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The narrator, a mysterious SS man who is later revealed to be an exceptional presence, gives us young Adolf from birth, as well as Hitler's father and mother, his sisters and brothers, and the intimate details of his childhood and adolescence.
A tapestry of unforgettable characters, The Castle in the Forest delivers its playful twists and surprises with astonishing insight into the nature of the struggle between good and evil that exists in us all. At its core is a hypothesis that propels this novel and makes it a work of stunning originality. Now, on the eve of his eighty-fourth birthday, Norman Mailer may well be saying more than he ever has before.
Excerpted from The Castle in the Forest by Norman Mailer Copyright © 2007 by Norman Mailer. Excerpted by permission.
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Posted September 7, 2009
Posted August 14, 2012
CD/unabridged/Literature: Where do I start? Well, I'm giving it four stars and I hate that I liked it. I mean, it's about Hitler!
The narrator was Harris Yulin and he does a great job narrating with an American accent while doing the voices in a German one. (Harris Yulin played Head Watcher Quentin Travers on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Buffy: "....and with out the slayer, you're just watching Masterpiece Theatre".) This novel is 15 discs long and had to have a good narrator. I don't think I could have read it; listening was easier. The book is a dramatization of conversations.
This book is supposed to be about Hitler's childhood and his journey through being a sociopath. The book is mostly about his father Alois Hitler. The book is narrated by Dieter, an SS Officer. Dieter reveals himself as a devil. Not the big guy, just a henchman. He is sent, on and off through the years, to the Hitler home, before Adolf is born, to "guide" and watch the family. He tells the reader that he is writing down his memoirs of his time there, but is afraid there may be retribution. The book only goes up to Alois' death so Adolf is really young throughout the book. Adolf is evil as a child.
While there are many theories on who Adolf's grandfather was, Mailer makes it clear how he feels. (I did look on Wikipedia to see if his theory had any merit...and it does.) Mailer's theory is that Hitler was a nut because he was a product of incest. There are apparently three men that could have been his grandfather. Two of the men would be blood relatives and one a Jew. Alois, Hitler's father and a whoredog himself, marries his third wife, Adolf's mother, who is either is niece or his daughter. (Later in Adolf's life, he has a relationship with is niece).
This book goes in too many directions, but Mailer books usually do. I now know more about beekeeping than ever. The book also moves to Russia and spends two discs on the early Romanov marriage. The book goes into Adolf's older brother Alois Junior's sexual exploits which has no relevance to shaping Hitler. Dieter also tells us not to put too much into Adolf seeing a religious swastika on a door or watching bees getting gassed with sulfur in their hives. The novel goes into Adolf liking to play war games in the woods with the neighborhood kids, but does not go in the depth you would think. Mailer concentrated more on Adolf's bowel movements as a toddler, masturbation habits, becoming a confident liar, and feeling no guilt.
The funniest (as in odd) part of this book is when I went to Wikipedia to see what this book was all about. (I bought the audio for $3 bucks at a library sale). The book had gotten Literary Review's Bad Sex in Fiction Award for 2007. The problem was I could not figure out which scene they were talking about. All the scenes were crude. Alois and Adolf's mother wallow like animals and Alois Junior homosexual act are shallow. (Makes you wonder because Mailer was married six times.)
Do I recommend it? Well, if your a Mailer fan, yes. If you're not a Mailer fan, you're probably not going to like this book. But I have to say, it was entertaining and the audio was well read. BTW, this book was suppose to be a trilogy of Hitler's life, but Mailer died soon after this first part was published.
Posted October 29, 2009
Posted June 23, 2009
Posted June 14, 2009
I didn't even read the entire book. The writing became very satanic in nature and this is not what I had expected from it. I would not recommend it to anyone for any reason.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 11, 2009
Posted December 21, 2007
Posted December 21, 2007
I thought this book would be interesting based on the summary....but really this book droned on and on without very much mention of Adolf at all. I suffered through the first 314 pages then finally ditched it. I couldn't take it anymore. On to something better. Sorry I wasted my time and money.....Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 25, 2007
I couldn't wait to get this book!!! Now, I can't wait to get rid of it. If this is Norman Mailer's last book, it would suit me. It grovels, not even the charactures are interesting. Norman is starting to seem like a dirty old man writing, yikes, Norman, obviously knows nothing about women or their sexuality. Crude is one word for it. I'm angry I spent the money on it and wasted the time on anticipation of it. What a stinker.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 17, 2007
I am a fan of Norman Mailer¿s from a long time back. Starting in WWII with his Naked and the Dead. I had expected tumultuous events in this `biography¿ but did not find any. It is strange for me to read the parallel reviews of readers which point out such topics that reveal the real and forthcoming Hitler, items such as feces, seeing his overbearing father, his loving to lead boy- soldiers and be a leader to be strong and steely 'the dreams of most boys, right?', to see weakness in the parents. Who among us has not had such experiences and thoughts? There were also the good points that any normal father may use to offset his bad points, as when Alois took Adi to visit Die Alte. And a supportive mother who was always there for him. And we all walk around with some `other person¿ in our imagination, giving us ideas, unsuspected thoughts. We may never have had an SS officer, but there were enough extraneous evil thoughts in movies and the daily news and now TV. A very ordinary boy, brought up in an ordinary home, with some unseen, not discussed family history in the closets¿ which did not necessarily have genetic implications in Adi¿s gene pool. Very similar, probably, to my own life, with its embarrassing events, unfulfilled desires. Is that the message? Perhaps that is the Mailer¿s message. A boy brought up in Austria may be equivalent to a boy brought up then in the U.S., or now, in either countryWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 7, 2007
I thought this novel would be the best case study on Adolf Hitler from the fiction genre. Instead, I get a story about the everyday life of Alois Hitler. The demon who is assigned to the Hitler does not give a clear answer as to what events changed Adolf's life. What about this life as a young adult? Maybe I was expecting too much from Mailer, but after reading 'The Gospel According to the Son,' I just knew this was going to be a novel I would dream about. Instead, my only dream was to finish it.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 25, 2007
Posted February 17, 2007
I stayed up all night reading this book. I couldn't make myself put it down. The writing style is so fluid and easy to read. The content gives you so much to think about. A masterful portrait.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 12, 2007
Trying to analyze the phenomenon that was Hitler by examining his family and childhood is a fascinating idea. However, both he and his family were surprisingly ordinary. It is only through 20-20 hindsight and the conceit of taking the viewpoint of one of the Devli's minions that one can read into these dull lives the horrors that are to come. If the names were changed I doubt anyone would read past the middle of this mundane tale.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 7, 2007
Norman Mailer¿s new novel,'The Castle in the Forest' /em , published on his 84th birthday in January, is an eccentric imagining about the young Adolph Hitler, narrated by a top lieutenant of The Devil. The philandering and rationalized dysfunctions characterizing prevailing Hitler Family Values in the future Fuhrer's early life gives us a vivid, arresting depiction of the making of a Monster. Incident after incident, ranging from his father Alois's incestuous infidelities the youth's rapt fascination in a village blacksmith's theories on how a Will of Iron is galvanized, Mailer's use of the narrating demon gives a feeling of when the worm had turned. It's good, wonderfully seductive, a tale you can't turn away from. Among Mailer's life long themes have been various examinations of the gaining and use of power, for purposes good or ill. This theme, Mailer¿s central obsession in his fifty years of authoring books, is obvious in such varied novels as 'An American Dream', the staggering, problematic fiction where an alcoholic writer and television personality murdering his estranged wife from intuited instructions from the moon, or in 'Ancient Evenings', where reincarnation and sexual domination are the means to control and manage one¿s journey through history. The first person memoir of Jesus Christ in 'The Gospel According to the Son', where we witness the bizarre difficulty of being half man and half divine in the exercise of godly powers with a very mortal sense of weariness and exhaustion, while within the generational CIA novel 'Harlot¿s Ghost' Cold War intelligence gathering becomes akin to religious practice and operatives must ironically acquire the capacity for amoral application of trade craft to preserve the rumored good of their cause. Diverse though the settings and eras are, Mailer¿s fiction all have similar existential notion, whether his protagonists take responsibility for the actions given them by respective flights of intuition, voices from ashen moonscapes, or the whispers of ghosts and spirits. Mailer has defined his idea of existentialism as the practice of taking risks and accepting challenges without regard to trying to control the results. It is the pure state of happenstance that real and authentic choices are made, with the manipulation or denial of the requisites ending badly, in disease, disaster, war, lost hope. 'The Castle in the Forest'¿s imagined portrait of a world scourge emerging from a festering mess will give one something to ponder, perhaps in a pause of action when one is deciding whether to be a bastard by exacting a revenge for a slight, real or imagined, or whether will be mature enough to let the irritation fade and thus not make the world a more sour place. The beating of butterfly wings indeed our good works, enacted in good faith, has an effect on how history turns out, but the sad fact is that our worst deeds seem to swell faster and sweep aside all good intentions in their tsunami like rush. Our narrator, a lieutenant of Satan going by the name DT, or Dieter, here tells his tale in Elaborate detail, extended digressions, anecdotes about what it¿s like to work for such a horrific employer and characterizations of the small nuances of the war between heaven and hell. Young Hitler is nudged, whispered to, exposed to various stimulations, excitements and harsh experiences, made to witness great spectacles and various forms of cruelty and abuse. Worse, perhaps, DT gives the young Adolph¿s ears the speeches of vain and minor men and women speaking volumes about their best intentions, only to have their asides and instructions and philosophical squibs given the lie by crudity, violence. The petty vanities of Hitler¿s parents¿a preening brute of a father, a doting and emotionally confused mother¿and their sustained failures to be ballast for their children are portraits worthy of Faulkner of a family held together with promiscuous applications of bad faith. AdolphWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 29, 2007
I was rather sorry that I purchased this book. I found it boring and ridiculous and by page 200, I returned it to my bookshelves. Maybe I was expecting too much after The Naked and the Dead and The Armies of the Night. Or,I missed something that made this story come together at some point. Could be that the fault is mine and not Mr. Mailer's.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 18, 2011
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Posted June 30, 2010
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Posted October 28, 2008
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Posted July 2, 2009
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