Lorenzo Berardi's Reviews > The Reader

The Reader by Bernhard Schlink
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Aug 05, 09

bookshelves: 2008, german, a-my-italian-library
Read in February, 2008

This was one of the books I had to read while attending a journalism programme in the Netherlands.

At that time I have no idea they were going to make a movie out of it with Kate Winslet as the main female character.

I found the English edition of "The Reader" pretty good and read the whole book with interest.
Both the "crime and punishment" and the "illiteracy" topics behind the plot were good ideas by Schlink and generally I have a kind of fascination for novels beginning with the childhood (and yes, sexual initiation) of the protagonist, following him/her getting older and bald.
Anyway, I can say I appreciated "The Reader" overall.

Yet, at the end of the English version of this book I found a mistake. The sort of mistake that is probably not that important, but that I consider rather disturbing, especially in a novel that gets inspiration from real and dramatic historical facts.

While writing about Hanna's bookshelf in prison, authors like Levi, Kertesz and Amery are cited, together with the "autobiography of Rudolf Hess". Well I'm afraid this last book doesn't exist at all.
There is a biography of Hess wrote by Eugene K. Bird, but what the translator did is simply confusing the notorious Rudolf Hess with another Nazi criminal: Rudolf Hoess who actually wrote an autobiography ("Death Dealer: the Memoirs of the SS Kommandant at Auschwitz").

I checked the Italian edition and I found the autobiography correctly referred as the Rudolf Hoess' one. So I guess Schlink is not to blame for the mistake, but the English translator is.

Call me pedant and fussy, but I really can't stand these inaccuracies in translation work. Especially when the book I read is rather good.

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