Synopses & Reviews
Simplicissimus, which has more than once been called the greatest of all German novels, has a terrible relevance in the America of today, writes Eric Bentley in his preface to this edition. "For the Thirty Years' War, which is its subject, was not just any war. It was a war which inflicted death not on individuals only but on cities, on populations, and it was a war in which life went on, between battles, in the seventeenth-century equivalent of deep shelters protected from the neighbors by machine guns: a war which, even more than other wars, brought out the worst in human nature. And around it, as today, in supreme irony: the highest of high ideals."
"There is great literature of war, and very much of it speaks poignantly today. The Simplicissimus may well be the most poignant book in all this literature because its war, alas, is our war, our kind of war. . . . At moments, the Simplicissimus may be too painful to read, and its relevance too much to bear thinking of, but it is a classic function of literature to make the unbearable bearable, the painful--and not perversely—pleasurable. There is a transcendence here, and in the case of the Simplicissimus, not just an aesthetic one. We shall not end the horrors of war by refusing to let the mind dwell on them."