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Der Vorleser by Bernhard Schlink

Der Vorleser (original 1995; edition 1997)

by Bernhard Schlink

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
9,830311291 (3.7)346
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. 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 346 mentions

English (269)  Spanish (10)  Dutch (8)  German (5)  French (3)  Finnish (3)  Swedish (2)  Italian (2)  Catalan (2)  Norwegian (1)  Danish (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Hebrew (1)  Korean (1)  All languages (309)
Showing 1-5 of 269 (next | show all)
My husband and I saw the movie a number of years ago. It was powerful. It was well done. I almost always read a book before seeing the movie (if I see the movie version at all), and yet it's taken me this long to get around to THE READER and only at the insistence of one of my daughters. I'm so glad I finally did. I'm wary of translations in general, but I have a feeling this stays true to Schlink's intentions. There are many books about the atrocities committed by the Nazis. This book does not diminish those horrors, but it does point to the complexities found in every human being—the motivations, fears, confusion. The capacity to love and the limitations on that love. It's one of those rare books that keeps you thinking long after the last page is turned. ( )
  DonnaMarieMerritt | Oct 8, 2015 |
I almost gave up reading during the first part of this book, which focused on the relationship between a fifteen-year-old boy and an older woman. I found no sense of the eroticism described on the back cover, only a feeling of unsettled bordom. Although the young man in part pursued the relationship, it was clear that emotional manipulation was taking place and that this was not really erotic or romantic.

It was only when the book shifted in part two to the young man as a law student, seeing his past lover again as a defendant in trial for war crimes after the holocaust that the story became interesting. The moral aspects of not only this one young man torn between wanting to understand his former lover’s horrifying actions as a guard at an intermnent camp and wanting to condemn her for those same actions, but also an entire generation of German young men and woman shamefully trying to distance themselves from their parents past crimes, is fascinating and well handled. The writing itself is plain and resists trying to come to any of its own judgements.

Although I didn’t love the reading experience, I find myself mentally returning to it over and over again, mentally rolling over the circumstances. What was circumstance? What was crime? What deserves condemnation and what does not? Questing and reconsidering my own conclusions again and again, just as the narrator does. ( )
  andreablythe | Aug 28, 2015 |

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 |
Showing 1-5 of 269 (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.
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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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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