“The Fisherman and the Businessman,” or “To Work or Not to Work,” by Heinrich Böll

by Owen James Burke

fisherman

Also told as “The Fisherman Who Knew How to Live.” Image: Move Beyond.

Last year, I published a short animation called “The Fisherman and the Businessman.” Attempting to trace its origins, I decided that, through Paulo Coelho’s spinning of the yarn, it must have been some old lore of unknown origin.

Thanks to Scuttlefish Editor Chris Dixon, I’ve just learned that the story was originally penned in 1963 by Nobel Prize laureate Heinrich Böll.

In German, the title reads, Anekdote zur Senkung der Arbeitsmoral, which can loosely be translated to something like “An Anecdote for the Lowering of Productivity,” and while the story has evolved into a sort of freeform oral tradition, this anglicized title and translation by the University of East Anglia’s Hansjörg Bittner might tell the original tale best (read below).

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