Bell Heinrich 1917 - 1985 (68)

Humor is really one of the hardest things to define, very hard. And it's very ambiguous. You have it, or you don't. You can't attain it.


The Clown

What I do best are the absurdities of daily life: I observe, add up these observations, increase them to the nth degree and draw the square root from them, but with a different factor from the one I increased them by

Heinrich Bell was a German writer, one of the most important in post-war Germany. He was born on December 21, 1917 in Cologne, his father was a sculptor and furniture maker. He grew up with liberal ideas and was opposed to Nazism but in 1938 he was forced to interrupt his studies and join the army. He fought for six years on many fronts of World War II, he was wounded several times, he lost toes from frostbite and finally he was captured by the Americans. He was released in 1945 and returned to Cologne where he finished German Literature. He did various jobs but from 1951 he lived exclusively from writing and translations.

In 1949 he published his first collection of short stories (The train came on time) and in 1951 his first novel (And where were you, Adam?). His most important books is: The Clown, (1963), Group Portrait with Lady (1971), The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum(1974). Bell was against militarism and dogmatism, against the ecclesiastical oppression, often against government's decisions so he had to deal with harsh criticism from conservative circles and the Catholic Church. In 1972 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. He died on July 16, 1985.