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Original Essays | September 15, 2014

Lois Leveen: IMG Forsooth Me Not: Shakespeare, Juliet, Her Nurse, and a Novel



There's this writer, William Shakespeare. Perhaps you've heard of him. He wrote this play, Romeo and Juliet. Maybe you've heard of it as well. It's... Continue »
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    Juliet's Nurse

    Lois Leveen 9781476757445

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Hitler's Niece

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Hitler's Niece Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Plot Summary
In Hitler's Niece, Ron Hansen offers a meticulously researched novel about one of history's often overlooked mysteries. On September 18, 1931, Adolf Hitler's 23-year-old niece, Geli Raubal, was killed in the bedroom she occupied in her uncle's Munich apartment. The room was locked from the inside and the death was officially ruled a suicide, but even at the time there were rumors of Hitler's complicity in the crime. In the wake of the immense number of unspeakable atrocities that Hitler went on to perpetrate against the world, Geli's death became just a footnote in the story of Hitler's life. Interestingly, Hitler later would say that Geli was the only woman he ever loved. As a novelist, Hansen uses this intriguing story to look inside the personal life of one of the world's great monsters, and to try to understand some of the horror he created.

Hitler first meets Geli, the daughter of his half-sister Angela, as an infant, but the girl doesn't really attract her famous uncle's attention until she has grown into a vivacious, bright, and fun-loving young woman. When Angela becomes housekeeper for her brother at his alpine retreat in Obersalzberg, Geli joins the household. Then when the girl moves to Munich to pursue medical studies, her uncle invites her to share his apartment. Seduced by the rising Fuhrer's world of power and fame, Geli becomes her uncle's frequent companion, spending time with him and his inner circle of Nazis — Goebbels, Goring, and Himmler. Though ostensibly dating Hitler's chauffeur, she ultimately begins a strange and private entanglement with "Uncle Alf," capitulating to his aberrant sexual proclivities. Geli tries to free herself from Hitler'spossessive obsession, but her attempt to gain independence from his psychological imprisonment leads to her murder.

Questions for Discussion
1. Hansen does not portray Geli Raubal as a particularly naive or gullible young woman. To what degree is she responsible for her own fate?

2. Geli is simultaneously repulsed and seduced by Hitler's hypnotic hold and becomes one of the first victims of his madness. To what extent can Geli be seen as symbolic of Germany's seduction?

3. Do you think Geli is ever really in love with her uncle or do other emotions motivate the choices she makes?

4. In the details of their distasteful sexual relationship, we see the fine line Geli walks between being dominated by Hitler and dominating him. How does this sexual rondo play out in what ultimately happens to her?

5. Many historians believe that Geli committed suicide, but Hansen has chosen to end her story with a murder. Discuss both the plausibility and symbolism of this ending.

6. What does Hansen gain by choosing to tell this real story in the form of fiction? And what, if anything, might the story lose because of this choice?

7. One of the central characters in "Hitler's Niece is Heinrich Hoffman, the Nazi-sanctioned photographer who took more than two and half million pictures that glorified Hitler. Hoffman used his art to disguise the truth about Hitler. How is Hansen using his art to tell the truth?

8. Many of Ron Hansen's novels have religious themes, drawn most particularly from his Roman Catholic faith. To what extent do issues of religion, spirituality or faith — and of good vs. evil — play a part in "Hitler's Niece.

9. In order to bring his fiction to life,Hansen has had to portray Hitler's human side and show us qualities — notably vulnerability and a certain measure of charm — that might seem at odds with our historical memory. Has the novelist succeeded in creating a credible character or has he merely humanized the demonic by offering us a glimpse into the frailties of Adolph Hitler?

10. What about Geli, about whom so little historical information has survived — does Hansen offer a convincing portrait?

11. Do you think historical fiction generally elucidates history or merely obscures the facts?

12. Did you come away from Hansen's book with any greater understanding of the enigma of Adolph Hitler — of what made him who he was?

This Reading Group Guide comes in packs of 20 and is available free of charge from your local bookstore, or by calling 1-800-242-7737. Ask for Reading Group Guide ISBN: 0-06-095881-2.

Synopsis:

In this bestselling novel, National Book Award-winning author Ron Hansen evokes the startling relationship between Adolph Hitler and his much younger niece, Geli Raubal, whose mysterious death at the age of 23 has never been fully explained.

Synopsis:

In this bestselling novel, National Book Award-winning author Ron Hansen evokes the startling relationship between Adolph Hitler and his much younger niece, Geli Raubal, whose mysterious death at the age of 23 has never been fully explained.

Synopsis:

Hitler's Niece tells the story of the intense and disturbing relationship between Adolf Hitler and the daughter of his only half-sister, Angela, a drama that evolves against the backdrop of Hitler's rise to prominence and power from particularly inauspicious beginnings. The story follows Geli from her birth in Linz, Austria, through the years in Berchtesgaden and Munich, to her tragic death in 1932 in Hitler's apartment in Munich. Through the eyes of a favorite niece who has been all but lost to history, we see the frightening rise in prestige and political power of a vain, vulgar, sinister man who thrived on cruelty and hate and would stop at nothing to keep the horror of his inner life hidden from the world.

About the Author

Ron Hansen is the bestselling author of the novel Atticus (a finalist for the National Book Award), Hitler's Niece, Mariette in Ecstasy, Desperadoes, and Isn't It Romantic?, as well as a collection of short stories, a collection of essays, and a book for children. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award. Ron Hansen lives in northern California, where he teaches at Santa Clara University.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780060932206
Author:
Hansen, Ron
Publisher:
Harper Perennial
Author:
by Ron Hansen
Location:
New York
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Historical
Subject:
Fiction
Subject:
History
Subject:
Historical - General
Subject:
Germany
Subject:
Biographical fiction
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Family
Subject:
Germany History 1918-1933.
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st Perennial ed.
Edition Description:
Trade PB
Series Volume:
105-846
Publication Date:
20000831
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
320
Dimensions:
7.97x5.26x.71 in. .52 lbs.

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Related Subjects


Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Mystery » A to Z

Hitler's Niece Used Trade Paper
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Product details 320 pages Harper Perennial - English 9780060932206 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , In this bestselling novel, National Book Award-winning author Ron Hansen evokes the startling relationship between Adolph Hitler and his much younger niece, Geli Raubal, whose mysterious death at the age of 23 has never been fully explained.
"Synopsis" by , In this bestselling novel, National Book Award-winning author Ron Hansen evokes the startling relationship between Adolph Hitler and his much younger niece, Geli Raubal, whose mysterious death at the age of 23 has never been fully explained.

"Synopsis" by , Hitler's Niece tells the story of the intense and disturbing relationship between Adolf Hitler and the daughter of his only half-sister, Angela, a drama that evolves against the backdrop of Hitler's rise to prominence and power from particularly inauspicious beginnings. The story follows Geli from her birth in Linz, Austria, through the years in Berchtesgaden and Munich, to her tragic death in 1932 in Hitler's apartment in Munich. Through the eyes of a favorite niece who has been all but lost to history, we see the frightening rise in prestige and political power of a vain, vulgar, sinister man who thrived on cruelty and hate and would stop at nothing to keep the horror of his inner life hidden from the world.
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