Probably no postwar author's name in West Germany is as closely linked to the genre of the short story or Kurzgeschichte as Heinrich Böll's, and he himself has mentioned that short stories are his favorite genre. Still. the most marked difference between Böll's early and late works is the steep decrease in his production of short stories since the 1950s. There may be many reasons for this, among them Böll's stylistic development, which seems to veer towards more complex and longer forms, and perhaps also the desire to avoid a tendency in his stories of following well-worn patterns, the same Strickmuster, as it was called. This general development in the shape of Böll's oeuvre presents some problems if one compares two of his short stories to show patterns of continuity and change in his work. After all. the relative absence of short narrative forms would be the most typical developmental pattern, and one might simply want to contrast presence with absence. But since one can show difference best where there is also similarity and since the mere statement of presence versus absence begs for augmentation, the two stories to be compared will serve quite well for a number of reasons which will become clear in the course of this essay.


This article was read originally during a special session on Böll's work at the annual meeting of the Modern Language Association of America, held in New York in December 1983. The news of Heinrich Boll's death (July 16, 1985) came just as this special issue was going to press.



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