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Der Erlkönig

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  1,295 Ratings  ·  82 Reviews
An international bestseller and winner of the Prix Goncourt, The Erl-King is a magisterial tale of innocence, perversion and obsession. It follows the passage of strange, gentle Abel Tiffauges from submissive schoolboy to adult misfit - a man without a sense of belonging until he finds himself a prisoner of war, and then a teacher, and then the 'ogre' of a Nazi school at t ...more
Paperback, 373 pages
Published 1984 by Fischer (first published 1970)
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Szplug
Apr 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
At a high point in a pivotal relationship formed during his refectory days in an alien French boy's school, Abel Tiffauges is told the gruesome apocryphal story of the Baron des Adrets' newfound awareness of cadent euphoria by the obese enigma Nestor. The crescendo is reached when the latter murmurs in coda that "There's probably nothing more moving in a man's life than the accidental discovery of his own perversion." Just how much truth this observation bore is revealed to Abel many years later ...more
Josh
May 09, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Since The Ogre is a book obsessed with taxonomy, heraldry, classification of all kinds, I'll start by saying that the author MIchel Tournier most reminds me of is Thomas Mann. Mann's playful, ironic fictions seem to have fallen out of use these days (I for one can't get over Guy Davenport's comparison of him to James Joyce: "Mann imposes meaning; Joyce finds it; Mann looks for weakness in strength; Joyce, for strength in weakness. Mann's novels illustrate ideas; Joyce's return ideas to their ori ...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
This earned a star from me for the research and inventive musings the author had obviously done to do pedantic exhibitions about:

1. monsters;

2. the Aristotelian concept of "potency" (which he managed to tie up with the sexual act);

3. the two types of women, the "woman-trinket" (one who can be manipulated by men) and the "woman-landscape" ( one whom a man can only visit);

4. benign inversion (evil becoming good, sort of) and the malign inversion (the reverse);

5. euphoria, phoria ("to carry"), phor
...more
Sinem
Feb 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yazarın ilk okuduğum kitabı. Mitolojinin gerçekliğe yedirilmesi çok güzeldi. 2. Dünya Savaşı Nazi Almanyası etkilerini Goethe'nin Kızılağaçlar Kralı şiirinin verdiği esinle erkekte annelik güdülerini anlatmak... Bence hissedilmesi gereken bir deneyim. Başka türlü bakmak isteyenler için.
Marc
A very special kind of book, there's no doubt about that. But I'm not sure what to feel about it.
The first third is a mix of diary excerpts, memories and reveries, especially about the youth of Abel Tiffauges, a crippled garageholder in Paris. It's difficult reading, but it's clear enough Tiffauges looks at reality in a very strange way, with special attention to young children (yes, indeed); he sees himself as "childbearer", and Saint Christopher his patron-saint; but a girlfriend refers to th
...more
Jim Coughenour
Jul 12, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bleakfiction
The "ogre" of the title is Abel Tiffauges, a French mechanic who first appears a kind of autistic naif, strange rather than frightening in his obsessions (or perversions). It begins in France, 1938, in the years before Hitler's invasion — then as the war progresses, the setting moves eastward, into a winter-world of horror, and ultimately, transcendence — which I admit doesn't tell you much. It's an unusual, demanding novel; to my mind, a work of genius, unlike anything I've ever read, including ...more
Jacob Wren
Michel Tournier writes



There’s probably nothing more moving in a man’s life than the accidental discovery of his own perversion.



and:



The very perfection of its functioning and the terrible energy that went into it were enough to exclude him forever, but he knew no machinery is safe from a piece of grit, and that fate was on his side.



and:



The moth flies on wings of love toward the electric light bulb. And when he gets there, close to it, as near as he can be to that which attracts him irresistibly,
...more
Pečivo
Oct 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: wurst
Král duchů dostal v roce 1972 francouzskou Prix Goncourt. Což je něco jako Grand prix, akorát to místo formulí jezdí knížky.

A dostal ji právem. Král duchů je příběh francouzského Honzy Nedvěda (2 metry, spíš svaly než mozek, čistá duše), automechanika, kterej měl příliš rád děti. Tim ale nemyslim, že by byl pedobr, prostě jen obyčejnej obr, kterej byl neprávem odsouzenej za zločin, který nespáchal. Jelikož seděl v base v období mobilizace proti Hitlerovi, tak se tam moc neohřál a šel bránit vlas
...more
Jim
Mar 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you wish to be an ogre, then it is very important that you not only be bullied mercilessly, but that you react by choosing someone completely unsuitable as a role model. This is what happens to Abel Tiffauges, the son of an auto mechanic, who despite his height is treated like dirt at a Catholic school and ends by inheriting his father's garage.

Along the way, he develops some strange ideas regarding children. While he is not a pederast and never even attempts to initiate any overt molestation
...more
*Dragonfly*
Aug 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dopada mi se kako su Svetlana i Franja Termacic preveli Turnijeov roman. Posebno je zanimljivo kako su resili nedoumicu oko naziva.

U francuskom originalu, roman je nazvan "Le roi des aulnes", doslovno prevedeno - Kralj jovà.

Posto su Termacici smatrali da takav naziv zvuci prilicno nespretno,
odlucili su se za Kralja Vilovnjaka i tako ucinili jasnom aluziju na Geteovu pesmu koja se pominje u romanu.

Dalje, "Le roi des aulnes" je francuski prevod pomenute Geteove pesme "Der Erlkönig".

Aleksa Santic j
...more
cardulelia carduelis
This is the weirdest WWII book I've read yet.

The Erl-King deals with the question of what happens to the sinister in times of war: people who likely, and in this case definitely, would have ended up in the penal system - what happens when they slip through the net and into a society of upheaval.
At least, I think that's what it was mostly about?

Over the Erl King's six uneven sections we follow the life of Abel Tiffaugues, switching sporadically between his whimsical narrative and the third person
...more
Tyler
Mar 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People Who Collect Things
Recommended to Tyler by: Literary Award
Shelves: gay-interest
At the end of this story one mystery lingers: Did something magical happen? “If you answer yes,” the book seems to say, “humans are inescapably haunted. If you answer no, people may be safe, but the cost will come elsewhere.” Either way I now see clearly why Prussia suddenly vanished.

What instigates the mystery is the protagonist. Abel Tiffauge is a fairly normal French guy despite thinking of himself as an “ogre” with his over-muscled shoulders. But what’s normal is relative. Who among us hasn’
...more
Leen
Ik heb mijn tanden stukgebeten op De elzenkoning, maar ’t is uit. Het is uit! Ik ben er vanaf! Het was nog eens een Blufboek, want die lijst wordt maar niet korter, want onbewust of eigenlijk zeer bewust mijd ik de boeken, Literatuur met een grote L, van de lijst omdat ze stuk voor stuk moeilijk zijn.
Weloverdacht in elkaar gevlochten schrijfsels zonder al te veel gevoel, zwaardere thema’s, te veel symboliek, ge moet uw hoofd erbij houden of ge struikelt over zinnen. Het is spartelen om in het ve
...more
Philippe Malzieu
Very difficult book. When I read this book, i'm complain to think to Hannah Arendt and banality of evil. This concept asks essential questions on the human nature. Eichmann was a small poor man, Tiffauge, "The ogre" also. The black part of inhuman is placed in each one of us . In a totalitarian mode, those which choose achieve the most monstrous activities are not so different from those which think of being unable about it.
It is the discomfort of the book. The title comes from a poême of Goeth
...more
Kkneen
Nov 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hailed as the greatest living French writer, Tournier’s dark but amazing novel chronicles the life of a French citizen Abel Tiffauges, whose childhood obsession with an adolescent boy echoes throughout his life as a mechanic, a pigeon fancier and a soldier in Alsace. It is a book about the darkest sides of our natures and spans several countries and decades ending in Prussia during Hitler’s reign. This book won the coveted Prix Goncourt – the French Booker Prize.
BEST BOOK I HAVE READ IN YEARS
Deanne
Very hard book to get into, and I found it difficult to feel anything for the hero, it's a good premise with the main character travelling around Germany Tec during WWII, as both a prisoner and working for various men in history, but nothing really seems to happen.
Sarah
Aug 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Highly appropriate after just reading Gombrowicz and Sebald. I mean, if I was that kind of person I'd think it was 'meant to be.' Pointing towards some well-ordered sequence of events or something. It's a relief to know, in France at least, they still give awards to books that deserve them.
Sara Jesus
Aug 01, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Livro perturbador... Repugnante... Centra-se muito na violência da guerra e das barbaridades do nazismo (o que me desagradou por completo)

O que destaco de positivo:
- o diário "memórias" do protagonista Abel (parece que entramos na mente de um psicopata obcecado pela inocência das crianças);
- as descrições de Prússia oriental, em especial do castelo;
- alguns animais presentes (cervo e cavalo);
- e o facto de basear-se na balada de Goethe "O rei dos Álamos"

"Quem cavalga tão tarde, ao vento e pela
...more
Mikael Kuoppala
Jul 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Disturbing an powerful, the Ogre takes the reader through the scary psychology of totalitarian thinking by exploring the mind of a Nazi scientist during WWII.

When Michel Tournier is mentioned to someone, you often hear comments like: "Isn't that the author who could only write about human sexual perversions?", but if you examine his work more deeply, you'll see that there is a lot more to his writing than that.

"The Ogre" is Tournier’s second novel. It begins by telling us the story of a French m
...more
Jani
Dec 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I picked up Keijujen kuningas (The Erl-King), I did not know much about it besides the heard fact that it was deeply steeped in the world of myths. This knowledge might have been a slight burden while reading, but then again added a certain type of awareness that added a level to the process. In any case, it did not at all hamper the reading experience.

In fact, it is tribute to Tournier's apparent skill as a writer that little did affect the readability. It was not affected by the protagoni
...more
Peter
Apr 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like some others said: a beautiful and strange novel. I first read this book in the early 1990’s, and wanted to know if I would still find it as powerful and haunting some twenty years later (I did). Three comments though. One: the parts about the woods and the “hyperborean light” of the East Prussian heath are what’s it all about (the stuff about France is –in my opinion- a sort of very long though enjoyable prelude). The final two stages (Rominten and Kaltenborn) of Abel Tiffauges’ long eastwa ...more
Denni
Oct 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My oh my, this is a strange and complex book, and possibly the first novel I've ever read that has left me feeling that I need to read it over and over to properly understand it. A huge deal of praise must surely be due to the translator, Barbara Bray, for the difficult work of turning such a detailed and concentrated novel from the original French into English. Everything about this book is remarkable. It begins in 1938, in France, and ends in Germany as WWII finishes, backtracking from 1938 in ...more
James
Aug 27, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Ogre tells the story of a man who recruits children to be Nazis in the belief that he is protecting them. The novel received the Prix Goncourt. Volker Schlöndorff directed a 1996 film, based on the novel, with the title The Ogre.
Michel Tournier’s novel is an unsettling work that relies on a range of narrative strategies to achieve its effects. Notable among these is the alternation between first-and third-person narration. The book opens with the “Sinister Writings” of the protagonist, Abel
...more
Jalil
May 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"The Ogre" in English. For those who like to get a bit of philosophical speculation in their fiction, and appreciate literature on a deeper artistic level, this work is a giant. I'm very hard-pressed to think of another 20th century work that provokes thought to the level this one does, and simultaneously satisfies the reader with a gratifying story. Full of postmodernist juxtapositions and examinations, this book will leave you wondering about everything from your own sexuality to the role of r ...more
Jan
Oct 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Michel Tournier: De elzenkoning, is an outstanding wonderful and phantastic achievement, the contence of which I don’t yet fully understand. One of the peculiar things is that the main character, Abel Tiffauges, tries to understand himself through myths and paradoxes, or rather, as he puts it, in inversions. The boarding school period is already a very weird story, but than this French prisoner of war – how bizarre – finds himself in a position as mentor of the Hitler Jugend. Horror is alternate ...more
Liutauras Elkimavičius
Neabejotinas įžvalgos talentas pastebintis tai pro ką paprasta akis slysta nesustodama. Vizionierius, nuo kurio būdvardžių ir palyginimų pykina ir veža. Iškrypėlis, nes nežinau ar tiesiog fantazija gali kurti tokius sugadintus paveikslus ir supuvusius jausmus. Viena iš stipriausių, bet ir šlykščiausių knygų, kurias esu skaitęs. #Recom #LEBooks
Jesse
Jun 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, own
Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.
Catherine
Jun 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a dark and disturbing novel. And a wonderful work of art.

Main character looks for answeres about his purpose in life and his identity in myths (from the one about St. Christopher to the story of mythical Erl king in eastern Prussia). His story begins with Nestor, his only friend from boarding school he attended as a child, and Nestor's guidance in reading the signs. As he grows up, he notices his desires and interests are not common and just before his obsession with pre-pubescent girl
...more
Habemus_apicellam
Aug 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: europei
Un viaggio del delirio tra Francia e III Reich che diviene simbolico…

libro affascinante, molto complesso e difficile da riassumere in poche parole. E' un'opera potente, epica e carica di simboli, ma anche realistica, acre e grottesca. Tournier costruisce un protagonista unico, Abel Tiffauges, ossessionato da simboli e predestinazioni, attirato dai bambini di cui vuole farsi "forico" (portatore, nel senso di Cristoforo), in cui la follia disadattata viene magistralmente fatta "percolare" dall'a
...more
blakeR
Aug 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's a rare thing to open a book and encounter a voice so original and commanding that you at once know it will be one of the most memorable stories you've ever read. Thus opens The Ogre, with the perverse journaling of the titular Abel Tiffauges, uttering things so bizarre and disturbing that you're at once repulsed and captivated to continue reading. Even the typeface, at least in my edition, contributes to the feeling -- the letters are ever-so-slightly off-center, so that certain letters dro ...more
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Michel Tournier was a French writer.

His works are highly considered and have won important awards such as the Grand Prix du roman de l'Académie française in 1967 for Vendredi ou les limbes du Pacifique. and the Prix Goncourt for Le Roi des aulnes in 1970. His works dwell on the fantastic, his inspirations including traditional German culture, Catholicism, and the philosophies of Gaston Bachelard.
...more
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“One understands then why woman has no sexual parts, properly speaking. It is because she is herself a sexual part - a sexual part of man, to cumbersome for him to carry around permanently and therefore deposited outside himself for most of the time and taken up when needed. Moreover the quality that distinguishes man from animals is this very power of equipping himself at any moment with an instrument, tool or arm that he needs, but that he can get rid of straight away, whereas the lobster has to drag his two pincers about with him everywhere. And just as mans hand is a sort of grappling hook that enables him to grasp a hammer, sword or fountain pen according to his needs, so his sex is the sort of grappling hook of the sexual parts rather than the sexual part itslef.” 0 likes
“All night the angelic made me gasp for breadth and dream of drowning in sand or earth or mud. I got up, my chest still racked, but glad to be finished with the phantasms which magnify a reality difficult enough in itself. Coffee so bitter it was undrinkable. A big roar. Two big roars. No relief. The mornings only consolation was of a faecal nature. Unexpectedly and impeccably i produced a magnificent turd, so long it had to curve at the ends to fit into the bowl. I contemplated fondly the fine chubby little babe of living clay i'd just brought forth, and my zest for life returned.” 0 likes
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