What would it take for a woman to poison her husband? Young couple Elli and Link have been married for a year when Elli meets Gretchen, and the two soon become friends. When Elli confides in her friend about the abuse she suffers at her husband’s hands, they hatch a plan for Elli to escape. But when their efforts prove unsuccessful, the pair begin to discuss a more permanent solution to Elli’s problem: poison.
Based on a famous murder trial which took place in Berlin in 1923, this short novel by the master of German modernism, Alfred Döblin, explores questions of moral culpability and societal expectations which remain as relevant today as in the 1920s.
Alfred Döblin (1878–1957) was a German novelist, essayist and short-story writer. He was also a doctor, practising psychiatry in working-class Berlin, the setting of both his most famous novel, Berlin Alexanderplatz, and his true-crime tale Two Women and a Poisoning. In 1933, Döblin was forced to flee Germany because of his Jewish origins and lived in France and the USA for the duration of the war.
‘Döblin is never sentimental, or hysterical. He just gets us to listen to the drumbeat of violence throbbing in this city of the mind...One of the great anti-war novels of our time.’ Australian Book Review on Berlin Alexanderplatz
‘A raging cataract of a novel, one that threatens to engulf the reader in a tumult of sensation. It has long been considered the behemoth of German literary modernism, the counterpart to Ulysses.’ New Yorker on Berlin Alexanderplatz