The Kindly Ones
Named one of the "100 Best Books of the Decade" by The Times of London
"Oh my human brothers, let me tell you how it happened."
A former Nazi officer, Dr. Maximilien Aue has reinvented himself, many years after the war, as a middle-class family man and factory owner in France. An intellectual steeped in philosophy, literature, and classical music, he is also a cold-...more
“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 ...more
It's always going to be an act of hubris to believe you can explain the Nazis. The Kindly Ones purports to offer an insight into the transformation of an ordinary young man into a Nazi monster. Early on, Max Aue, the narrator, an SS Obersturmbannfürher, makes a case that all of us might have done what the Germans di ...more
So what's the most atrocious thing you've seen?... Man, of course!
The Kindly Ones polarized both readers and critics all over the world. They argued on its literary values and scandalous content, pornocaust or holokitsch were amongst epithets, felt poised between admiration for the gigantic work Littell done and themes he researched and final product and message it delivered. The genre itself confounded almost everyone, was it a history novel or quasi document, a literary fiction or fictionalize ...more
It is possible for human beings to justify all behaviour, no matter how irrational and cruel. Because this is so, some philosophers justify their view that moral norms must lie outside of human control, that there must be a God who knows what good behaviour is. This justification is also irrational and frequently just as cruel.
As for example when the philosophers and theologians of Nazism preached radical anti-Semitism based on universal genetic imperatives of ...more
-- 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 ...more
Fascism turned the Germany into a factory of death… And every factory must have an effective technology… So any technology must be perfected and the technology of murder as well.
Killing was a terrible thing; the reaction of the officers was a good proof of that, even if they didn’t all draw the consequences of their own reactions; and the man for whom killing was not a terrible thing, killing an armed man as we...more
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 ...more
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 ...more
The overarching historical plot works well. The protagonist, Maximili ...more
I’m going to review and score each chapter:
1. Toccata – Max lays down his intentions to tell his story. A good opening chapter that immediately lures you in and makes you pay attention. 4/5
2. Allemande 1 & 2 – Max is in Ukraine as an officer in the extermination squads who are systematically executing Jews, Com ...more
I will just say that it could have been better. Disc 29 was simply bad. I'm not sure if he was going for a William S. Burroughs homage. The historical details are startling, as expected. Length is a positive virtue in historical novels in some instances. The ...more
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)[: incest from an extremely young age, coprophilia, murderous inclinations (hide spoiler)]. And ...more
In some ways this was like a German American Psycho, although that work was a pure satire, a comic novel, not historical fiction, and this (at least, I think) isn’t intended to be satire. But if you posit that both novels take a stereotypical “worst example” of each country’s upper middle class young male – a slick Wall Street misogynist on one hand and a cultivated, intelligent, ruthless SS officer on the other - and push them to the limits of sociopathy and beyond, it’s an interesting comparis ...more
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- ...more
It is a journey into the soul of the SS. The author once recommended to me Heart of Darkness, and I can't help thinking that ...more
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 ...more
I'm both pleased and horrified to say that her opinion, in my view, is correct.
This is an engulfing, occasionally uneven, brutal masterpiece of a first novel. Our narrator, Max Aue, is unapologetic, matricidal, deeply closeted, murderous, and wants more than anything ...more
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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 ...more
|Should I continu reading this book?||1||1||Oct 17, 2020 12:37PM|
|Reading 1001: Reviews||9||15||Oct 01, 2018 03:32AM|
|Reading 1001: Questions Part 3||10||13||Oct 01, 2018 12:10AM|
|Reading 1001: Questions Part 2||10||18||Sep 30, 2018 09:15PM|
|Reading 1001: Questions Part 1||13||31||Sep 29, 2018 07:57PM|
|Reading 1001: This and That||20||21||Sep 15, 2018 04:11AM|
|Reading 1001: The Kindly Ones - Littell - Kristel||2||11||Sep 12, 2018 08:10PM|
His father is the writer Robert Littell, also resident in France and who authored numerous spy novels. ...more