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In Matto's Realm by Friedrich Glauser
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In Matto's Realm (1936)

by Friedrich Glauser

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Pues mucho mejor de lo que me esperaba.
Es un caso policiaco muy raro, con un inspector que parece cualquier cosa menos un policía; un montón de personajes de un hospital psiquiátrico que dan la falsa sensación de ser una familia; un misterio detrás de otro y soluciones que van desenredando una madeja de interrelaciones humanas en las que casi nada es lo que parece.
Mucha reflexión filosófica detrás de cada paso que avanza la novela, mucha soledad de fondo en cada personaje. Y cuestionamientos constantes sobre el funcionamiento de la sociedad del momento, y de las relaciones sociales en general. ( )
  naturaworld | Aug 12, 2016 |
Friedrich Glauser is a German writer who spent much of his life in psychiatric hospitals before dying at the age of 42. Glauser is also a classic crime novelist and Germany's crime fiction award is called the Glauser Prize.

In Matto's Realm is part of a series involving Detective Studer, this installment taking place in a Swiss psychiatric hospital. The director and a patient have gone missing and Studer, who has been demoted and disgraced, has been sent there to discretely make inquiries. The acting director has requested him personally. What Studer walks into is a complicated web of close, but not always friendly, relationships, with each person hiding something, none more than the enigmatic acting director, a psychiatrist who alternates between seemingly sincere friendship and a smiling mask.

First published in 1936, In Matto's Realm shows the living and working conditions in a supposedly modern institution. Glauser also says quite a lot about the difficulty the ordinary working man had in just making ends meet, and how that was often an insurmountable task. He has great sympathy for ordinary men broken by circumstance. In this, the book is interesting and an important memory of the past. On the other hand, the mystery itself was convoluted and required a lengthy explanation at the end of the book, which is where most of the action occurs.

This is a worthwhile book if you're interested in Europe during the interwar years or in the history of the German mystery novel. Nonetheless, as a crime novel it falls short, although there are a few intriguing characters and Glauser writes with real empathy for the people at the bottom of society. ( )
2 vote RidgewayGirl | Jan 15, 2015 |
Brought out by Friedrich Glauser in Germany in 1936, “In Matto’s Realm” contains the story of Herr Studer, at one time a chief inspector, but now simply a detective sergeant, brought in to discover what happened to the missing director of an insane asylum. Told at a time when modernizing changes were coming to homes where the mentally ill and incapacitated were kept, this book straddles eras, and brings us a very human, flawed hero.

“Matto” is the spirit of mayhem, or madness, as imagined by one of the inmates of the institution. This inmate ascribes to “Matto” multi-colored webs of war and fate and red bouncing balls of revolution in a malicious global campaign. Given the events here, the inmate is surely onto something. Detective Sergeant Studer has been called in by the rather un-forthcoming acting director of a Swiss mental institution when the Director goes missing. The mystery has its requisite violence, hidden motives, and suspicious characters, but this is clearly the story of Studer and Laduner, the new director-presumptive. They joust over psychology and motivation, over how to treat people including each other, over the new ideas of “analysis” and “therapy.” Though the jousting is fairly low-key for such high stakes – three people die during the story. They keep secrets from each other, alternately support and undermine each other, and certain misunderstandings last beyond the end of the book.

Herr Glauser’s meat consists of his treatment of Studer as the détective manqué: Laduner has kept so many secrets that he makes it impossible for Studer to do his job. His understanding of how the minds of schizophrenics and neurotics grows, but he does become compelled eventually, by the mythos of Matto, the demon who makes all consciousness and life miserable. At one point, Dr. Laduner obliquely supports the demon’s existence when he says the success of radical political movements is really the revenge of the psychotic.

The real characters of “In Matto’s Realm” get off fairly easy, Studer included, since one young man dies virtually in custody. I didn’t quite get the neat conclusions we like to see in murder mysteries, although that’s probably partly me and partly the translation (by Mike Mitchell). It’s a well-paced mystery, with a touch of modern forensics; its treatment of psychological disorders seems logical and straightforward; but its conclusion left me non-plussed. Does Detective Studer accept or even believe Dr. Laduner’s explanation of events? Is the doctor ever called to account for obstruction? Does the doctor ever come to realize the true service Studer has rendered him? I feel tepid about this book but respectful of its author, a onetime inmate of mental institutions himself.

http://bassoprofundo1.blogspot.com/2011/05/in-mattos-realm-by-friedrich-glauser.... ( )
  LukeS | May 31, 2011 |
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… und daher können Dichter wohl Romane über die Gespräche schreiben, die die Insassen geschlossener Anstalten miteinander führen, während die Reden der Beschäftigten eher dazu da sind, Gedanken zu verbergen und Lebenszwecke zu fördern … (Arnold Zweig, Erziehung von Verdun)
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Da wurde man am Morgen um fünf Uhr, zu nachtschlafender Zeit also, durch das Schrillen des Telephons geweckt.
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Studer investigates when the director vanishes and a child murderer escapes from an asylum in Bern. This novel explores the no-man's-land between reason and madness where Matto, the spirit of insanity, reigns. Dubious theories and therapies abound, and the asylum darkly mirrors the world outside.… (more)

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