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Maven Books

Reviews about historical, literary, classic, and other fiction.  Miscellaneous book things.

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Simplicissimus by Hans Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen

Simplicissimus - Johann Grimmelshausen

Where to begin?...

 

In this book, we follow Simplicissimus, a rather simple man, as he travels throughout various parts of Europe (and other parts of the world), though not always by his own choice.  Ongoing wars in Germany affect him in both good and bad ways throughout the book, as he alternates between fighting and avoiding fighting in various battles (and armies!). 

 

The book isn't entirely about war though, and you get a glimpse at what life in 1600s Europe was like for all sorts of people there.  There's also a fair dose of religion in the book, as SImplicissimus struggles with others' sins as well as his own.  Occasionally there are historical and biblical references, as well as a tiny sprinkling of fantasy mixed in.

 

Simplcissimus reminded me of another simple character from a later Czech novel: The Good Soldier Svejk (which I really should read the rest of!).  The only difference is that Simplicissimus seems to overcome his simpleness, though not necessarily for good reasons or with good consequences.

 

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book, and I would definitely recommend it.  The only negatives for me -- besides the poorly edited edition I read -- were the heavy religious content, the frequent rambling lists of things, and the strange second half of the last book and ending (that excerpt is a bit of a downer!).