A high-water mark of postwar German literature, a profoundly skeptical meditation on the fragility of human communities and the pitfalls and contradictions of making art.
A knocking on the barn door drags us out of our sleep. No, the knocking isn’t inside us, it’s outside, where the other people are. Six blind beggars—ragged, profane, irascible—find themselves waking to yet another grim day in the dark. Today, however, something is different. Today these men have an appointment with a painter: they have been hired as models, to pose for Pieter Bruegel’s grotesque masterpiece-in-the-making.
With tremendous verbal ingenuity and black humor, Gert Hofmann’s novel follows this tattered sextet’s shambling progress across a landscape in 16th century Flanders, peopled by half-heard voices and unseen dangers, towards their ultimate encounter with the great, capricious artist, and (perhaps) their own immortality.
One of the great novelists of the second half of the twentieth century.
—Gabriel Josipvici, TLS
The most singular writer to come out of Germany since Heinreich Böll.
—The Times [London]
One of Germany’s most respected postwar authors.
“Parable” offers sly, striking contemporary commentary on the precariousness of language and facts, and, in particular, on the need to negotiate unstable ground—literally, but also socially and politically—afresh each day.
—The New Yorker