of a crime, drawing the reader into a web of sensationalism, character assassination, and the unavoidable eruption of violence.

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Why should you read this book?

The Last Honour of Katharina Blum, written by Heinrich Böll, was published in 1974. For those of you who don’t know Böll, he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1972 and is widely considered one of the Germany’s first post-World War II writers.

During the Cold War, Germany was split into two: East Germany and West Germany. This book explores the political tension caused by the Red Army Faction – which was a West German militant organization that engaged in several crimes from the 70’s to the 90’s -, and the sensationalism of tabloid news.

In this book, Katharina Blum, a smart, independent and hard-working young woman, falls in love with a bank robber who is wanted by the police. A certain journalist from Die Zeitung starts to write defamatory articles about her, interviewing everyone from her social circle and family. All the information and statements are distorted to grab the readers’ attention. Suddenly, albeit innocent, she is considered a communist, a prostitute and is even accused of having played a role in her mother’s death.

Written in the form of a documentaryThe Last Honour of Katharina Blum showed how the press can easily and blithely turn an innocent woman into a guilty one. Due to this plainspoken and pragmatic style, the reader becomes more aware of the bias that dominates the press articles.

The Last Honour of Katharina Blumwas my first Heinrich Böll and I would recommend it to people who enjoy reading classics and books which deal with the human’s mind and behaviour. I thought this book was very well-written and, in spite of the topic, I was able tolaugh a few times. Lastly, this text explores gender issues. Needless to mention the false narrative created by the press, which spreaded a vulgar portrait of Katharina; but also the police who, throughout the debriefing, was constantly modifying the protagonist’s words, serving and perpetuating a sexist perspective.

“… she said she would not sign any deposition containing the word “amorous” instead of “advances”. For her the difference was of crucial significance, and one of the reasons she had separated from her husband was that he had never been amorous but had consistently made advances.”

Book Details:

English Edition:
Publisher: Vintage
Published on: July 2009
Format: Paperback
Pages: 114
Price: —

Edição em português:
Título: A Honra Perdida de Katharina Blum
Editora: Publicações Europa-América
Data de Publicação: —
Formato: Capa mole
Páginas: 128
Preço: 6,55€

4 stars

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