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This is an excellent novel. The feeling that post-War Germany had about the Holocaust is captured beautifully, and the end of the story is real, as opposed to a "happily ever after" fantasy. If one really needs that fantasy, we can capture the fact tha Hannah did learn how to read as the happily ever after.
This book is emotionally draining but at the same time parrallels the numbness of the Jewish people during their persecution as well as the cold and silent world of someone in a concentartion camp as well as someone who is illiterate. Splendid book
This would make a good audio book, because it's written as if the author is verbally telling you a memory he had, leaving lots of detail out and focusing on the plot revelations (again, leaving out descriptions). The story was good but underdeveloped and somewhat rushed. The main characters could have used a lot more development. For such a short piece of work the author received an overly abundant amount of critical praise, but Styron's work, Sophie's Choice, blows The Reader away with its much more intricate third party telling of a woman's torment. The Reader seemed like the first draft of a short story to me, not a finished piece.
I am not sure the author of this review actually finished the novel. Michael does not live "happily ever after," and to suggest that this is how the novel ends is to clearly devalue the most significant moral themes that the novel presents.
Hmmm...bit of a tear jerker wasn't it?
The moral dilemmas presented in The Reader keep the novel developing long after you've read it. The kind of questions asked are those which have a thousand answers and none at all. Hanna's desparate question to the Judge, "What would you have done?", says it all, and you know that the question is not solely between Hanna and the Judge.
It's a complex web of philosophy, morality and guilt, that the narrator has become tangled in, or rather is attemting to work his way out. Whether his attempts are in vain is another of those questions.
Although the content is compelling, I feel, as with all translated books, that The Reader has lost something that made it complete.
Better get learning fluent German then.
Michael Berg has been diagnosed with hepatitis, it began in the fall and lasted until spring. Once he finally decided to go for a walk he ended up throwing up outside an apartment building (as shown on page 1). A woman who looked the age of 20 something helped him and brought him up to her apartment. After that day nothing was the same between them, they became lovers.
They begin to learn more about each other but Hanna is more resistant to let him know about her. He does however find out where she works and tries to talk to her there yet she ignores him. He then finds out that she is 36 years old and has children older than he is. They still continue to see each other secretly, but when he goes over to her place after school she pushes him to do his homework and to read to her.
All of the sudden out of nowhere she is gone he goes to her place after school and she is not there, so he waits. He ended up leaving that day thinking he would never see her again.
After he had grown and left Blumenstrasse where they were originally from, he saw her. This time she was on trial and at first she did not recognize him. Although he knew why she was on trial he could not understand why she was letting herself go under that easily. His only thoughts were that she had done something far worse.
It turns out that Hanna did not know how to read or write. That shows why she had had Michael read to her. She now works in a prison she walks around keeping the prisoners in check.
Michael ended up meeting another woman named Gertrud, he did not tell her about Hanna. He continued to live his life he ended up living in New York pretty much happily ever after.
I rated this a 4 because of it's vivid description of all of the buildings, towns and people. Bernhard Schlink is a great author.
October 25, 2001
Hi Mr. Diaz!
As far as books go, Bernhard Schlink's The Reader, is a must. It is a fascinating book that depends completely on emotions--both the protagonist's and the reader's. By allowing the reader to accompany the young Michael Berg through his emotional and physical maturation, Schlink paves the way for a union between the reader of the book and the reader in the book. As a 15-year-old boy, Michael's first sexual experience is with the 36-year-old Hannah. Too young to cope with the overwhelming power of sexual gratification and emotional attachment, the protagonist is shaped and molded in ways even he couldn't understand. Despite this inverted power struggle, Hannah becomes an idolized illusion for Michael. During the trial, he comes across as a man whose buried guilt has turned him into a jaded reviewer of history, justice, laws written and unwritten. Michael Berg's detached yet riveted interest in Hannah's trial parallels and reflects his inner struggle with love, confusion, and guilt. Can one ever be rid of the instinct to dominate, violate, and control? Whether in war or in personal relationships, power struggles ignite . . . explode. . . implode. . . and leave their ineradicable mark on humanity.