Published in 1929, Berlin Alexanderplatz, a novel by Alfred Dblin, belongs to the class of works, which are normally referred to as the German 'modern novel'. Although the author had published a number of other books over the first decades of 20th century, it was Berlin Alexanderplatz that brought Dblin international acclaim…
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However, this character's fate is also very allegorical: Biberkopf embodies the desperate struggle for survival in the metropolis. On this level Berlin Alexanderplatz provides the reader with a brilliant account of early 20th century German society and, what is even more important, sends multiple didactic messages to people entering the epoch of modernity. The style of narration is one of the primary tools that help Dblin in achieving this task.
In the novel, Dblin introduces readers to Biberkopf, the story's narrator (for most part) and protagonist, who has served a four-year imprisonment for involuntarily killing his girlfriend. He returns to the city of Berlin with the positive intention of becoming an honest member of society. In the beginning Biberkopf succeeds in his intent managing to make his living as a peddler and newspapers seller. However, the further process of adaptation to life outside the prison turns complicated when alcoholism and unemployment turn Biberkopf into a social misfit. Broken dreams and illusions coupled with the feeling of being betrayed by society, he joins a gang of criminals and becomes a ponce and thief. Soon after Biberkopf loses an arm, and has his girlfriend killed by Reinhold, a jealous thug. The arrest and imprisonment in a psychiatric asylum that follow seem to finally finish the main character. Yet, Biberkopf somehow manages to take these blows of fate without going down: he gains new insights and knowledge to continue his difficult search of happiness. And finally, this man succeeds in his seemingly despairing effort: the world of crime, beastliness and betrayal falls apart and Franz Biberkopf is reborn to achieve his goal: become a useful member of community working an caretaker in a small factory.
Evidently, the story itself is interesting, although the plot development is rather straightforward. Moreover, the story of a man whom goes through various miseries to finally discover the taste of peaceful life resembles nearly some Bible stories (Komar, 1981). It is difficult to believe that Dblin relied exclusively on a widely known plot in his attempt to turn his readers' interest on. From this perspective the role of narrator in the novel seems instrumental in conveying and reinforcing the moral, ethical and other messages the author conveys to his readers.
The use of specific narrative techniques has always been an artistic technique authors employed to intensify the reader's emotions and/or set up certain background to emphasize meaning of various scenes throughout the novel. Dblin takes the narration to the new level: it is apparently more than mere embellishments in his story. The narration is intimately linked to the main character and functions as an important channel through which Dblin presents the major messages illustrated by his novel.
Dblin's narrative technique is highly specific. He seems to combine the most interesting findings of the past to arrive at a new method characterised by simultaneity, multiple perspectives and montage. The flow of narration is constantly and harshly interrupted by small incidents, song lyrics, subsidiary plots, different discourses and even the sounds of Berlin. The interruptions take the form of advertisements,
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(“Berlin Alexanderplatz by Alfred Döblin Book Report/Review”, n.d.)
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“Berlin Alexanderplatz by Alfred DöBlin Book Report/Review”, n.d. https://studentshare.org/people/1529344-berlin-alexanderplatz-by-alfred-d246blin.
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