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Between Camus, Sartre, and Genet, Americans rarely escape the educational system without some exposure to French postwar fiction. But when it comes to Germans, it tends to be Sebald or bust. An excellent place to dip your toe in the literature of the Bundesrepublik is Heinrich Böll’s The Clown. Written in the early ’70s about the early ’50s, The Clown evokes that surreal and largely forgotten moment when the German intellect, battered by defeat and riven by Stalin, gave over its Western pole to a resurgent Catholicism, one of the few sources of ethical authority left after 1945. German Catholics, unlike Italian, Spanish, or French ones, enjoyed an initial presumption of innocence when it came to fascist crimes; collective memory in the West managed to Prussify Hitler, collective memory in the West managed to Prussify Hitler, falsely banishing the Nazi legacy to the Protestant North-East (which had conveniently fallen under Soviet control). The novel’s title refers to its narrator, an impoverished professional clown estranged from his coal mine-owning, NSDAP-cum-CDU-supporting parents. The Clown’s life is marked by regret, complaint, and sexual hopelessness. Ferociously intelligent and hauntingly voiced, Böll’s novel lays bare the pathologies of the Adenauer era while exalting the principled abjection and lonely charisma of its sanctimonious narrator. Böll’s jester chafes against the deranged conformism of his ideologically fragile society, repaying his country’s and his family’s big lies with his own weary madness.

This volume elegantly and affordably presents in Latin and English the text of the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, beginning with the creation of the world and the human race, continuing with the Great Flood, God’s covenant with Abraham, Israel’s flight from Egypt, and wanderings through the wilderness, the laws revealed to Moses, his mustering of the twelve tribes of Israel, and ending on the eve of Israel’s introduction into the Promised Land. This is the first installment of five projected volumes in a complete set of The Vulgate Bible.

Lisa LaPoint gives an exhilierating, blow-by-blow summary of … THE VULGATE!


… tune in next week for

THE APOCRYPHA!