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Der Vorleser by Bernhard Schlink

Der Vorleser (original 1995; edition 1997)

by Bernhard Schlink (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
10,509331271 (3.69)368
Title:Der Vorleser
Authors:Bernhard Schlink (Author)
Info:Zürich: Diogenes (1997)
Collections:Read but unowned, Read All Time, Read in 1998
Tags:German Literature, Romane

Work details

The Reader by Bernhard Schlink (1995)

  1. 112
    The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (bookcrazyblog, lucyknows)
    bookcrazyblog: Though book thief is understood to be Teen-read, it is deep and enthralling. If you liked The Reader for anything beyond its sensuality in the first part, you will love Book Thief
    lucyknows: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak may linked with The Reader by Bernhard Schlink using the themes of reading, Nazi Germany and death. You could also pair it with the graphic novel Maus by Art Spiegelman. Atonement by Ian McEwan could work as well because of the young protagonists, war, and reading.… (more)
  2. 20
    In My Brother's Shadow: A Life and Death in the SS by Uwe Timm (Tinwara)
    Tinwara: Autobiographical account that also deals with the post war generation in Germany, trying to come to an understanding of how loved persons can make the wrong decisions.
  3. 10
    Without Blood by Alessandro Barrico (2810michael)
  4. 10
    Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum (bnbookgirl)
    bnbookgirl: One of my top ten fav's.
  5. 10
    Let Me Go by Helga Schneider (Booksloth)
  6. 00
    Julia by Otto de Kat (charl08)
    charl08: Both novels deal with the after effects of Nazism, felt many years after the war ends.
  7. 00
    The Travels of Daniel Ascher by Déborah Lévy-Bertherat (OneOfDem)
  8. 00
    A Child of Hitler by Alfons Heck (AlisonY)
    AlisonY: Written by a German child who became a high-ranking leader of the Hitler Youth, this autobiography picks up on the theme from 'The Reader' about what made some people join the Nazi party
  9. 11
    Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton (1Owlette)
  10. 00
    Before I Knew Him by Anna Ralph (1Owlette)
  11. 11
    Enduring Love by Ian McEwan (lucyknows)
    lucyknows: The Reader could be successfully paired with Enduring Love for English Studies. In addition either book could also be be paired with the film The Talented Mr Ripley under the theme of obsession
  12. 23
    Close Range by Annie Proulx (1Owlette)
    1Owlette: Although very different in many ways, [The Reader] and [Brokeback Mountain] are both similarly devastating and concentrated in their impact.
  13. 01
    Berlin by Pierre Frei (Johanna11)
    Johanna11: Although the books are very different in many respects, both are about Berlin after WWII and about Germans during WWII and after.
  14. 01
    Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel (Cecilturtle)

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» See also 368 mentions

English (287)  Spanish (10)  Dutch (8)  German (6)  French (3)  Finnish (3)  Catalan (2)  Italian (2)  Swedish (2)  Norwegian (1)  Danish (1)  Korean (1)  All (1)  Hebrew (1)  All (328)
Showing 1-5 of 287 (next | show all)
in Germany — older woman young boy relationship — Sex + Reading — she former Nazi camp guard — Prison — can't read took blame — He sends her Tapes — she's illiterate

When he falls ill on his way home from school, fifteen-year-old Michael Berg is rescued by Hanna, a woman twice his age. In time she becomes his lover—then she inexplicably disappears. When Michael next sees her, he is a young law student, and she is on trial for a hideous crime. As he watches her refuse to defend her innocence, Michael gradually realizes that Hanna may be guarding a secret she considers more shameful than murder.
  christinejoseph | Jun 19, 2017 |
Normally I read a book before I watch a film based upon it. In this case I had seen the film before reading the book. The book is divided into three parts and it was obvious that the first part of the film was virtually a scene by scene retelling of the book. As such it held little interest for me and gave me no additional insights into the characters. I suspect that even if I’d read the book first I would still have gained little insight into the characters from this first part of the book other than that Michael is a rather serious and arrogant young man and that Hanna is an enigma..

It is in the second and third parts of the narrative that the book really becomes interesting. Here we get to understand the internal conflicts that haunt Michael for the rest of his life and how that is a reflection of the experiences of many Germans who grew up in the post-war years. It seems to me to be a very honest appraisal of those feelings and conflicts which never falls into the trap of pushing away the collective responsibilities of the previous generation nor of pretending there are easy answers to be found to explain their actions. As to Hanna’s actions and her responsibilities we the readers are given every opportunity to understand why she did what she did. Whether we choose to sympathise or condemn her (or both) tells us something about our own beliefs and capabilities. The very act of deciding whether sympathy or condemnation is the most appropriate response is, it seems to me, to be the very crux of what this book is trying to articulate. Not only is there no easy answer but there is probably no way to resolve the question.

The Reader is a deceptively simple novel which raises many profound questions. Those questions are at the very heart of what it means to be a human being and if we believe we are able to resolve them in our own lifetimes then we are probably mistaken. ( )
  basilisksam | May 20, 2017 |
I didn't expect to like this book, let alone find it extremely compelling and at times, beautiful. Its simplicity is deceptive and I have a feeling I will be thinking about it for some time. I wish I had more time to write; I guess my quickest summary would have to be Lolita meets the Holocaust. ( )
  aurelas | Dec 23, 2016 |
The novel is easy to read, chapters are short and the plot is intriguing. I enjoyed reading it and the main character of Michael Berg is well portrayed. I also found the character of Hanna as lacking in characterisation somewhat, because she is kept in the background, rather than being on the foreground with Michael. This, as such, diminishes the impact of her big 'secret' when revealed to readers.

This is a good book to read nonetheless, but I don't dwell on it because of the peculiar way the author emphasised one character at the expense of another, when the other is actually the focal point of the plot. The first person narrative is all very well, but I found it difficult to have empathy with Michael Berg, when the character just seems to be selfish and centrered on his obsession, rather than acting on improving things for Hanna.

The light tone of the narrative and the major 'issue' with Hanna which is discovered are contrasted and too far apart to be logical, this is why I don't give more than 3.5 points in my rating. Maybe I'll enjoy it more in a few years' time, in which case this review will be revised then. ( )
  soniaandree | Aug 17, 2016 |
This is not a book I would have read on my own.It came highly recommended by a friend. It is a very fast read,which surprised me.It is a very haunting story.I am still thinking of this book long after I finsihed it. I would recommend it to everyone.
If you normally don't read abt nazi Germany, I would still try this book! I enjoyed the story and the style of writing. ( )
1 vote LauGal | Aug 16, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 287 (next | show all)
What starts out as a story of sexual awakening, something that Colette might have written, a ''Cherie and the Last of Cherie'' set in Germany after the war, is suddenly darkened by history and tragic secrets. In the end, one is both moved and disturbed, saddened and confused, and, above all, powerfully affected by a tale that seems to bear with it the weight of truth.
Schlink's daring fusion of 19th-century post-romantic, post-fairy-tale models with the awful history of the 20th century makes for a moving, suggestive and ultimately hopeful work, an original contribution to the impossible genre with the questionable name of Vergangenheitsbewaltigung, ''coming to terms with the past.''

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bernhard Schlinkprimary authorall editionscalculated
Janeway, Carol BrownTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kirchner, Ernst LudwigCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lien, ToroddTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Meijerink, GerdaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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When I was fifteen, I got hepatitis.
Being ill when you are a child or growing up is such an enchanted interlude!
When rescue came, it was almost an assault. The woman seized my arm and pulled me through the dark entryway into the courtyard.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
A parable of German guilt and atonement and a love story of stunning power.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375707972, Paperback)

Oprah Book Club® Selection, February 1999: Originally published in Switzerland, and gracefully translated into English by Carol Brown Janeway, The Reader is a brief tale about sex, love, reading, and shame in postwar Germany. Michael Berg is 15 when he begins a long, obsessive affair with Hanna, an enigmatic older woman. He never learns very much about her, and when she disappears one day, he expects never to see her again. But, to his horror, he does. Hanna is a defendant in a trial related to Germany's Nazi past, and it soon becomes clear that she is guilty of an unspeakable crime. As Michael follows the trial, he struggles with an overwhelming question: What should his generation do with its knowledge of the Holocaust? "We should not believe we can comprehend the incomprehensible, we may not compare the incomparable.... Should we only fall silent in revulsion, shame, and guilt? To what purpose?"

The Reader, which won the Boston Book Review's Fisk Fiction Prize, wrestles with many more demons in its few, remarkably lucid pages. What does it mean to love those people--parents, grandparents, even lovers--who committed the worst atrocities the world has ever known? And is any atonement possible through literature? Schlink's prose is clean and pared down, stripped of unnecessary imagery, dialogue, and excess in any form. What remains is an austerely beautiful narrative of the attempt to breach the gap between Germany's pre- and postwar generations, between the guilty and the innocent, and between words and silence. --R. Ellis

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:10 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Schoolboy Michael Berg, 15, meets an older woman and they have an affair, which she breaks off and disappears. Seven years later Berg, now a law student attending a trial, sees her in the dock, accused in a crime dating back to World War II and the death camp at Auschwitz.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 14 descriptions

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