The New Hampshire Hotel

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The Hotel New Hampshire is the fifth novel by the American writer John Irving ; it was published in 1981 under the title The Hotel New Hampshire in New York. The German first edition, translated by Hans Herrmann, was published by Diogenes Verlag in 1982 .


The story of the Berry family is told from the perspective of John, the "middle and least prejudiced" of the five children. The timeline of the novel stretches from roughly the beginning of the 1940s to roughly the late 1970s and over three generations; The narrative focus, however, is the childhood and adolescence of Frank, Franny, John, Lilly and the youngest, Egg.

At the beginning of the novel, John reports on childhood and getting to know his parents; a story that he heard over and over again in his childhood and spun it on. The flashback to the "marital union" of the parents is accordingly imaginative and legendary , in which all the important set pieces of the novel are already included: a hotel, a bear, a Jew named Freud as well as love and a premonition of death.

The Hotel Arbuthnot

Winslow Berry and Mary Bates meet at the Hotel Arbuthnot, where they both took summer jobs in the summer of 1939. There they get to know Freud, an Austrian Jew and his trained, albeit only moderately clever, bear State o 'Maine - their appearances in the hotel regularly end in chaos.

The friendship will determine the future of the couple - so Freud makes the two of them promise to marry immediately and bequeaths Win Berry the bear and his motorcycle, with which he will finance his Harvard studies. Freud returns to Europe in search of a “smart bear” (“Give me a smart bear and I'll give a fuck about the Nazis”).

After the marriage, Frank, Franny and John were born in quick succession, followed by a degree at Harvard and the Second World War, which the father survived unscathed - the youngest two, Lilly and Egg, were finally born in 1950 and the family lived with Win's father in Iowa Bob and the family dog ​​with the symbolic name Kummer in the house that Mary inherited from her parents. Win Berry works as a teacher at the local Dairy School.

The First Hotel New Hampshire (Dairy)

Win Berry has been fascinated by hotels at Arbuthnot since the summer, and so he persuades his family to turn the old girls' school in Dairy into a hotel, the “first hotel in New Hampshire”.

Turbulent episodes in the new hotel combine with the everyday school life of the older children at the Dairy School, which is not unencumbered: Frank, with his gradually emerging homosexuality, is brutally bullied, and Franny is the victim of gang rape by part of the football team and its leader Chipper Dove . The dog is put to sleep shortly before the hotel opens due to its unbearable flatulence. To comfort the traumatized Franny, Frank prepares him as part of a taxidermy school project and thus starts a series of “resurrections”; the temporary low point of the recurring grief is the death of grandfather Bob, the dormant pole of the family. He dies of a heartbeat when the stuffed dog unexpectedly tumbled out of a closet during his dumbbell training .

A few months later, on New Year's morning in 1957, Win Berry received a letter from Vienna from Freud, who had found a hotel there and - finally - a "clever" bear.

The second hotel New Hampshire (Vienna)

The father does not hesitate to follow Freud's request and make his hotel in Vienna “a class hotel”, which means that he will sell the hotel in Dairy and move the whole family to Austria. The family's enthusiasm for the plans is limited, only Frank shows enthusiasm for Viennese history, especially the fin de siècle .

When the Berrys fly to Austria in separate planes, the plane crashes in which the mother with Egg and the stuffed grief are sitting and the two are killed.

At the Freud Inn, which is soon to become the second hotel in New Hampshire , the orphaned family awaits a blind Freud and his bear, who turns out to be Susie, a young woman in bear costume, five prostitutes and a group of six radicals with unclear political goals. The children become friends with Susie, who was also raped; Franny and Susie become a couple. A young radical with the code name Miss Miscarriage reads them from the Great Gatsby and Moby Dick and finally sleeps with John (who is actually only in love with Franny), and the older Radical Pregnant takes a kind of mother's place for her.

Although the children are not happy in Vienna, the family stays there for a total of seven years. The hotel does not develop into a class hotel, but remains a cabinet of curiosities with bears, whores and the anarchists, among them an author of repulsive pornography . The children grow up to be young adults - and Lilly, who has remained short of stature, also undertakes “attempts to grow” by writing an autobiographical novel that Frank successfully brokered to a publisher.

The long time in Vienna ends suddenly and bloody: At the last moment, the Berrys prevent a radical terrorist attack on the Vienna Opera . Freud is killed and the father loses his sight.

The Stanhope (New York)

After the dramatic events in Vienna and financially secured by Lilly's literary success, the family returns to the USA with Susie. You temporarily reside in the Stanhope Hotel and try to find a "normal" life. Lilly is desperate and unsuccessful in writing a second book, and John and Franny live out their sexual obsession for one another once and for all, which, however, concludes the chapter once and for all.

There is a reunion in New York with Junior Jones, who had protected Franny after being raped by Chipper Dove and who is now successfully wooing her, but before that with Chipper Dove himself, on which the siblings together with Susie (in a bear costume ...) furiously surreal Take revenge.

The Last Hotel New Hampshire, Maine

In an epilogue the fates of the remaining family members are told:

The blind Win Berry still dreams of his perfect hotel, and since the family is financially independent thanks to Lilly's writing, the children fulfill his wish: They acquire the old, dilapidated Hotel Arbuthnot-by-the-sea and partially restore it . John moves in with his father, who is led to believe that he lives in a highly exclusive hotel that can afford to have hardly any guests.

For Lilly, her "attempts to grow" end in desperation: Above all, she does not live up to her own expectations and falls to her death with a jump from the 14th floor of Stanhope.

Franny and Junior Jones get married, and Susie and John also end in a happy relationship - on the last pages of the novel everyone is expecting a baby: Conceived and born by Junior and Franny, and raised by John and Susie, who only wear their bear outfits fetches it out of the closet in special exceptional cases.

“We keep dreaming: the best hotel, the perfect family, life in the summer. And our dreams slip away from us almost as vividly as we can conjure them up. In the Hotel New Hampshire we are screwed for life - but what is a little air in the pipe, even tons of shit in your hair when you have good memories? "


Winslow Berry

Father Winslow Win Berry is a dreamer who throughout his life dreams almost exclusively of running the “perfect hotel”. Instead of living in the present, he always makes plans for the future:

"» The future again ! Said Iowa Bob. “He lives in the future! First came the eternal traveling around - all so he could visit Harvard. The then worked too, but everything had to go fast as possible - he wanted it behind kill himself. For what? For this job he's only complained about since then. Why doesn't he enjoy his life "?"

He hardly appears in his father role, he does not see what moves his children, even when he is not physically blind. When the children in Vienna meet the Great Gatsby , Lilly painfully identifies his main character with him:

"" ... It's father, he's a Gatsby. > It is us escaped yesterday, but what does it - ' "quoted Lilly for us," Be attacks not her because "she screamed?. “There will always be something that slips away from us every time. It will always escape, ”said Lilly. "And father won't stop," she said. "He will keep chasing him and it will escape him."

When he and John finally own the last hotel in New Hampshire , he is finally happy and does not notice that in reality there is no hotel at all.

Mary Berry

In that summer of 1939, Mary Berry had to make a promise to Freud: she should always forgive her husband, even if it cost her dearly. And it stays that way: although she does not approve of her husband's hotel plans, she remains loyal and stands with him about the decision to go to Vienna. She is a person with whom a "secret is in good hands" and knows z. B. early on about the homosexuality of her son Frank.

As a character, the mother inevitably takes a back seat: she dies together with Egg when the plane with which she is traveling to Europe crashes - the children have to get along without her from now on.


From the beginning, John Berry as the first-person narrator is mainly connected to his sister Franny, which develops into an intense infatuation in the course of the novel, until John - on Franny's initiative - is "saved" by an intense, incestuous sex marathon. Even his first sexual intercourse is influenced by his sister: When he sleeps with the chambermaid Ronda Ray, she overhears the old school intercoms, so that he feels overheard by Franny for the rest of his life - not only during sex.

When he slept with the student Miss Miscarriage in Vienna , she told him about the radicals' terrorist plans. His ambitious muscle and conditioning training, which he has been doing since Franny was raped and he was unable to help her, finally enables him in the violent Vienna Showdown to crush one of them with sheer muscle power.

After his mother's death, he describes himself as a “realist in a family made up of dreamers, big and small”, who would never be able to grow up and take on responsibility. In the end, however, it is he who takes care of his blind father and his "hotel" and lovingly makes Susie finally take off her bear costume and like himself - and he is eagerly awaiting the birth of Franny's child, which he will share will raise with Susie.

"I knew that studying American literature in Austria would hardly qualify me for anything, but what else did I have to do but look after my father - and lift weights for my brother and sister every now and then? when the burden became too heavy for them. "


Franny is the driving force (“prime mover”) of the novel and - especially after the death of her mother - takes on a leading role in the family. She is particularly good-looking, verbally obscene and physically aggressive, also towards her brothers, and she goes through the most personally - and she can deal with it ("That's how I am: I can get over everything, including you"): Done with her brother, finished with her relationship with Susie and finished with Ernst, the perverted pornographer, and finally finished with Chipper Dove.

"From now on I'm mainly a mother, " said Franny. "I'll take care of you fuckers - you, you and you," said Franny, pointing to Frank and Lilly and me. “Because Mother can't do it anymore - and neither is Iowa Bob. The poop detectors are no longer there, so I'll track down the poop. I draw your attention to it - this is my role. Father doesn't know what's going on , 'said Franny, and we nodded - Frank, Lilly and me; even Susie the bear nodded. We knew she was right: Father was blind or he would soon be. "

A successful actress by the end of the novel and in a happy relationship with Junior Jones, she still has her part in ensuring that her brother's life gets on track.


Frank is the oldest of the siblings, but the real leadership role is held by his sister Franny. As a child he is awkward and has no chance in the typical family conflicts against Franny; he has nothing to counter the vulgarity of his sister but disgust and disgust. However, as soon as he is bullied by classmates, the three older siblings stick together again.

After Franny was raped, Frank does everything in his power to prepare the euthanized family dog ​​Kummer as a present for her. In addition to this tragically ending passion for taxidermy (the grandfather is scared to death by the dog) he likes to wear uniforms and sleep - in Vienna, after his mother's death - with a tailor's dummy in his room.

His enthusiastic preparation for Vienna gives the family a very one-sided picture of the city: They learn everything about the fin de siècle, know the name of Crown Prince Rudolfs Leibfiaker and the number of love acts between Arthur Schnitzler and his lover, but almost nothing what to expect in Vienna in 1957.

After the mother dies, the children develop different strategies to cope with it; with Frank it's total fatalism:

"You just have to be against any kind of prediction," advised Frank. “As soon as someone is for something, you have to be against it. As soon as someone is against something, you have to be for it. If you're on a plane that doesn't crash, that means it's the right plane, ”Frank said. "And it does n't mean anything else."

Only at the end of his time in Vienna - he studies economics - does he become stronger as a character: he ensures that Lilly's book is lucratively published and then manages the acquired assets, becomes an agent and family manager. In his epilogue, John attests to his brother, despite his "anti-system philosophy", a certain sense of humor and above all understanding:

“… We need a good, smart bear. Some people have minds so good that they can live all to themselves - their mind can be their good, crafty bear. That's how it is with Frank, I think: Frank's mind is a good, clever bear. "


Lilly is John's second sister; she stops growing at the age of seven and is just "just Lilly". Her mother's death and the atmosphere in Vienna depress her, and at the age of 11, with her own desperate tenacity, she decides to grow again.

"At least a little," she said, determinedly. Franny and I were worried because it was unlikely that Lilly would grow again, and when we imagined the effort Lilly would put into her "growth", Franny and I were scared. "

Lilly fills her seven years in Vienna with “attempts to grow” by writing an autobiographical novel that ends with the plane crash. The novel is a success and enables the family to have a materially carefree life, but Lilly's Weltschmerz remains present. When her second novel becomes less successful, she ends her life by jumping out the 14th floor window. Your farewell letter is short:

"I'm sorry, (was on the note) just not big enough."


Egg, the “brave, lost” little brother is called Egg because at the beginning of his existence he was “just an egg […] (Just an egg )” in his mother's belly and was called that as a matter of course even before he was born, and Even as a character, the youngest of the Berry family inevitably remains small: he dies as a child with his mother in the plane crash.

Egg is robust and somewhat hard of hearing (“What?”), But even for his age of six he is above average playful. He enjoys dressing up and loves stuffed grief even in the less “dear” poses. On the flight to Europe, he insists on transporting the dog in his seat, which leads to the rescue team discovering it as the first remnant of the accident floating on the sea.

Iowa Bob

Robert Berry, known as Coach Bob or Iowa Bob, Win's father and grandfather of the children is a football coach and a "muscle man". When his wife died in childbed with Win, he and his son came to Dairy from Iowa to work as a physical education teacher, enabling his son to attend private school. Shortly before his retirement, in the year that John was the third of the Berry children to attend Dairy School, the school “bought” three skilled defenders for the weak football team to enable him to have a successful season in his senior year.

Iowa Bob is the dormant pole of the family, he gives Frank professional comfort after a painful brawl with Franny, and he also takes care of John's fitness training professionally. He cultivates a "happy fatalism", the wisdom of which runs through the entire novel even after his death:

"Of course the chairs are bolted tight!" Said Bob, stretching his arm towards the sky as if he were giving one last booth sermon - and as if this were the game of his life. “At the Hotel New Hampshire,” said Iowa Bob, “nobody goes down, even if we get shit!” […] “You just have to hold on to your seats!” […] “Then you can nothing happens.""

Iowa Bob dies shortly before Christmas 1956 when he is scared to death by the grief hidden in his closet.


  • Junior Jones
  • Chipper Dove
  • Harold Swallow
  • Ronda Ray (maid)
  • Max Urick (caretaker)
  • Mrs. Urick (cook)
  • Fritz Worter (circus director)


  • Freud
  • Susie the bear


  • Screech Annie
  • The old cheap
  • The dark Inge
  • Jolanta
  • Babette


  • Ernst, the pornographer
  • Pregnant
  • Workers
  • Wrench
  • The old cheap one
  • Miss miscarriage


The novel was made into a film by Tony Richardson in 1984 under the title Hotel New Hampshire .

Text output

Quoted edition

  • John Irving: The Hotel New Hampshire (= Diogenes paperback. Volume 21194). From the American by Hans Hermann. Diogenes, Zurich 1984, ISBN 3-257-21194-5 .
  1. p. 48.
  2. p. 596.
  3. p. 87.
  4. p. 343.
  5. p. 51.
  6. p. 126 f.
  7. p. 202.
  8. p. 346.
  9. p. 535.
  10. p. 487.
  11. p. 596 f.
  12. p. 345.
  13. p. 564.
  14. p. 596.


Individual evidence

  1. ^ Johanna Larsson: Ambivalent Feminist Views in John Irving's. 'The World According to Garp' and 'The Hotel New Hampshire' ( Memento of March 4, 2016 in the Internet Archive ). (PDF; 142 kB) In: C Extended Essay. Luleå University of Technology, Department of Language and Culture, 2005, ISSN  1402-1773 , p. 22.