Gert Hofmann


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CB Editions
21 September 2020
ISBN: 9781909585348
150 pages

From the publisher

Translated by Eric Mace-Tessler

‘O, it has happened little by little, as many things simply happen little by little, Mother said, and told us everything about Herr Veilchenfeld, as far as it was known to her.’

Germany, late 1930s. Walking into town on a hot summer evening, the elderly professor Herr Veilchenfeld encounters a group of local drunks. He is humiliated and assaulted; his hair is shorn. The police ‘don’t interfere in such minor matters’.

What happens to Veilchenfeld is recounted by the young son of the doctor who attends the professor. The boy observes, listens in to his parents’ conversations, and asks for ice creams. He cannot know the true import of the events he witnesses.

Veilchenfeld, first published in Germany 1986 and now translated into English for the first time, is a salutary masterpiece about the destructive effects of persecution not only for the victims, but for the community as a whole.

‘A young boy with clear, unsentimental eyes and a storybook mind tells of terrible events, the more terrible because because we know more than he does.’
     –Paul Griffiths, TLS Books of the Year