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The Castle in the Forest: A Novel

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The Castle in the Forest: A Novel Cover

ISBN13: 9780394536491
ISBN10: 0394536495
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Review-A-Day

"How could a writer as intelligent and original as Norman Mailer have digested this library of books and returned with the superficial, twisted, and finally just plain stupid vision of Hitler in this novel?...After all the decades of inquiry into Hitler by writers and historians and philosophers and psychologists, this is what Mailer has come to propose: the devil made him do it!" Ruth Franklin, The New Republic (read the entire New Republic review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

No career in modern American letters is at once so brilliant, varied, and controversial as that of Norman Mailer. In a span of more than six decades, Mailer has searched into subjects ranging from World War II to Ancient Egypt, from the march on the Pentagon to Marilyn Monroe, from Henry Miller and Mohammad Ali to Jesus Christ. Now, in The Castle in the Forest, his first major work of fiction in more than a decade, Mailer offers what may be his consummate literary endeavor: He has set out to explore the evil of Adolf Hitler.

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.

Review:

"Mailer did Jesus in The Gospel According to the Son; now he plumbs the psyche of history's most demonic figure in this chilling fictional chronicle of Hitler's boyhood. Mailer tells the story through the eyes of Dieter, a devil tasked by Satan (usually called the Maestro) with fostering Hitler's nascent evil, but in this study of a dysfunctional 19th-century middle-class Austrian household, the real presiding spirit is Freud. Young Adolph (often called Adi) is the offspring of an incestuous marriage between a coarse, domineering civil servant and a lasciviously indulgent mom. The boy duly develops an obsession with feces, a fascination with power, a grandiose self-image and a sexually charged yen for mass slaughter (the sight of gassed or burning beehives thrills him). Dieter frets over Hitler's ego-formation while marveling at the future dictator's burning gaze, his ability to sway weak minds and the instinctive fhrerprinzip that emerges when he plays war with neighborhood boys — talents furthered by Central Europe's ambient romantic nationalism. Mailer's view of evil embraces religions and metaphysics, but it's rooted in the squalid soil of toilet-training travails and perverted sexual urges. The novel sometimes feels like a psychoanalytic version of The Screwtape Letters, but Mailer arrives at a somber, compelling portrait of a monstrous soul." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"The prospect of this novel is enticing: Norman Mailer on Adolf Hitler. Mailer, who has fearlessly, full-throatedly tackled Marilyn Monroe, Jesus Christ, Lee Harvey Oswald, Picasso, Muhammad Ali and Gary Gilmore (among others), seemed to be taking on his biggest confrontation yet. This hefty book from an iconic American man of letters, now in his 84th year, seemed to promise that the familiar Mailerian... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"In his first novel in more than a decade, Mailer continues to provoke....Mailer is never an easy read...many readers will find the Satan-and-army-of-devils conceit a gimmick....Other readers will be, as always, excited by Mailer's intelligence and creativity." Booklist

Review:

"A novel as odd as it is thematically ambitious reveals the source of Adolf Hitler's evil. (The devil made him do it.)....Alternately engaging, embarrassing and exasperating." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"The Castle in the Forest is a baffling, meandering, self-indulgent curio of a book — at moments brilliantly insightful and fascinating but more often prompting jaw-dropping incredulity." The Washington Post Book World

Review:

"[F]or all his excesses, Mailer paints an icy and convincing portrait of the dictator as a young sociopath, both prissy and sadistic, simultaneously sentimental and stupendously cruel. (Grade: B)" Entertainment Weekly

Review:

"The new book is lascivious, grandiose, cosmically critical (finding something Teutonic in technology and touting it as the Devil's own handiwork) and cantankerous, filled with grandstanding pronouncements on the nature of evil." Janet Maslin, The New York Times

Review:

"A nervy and sometimes pratfallen story, both absorbing and absurd....At its best, the book...is attention-sustaining and uncartoonish." Thomas Mallon, The Wall Street Journal

Review:

"As fascinating and deft as The Castle in the Forest is, it seems, at nearly 500 pages, only to have tilled the ground. Perhaps the harvest of this novelist's great talent and imagination will come in a necessary sequel." Ron Hansen, The Los Angeles Times

Review:

"[A]udacious, preposterous and often delicious....You can forgive most of his out-of-this-world setup when the stuff on the ground — plotting, characters and action — are this engagingly drawn....Give Mailer credit for taking a big swing and shining a light on a past that Hitler, himself, tried to hide." Chicago Sun-Times

Review:

"[W]ith a narrative that alternately plods and rambles, an absence of convincing psychological insight, and an oversupply of stale literary tricks, what Mailer's novel mostly demonstrates is the evil of banality." The Houston Chronicle

Review:

"When Mailer drops the theological fantasy and concentrates on Hitler family relations, he actually delivers a compelling, convincing drama....But the devil-made-him-do-it explanation of young Adolf's start on the road to genocide feels like a cop-out. It may be a metaphor, but it's an awfully tired one." Seattle Times

About the Author

Norman Mailer was born in 1923 in Long Branch, New Jersey, and grew up in Brooklyn, New York. In 1955, he was one of the co-founders of The Village Voice. He is the author of more than thirty books, including The Naked and the Dead; The Armies of the Night, for which he won a National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize; The Executioner's Song, for which he won his second Pulitzer Prize; Harlot's Ghost; Oswald's Tale; and The Gospel According to the Son. He passed away on November 10, 2007.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

sadiellen, March 3, 2007 (view all comments by sadiellen)
At 84, and 10 years after his last book, Norman Mailer has written a book of fiction from about 100 nonfictional sources on Hitlers younger years.
Set in the years between 1837 and 1903 this book has a lot to do with Hilter's father and his father's sex habits. It really didn't surprise me to learn Hilter was born of incest, his mother being both his fathers' neice and daughter! Adolf,or Adi, has a mother that is overly concerned with his bowels movements and he developes a fascination with fecal matter. He also developes a dislike of sex when seeing his mother and father through an open door one night as a toddler.
Mailer ends the book with Adolph still in his teens. Thank God, and no wonder Hitler turned out so twisted.
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(13 of 25 readers found this comment helpful)

Product Details

ISBN:
9780394536491
Subtitle:
A Novel
Author:
Mailer, Norman
Publisher:
Random House
Subject:
Historical - General
Subject:
Hitler, Adolf
Subject:
Hitler family
Subject:
General Fiction
Copyright:
Publication Date:
January 23, 2007
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
496
Dimensions:
9.46x6.56x1.59 in. 1.74 lbs.

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The Castle in the Forest: A Novel Used Hardcover
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$5.50 In Stock
Product details 496 pages Random House - English 9780394536491 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Mailer did Jesus in The Gospel According to the Son; now he plumbs the psyche of history's most demonic figure in this chilling fictional chronicle of Hitler's boyhood. Mailer tells the story through the eyes of Dieter, a devil tasked by Satan (usually called the Maestro) with fostering Hitler's nascent evil, but in this study of a dysfunctional 19th-century middle-class Austrian household, the real presiding spirit is Freud. Young Adolph (often called Adi) is the offspring of an incestuous marriage between a coarse, domineering civil servant and a lasciviously indulgent mom. The boy duly develops an obsession with feces, a fascination with power, a grandiose self-image and a sexually charged yen for mass slaughter (the sight of gassed or burning beehives thrills him). Dieter frets over Hitler's ego-formation while marveling at the future dictator's burning gaze, his ability to sway weak minds and the instinctive fhrerprinzip that emerges when he plays war with neighborhood boys — talents furthered by Central Europe's ambient romantic nationalism. Mailer's view of evil embraces religions and metaphysics, but it's rooted in the squalid soil of toilet-training travails and perverted sexual urges. The novel sometimes feels like a psychoanalytic version of The Screwtape Letters, but Mailer arrives at a somber, compelling portrait of a monstrous soul." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , "How could a writer as intelligent and original as Norman Mailer have digested this library of books and returned with the superficial, twisted, and finally just plain stupid vision of Hitler in this novel?...After all the decades of inquiry into Hitler by writers and historians and philosophers and psychologists, this is what Mailer has come to propose: the devil made him do it!" (read the entire New Republic review)
"Review" by , "In his first novel in more than a decade, Mailer continues to provoke....Mailer is never an easy read...many readers will find the Satan-and-army-of-devils conceit a gimmick....Other readers will be, as always, excited by Mailer's intelligence and creativity."
"Review" by , "A novel as odd as it is thematically ambitious reveals the source of Adolf Hitler's evil. (The devil made him do it.)....Alternately engaging, embarrassing and exasperating."
"Review" by , "The Castle in the Forest is a baffling, meandering, self-indulgent curio of a book — at moments brilliantly insightful and fascinating but more often prompting jaw-dropping incredulity."
"Review" by , "[F]or all his excesses, Mailer paints an icy and convincing portrait of the dictator as a young sociopath, both prissy and sadistic, simultaneously sentimental and stupendously cruel. (Grade: B)"
"Review" by , "The new book is lascivious, grandiose, cosmically critical (finding something Teutonic in technology and touting it as the Devil's own handiwork) and cantankerous, filled with grandstanding pronouncements on the nature of evil."
"Review" by , "A nervy and sometimes pratfallen story, both absorbing and absurd....At its best, the book...is attention-sustaining and uncartoonish."
"Review" by , "As fascinating and deft as The Castle in the Forest is, it seems, at nearly 500 pages, only to have tilled the ground. Perhaps the harvest of this novelist's great talent and imagination will come in a necessary sequel."
"Review" by , "[A]udacious, preposterous and often delicious....You can forgive most of his out-of-this-world setup when the stuff on the ground — plotting, characters and action — are this engagingly drawn....Give Mailer credit for taking a big swing and shining a light on a past that Hitler, himself, tried to hide."
"Review" by , "[W]ith a narrative that alternately plods and rambles, an absence of convincing psychological insight, and an oversupply of stale literary tricks, what Mailer's novel mostly demonstrates is the evil of banality."
"Review" by , "When Mailer drops the theological fantasy and concentrates on Hitler family relations, he actually delivers a compelling, convincing drama....But the devil-made-him-do-it explanation of young Adolf's start on the road to genocide feels like a cop-out. It may be a metaphor, but it's an awfully tired one."
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