Chrissie's Reviews > Portrait of the Mother as a Young Woman

Portrait of the Mother as a Young Woman by Friedrich Christian Delius
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Feb 21, 11

bookshelves: germany, hf, italy, disliked, swap
Read from February 18 to 20, 2011

NO SPOILERS

On completion: This is a very short novel, and it only shows how perhaps one young, pregnant German woman might have viewed the world around her. It takes place during WW2. She is in Rome and she doesn't think there is any value in learning the language. In my opinion she is extremely naive. She criticizes other religions. Religion is very important to her; it gives her solace, it helps her when she has problems. I don't criticize this, but I have difficulty relationg to such a person. The book is written as a stream of consciouness. Due to this, you, the reader, cannot fasten on to another character in the novel, if you feel alienated to her. There are surely people like her, and perhaps it is a good depiction of such a person, but I cannot relate to her. The lack of punctuation isn't really a problem, but neither is it a plus. I see it as a gimmick. I didn't enjoy reading this. I do not know why it has won prizes. Well, we all like different things. I am only giving it one star. I will swap it with someone who does want to read it!

Through page 28: At first I adored this! Now it is harder to keep going. There are no sentences. No periods. The narrative is stream of consciousness - the thoughts being that of a young, naive, pregnant German woman. She is staying at a German "maternity home/hospital" in Rome run be Evangelical nuns. Her husband is off fighting in Tunisia, WW2. The writing takes the form of how a person thinks. This is more of a novella than a novel.
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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by Gundula (new) - added it

Gundula No periods or commas, oh no, I think this is one of these "experimental" novels that can drive one to distraction (there is a reason for punctuation). Thanks for your running review, I'm going to keep checking how you are getting along.


message 2: by Chrissie (last edited Feb 19, 2011 07:49AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Chrissie Yes, punctuation does serve a purpose. There are some commas.

What is disturbing me even more is the main character...... I know it is possible to read a book where you disagree with the main character's pov, but this is the only person's thoughts I am getting and I disagree with almost everything. She doesn't want to learn the Italian lanuage, she criticizes Cahtolics, praises everything Protestant. Just generallly her inalbility to accept another pov,, this I find annoying. I haven't finished the book. Others say this represents how a "normal" German could have felt during the war..... I don't agree. Not all Germans thought like this! Maybe the book will turn around! Hopefully!


message 3: by Gundula (new) - added it

Gundula Chrissie wrote: "Yes, punctuation does serve a purpose. What is disturbing me even more is the main character...... I know it is possible to read a book where you disagree with the main character's pov, but this is..."

I think that is the main problem with so-called stream of conscience literature, that you only get one person's point of view, and if you don't agree with that, if you despise the person, it is really a problem (because there are no other characters to act as foils). And, it seems that it is simply another book to show that "all Germans thought this way" another way to say that every German was either supportive of Hitler and the Nazis or was naive and apolitcal (I guess to them, people like Sophie Scholl did not exist). Now, I am sure that many Germans probably thought this way, but it is always dangerous and unenlightened to paint all individuals with the same brush (and that's what tends to happen when you read novels etc. that only show one point of view). I hope the book turns around for you as well, if the woman's attitudes never change, I doubt I would want to read this.


Chrissie Yes, stream of conscience writing can be very dangerous. You summed up exactly why I am having trouble. there is nobody else for me to like in the book.

Currently I am writing in the margin all the things I come across that I dislike. To be fair, I am also noting the positive points, but they are rather few.


message 5: by Gundula (last edited Feb 19, 2011 08:22AM) (new) - added it

Gundula Chrissie wrote: "Yes, stream of conscience writing can be very dangerous. You summed up exactly why I am having trouble. there is nobody else for me to like in the book.

Currently I am writing in the margin all..."


And, many stream of conscience novels (at least most stream of conscience novels I have read, or rather, have had to read) usually deal with decidedly unattractive, often sordid characters. Makes enjoying the book rather difficult ...


Chrissie I will finish the book and let you know my thoughts.

There are commas and the author does have short paragraphs, but no proper sentences! I have noted some positive personality qualities. There is hope :0)


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