Saturday, November 03, 2007

The Castle in the Forest - post I

The only books I have read by Norman mailer have all been about Mailer. While he was as interesting person as any to be centre stage it did start to feel as if you were stuck with a pub bore who thought he was actually the most interesting person on earth.

So when you pick this up expecting Mailer to come stumbling into the narrative with tales of how he is upsetting his wife and annoying peers with his political views it is quite a shock to get an introduction to Himmler and his obsession with incest.

Thoughts on the first 38 pages (it is the weekend after all)

The narrator quickly places the activity in Nazi Germany with Himmler, the head of the SS and someone susceptible to bizarre theories, trying to ascertain if Hitler is the result of an incestuous relationship. Before he can verify that though he needs to discount the suggestions that Hitler was actually of Jewish descent. In chapters entitled The Search for Hitler’s Grandfather and then Adolf’s father you start to get an idea this is going to be an examination into an individual’s evil based on their family and development.

That’s not a bad idea but where the history lover in me gets a bit concerned is with the idea of putting words into people’s mouths that might never have happened. Just because someone is universally seen as evil – Himmler and Hitler – it does not necessarily give free reign to go to town with artistic license. That’s my view, something that others might think the opposite on believing that in fact if you have the guts to do it then fair game.

More to come of this…

2 comments:

Brandon said...

This book was okay. It didn't stick with me and it never really gets going. And there's a completely pointless digression in Russia. Mailer has interesting theories, but that's really all I can remember about the book.

simon quicke said...

Thanks for the warning Brandon. I was half on guard. The Presidential Papers is one of the most unenjoyable books I have ever read so struggling with Mailer is something already experienced but from your wise words looks like it's time for round two...