Most problematic in reading Böll's Billiards is coming to terms with the novel's symbolism, its use of lambs and buffaloes to represent the oppressed and the oppressors of history. The prevailing criticism of these symbols is that they are simply "unconvincing" (W. J. Schwarz 37-38), are too "black and white," unable to deal with the complexity of the history of the periods presented (P.K. Kurz 26), inadequate to reveal the economic realities behind German militarism in the 20th century, suggest that the overpowering buffaloes are an evil beyond control (H. Haase 225), and according to H.J. Bernhard represent a rejection of concrete historical detail for an aesthetic, poetic formulation of history (207-91). These objections of being too simplistic and too allegorical are shared by others as well, such as K-H. Deschner (19), M. Reich-Ranicki (137), and G. Blocker (288).



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