As Emotional Disarray Escalates Into Mental Disorder in Michael Berg's

Author: McDonald, Edward R.
Year:2015
Pages:972
ISBN:0-7734-4319-3
978-0-7734-4319-8
Price:499.95
A fresh look at how literature can make the incomprehensible horror of the Holocaust comprehensible through art. Der Vorleser continues to be a highly controversial work of contemporary fiction. Its primary aim was to engage the reader in the legacy of pain and psychological trauma inflicted by the wartime generation onto the hearts and minds of their post WWII children. Is it a love story or a fictional account of an historic event? McDonald's analysis elucidates new meaning to the conflicting themes within the book without trivializing the historical event it embodies.

Reviews

“…the novel (Der Vorleser) was not intended as a Holocaust book, but rather as a book about the plight of the members of his own postwar generation caused by a strained relationship to their parents…McDonald skillfully navigates the conflicting interpretations…convincingly argues, Hanna was at the wrong place at the wrong time. Nevertheless, her illiteracy and sense of order do not absolve her from failing to act morally in a difficult situation.”
-Franz A. Birgel, Ph.D.,
Professor of German and Film Studies,
Muhlenberg College


“Edward R. McDonald’s analysis of Bernhard Schlink’s 1995 bestseller, Der Vorleser (The Reader), helps elucidate the tenuous relationship between the many taciturn adults of Nazi Germany’s wartime generation, who had experienced the sordidness and horror of the Third Reich with a vital immediacy, and the members of the immediate postwar generation, in effect their children who were forced to grow up with the onerous burden of “collective guilt” bequeathed them by the pillars of their society: their parents, teachers and other beloved caretakers. In was a legacy that doomed these young innocents to continued living in the shadow of Hitler…The terrible revelation of the Holocaust, which the so-called perpetrator generation’s ‘wall of silence’ successfully delayed for decades in postwar Germany, forms the backdrop of McDonald’s examination of the intergenerational conflict.”
-Professor Carol Hager,
Bryn Mawr College


“Edward R. McDonald’s detailed, insightfully interpreted and exhaustively researched study will be an invaluable tool for students of contemporary German literature. McDonald’s critical study reveals new insights not only into Schlink’s novel Der Vorleser, but also into late twentieth century German literature in general and specifically the question of generational conflicts in postwar Germany.”
-Associate Professor Vera Stegmann,
Department of Modern Languages and Literature,
Lehigh University


Table of Contents

BOOK 1
Foreword by Dr. Franz A. Birgel
Acknowledgements
Concerning Translations
Introduction
CHAPTER 1:
THE “UNMASTERABLE” PAST
CHAPTER II:
AN INAUSPICIOUS BEGINNING: COLLECTIVELY GUILTY FROM THE HOUR OF BIRTH
CHAPTER III:
CUTTING AND PASTING POPULAR IMAGES INTO AN HISTORICAL MATRIX
CHAPTER IV:
SCHLINK'S DISTINCTLY GERMAN NARRATIVE AND THE LIMITS OF INTER-CULTURAL CONNECTIVITY
CHAPTER V:
DEBUNKING DRIVEL: DER VORLESER AS A PRESUMABLY SIMPLE READING
CHAPTER VI: POWER PLAYING FOR CONTROL: BLURRING THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN MENTOR AND PUPIL
CHAPTER VII:
A CHAOTIC SENSE OF GERMANY’S POSTWAR SYSTEM OF JUSTICE: BERG’S TOPSY-TURVY VERDICT ON WHO IS THE VICTIM IN HANNA’S TRIAL AS A NAZI VICTIMIZER
CHAPTER VIII:
LITERATURE AND HISTORY; COMPLEMENTARY FORCES OR QUESTIONABLE SUSPECTS IN THE QUEST FOR TRUTH
CHAPTER IX:
ENLIGHTENED PROGRESS OR PROGRESSIVE CONFUSION? QUESTION UPON QUESTION YIELDING NO DEFINITIVE ANSWERS
CHAPTER X:
CONDEMNATION EN MASSE: AS THE “SIXTY-EIGHTERS” CALL FOR WHOLESALE VILIFICATION OF THEIR PARENTS’ EXISTENCE WITHIN THE NAZI RACIAL STATE
CHAPTER XI:
THWARTING THE BILDUNGSZIEL (GOAL OF EDUCATION) : BERG’S BILDUNGSREISE (EDUCATIONAL JOURNEY) TO A CONCENTRATION CAMP AS AN EXERCISE IN FRUSTRATION AND FUTILITY
CHAPTER XII:
READING HANNA WRONG: AN ILLITERATE WOMAN’S ACUTE FEAR OF BEING PUBLICALLY SHAMED VIS-À-VIS HER LITERATE LOVER’S FAILURE TO PENETRATE INTO HER FAÇADE-SELF
CHAPTER XIII:
TENUOUS COMPARISONS AIMED AT CORRELATING THE OPINIONS OF A FICTIVE RACONTEUR WITH THE VOICE OF HIS CREATIVE AUTHOR
CHAPTER XIV:
SOARING INTO THE IMAGINARY: BERG’S WILD IMAGININGS AS FABRICATIONS OF A MIND IN DECAY
CHAPTER XV:
THE GEOLOGICAL METAPHOR OF THE MIND: “TECTONIC LAYERS” SIGNIFYING EXISTENTIAL CONTIGUITY OF BERG’S PAST TO HIS PRESENT
CHAPTER XVI:
AS LECTURES BY A DISEMBODIED VOICE TO AN INVISIBLE LISTENER ARE HEARD ECHOING A FAMILIAR STRAIN
CHAPTER XVII:
HEEDING THE SUMMONS OF THE DEAD: HANNA’S DREAMS OF SPECTERS OF THE SLAIN DEMANDING RETRIBUTION FOR HER LACK OF ACCOUNTABILITY
CHAPTER XVIII:
ASPIRING TO THE ABSOLUTE: MENTAL UNFATHOMABILITY OF KANTIAN NOUMENA IN THE AGE OF ENLIGHTENED REASON AND BERG’S DISORIENTATION IN POSTWAR GERMANY’S ERA OF UNCERTAINTY
BOOK 2
CHAPTER XIX:
HANNA SCHMITZ – GUARDIAN ANGEL OR RATHER A DIABOLIC MONSTER WITH A HUMAN FACE?
CHAPTER XX:
OEDIPUS REDIVIVUS: BERG’S NOSTALGIA FOR HIS LONG LOST HOME AND YEARNING FOR THE MOTHER’S RETURN
CHAPTER XXI:
THE ALIENATED NARRATOR’S MYOPIA: BERG'S IDEALIZATION OF "HANNA THE SAVIOR" AS OBFUSCATING THE NATURALISTIC PICTURE OF "HANNA AS SICKNESS"
CHAPTER XXII:
BERG'S PRIVATISED "DREAM HANNA": AS "DIVINE SIMPLICITY," HIS ARTLESS BEING, BECOMES HIS INSPIRATIONAL MUSE
CHAPTER XXIII:
AS THE WRITTEN WORD BRINGS ITS CURSE OF COGNITION: “HANNA THE UNTUTORED’S” ERSTWHILE ANTAGONIST EVOLVES INTO “HANNA THE READER’S” WORST FOE
CHAPTER XXIV: BERG’S HANNA-STORY,” A TALE ERRONEOUSLY CONCEIVED AS A THERAPEUTIC MEANS TO PUT HIS PAST INTO PERSPECTIVE, SO AS TO MASTER HIS MADNESS
NOTES
BIBLIOGRAPHY
INDEX