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Saturday, 27 January 2007

Coetzee reviews Mailer's new novel, The Castle in the Forest, in the 15 February issue of The New York Review of Books.

Hitler had neither the historical awareness nor the distance from himself to recognize to what a degree he was in the grip of Romantic great man theory; nor is it likely that, had he recognized it, he would have wanted to shake it off.

Typically for this magazine, Coetzee goes for the long format (5400 words). He goes in deep, from first principles, musing on the nature of evil and the impossibility, for biographers and historians, of reaching the depths of insight that are available to the writer of fiction. Mailer, he says, "has never regarded poetic truth as truth of an inferior variety."

... he has felt free to follow the spirit and the methods of fictional inquiry to gain access to the truth of our times, in an enterprise that may be riskier than the historian's but offers richer rewards.

Thanks to 3 Quarks Daily for the heads-up.

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