The Reader by Bernard Schlink

Last week I finished The Reader. A powerful, profound, thought-provoking book by Bernard Schlink that was turned into a film starring Kate Winslett. It’s about a 15 year old German boy in post WWII Germany who falls in love with a woman twice his age. She has skeletons in the cupboard relating to her past life in the SS.

Of course, people experience things differently. I saw it as a love story but a colleague at work thought it was about child abuse. It unnerved me that Michael could never, ever move on from Hanna. Was he scarred for life or was it that they were meant to be together? For him, their ‘connection’ was deeper and more profound than any other he would make. He had other women, was even married, but all seemed insignificant compared with Hanna. In so many ways they were badly matched (not least because she was twice his age); but a connection is a connection.

The story touches on a lot of issues and raises a lot of questions. Guilt, literacy, forbidden love, history, morals, skeletons in the past, etc.

That first chance encounter changed the entire course of their lives, especially his. Life is strange like that. The ‘Sliding Doors’ moment. A concept I have always found difficult to get my head around. How life can take drastically different directions based on tiny differentials.

A highly recommended read. A good article here in the New York Times, too.

TV, movie, book, theatre, art reviews

4 thoughts on “The Reader by Bernard Schlink

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  1. Hurray! Kate Winslet pics on your blog. Great choice.
    I didn’t see it as perverse and thought it was a touching love story. Of course, I’m someone who preaches the ‘age ain’t nothing but a number’ philosophy so my viewpoint probably isn’t a surprise to those who know me. But love is love!

  2. Enrico – I recall that you are her number 1 fan! 😛 You ought to see the film, I think you’d enjoy it. Agree with you that numbers really don’t mean anything.

  3. the Reader…I could have been the reader, as well as you. And would have we been teenagers in Germany during the late fifties, we could have met her, Hanna, and loved her, only afterwards getting aware of what she had done. More tha a novel showing us a new Germany discovering its past, the Reader reveals the hidden side of our own personality: what would we have done in Hanna’s place, under the same circumstances? Ehrlich gesagt, weiss ich es nicht, quite frankly, i don’t know…Yes indeed, a masterpeace.

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