This collection of Borchert’s most important prose, translated by A. D. Porter with an Introduction by Stephen Spender, includes the complete text of the title play, as well as 39 stories and assorted pieces that comprise much of the author’s output during the two short, fever-ridden years in which he wrote, complemented by Kay Boyle’s appreciative Foreword.
Wolfgang Borchert died in 1947––the twenty-six-year-old victim of a malaria-like fever contracted during World War II. This was just one day after the premier of his play, The Man Outside, which caused an immediate furor throughout his native Germany with its youthful, indeed revolutionary, vision against war and the dehumanizing effects of the police state. In a very real sense, Borchert was both the moral and physical victim of the Third Reich and the Nazi war machine. As a Wehrmacht conscript, he twice served on the Russian front, where he was wounded, and twice was imprisoned for his outspokenness. His voice speaks plainly and powerfully from out of the war’s carnage all the more poignantly for its being cut short at so young an age.
About the Author
Wolfgang Borchert (1921-1947), a German author and playwright, served in the Wehrmacht during World War II. While there, a cut on his hand became infected and he contracted hepatitis, a condition that continued to worsen. In 1946, after the war ended, doctors gave him a year to live. With little time left, he wrote prose and poetry. He wrote The Man Outside in January 1947, shortly before passing away.
Kay Boyle (1902–1992) was a writer and political activist. She was twice awarded Guggenheim fellowships, won the O. Henry Award for best short story of the year in 1935 and again in 1941, held a number of honorary degrees, and occupied the Henry James chair of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 1981, she was awarded a Senior Fellowship for Literature from the National Endowment for the Arts.
['The Bread' is] a document, an eyewitness testimony to starvation but also a masterful story, cool and spare, not one word too few or too many. — Heinrich Böll
Caught between departure and arrival, in the middle of Borchert's world, stands the wanderer, the seeker...who is pursued by his own memories and by the question of guilt. — Alfred Andersch