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Der Vorleser by Bernhard Schlink
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Der Vorleser (original 1995; edition 1997)

by Bernhard Schlink

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
9,746311296 (3.7)343
Member:edwinbcn
Title:Der Vorleser
Authors:Bernhard Schlink (Author)
Info:Zürich: Diogenes (1997)
Collections:Read but unowned, Read All Time, Read in 1998
Rating:****
Tags:German Literature, Romane

Work details

The Reader by Bernhard Schlink (1995)

Recently added byTripleToe, marimekko, private library, Jernsaksa, gbasscpa, monkeyphenomenon, Cherylperry, PaulusK, Homerpickles
Legacy LibrariesJuice Leskinen
  1. 102
    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 Baricco (2810michael)
  4. 10
    Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton (1Owlette)
  5. 10
    Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum (bnbookgirl)
    bnbookgirl: One of my top ten fav's.
  6. 10
    Let Me Go by Helga Schneider (Booksloth)
  7. 00
    The Travels of Daniel Ascher by Déborah Lévy-Bertherat (OneOfDem)
  8. 00
    Julia by Otto de Kat (charl08)
    charl08: Both novels deal with the after effects of Nazism, felt many years after the war ends.
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. 22
    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.
  12. 00
    Before I Knew Him by Anna Ralph (1Owlette)
  13. 01
    Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel (Cecilturtle)
  14. 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.
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» See also 343 mentions

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Showing 1-5 of 268 (next | show all)
SPOILERS below:

This book is valuable in that it highlights the real life employment difficulties of an individual who cannot read and the stigma associated with not being able to read, as well as the role of personal responsibility in ethically wrong systems. It provides the possibility of understanding how someone might become involved with being a guard at a concentration camp, though clearly Hanna's story would not have been typical.

Hanna values books and feels a great deal of shame about her inability to read. She continually misuses whatever personal power she has to get what she wants, which is often the opportunity to experience books by having someone read to her. Her lack of understanding of the misuse of power is what makes it possible for her to be a concentration camp guard, which was a life choice that was filled with the opportunity to take advantage of others and to permit mass death. It also made it possible for her to manipulate a teenager sexually to benefit from his reading. She does care to some degree about Michael and about the suffering in the camp- but not enough to overcome usually putting her needs ahead of others. Whatever happened to her before the beginning of this book had the effect of not only preventing her from learning to read but also of separating her from a sense of ethical priorities. She is unable to understand that her shame at illiteracy has less priority than the death of other people.

Schlink also addresses the inter-generational difficulties between parents who survived in Germany during the period of Nazi control and their offspring who grew up immediately after and have questions about how such atrocities could have happened and what their parents did or didn't do during this time.

I didn't like this book, but it was believable and has something unique to offer readers. ( )
  karmiel | Aug 8, 2015 |
To anyone who read this book in German: is the prose supposed to be this awkward?

Eighty percent of the time, I find myself confused as to what the author is trying to say. Sometimes, the sentence structures are so odd that I have to backtrack a few times and clear my mind a bit.In my opinion, the dialogues between Michael and Hanna are pretty awkward too. But MOST OF THE TIME, it's the lack of clear punctuation. Needless to say, this annoyed me very, very much. Is the author at fault here or the translator?

Regarding the content, I've got to say that it's quite different from what I thought it would be like. Seeing as Hanna became a guard at a concentration camp, I thought there would have been more of the 'shock' element. Instead, the author deviates to the philosophical side of things, which isn't too bad. When the sentences are clear enough(ahem), I enjoy the thoughts and ideas posed by the narrator. Some of them are quite meaningful and relatable.

As a side note, my version of Hanna was completely overrun by the image of Kate Winslet because I happened to watch the trailer before reading this book. Ugh. Now, I shall go watch the movie. ( )
  novewong | Jul 8, 2015 |
The Reader arrived from some source, a given book that, after seeing it around for some years, I finally read. Although this was several years ago (my finish date is a guess), I'm putting it here in order to give it no stars at all and say explicitly what a bad book it is: a dead book conceived of an single bad idea and having a single point which is that a powerful Nazi manager of a death camp can't read -- not at all believable, and the book doesn't make the reader want to suspend one iota of disbelief. Of course I read a translation, so can't say what the writing is like in the original, but it was written by a German judge and is, as one would expect, an argument, though it's not clear what for, but suspect it's supposed to be a somewhat exculpating depiction of a poor illiterate Nazi -- there are long, leaden passages about historical matters that I have, mercifully, forgotten other that they existed and made me impatient.

I should have been warned by the cover stating that it was an international best-seller. It's added to my reading list here as a warning, occasioned by mention of what seems to be the equally bad film it became. Almost any activity would be a better use of time than reading this book or, apparently, seeing the film.
  V.V.Harding | Apr 21, 2015 |
I found this to be a fascinating and thought-provoking read, particularly having recently read Night.

The book centres on the passionate affair between a 15 year old boy and a woman 21 years his senior, and then later his lover's trial for Nazi war crimes. It's the first book I've read that opens up questions about the mindset and character of those who worked as German officers in the concentration camps, and given that the author is a German lawyer and judge I found this was handled in a very interesting and balanced way.

We never really get any satisfactory answer to these questions with regards to Hanna, the narrator's lover, but the story raises very interesting psychological questions as it unfolds. If you love someone and then find out they are guilty of a heinous crime, do you have questionable character for having loved such a person? Was the person you were lovers with the same person or different to the person who carried out the crimes? Is there a black and white reason as to how they came to have carried out the crimes - can mitigating circumstances ever be considered when a crime is so horrendous? Can you still love someone knowing what they've done?

In the general post-war context, the book also opened up thoughts about how the next generation of Germans handled the guilt of what their parents had done, passively or impassively.

I really enjoyed Schlink's style of prose - I felt he kept the story moving at the right pace and kept my attention throughout.

4.5 stars for me - an enjoyable and thought-provoking read. ( )
2 vote AlisonY | Mar 12, 2015 |
I got to chapter 7 past part 2 and stopped. I felt no connection to the book as it had many holes in the story. I simply couldn't finish. The main characters were rushed and the plot for me was disappointing. The beginning seemed to draw me in but then I had to force myself to get as far as I did. Disturbing turned into a bland, unsatisfying read. The main character Michael I couldn't care less for. Hanna went from being a 36yr old seducer of a teenager(Michael) to being on trial for Nazi war crimes.
This review can also be found on Ahopkinsbibliomaniac.blogspot.com ( )
  Ahopkinsbibliomaniac | Mar 12, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 268 (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 editionsconfirmed
Janeway, Carol BrownTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kirchner, Ernst LudwigCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lien, ToroddTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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When I was fifteen, I got hepatitis.
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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)

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