The Mailer Review/Volume 2, 2008/The Hitler Family: A Relational Approach to Norman Mailer

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« The Mailer ReviewVolume 2 Number 1 • 2008 • In Memorium: Norman Mailer: 1923–2007 »
Written by
Walter Grünzweig
Abstract: On one level, The Castle in the Forest is a book about life of the lower classes of the German-speaking section of the Austrian-Hungarian monarchy and about one man, Alois Hitler, who manages to rise above the humble origins of his family. It looks at the daily life of the peasants, the education of their children, their sexual relationships, and their sometimes desperate attempts to improve their limiting life conditions. The massive quantity of information Castle provides concerning Hitler’s family and early childhood is equally focused on a later historical development, although in a much different manner. Mailer seems to suggest that there must be some explanatory potential here for what happened later on.
Permalink: https://prmlr.us/mr08grun

Norman Mailer’s The Castle in the Forest is a special experience for an Austrian. In his latest book in the Henry Bech series, John Updike has his Jewish author-protagonist say on the occasion of a visit to Czechoslovakia: “Hitler. To come to Europe is somehow to pay him a visit.” In his latest book, Norman Mailer has paid a visit to the two Austrian regions which are home to the Hitler family.

On one level, Castle is a book about life of the lower classes of the German-speaking section of the Austrian-Hungarian monarchy and about one man, Alois Hitler, who manages to rise above the humble origins of his family. It looks at the daily life of the peasants,the education of their children, their sexual relationships, and their sometimes desperate attempts to improve their limiting life conditions.But the family that is followed in this novel in great detail on almost five hundred pages is not an ordinary family. It is the family of a man who would fatally change the course of history causing a catastrophe whose terrible consequences we are still far from having overcome.

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Notes

Citations

Works Cited

  • Burgess, Anna (1992). Child Trauma: Issues & Research. New York & London: Garland.
  • Mailer, Norman (2007). The Castle in the Forest: A Novel. New York: Random House.
  • — (1995). Oswald's Tale: An American Mystery. New York: Random House.
  • Stierlin, Helm (1976). Hitler: Familienperspektiven. Frankfurt: M. Suhrkamp. American ed. Adolf Hitler: A Family Perspective. New York: Psychohistory Press. 1976.
  • Uplike, John (1998). "Beck in Czech". J.U. Bech at Bey: 3–36.