Lifelong Dewey

Reading through every Dewey Decimal section.

Category: 830s

834: If the War Goes On by Hermann Hesse


834.912: Hesse, Hermann. If the War Goes On…: Reflections on War and Politics. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1973. 186 pp.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 800: Literature
  • 830: Literatures of Germanic languages
  • 834: German essays
  • 834.9: 1900 to present
  • 834.91: 1900 to 1990
  • 834.912: 1900 to 1945

The two World Wars of the 20th century were unfathomably polarizing. There were those who believed war was necessary to defeat either national or global enemies, and those who believed acts of aggression and war were counter to our enlightened place in history. Hermann Hesse, in If the War Goes On, is vehemently against war. In this collection of 27 essays, Hesse explores his own feelings about war and also the experiences of living through both great calamities.

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836: Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke


836.912: Rilke, Rainer Maria. Letters to a Young Poet. Translated by M.D. Herter Morton. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1962. 123 pp. ISBN 0-393-00158-X.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 800: Literature
  • 830: Literatures of Germanic languages
  • 836: German letters
  • 836.9: 1900 to present
  • 836.91: 1900-1990
  • 836.912: 1900-1945

In 1902, 19-year-old cadet Franz Kappus wrote to Rainer Maria Rilke for his thoughts on some poems he had written. Rilke was known for a few acclaimed books of poetry and was beginning to really hone his craft. Kappus wanted genuine criticism and was trying to decide between a career in the army or a life as a writer. The ten letters he saved and subsequently published as Letters to a Young Poet are some of the most genuine and honest assessments of the field of poetry and the duty of the poet.

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833: The Reader by Bernhard Schlink


833.914: Schlink, Bernhard. The Reader. Translated by Carol Brown Janeway. London: Orion House, 1998. 218 pp. ISBN 0-75380-470-0.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 800: Literature
  • 830: Literatures of Germanic languages
  • 833: German fiction
  • 833.9: Authors born from 1900 to present
  • 833.91: Authors born from 1900 to 1990
  • 833.914: Authors born from 1945 to 1990

While suffering from hepatitis at the age of fifteen, Michael Berg gets ill in the streets of Bern. Hanna, a woman twice his age, finds him and helps him compose himself in order to get home safely. From there starts a wild, tortuous, and sad love affair that haunts both Michael and the reader. Hanna and Michael spend countless hours together, and she encourages him to read to her as much as possible. One day, though, she disappears without a trace. When he finds her years later, she is standing trial as a former guard at a Nazi concentration camp, and the repercussions of this profession drive the second half of the book. Bernhard Schlink’s The Reader is a look the nuances of societal shame versus legal guilt and the affect that has on post-WWII German youth.

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838: Peeling the Onion by Gunter Grass

838.91409: Grass, Günter. Peeling the Onion. Translated by Michael Henry Heim. New York: Harcourt, 2007. 425 pp. ISBN 978-0-15-101477-4.

Dewey construction:

  • 800: Literature
  • 830: German literature
  • 838: German miscellaneous writing (essays, fragments, etc.)
  • 838.914: German miscellaneous writing after 1945
  • +09: Historical treatment

Günter Grass’s Peeling the Onion is all at once haunting, sad, and illuminating. Born in Gdansk in 1927, he entered his majority right in the middle of World War II. He was a stupid, petulant, confused boy who joined the Hitler Youth and became a soldier for the Waffen SS. Clearly he avoided becoming a physical casualty, but he talks about his experiences before, during, and after the war. Afterwards we see him working as a miner, a black market salesman, and an artist and get a memoir that leads up to the writing of The Tin Drum.

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