Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Young Hitler: No beekeeper's arse this time, just a man of God


I see the fabulous Naim Attallah and his Quartet Books is releasing a "non-fiction novel" in April called Young Hitler. It was the boastful Truman Capote who first brought this category - the non-fiction novel - to my attention, with his bestseller In Cold Blood and then the unfinished, promising Answered Prayers. The author in effect novelises documented or researched fact - actually, I'd have preferred the title Young Hitler - A Novelisation. Sounds less poncy. But anyway ....

The author of Young Hitler, Claus Hant, is being sold as the first non-fiction novelist to focus on Adolf's early years. This maybe true, though let us not forget the late Norman Mailer's attempt to novelise Hitler's childhood in the unfortunate The Castle in the Forest, which I wrote about in 2007 - click here. Mailer's "Young Adi" is given an older brother with a penchant for inserting "his happy blood-filled organ into the yearning lips" of an old male beekeeper's arse whose buttocks "feel like the portals to a bounteously endowed temple." I questioned the temple imagery, wondering whether "sweatshop" might not be a happier substitute in the sodomitic circs. But anyway ...

I don't think Hant will be reliving this revenge fantasy. His fantasy is that Hitler was a man of God and not the atheist most historians accept he was. Hant says, "Hitler did not just believe in God, he believed himself to be someone through whom God was revealing his existence." That would depend on your meaning of God. To Hitler, God, Providence and nature/science were interchangeable terms to suit his purposes of self-glorification, not the same thing as spiritual self-deification. Turn to Hitler's Table Talk 1941-1944 - transcripts of Hitler's unguarded chit-chat - and you find him saying: "A movement like ours must ... stick to the spirit of exact science."

He adds: "It would be appalling for me ... if I were to end up in the skin of a Buddha."

There is a line to be drawn between a despot's wish to make a cult of himself and a faith in a metaphysical system of ideas. I shall be interested to see where Hant goes with this in his non-fiction novel. I wonder whether he is yet another atheist propagandist with a fashionable loathing for religious faith. I could Google and find out, but I won't. I'll leave that one in the air for now.

The site for the book is fascinating and worth perusing - there are book extracts. I had no idea that Hitler's family home in Braunau, in Austria, is on the market (for £2m) and that the local council are trying to buy it with EU funding to fend off neo-Nazi interest. At another Hitler family home, Hant comes across a teenage girl lolling about in her bedroom, once young Hitler's, walls adorned with popstar posters. Asked what she thinks of the room's demonic past occupant, she replies: "It's just so super cool."

Fucking kids.

Oh, here's the super cool video for the novel.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

They do say religious fantatics are mad men, don't they?

Madame Arcati said...

They? Fantatics? You've lost me, darling.

veritas said...

Oh you do give such good review.

Anonymous said...

The Bookseller is the poorer without you, madame

Julian said...

The book has amazing footnotes and appendices and is based on 15 years research. It makes you feel what it was like to be there at the time and for the first time I understood why so many god-fearing christians supported Hitler at the end of the war and - stranger even - how in his youth he was not at all anti-semitic. That came later as a way of gaining greater and greater power.

Madame Arcati said...

Thank you Julian. I look forward to reading the novel though I have reservations already - such as the writer's contention that Hitler was not an atheist. I'm also surprised to hear that he thinks Hitler was not anti-Semitic in his youth when anti-Semitism was endemic - even if it is true he had Jewish friends. Footnotes in a novel, too, asre a worry since firstly the book must work as a novel, as a story. But I shall read it and perhaps my prejudices will be charmed away.

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