Der Vorleser

Der VorleserHailed For Its Coiled Eroticism And The Moral Claims It Makes Upon The Reader, This Mesmerizing Novel Is A Story Of Love And Secrets, Horror And Compassion, Unfolding Against The Haunted Landscape Of Postwar GermanyWhen He Falls Ill On His Way Home From School, Fifteen Year Old Michael Berg Is Rescued By Hanna, A Woman Twice His Age In Time She Becomes His Lover Then She Inexplicably Disappears When Michael Next Sees Her, He Is A Young Law Student, And She Is On Trial For A Hideous Crime As He Watches Her Refuse To Defend Her Innocence, Michael Gradually Realizes That Hanna May Be Guarding A Secret She Considers Shameful Than Murder The biggest problem I had with this book was the fact that it made me feelnothing I didn t feel connected to the characters or to any part of the plot This is quite a bummer, as it deals with a pretty heavy topic I feel like the author intended to write the story this way though, because the writing style in general has a certain type of coldness to it, and the true feelings of a character are never really explored Some people might not be bothered by this, but I personally simply prefer feeling close and connected to the characters of a story This doesn t make the entire book bad though It certainly was interesting, and Bernhard Schlink is skillful with how he uses words He describes mundane activities in a wonderful and fascinating way, and this makes me understand 100% why so many schools choose this novel as part of their required reading material.I also appreciated how he always got straight to the point, instead of writing unnecessary details to prolong the plot points we all already know are coming I also couldn t help but feel disgusted at the things taking place in the first part of the book, and I wish the problematic aspects were explored further, instead of just brushing upon the issue later on.Overall, this was a good book to read inbetween, but nothing life changing or special. What About the Children The Reader is a profound exposition of the second generation issues concerning moral guilt for the Holocaust But it is, I think, also relevant generally to the way in which human beings get ensnared incrementally into the evils of their society We are all inevitably involved in this larger problem And, like the SS guards at a Nazi death camp, we are unaware of the moral peril of our situation, and unwilling to remove ourselves from that situation even when its harmful effects are obvious.To be personal and concrete At the moment I have three acquaintances, each of whom has had a reasonably successful corporate career one as an investment manager in the City, the second as a senior executive of an international sporting organisation, and the third as a partner of a global accounting firm All three are, however, deeply dissatisfied with their lives Their marriages, they all feel, are on the edge of breakdown One has had a psychological breakdown and is now institutionalised Another has been made redundant and, despite a large payout, sees nothing but existential gloom for the rest of his days The last is disgusted with the complete indifference of both his colleagues and clients to the visible harm their firms are inflicting on the world All of them, it shouldn t be necessary to emphasise, volunteered for the careers and styles of living they now suffer from.A central question posed to The Reader s defendant in her trial for causing the death of Jewish prisoners trapped in a burning church is, Why didn t you unlock the door I posed essentially the same question to my three acquaintances The situation you now find yourself in did not occur overnight I gently suggested, Therefore as you perceived what was happening to your mind, to your family, to the quality of your life, to national culture, why didn t you stop In principle, stopping is even less difficult than unlocking a door The reasons given for not stopping were almost identical in all three cases I can t afford to The financial denotation of afford , however, wasn t the main point Guilt in not providing what their families needed was important Financial compensation had become just that compensation for the companionship of marriage and family that had been denied This was associated with a fear of the disappointment or disapproval by their friends and family Success is naturally a social matter defined for us by those we know well But upon pushing a bit harder, it was also clear that the common strand among them was that each believed he had somehow let himself down by not realising the full potential he believed he had in him This psychic driver of being the best you can struck loud bells in my own experience It also reminded me of the remarkable book by Karen Ho, a social researcher from Princeton Her ethnographic study of the life and culture of Wall Street, Liquidated, is as insightful as it is troublesome to anyone who asks themselves why indeed they have not simply unlocked the door to an alternative life As she discovered in her employment in an investment bank, the culture of professional firms like Goldman Sachs and McKinsey Company is grounded in a simple, direct message You are here or want to be here in the case of applicants because you are the best and want to be among the best Call it the Culture of Presumptive Excellence CPE for short.CPE is what stimulates people to work consistently impossible hours, in places distant from home, with no respite It also justifies the treatment of subordinates as corporate fodder, hiring and firing with panache, and insisting on single minded loyalty as one moves up the ranks Standards of excellence, after all, do not maintain themselves In my experience, CPE, not compensation, or excitement, or perks , is the motive force of not just Wall Street but of the entire global corporate world Escaping that world is no easier than escaping the totalitarian society of Nazi Germany The identity and the obligations of being the best is a very powerful lock indeed, without any obvious key.Of course CPE is not merely a corporate problem it is a societal problem It is a problem of the perceived order Schlink s war trial defendant, Hanna, did not unlock the doors of the church to let the prisoners out, not because she is evil or because she was following orders She was afraid, she says, of the disorder that would have ensued prisoners running amok without the proper supervision to get them back in marching line It is this same disorder that my three acquaintances seem to fear most The problem with being the best is that the criterion for being best has to be set by someone with authority The self identity of the best depends on this To reject this classification and the criteria that define it, one also must reject the authority that sanctioned it This authority is so diffuse throughout society, that to reject it means to reject the entire society The loss of both identity and context for establishing a new identity is the ultimate disorder, chaos.Jean Korelitz, for example, herself a former admissions officer for Princeton, shows how pervasive the CPE is in the steps before entering the corporate world in her novel, Admission Princeton s pitch to applicants is exactly the same as that of the Wall Street firms to its applicants As the best, you will want to stay among the best, so apply to Princeton The stage before this, entry into prep school, is also fictionalised from experience, in turn, by Louis Auchincloss, particularly in his novel, The Rector of Justin The message doesn t vary We are the best and will help you stay among the best The destruction of personalities, families, and culture by CPE is systematic And it is systematically defended even by those whom it excludes The effects of CPE extend beyond those who are certifiably, as it were, the best to those who aspire to become part of the elite Deficiencies are masked by the aspiration itself, which is merely the acceptance of the defining authority In The Reader, Hanna is able to hide her secret shame by joining the SS, an elite corps I can say with a moral certainty that all three of my acquaintances have what are, to them, equivalent to Hanna s secret deficiencies Fear of exposure is therefore a powerful motivation to keep the system going, to promote its stable orderliness even when it is so evidently destructive.Schlink s narrator, Michael Berg, knows that Hanna could not have committed the crimes she is accused of because of the secret she is unwilling to reveal She may be guilty but not as guilty as she appears, or of what she is charged with What duty does he have to unlock the door with which she has imprisoned herself To speak up, either to her or the court, would expose her to profound shame, greater shame even than that of being found guilty of war crimes perhaps And if he does decide to speak up, how should he do it to her To her lawyer To the judge I feel the same dilemmas in advising my acquaintances, knowing that any mis step could provoke yet consternation as well as a pointed lack of gratitude for my solicited but still impertinent advice.Berg s father, a philosopher, advises a simple ethical rule don t try to second guess the criterion of the good that an individual has established for himself This is useless advice It simply anoints conformity as the ethical norm Conformity is the opposite of resistance, a capacity for which is essential to avoid personal co optation, to either totalitarianism or corporatism Resistance which can take many forms All of them dangerous because they challenge order and the power behind order And all demand apparently un virtuous behaviour How can one advise such a course to anyone one cares about Ultimately Berg fails to act at all I find myself in Berg s position I feel any advice I can give is vapid To suggest resistance against a corporate culture that is so pervasive and so domineering is madness I can only ask the question Best is the superlative for what But I can t answer the question I am as trapped as anyone else Will the children of my acquaintances, or my own, look at the lives of their parents with the same dismay as the so called second generation of German children perceived their parents after 1945 Schlink s story ends in tragic sadness and unresolved guilt Perhaps no other ending is possible. booring is that a review this was just very flat to me i wasn t offended by the subject matter i could care less about the scandalous elements but the writing was so clinical and thin at one point, i blamed the translation, but c mon its not that hard to translate german to english i can t do it, of course, but it s supposed to be one of the easiest translations i have nothing helpful to say about this except i was bored bored bored the characters were unappealing, the twists were ho hum, and i thought it very dry.i don t know what oprah was thinkingcome to my blog Der Vorleser The reader, Bernhard SchlinkThe Reader is a novel by German law professor and judge Bernhard Schlink, published in Germany in 1995 The story is told in three parts by the main character, Michael Berg Each part takes place in a different time period in the past Part I begins in a West German city in 1958 After 15 year old Michael becomes ill on his way home, 36 year old tram conductor Hanna Schmitz notices him, cleans him up, and sees him safely home He spends the next three months absent from school battling hepatitis Part 2, Six years later, while attending law school, Michael is part of a group of students observing a war crimes trial A group of middle aged women who had served as SS guards at a satellite of Auschwitz in occupied Poland are being tried for allowing 300 Jewish women under their ostensible protection to die in a fire locked in a church that had been bombed during the evacuation of the camp The incident was chronicled in a book written by one of the few survivors, who emigrated to the United States after the war she is the main prosecution witness at the trial Part 3, Years have passed, Michael is divorced and has a daughter from his brief marriage He is trying to come to terms with his feelings for Hanna, and begins taping readings of books and sending them to her without any correspondence while she is in prison Hanna begins to teach herself to read, and then write in a childlike way, by borrowing the books from the prison library and following the tapes along in the text She writes to Michael, but he cannot bring himself to reply After 18 years, Hanna is about to be released, so he agrees after hesitation to find her a place to stay and employment, visiting her in prison On the day of her release in 1983, she commits suicide and Michael is heartbroken Michael learns from the warden that she had been reading books by many prominent Holocaust survivors, such as Elie Wiesel, Primo Levi, Tadeusz Borowski, and histories of the camps The warden, in her anger towards Michael for communicating with Hanna only by audio tapes, expresses Hanna s disappointment Hanna left him an assignment give all her money to the survivor of the church fire 2004 1381 239 9643211703 1388 204 9789646082755 20 1958

Bernhard Schlink is a German jurist and writer He became a judge at the Constitutional Court of the federal state of North Rhine Westphalia in 1988 and has been a professor of public law and the philosophy of law at Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany since January 2006.His career as a writer began with several detective novels with a main character named Selb a play on the German word for sel

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  • Hardcover
  • 216 pages
  • Der Vorleser
  • Bernhard Schlink
  • English
  • 17 February 2019
  • 9780375408267

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