Lipton’s Journal/December 1, 1954/5

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The concentration camp novel.[1] A Lipton’s insight I had last night. The German doctor has heretofore been too thin, to structural. Merely an unsympathetic character who comes to appear as sympathetic here and again until he is finally shown as more or less evil or at least utterly weak. But suppose I make the attempt to show him as genuinely sympathetic, suppose I let him get out of hand, let him convince the reader as well as the doctor. So that finally, even when he kills the children, he is merely thinking, “Sweet lovely children, this is how they pass from the world of insubstantialities into the world of the universe.” Originally, he might merely feel numb; but as he is obliged to continue killing them, the mysticism arises.

Note

  1. Titled “The City of God,” and begun in the early 1950s, it was never completed; only a fragment exists in the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas-Austin, home of the Mailer Archive. Initially, Mailer’s setting was a Soviet concentration camp; he later changed it to a German camp (see No. 447). He finally published the novel, his last, The Castle in the Forest, in 2007.