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The Third Reich by Roberto Bolaño

The Third Reich (2010)

by Roberto Bolaño

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English (8)  Spanish (3)  All languages (11)
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Non mi vengono parole. Che dovrei dire?
Non perche' è un capolavoro, anche se si legge molto bene. Non perche' è una 'sola', perche' i romanzi di Bolano non lo sono.
E' morboso, inquietante, non c'e' niente di piu' desolante di un paesaggio di mare a stagione finita, con il brutto tempo che avanza e le persone che rientrano a casa propria.
I rapporti assurdi che B. descrive rendono quasi malata la lettura e gli ambienti. Come sempre in B. sembra che qualcosa stia accadendo, sia pronto per accadere, ci copriamo metaforicamente gli occhi con le dita per non essere costretti a vedere quello che ci immaginiamo, quello che tutti gli indizi ci induco a ritenere che... Un romanzo che lentamente rotola a valle, e si ferma, in attesa. Implosivo. ( )
  bobparr | Dec 14, 2014 |
This is a book so strange, yet conventional, yet transcendent. Bolano has a strange motif of Germany and Germans running through all of his works. This book is the apex of this motif, a brilliant sort of death and rebirth in Del Mar. I am baffled by those who call this a throwaway, published only of the strength of Bolano's other masterpieces. This work stands alone and is arguably Bolano's most hopeful and optimistic vision. ( )
  byebyelibrary | Oct 11, 2013 |
29. The Third Reich by Roberto Bolaño (2011, 288 pages, read June 24 - July 2)
translated from Spanish by Natasha Wimmer

I stumbled across this in the spring 2011 issue of The Paris review. The novel was found posthumously among Bolaño’s papers (and only partially typed). The writing is dated to 1989, which makes it Bolaño’s first novel. (He had previously published poetry.)

This is my first look at Bolaño, who I’ve been interested in but also intimidated by. Based on his titles, what I know of the plots, and what I think I know about South American writers, I was expecting something difficult to read and understand. So I was surprised how gentle the writing is here. This is a complex and interesting novel, which touches on some dark and serious things, but it doesn’t read that way. The story opens with a Udo and his girlfriend on a beach vacation in Spain, from Germany. They are young. Udo narrates and brings up his history of vacations in Spain, and then his obsession with a game based on World World II, titled The Third Reich. He considers himself something like the master of the game in all of Germany.

It’s pretty clear early on that Udo is on some kind of mental edge and we expect him to collapse somewhere along the line. But...they’re lovers on the beach and Bolaño softens the atmosphere so the book slows down. It pulled me in. I was relaxed reading this, fully escaping my own real world and was able to just hangout in the book and enjoy watching Udo’s quirky collapse. Much to think about here. I don’t imagine this is Bolaño’s best or most powerful novel, but I’m very happy to have read it. ( )
3 vote dchaikin | Aug 12, 2013 |
This was my third Bolaño novel, (the first two being "2666" and "The Savage Detectives"). Familiarity with where he would eventually end up as a novelist makes reading "The Third Reich" an eerily fun experience. It also illuminates the central themes of his later works. "The Third Reich" is the name of a strategic board game that mirrors the battle chronology of World War II, and Bolaño has made the champion player a young German on vacation in Spain. It's worth noting that Bolaño had a special interest in the ineffable qualities of evil that seem to pass through time and space in a steady, yet unknowable, way. The real-world migration of Nazi war criminals to South America seems connected in an almost spiritual way to Bolaño's fictional portrays of German war veterans and Nazi mystique.

"The Third Reich" is a surprisingly good novel, even though it often feels like it was written a century ago. I know that doesn't make sense, but I kept thinking about Thomas Mann while I was reading this. Some plot points and characters don't appear to make sense, but they somehow fit. It's a gloomy, old-world novel that keeps reminding you that it is actually rather contemporary. ( )
2 vote Narboink | Dec 2, 2011 |
Me costó encontrarle el punto a esta novela. Hay un largo y lento trayecto entre el joven turista campeón y el hombre sereno del final. Para cubrir el camino hay que participar en un extraño juego donde nada es lo que parece, donde para avanzar hay que arriesgar y hacer algún que otro sacrificio. ( )
  pepesaura | Apr 26, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
"The Third Reich" is a fun and engaging read, perfectly suited for your own beach vacation, but the ending does little justice to all that precedes it.

Indeed, I kept responding to it like a person living in two times. Mainly I was reading the novel now, and finding it thoroughly, weirdly absorbing. Partly I was reading as if I were an unfortunate editor in around 1990, wondering how I was going to tell Bolaño that this wasn’t quite a finished book yet, that his plot led nowhere, that his characters kept trailing off into incoherence.
“The Third Reich” is a mesmerizing tale: sleek, linear, easily digested, beautifully translated. But it cannot pretend to rival Bolano’s mature work. Nor will any serious Bolano fan prefer its trim, conventional story line to his sprawling masterpieces. Yet the book shows Bolano as we’ve hardly seen him before: young, sniffing for new ground, applying old-fashioned suspense to a very modern chaos.
In The Third Reich, Bolaño kicks down the wall dividing realism and melodrama, mixing together elements of both and unifying it all with his warm-hearted and sophisticated irony.

» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Roberto Bolañoprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wimmer, NatashaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Soms spelen we met marskramers, andere keren met vakantiegangers, en twee maanden geleden lukte het ons zelfs een Duitse generaal tot twintig jaar gevangenisstraf te veroordelen. Hij kwam hierlangs toen hij een reisje met zijn vrouw maakte, en alleen door mijn slimheid is hij aan de galg ontsnapt. - 'Die Panne', Friedrich Dürrenmatt
Sometimes we played with travelling salesman, other times with vacationers, and two months ago we were even able to condemn a German general to twenty years of imprisonment. He happened by with his wife, and only my wiles saved him from the gallows.

-Friedrich Dürrenmatt, 'Traps'
Voor Carolina López
For Carolina López
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Door het raam hoor je het geruis van de zee, vermengd met het gelach van de laatste nachtbrakers, een geluid dat misschien betekent dat de obers de terrastafeltjes afruimen, af en toe een auto die langzaam over de Paseo Maritimo rijdt, en een gedept, ondefinieerbaar gezoem uit de andere hotelkamers.
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Book description
Shortly after becoming the German war-games champion, Udo Berger and his girlfriend, Ingeborg, holiday on the Costa Brava. There they meet another vacationing German couple, Charly and Hanna, and a band of shady locals who introduce them to the darker side of life in the town. Then, late one night, Charly disappears without a trace, and Udo’s well-ordered life is thrown into upheaval . . . Frightened, Udo refuses to leave, even after Ingeborg returns home, and his increasingly feverish dreams push him into delirium. As everything slips beyond his grasp, he attempts to re-assert himself by engaging the enigmatic and severely disfigured El Quemado – a foreigner who lives in a Spartan burrow on the beach – in a days-long match of his favourite war game, Third Reich. But, too late to stop the madness, he realizes that the consequences of this game are much more serious than he ever imagined. Combining the exhilaration of The Savage Detectives with the darkness of his later work, The Third Reich – Bolaño’s first new novel since the epic 2666 – is a visceral book exploring memory, madness and violence. It is both the perfect way to discover the dazzling genius of Roberto Bolaño and an unmissable addition to the oeuvre for those who already have. [Amazon.co.uk]
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"On vacation with his girlfriend, Ingeborg, the German war-game champion Udo Berger returns to a small town on the Costa Brava where he spent the summers of his childhood. Soon they meet another vacationing German couple, Charly and Hanna, who introduce them to a band of locals--the Wolf, the Lamb, and El Quemado--and to the darker side of life in a resort town. Late one night, Charly disappears without a trace, and Udo's well-ordered life is thrown into upheaval; when Ingeborg and Hanna return to their lives in Germany, he refuses to leave the hotel. Soon, he and El Quemado are enmeshed in a round of Third Reich, his favorite World War II strategy game, and Udo discovers that the game's consequences may be all too real. Written in 1989 and found among Roberto Bolao's papers after his death, The Third Reich is a stunning exploration of memory and violence. Reading this quick, visceral novel, we see a world-class writer coming into his own--and exploring for the first time the themes that would define his masterpieces The Savage Detectives and 2666"--"A comedic novel from the author of The Savage Detectives and 2666"--… (more)

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