The Castle in the Forest (Magill's Literary Annual 2008)
One of the most daunting questions regarding the human condition is the nature of evil. It implies more than a simple transgression of the law of a particular society. Beyond what it implies within the context of religion, the word “evil” suggests a violation of a fundamental concept of what it means to live as a civilized human being. When one considers evil in the context of the twentieth century, the subject of mass murder is invariably at the center of the discussion. By far the greatest number of atrocities is associated with the dictatorship of Adolf Hitler, who ruled Germany as chancellor from 1933 to 1945. His acts of aggression against other nations and his systematic extermination of minority groups have come to embody the very notion of evil in the modern era. In a very real sense, his actions as a world leader redefined the Christian concept of original sin, transforming it from Adam and Eve’s mythical expulsion from Eden to the realization of the endemic nature of human depravity. Ever since the revelation of the death camps to the world, philosophers and artists of every ilk have labored to come to terms with this knowledge.
It is against this backdrop that American writer Norman Mailer created his novel about Hitler’s childhood, The Castle in the Forest. Given the appalling nature of his subject, Mailer could easily have...
(The entire section is 1707 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2008)
Booklist 103, no. 6 (November 15, 2006): 6.
Commentary 123, no. 3 (March, 2007): 59-63.
Commonweal 134, no. 9 (May 4, 2007): 24-26.
The Economist 382 (January 20, 2007): 92.
Library Journal 131, no. 20 (December 1, 2006): 112.
The New Republic 236, nos. 8/9 (February 19, 2007): 26-29.
New Statesman 136 (February 19, 2007): 54-55.
The New York Times Book Review 156 (January 21, 2007): 1-15.
The Spectator 303 (February 17, 2007): 42-43.
The Times Literary Supplement, February 16, 2007, pp. 21-22.
(The entire section is 47 words.)