The Tango Player

Christoph Hein, Author, Philip Boehm, Translator Farrar Straus Giroux $20 (219p) ISBN 978-0-374-27252-4
One of East Germany's leading writers, Hein ( The Distant Lover ) critiques the political corruption and patronage system that marked his country's brand of communism during the 1960s. The tersely described life of Dallow, a luckless history professor in Leipzig, receives its dramatic tension from historical events, particularly the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. In a gross miscarriage of justice, Dallow is jailed for performing in a politically subversive cabaret revue--the judge, aware that this professor only accompanied a bunch of rowdy students on the piano, nevertheless decides tomake an example of him. Disoriented and bitter after his 21 months in prison, without even the comfort of thinking himself a dissident, Dallow petitions to get his job back but is rejected. Any sympathy for the unfortunate Dallow diminishes as he lapses into a routine of heavy drinking and one-night stands, while a half-hearted attempt at an affair falters. Pressured to return to the university as an informer, he retreats to a distant resort town where he leads an amiable, rootless existence. But a political purge at his former institute paves the way for his reinstatement there as a professor. The reader is left with the impression that Dallow is--or has become--as morally bankrupt as the system that produced him. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1992
Release date: 01/01/1992
Paperback - 220 pages - 978-0-8101-1116-5
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