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Le benevole

4.03  ·  Rating Details ·  5,683 Ratings  ·  817 Reviews
Nell'Europa travolta dalla furia nazista, l'epopea tragica ed efferata di un ufficiale dell SS, Maximilien Aue, ci fa rivivere gli orrori della guerra dal punto di vista terribile e ripugnante dei carnefici.

Nato in Alsazia da patre tedesco e madre francese, Maximilien Aue dirige sotto falso nome una fabbrica di merletti nel nord della Francia. Svolge bene il suo lavoro, è
Paperback, Super ET, 955 pages
Published October 6th 2008 by Einaudi (first published 2006)
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Karina Look for books by Tadeusz Borowski, he wrote short stories, for example published as This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Community Reviews

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Glenn Russell
Dec 17, 2015 Glenn Russell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

“Please, mein Herr, shoot the children cleanly.”
― Jonathan Littell, The Kindly Ones

Such a fiercely compelling novel, one of the most evil stories ever told. I had to listen to the audio book while taking my walks and let all the evil from the novel run down my legs and out the bottom of my feet; so much evil, thus my initial reluctance to write a review and highly recommend. However, the writing is excellent and the insights on human nature, history and culture numerous.

The first-person narrator
Mar 12, 2009 Matt rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Lugging this gigantic book around, from Omaha to Minneapolis to Dubai to Chicago back to Omaha, I began to question why I was reading it. It's nearly a thousand pages long; it's poorly translated; it was apparently edited by a monkey dying of Ebola; it has paragraphs that run on for pages, and pages, and pages; for some reason, there is no indentation for dialogue, so you're left guessing which indistinguishable character is saying which facile/stilted/cliched/boring thing; the translation is im ...more
Apr 28, 2014 Darwin8u rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
"I live, I do what can be done, it's the same for everyone, I am a man like other men, I am a man like you. I tell you I am just like you!"
-- Jonathan Littell, The Kindly Ones


This is a hard book to review. It is like walking out of a David Lynch movie and feeling brain raped by the artist. How exactly to you attempt to explore the depths of Nazi Germany without feeling dark, abused, and sick afterwards? From conversations I've had with those who've hated this novel (and British critics I've rea
Richard Derus
Rating: 3* of five

The Publisher Says: "Oh my human brothers, let me tell you how it happened." So begins the chilling fictional memoir of Dr. Maximilien Aue, a former Nazi officer who has reinvented himself, many years after the war, as a middle-class family man and factory owner in France.

Max is an intellectual steeped in philosophy, literature, and classical music. He is also a cold-blooded assassin and the consummate bureaucrat. Through the eyes of this cultivated yet monstrous man, we experi
MJ Nicholls
So . . . the war. The Second one. Or is that the Second One? Do we capitalise all Things Pertaining to the War? I think it’s appropriate to capitalise when referring to the Greatest Atrocity in All of Mankind . . . or if not appropriate, respectful. And people, well, people keep writing books about It. That War. That Pesky War! This near-1000-page novel is the rambling testament of SS officer Dr. Max Aue, devoted Hauptsturmführer (Captain), later Standartenführer (Major), semi-repentant monster ...more
Jun 09, 2015 Carmo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: holocausto
Eu até tinha isto mais ou menos alinhavado na minha cabeça. Até chegar às últimas páginas e perder o chão; e perder definitivamente a pouca paz que ainda me restava.
Ao longo de mais de 800 páginas, em que Max Aue se atormentou e me atormentou, fui-lhe dando o benefício da dúvida; fui tentando justificar o seu comportamento pelo sofrimento que carregava desde a infância; pela dor atroz que um amor incestuoso, impossível, o condenou a viver. Subestimei as afirmações em que negava arrependimento ou
Dec 11, 2013 Teresa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"...que triste é isto que encontro!
Se não te interpretasse bem estaria surdo e cego,
E embora entenda o que dizes ensombra-me o pensamento."

Robert Browning, "A Toccata of Galuppi's"

1. Toccata
Jonathan Littell escreve um romance monumental sobre a Segunda Guerra Mundial. Embora seja filho de judeus, fá-lo sobre o ponto de vista dos nazis o que torna esta obra uma peça original e fascinante, quer pelo conteúdo histórico e humano, quer por abalar a consciência do leitor, obrigando-o a questionar-se
"A new War and Peace ... Never, in the recent history of French literature, has an early work been so ambitious, so masterfully written, so meticulous in its detail or so serenely horrifying."
-Le Nouvel Observateur, taken from the back cover

“What is this shit?”
-A former French resistance fighter on this book, as quoted by Laurent Binet in The Millions

This is a book that could have been. There were brief flashes of fascination, tantalizing ideas, lost in an interminable sea of dreck.

The opening T
Feb 05, 2017 Ana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Este livro é uma obra e tanto! É também, seguramente, um dos romances mais pesados e violentos que já li. As descrições muito gráficas e a enorme componente de facto histórico dão à violência retratada grande vividez e tangibilidade. Trata-se de um relato de acontecimentos da Segunda Guerra Mundial pela voz de um ex-oficial SS, Maximilien Aue, alemão de ascendência francesa, jurista de formação, sobrevivente da guerra e que, numa idade mais avançada, nos conta as suas memórias - os combates na f ...more
Reading “The Kindly Ones” is like roaming around a dilapidated mansion – it begs you to explore; it is both fascinating and repulsive. The book is very ambitious, and it’s a pleasure to read literature that takes on a serious if uncomfortable subject, and literature that takes itself seriously. I would have given this five stars, and I do find it largely successful, but there are some snags in the subplot that don’t quite work.

The overarching historical plot works well. The protagonist, Maximili
Mar 12, 2009 Michel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Michel by: JP Delvaux
Shelves: hist-fic, cultures, lit, doulce, war
The English translation of les Bienveillantes is a travesti. All the sardonic irony and the disgust of the author for his protagonist is lost; imagine taking seriously the Blagojevich defence (I am being punished for doing the right thing for the people who voted for me)!
It starts with the double-entendres (the word 'bienveillant' means 'kind' of course, but it can also denote watchfulness, or paternalism or 'meaning well', depending on the context) when ambiguity is the book's medium; then it m
Madness. Despicably disgustingly amazingly crafted madness. The ability of authors to write out these scenarios, diving into and drowning in the minds of the most horrific human beings imaginable, without completely losing their minds astounds me sometimes.

Maximilian Aue is just a byproduct of this whole history, if you can believe it. He starts out with horrific tendencies, to be sure (view spoiler). And
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
You're given a free trip to Europe, time-travelling back to world war two. Your vehicle is one of the two characters you are free to choose from: one, a Jew who hid for many months, was caught by the Germans, placed in a concentration camp, then died before the war was over; the other a Nazi officer who had been everywhere, practically met everyone of consequence in the German military, and survived the war. You will be like the character's shadow. You will be with him wherever he goes, 24/7. Yo ...more
Jul 15, 2012 William rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I believe this book is going to become a classic. I have looked at a number of reviews and I think a lot of people are disturbed by what they read, both by the descriptions of atrocities and by Max Aue's perverted character. It is true that it is a deeply disturbing book, but this does not in any way diminish the quality of the work. There is a lot to say about "Les Bienveillantes", and I suppose that its reception will diversify with time. The main reason why its is so deeply shocking is becaus
Mar 09, 2009 Andrew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Most of what has been said in criticism of this book has deeply misrepresented it: yes, there is horrible brutality well beyond simple war narration (which you will find in almost every post-WWI novel or non-fiction book). This brutality will disturb every reader (or should). Yes, some of the main character's sexual obsessions will make most readers squirm a bit even if they aren't exactly squeamish. But to read these elements as the basic character and most memorable aspects of the book is cher ...more
Кремена Михайлова
В началото се чудех има ли смисъл да я чета след толкова книги/филми за Втората световна война, за Холокоста… Но бързо стана ясно, че това няма да е книга за 1-5-20 милиона жертви – руснаци, поляци, евреи или германци. Тук става въпрос за нещо по-глобално – човечеството; и същевременно за отделната човешка личност. Всъщност не съм човек, който се интересува особено от политика и история. Тук и аз по-скоро изследвам Човека (или човека?). В крайна сметка всичко това е сторено от хора, не от извънз ...more
Aba Mafalba
Jul 01, 2014 Aba Mafalba rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Δε συνηθίζω να γράφω για βιβλία, αλλά το συγκεκριμένο όντως δεν έτυχε απήχησης στο ελληνικό κοινό, απορίας άξιο γιατί. Στο βιβλιοπωλείο μού είπαν πως το βρήκαν με δυσκολία. Με περίμενε κάποιους μήνες στο ράφι της βιβλιοθήκης: μόλις το πήρα στα χέρια μου ξεφύλλισα τις πρώτες σελίδες. Διαφαινόταν ένα πραγματικά αξιόλογο βιβλίο, αλλά ήθελα να το διαβάσω πιο ήρεμα, πιο συγκεντρωμένα.

Στην τραγωδία του ο Αισχύλος προσπαθεί να μετατρέψει τις γνωστές Ερινύες, τις άτεγκτες και τρομερές αυτές θεότητες, σε
Jun 03, 2012 Fionnuala marked it as abandoned  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-french, war
Assigning a star rating to this book is impossible. I can see why it was necessary for it to be written - to remind us of what we are capable - but that doesn't make this book readable. Personally, I couldn't get beyond page 120 or thereabouts. My difficulty lay in reconciling the chilling, dispassionate voice of the narrator with the brutal and horrifying scenes he was witnessing. I became paralysed by the awful, stomach churning fear of what he would recount next. I have never experienced such ...more
Mar 07, 2016 César rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
O melhor livro da década. O primeiro livro de um americano que escreve em francês. No ano em que saiu, ganhou tudo e vendeu 750 000 exemplares em França. É absolutamente avassalador. Acompanhamos a ascensão de um oficial SS, executante do holocausto, do início da carreira até ao fim que já conhecemos. Personagem odiosa mas brutalmente magnética por magia do talento de Littell. Uma odisseia épica com um enorme grau de detalhe histórico. O Who's Who da hierarquia nazi da II Guerra desfila ao longo ...more
Kevin McAllister
When the The Kindly Ones came out a few years ago in France it sold millions and won some of Europe's most prestigious literary awards . I was surprised therefore, to read so many negative reviews when it was recently released here in the U.S.
It seems people either loved it or hated it. Well add me to the list of those who loved it ! Yes, its dark, depressing, and in places, deranged to the point of perversion. But that's what makes it so fascinating. And I have no doubt, that in the future, t
Jan 25, 2008 Marianne rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Pages and pages of gore, entrails, decapitations, burnings, burials, shootings, burnings.... as if we didn't know that certain "people" had done these things. I do not and will never understand why this was a Prix Goncourt. It should have been Prix du Mauvais Gout.
Ben Babcock
This may not be evident, but I tend to avoid historical fiction set during World War II. I'm not sure why: it's an obvious (perhaps too obvious) source of material for exploring the human condition. I'm not squeamish about the details of the Holocaust. Maybe it's just that a lot of World War II fiction focuses on the battles, the military strategy and tactics, and it's military fiction that I'm avoiding. In the last month, however, I read Time's Arrow and The Kindly Ones, both of which are mem ...more
Slávek Rydval
Mé rozhodnutí přečíst si mne dosud neznámou knihu Jonathana Littella se dostavilo ihned poté, co jsem se o ní dozvěděl z jedné recenze. Ono odhodlání padlo na základě recenzentovy výtky, že autor jaksi zapomněl na „morální rámec“. Jenže přesně tohle bych od knihy čekal. Ať samozvaní moralisté táhnout třeba i na Sibiř. Ať si lidé toužící po servírovaném a jasně okomentovaném dobru a zlu zalezou do dřevníku a čtou si zjednodušené pohádky pro mentálně zaostalejší.

Dobro a zlo nejsou jednička a nula.
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

Middle-aged French intellectual Jonathan Littell caused a sensation in 2006 with his infamous The Kindly Ones (finally published in the US for the first time in 2008), a thousand-page historical novel which attempts to take the most complicated look ever at what turned a bunch of otherwise boring, middle-
Nov 06, 2016 Roberta rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: francesi
Non capisco tutto l'entusiasmo per questo romanzo. Prima di tutto non capisco la necessità di fare di Aue un nazista: il protagonista è un burocrate che potrebbe appartenere ad ogni paese e ad ogni tempo. Anzi, questa carriera nelle SS forse toglie qualcosa allo spessore del personaggio; Aue ha una sua propria pazzia che, inserita nel contesto nazista, sembra vadano a scusarsi l'una con l'altro: solo un pazzo può fare una tale carriera nell'esercito tedesco e solo un nazista può avere certi sogn ...more
Mar 16, 2009 Denis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book in its French original version - which is important, because many American reviews are harsh with the author's writing style, and that may be due to the translation: Littell's French is actually quite beautiful - he writes in a direct, precise, elegantly classic way, and it does perfectly serve his story as well as it fits the narrator's voice. This story is, of course, at the center of the huge controversy the novel is creating - a controversy that has exploded in every country ...more
Jun 25, 2007 Nothing rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Creator of the biggest literary storm in France since the Surrealists trashed Latin Quarter cafés, Littel's first-person narrative of an SS officer's participation in the death squads has attracted moral and historical wranglings from fields as far as Julia Kristeva to Shoah survivors to opportunistic politicians. No-one does literary controversy like the French; but in spite of this, French critics have all but ignored certain aspects of a mainly extraordinary book, (aspects which will no doubt ...more
Mi ritiro per deliberare.
Dec 02, 2012 Anna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this in 2011 and wrote a lengthy review at the time, so may as well post it here.

* * *

Reading this book was a very intense experience, which I'm now going to ramble about. 'The Kindly Ones' is an account of the second world war told in the first person by an SS officer, so be warned that it is not what you would call pleasant. I suppose there may also be spoilers, although I will avoid any details that would in my view affect the experience of reading it yourself.

I hardly know where to st
Mar 02, 2010 Jason rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't think I've ever read a book that received a more sound bludgeoning by both critics and readers alike.
While I'm decidedly not in the voluminous camp that found this work to be entirely loathsome, I'm not certain that in some ways it doesn't deserve at least a few of the many expressions of disapproval it has garnered.

But having said that, I feel initially compelled to state emphatically that many of these negative critical assertions, such as those that state the text represents nothing
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A bi-lingual (English / French) writer living in Barcelona. He is a dual citizen of the United States and France and is of Jewish background. His first novel written in French, Les Bienveillantes , won two major French awards.

His father is the writer Robert Littell, also resident in France and who authored numerous spy novels.
More about Jonathan Littell...

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“If you were born in a country or at a time not only when nobody comes to kill your wife and your children, but also nobody comes to ask you to kill the wives and children of others, then render thanks to God and go in peace. But always keep this thought in mind: you might be luckier than I, but you’re not a better person.” 34 likes
“So what's the most atrocious thing you've seen?" He waved his hand: "Man, of course!” 16 likes
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