The Train Was on Time (European Classics)
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Heinrich Böll’s taut and haunting first novel tells the story of twenty-four-year-old Private Andreas as he journeys on a troop train across the German countryside to the Eastern front. Trapped, he knows that Hitler has already lost the war ... yet he is suddenly galvanized by the thought that he is on the way to his death.
As the train hurtles on, he riffs through prayers and memories, talks with other soldiers about what they’ve been through, and gazes desperately out the window at his country racing away. With mounting suspense, Andreas is gripped by one thought over all: Is there a way to defy his fate?
university. Never again, never again will he see Nikopol! Back to Jassy. No, he won’t see Jassy again either. He won’t see Cernauti again, Lvov! Lvov he’ll see again, Lvov he’ll reach alive! I’m mad, he thought, I’m out of my mind, this means I’ll die between Lvov and Cernauti! What a crazy idea … he forced himself to switch off his thoughts and started smoking again and staring into the face of the night. I’m hysterical, I’m crazy, I’ve been smoking too much, talking, talking for nights on end,
they painted the garden fence: it was the first day of school holidays, and Uncle Hans was away, it had rained in the night, and now the sun was shining in that moist garden … it was so wonderful … so beautiful, and as I lay in bed I could distinctly smell the garden and the paint, for the painters had already started painting the fence green … and I was allowed to stay in bed a while … because school was out, Uncle Hans was away, and I was to get hot chocolate for breakfast, Aunt Marianne had
where I take you, it will be life. Do you believe me?” Andreas nodded in bewilderment, and she repeated, her face close to his as if in solemn entreaty: “No matter where I take you, it will be life. Trust me!” She clasped his head. “There are tiny little places in the Carpathians where no one will ever find us. A few houses, a little chapel, no partisans even. I used to go to one, I would try to say a few prayers and play on the priest’s old baby grand. D’you hear?” She sought his eyes, but his
all,” the elements pass from a minor into a major key, but the leitmotiv expresses itself as recognizably as ever. In all three, Andreas is maimed, and in the process of passing from one kind of consciousness into another. Moreover, Olina is always there, although it is not until we reach that the third that we can recognize her in the first, as the source of the cold wet liquid dripping on his head (never mind that when he awakes, her blood and tears disguise themselves as a drop of liquor from
Cernauti, and two very little ones: Kolomyya and Stanislav. “Let me keep the map,” he said huskily, “let me keep it,” without looking at the other man. He could not bear to part with the map, and he trembled at the thought that the man might say no. Many people are like that, an object suddenly becomes valuable to them because someone else would like to have it. An object that the very next moment they might throw away becomes precious and valuable and they wouldn’t dream of selling it, just