Norman Mailer’s Fuhrer in MultiMedia

Nor­man Mail­er, now 84 years old, has just pub­lished his first nov­el in a decade. And what becomes imme­di­ate­ly clear is that age has done lit­tle to stop Mail­er from tak­ing his trade­mark lit­er­ary risks. Just as he felt free to inhab­it the mind of Jesus in The Gospel Accord­ing to the Son (1997), he has now dared to get deep inside anoth­er world-his­tor­i­cal fig­ure, the anti-Christ fig­ure of the last cen­tu­ry, Adolph Hitler. Nar­rat­ed by a min­ion of Satan, who oth­er­wise masqua­rades as a for­mer SS offi­cer named Dieter, The Cas­tle in the For­est takes a Freudi­an look at Hitler’s youth and his tan­gled famil­ial rela­tion­ships. But how well Mail­er pulls it off is open to debate. Up front, it’s worth men­tion­ing that you can freely access the first chap­ter of the new book and start judg­ing for your­self. And, for that mat­ter, you can also get Mail­er’s own take on the book in this NPR inter­view. How­ev­er, if you want some guid­ance before decid­ing whether to plunge into this lengthy book (450+ pages), you can check out the reviews that have start­ed rolling out. So far, assess­ments are mixed: The audio pod­cast issued by The New York Times Book Review (which is itself based on a thought­ful review appear­ing in print) con­sid­ers Mail­er’s lat­est to be among his best. But it’s an opin­ion that stands some­what alone, at least so far. The reviews in The Wash­ing­ton Post and the Eng­lish ver­sion of Ger­many’s Spiegel Online take less glow­ing posi­tions, and, as you’d expect, the crit­i­cism is more stri­dent and polit­i­cal­ly-charged over in Europe, Ger­many in par­tic­u­lar.

Final­ly, we leave you with this — Mail­er read­ing from his new work, describ­ing the con­cep­tion of Hitler, as told from the dev­il’s per­spec­tive, in some­what racy terms. (NOTE: the video qual­i­ty is very Youtube-esque, but it gets the job done):

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