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The Kindly Ones
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1001 book reviews > The Kindly Ones - Littell - Kristel

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Kristel (kristelh) | 4259 comments Mod
The Kindly Ones by Jonathan Littell, The story of Max Aue, a German/French man who served in WWII. He is a lucky man but a very "sick" man. Max is guilty of murder of children, women, he is guilty of incest, and he is guilty of matricide. Yet, he states in the beginning of the book, "I am a man like you". The book examines a lot of philosophies and political ideology and historically it was an interesting read but the sexual and autoerotic "crap" and I use that word both as description and literal was beyond what I feel is necessary in a book to get the point across.

I liked the parts where Littell examines different people groups, how he shows that many nations have acted similarly. He made many interesting comments about Political ideologies and ethnic cleansing.

Littell is an American born author who chose to write in French. He won the Goncourt, Grand Prix du Roman de L'Academie francaise, and Bad Sex in Fiction Award among other homors.

This title is based on Greek mythology of Aeschylus's trilogy, The Oresteia who kills his parents and has sex with his sister and then is judged but given clemency by the Furies who are renamed the Eumenides or Kindly Ones.

Rating 3.167, would have been higher if I hadn't had to read the autoerotica, diarrhea, urine, semen, body emissions.

Diane Zwang | 1309 comments Mod
3/5 stars

Named one of the "100 Best Books of the Decade" by The Times of London.
A bi-lingual (English / French) writer living in Barcelona. He is a dual citizen of the United States and France and is of Jewish background.

This is a unique novel told through the eyes of Max Aue, a jurist (lawyer) who becomes a fascist and joins the Third Reich. Aue becomes an officer and despite his ineptitude moves up the ranks throughout the war. The narrator is detached from emotion and the horrors of the Holocaust are told in a matter of fact way. The story moves more toward Aue's personality. He is I think a sociopath, he has dysfunctional relationships with his mother, sister and many others who cross his path. There is an inordinate amount of description of bodily fluids which I could have done without.

“For that is what total war means: there is no such thing as a civilian, and the only difference between the Jewish child gassed or shot and the German child burned alive in an air raid is one of method; both deaths were equally vain, neither of them shortened the war by so much as a second; but in both cases, the man or men who killed them believed it was just and necessary; and if they were wrong, who's to blame?”

“Instead I ended up a jurist, a State security official, an SS officer, and then a director of a lace factory.”

“In a State like ours, everyone had his assigned role: You, the victim, and You, the executioner, and no one had a choice, no one asked anyone's consent, since everyone was interchangeable, victims as well as executioners.”

“This was what I couldn't manage to grasp: the yawning gap, the absolute contradiction between the ease with which one can kill and the huge difficulty there must be in dying. For us, it was another dirty day's work; for them, the end of everything.”

"But I don't think I'm the devil. There were always reasons for what I did. Good reasons or bad reasons, I don't know, in any case human reasons”. “Those who kill are humans, just like those who are killed, that's what's terrible.”

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