Santi's Reviews > Mother Night

Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut
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Jan 17, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: ebook
Read in January, 2010

[Quoted from this book:]

One of the Jews who guards me here knows nothing about that war. He is not interested. His name is Arnold Marx. He has very red hair. He is only eighteen, which means Arnold was three when Hitler died, and nonexistent when my career as a war criminal began.

He guards me from six in the morning until noon.

Arnold was born in Israel, He has never been outside of Israel.

His mother and father left Germany in the early thirties. His grandfather, he told me, won an Iron Cross in the First World War.

Arnold is studying to be a lawyer. The avocation of Arnold and of his father, a gunsmith, is archaeology. Father and son spend most all their spare time excavating the ruins of Hazor. They do so under the direction of Yigael Yadin, who was Chief of Staff of the Israeli Army during the war with the Arab States.

So be it.

Hazor, Arnold tells me, was a Canaanite city in northern Palestine that existed at least nineteen hundred years before Christ, About fourteen hundred years before Christ, Arnold tells me, an Israelite army captured Hazor, killed all forty thousand inhabitants, and burned it down.

‘Solomon rebuilt the city,’ said Arnold, ‘but in 732 B.C. Tiglath-pileser the Third burned it down again.’

‘Who?’ I said.

‘Tiglath-pileser the Third’, said Arnold. ‘The Assyrian,’ he said, giving my memory a nudge.

‘Oh,’ I said. ‘That Tiglath-pileser.’

‘You act as though you never heard of him,’ said Arnold.

‘I never have,’ I said. I shrugged humbly. ‘I guess that’s pretty terrible.’

‘Well—‘ said Arnold, giving me a schoolmaster’s frown, ‘it seems to me he really is somebody everybody ought to know about. He was probably the most remarkable man the Assyrians ever produced.’

‘Oh,’ I said.

‘I’ll bring you a book about him, if you like,’ said Arnold.

‘That’s nice of you,’ I said. ‘Maybe I’ll get around to thinking about remarkable Assyrians later on. But right now my mind is pretty well occupied with remarkable Germans.’

‘Like who?’ he said.

‘Oh, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my old boss, Paul Joseph Goebbels,’ I said.

Arnold looked at me blankly. ‘Who?’ he said.

And I felt the dust of the Holy Land creeping in to bury me, sensed how thick a dust and rubble blanket I would one day wear. I felt thirty or forty feet of ruined cities above me, beneath me some primitive kitchen mittens, a temple of two—and then—

Tiglath-pileser the Third.

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Quotes Santi Liked

Kurt Vonnegut
“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”
Kurt Vonnegut, Mother Night

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