By David B. Dollenmayer
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Extra resources for The Berlin Novels of Alfred Doblin: Wadzek's Battle with the Steam Turbine, Berlin Alexanderplatz, Men without Mercy and November, 1918
Her helpless, semiconscious figure is contrasted to the antiseptic atmosphere of the station and to Walter, the medical attendant on duty, "an older man in a white-and-red striped blouse with bared arms. He was wearing steel-frame spectacles; he had lost the hair from the middle of his skull, but on the sides it was bushy and grew malevolently toward the front, black and gray" (E 142). In a narrative so completely restricted to externals, it is no surprise that this figure is as brutal as his description would suggest.
It is significant that the heaviest blow to Wadzek is not defeat at the hands of his business rival Rommel. 10 The real stroke of fate is Wadzek's realization at the end of the second book that no one has persecuted and besieged him, that he has been heroically tilting at windmills. The crisis in the middle of the novel is precipitated precisely by the destruction of his heroic image of himself. 11 The narrator makes clear at the first introduction of Schneemann that he is important as a type: "There were many men like him in the city," and "Like all men of his type, he had a clever, suffering wife and several children" (W 12).
While men battle and wage war against each other, you produce children as a bloody tribute to war and heroism; think of the demands of destiny. 43 In this text too, one hears clear echoes of Nietzsche. But in Marinetti's novel Mafarka le Futiriste there are no heroic women bearing the warriors of the future. On the contrary, women are useful only for their "valeur animale," as in the mass rape of captured Negresses in the first chapter: [The soldiers] had laid out all the Negresses, wriggling and bruised, in the mud, and they were taking aim with their black, sooty rods, more twisted than roots.