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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Der Mond und das Mädchen

Martin Mosebach

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To purchase Der Mond und das Mädchen

Title: Der Mond und das Mädchen
Author: Martin Mosebach
Genre: Novel
Written: 2007
Length: 191 pages
Original in: German
Availability: Der Mond und das Mädchen - Deutschland
  • Der Mond und das Mädchen has not yet been translated into English

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Our Assessment:

B+ : appealing, if somewhat puzzling

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
FAZ . 5/8/2007 Marius Meller
Neue Zürcher Zeitung . 7/8/2007 Paul Jandl
Die Welt . 3/8/2007 Uwe Wittstock

  From the Reviews:
  • "Martin Mosebachs Sprache ist meistens Retro und häufig Kitsch; sie will an Thomas Mann und Heimito von Doderer erinnern, die in ihrer Zeit aber authentische Avantgardisten der Betulichkeit waren. Heute, im Falle Mosebachs, muss man wohl von einer Art postmoderner Wortsammeltechnik reden (…) Der Mond und das Mädchen entwickelt ein altväterliches Männerbild und ein weichliches, kitschiges Frauenideal. Den "lieblichen Leib" der deutschen Sprache kleidet Mosebach gerne in pinkfarbenen Tüll. Das will der Autor als Poesie verstanden wissen. Das Reaktionäre als Programm bleibt bei Mosebach ein uninspirierter Griff in das Magazin der Literaturgeschichte." - Marius Meller, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

  • "(Z)auberhaft zarter und zugleich satirisch böser Roman (…) Martin Mosebach ist einer der großen Erotiker unter den deutschen Erzählern der Gegenwart. Nicht, dass er sexuelle Vorgänge besonders explizit beschriebe, im Gegenteil, er ist in dieser Hinsicht auf eine liebenswert altmodische Weise diskret. Vielmehr versteht er es zum Beispiel in diesem Roman, die sommerlich aufgeheizte Stadt Frankfurt in eine sinnlich schwüle, lastende, der ersehnten Entspannung entgegenfiebernde Atmosphäre zu tauchen." - Uwe Wittstock, Die Welt

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Der Mond und das Mädchen is an odd, gentle newlywed fable. Aside from a brief last chapter that looks years ahead, the novel describes Hans and Ina's hot summer in Frankfurt. They got married right before Hans was to start his first job after completing his studies, but instead of going on a honeymoon Ina accompanies her domineering mother on a trip south while Hans goes ahead to Frankfurt to find them an apartment and get settled in. It's a sensible arrangement, but obviously not the most romantic or devoted beginning to a marriage.
       Finding an apartment also turns out to be more of a challenge than Hans had expected. He finally settles -- almost without knowing why (and immediately having some regrets) -- for an apartment in a building near a loud thoroughfare, close to the railway station, across the street from where the prostitutes do their business. In part he's won over by the (too-)efficient superintendent, Abdallah Souad, who likes to have his nose in everyone's business (right down to reading their mail) and has the running of the house firmly in hand (so much so that he signs the lease on the owner's behalf -- and won't fork over the money he takes in for rent to the owner, an arrangement the sad-sack owner has come to accept and doesn't want to upset ...).
       The apartment is still full of former occupants' belongings -- whatever gets left behind -- but efficient Souad has it cleaned up and painted in a jiffy, and Hans thinks there might be some potential here after all. He warns Ina not to expect too much, but his simple, loving new wife thinks everything will be fine. Her first experiences in the apartment -- a trapped pigeon has made a mess of the new paint-job (and much else) in the bedroom -- are, however, not auspicious.
       Hans and Ina are a very young couple. Hans is just beginning his career, and he's very open to all the changes coming into his life: job, wife, everything. He's able to take things as they come, and willing, for example, to engage with the neighbours -- especially the actress Britta, living downstairs with the considerably older Dr.Wittekind, as well as a motley gang of others that gather downstairs.
       Ina is a fairly simple innocent, embracing marriage as a next step in her life but a bit overwhelmed. Though devoted to her husband, she's not nearly as enthusiastic about their neighbours as he is; indeed, the only one she finds much sympathy for is the house owner (even slipping him a fifty when he complains that Souad won't give him the money he's due).
       Two large, distant objects also loom large over the entire narrative: the moon -- almost full at the start, the waning away -- and Frau von Klein, Ina's mother. (Frankfurt itself is largely deserted in these hot summer weeks, a town that doesn't really come to life except around that odd island Hans has picked out for them.) Ina's mother is set in her opinions and ways and has little patience for anything else. She's condescending towards Hans, and considers him plain (not that Ina sees anything wrong with that), and constantly makes her opinion known. Most of the time she's at some remove, travelling with Ina or in touch by telephone, and so she's not a mother-in-law next door -- but her presence does loom large enough, casting a long, dark shadow.
       Hans' openness towards the neighbours contrasts sharply with Ina's very withdrawn attitude, and some issues arise. It's not so much the marriage that is tested as simply they're relationship: they seem incapable of moving forward, even slightly, together. From sex on down, everything seems a bit off; it's hardly surprising that when they go to the one party Ina wants to drag Hans to (usually it's Hans trying to convince Ina) they find they missed it by a whole day.
       Lost (and found) wedding bands complicate matters, and things come to an unexpected head, with big changes afoot in the building as several characters take matters into their own hands. Ina, too, finally takes decisive action; the final chapter, set years later, gives only a general impression of how drastic the change that followed was: the entire book has something of a fairy-tale feel to it, in its characters simplicity and the strange world on display, and the ending too suggests a fairy-tale ending -- shaded dark enough to remind readers of the ambiguities inherent in all such ostensibly 'live happily ever after'-endings.
       Mosebach writes with undeniable (if somewhat old-fashioned) charm and has a nice, light humorous touch, but there's some question of what he's after here. The house seems almost too much like a TV soap-opera set, with a convenient overlapping of individual stories and quirky characters (heavy on the multi-cultural angle). He balances a lot of this well -- the mother-in-law is very well used and presented, and Souad is an amusing figure -- but ultimately perhaps not to quite enough of an end.
       A pleasant and very smooth read, if not an entirely filling one.

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Der Mond und das Mädchen: Reviews: Martin Mosebach: Other books of interest under review:
  • See Index of German literature

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About the Author:

       German author Martin Mosebach was born in 1951. He was awarded the Georg-Büchner-Preis in 2007.

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