Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Castle in the Forest - post VI

There is something about Mailer that you have to either love or hate. He seems to relish the prospect of provoking distaste in the reader by either being sexually graphic or by describing smells and body parts you really would rather avoid.

But for all that, and it is a significant but, he does get you thinking. Is it possible that some people can be singled out be the dark side and as a result go in that direction? I was looking at my son tonight and wondering if it was possible and found the idea disturbing. Maybe that shows that Mailer has been successful in some way.

Back on the pages of the book the expedition to Russia ends with hundreds dying in a field as they wait to see the Tsar and celebrate his coronation. The devils make sure that not only the tragedy occurs but also that he is encouraged to go to the French embassy ball that night and dance while the corpses are counted.

The reason for the excursion to Russia is not clear and before it starts mailer advises you that there is the option to skip to page 261 and avoid it completely and stick with the Hitler story.

One of the reasons why you might not want to do that is to get an insight into how the demons fight the angels to try and influence events. But if that all seems like straying too far from the point then skipping might not be such a bad idea.

Back with Hitler’s family the eldest son returns and the highly sexed teenager decides that he will take advantage of the sexual yearning of the old bee keeper Der Alte and in a chapter that is really Mailer notching up the uncomfortable barometer the young man exploits the willingness of the older bee keeper.

Quite where it goes from here is not clear but it is almost odd to remark that Hitler seems almost normal against a backdrop of weird and evil characters.

More tomorrow…

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