Monday, 16 March 2009

The Reader by Bernard Schlink

I just finished The Reader by Bernhard Schlink. What can I say? Devastating on so many different levels. You see the Holocaust from at least three different points of view in this book: the victim's, the perpetrator's (or one kind thereof, because there are arguably many different levels of participation) and the future generation's, or those who live through the aftermath of the aftermath. It makes it clearer than even some of Levi's and Wiesel's work, that the suffering caused by that era goes on and on and on. Without taking away that the greatest sufferers of the Holocaust were the Jewish People, it makes the phrase Crimes Against Humanity much more real. The Holocaust destroyed the souls of an entire country in one way or another. This is, perhaps, something we should never recover from. Not that I think it should all be turned into a festering wound that's never allowed to heal, but the scars need to be there to remind all of us just what the country suffered as a whole. It should also never be forgotten that those scars are self inflicted.

Re-reading this, I don't think I'm making myself clear, but I don't know how to express what I mean without running the risk of unintentional offence, so I'll just leave it there. Suffice it to say that, like any of the Holocaust literature, it shouldn't be read when you're feeling depressed. Just saying that makes me feel weak in comparison with those who actually lived though what we only read about, but that doesn't make it any less true.

1 comment:

Mari said...

This is a book I am planning on reading for the WWII Reading Challenge. It is also a movie that I really want to see so must read the book first.

It sounds like it will be hard read but one that needs to be read.