Top critical review
The Castle in the Forest
on 17 August 2008
The Castle in the Forest is a book about Adolf Hitler's family. It starts out almost as a documentary, when the narrator, who at first tells us he is an SS-officer, is sent to Spital in Austria in the 1930's to investigate Adolf Hitler's ancestry. Once the story of the family starts, the style shifts to that of a very readable novel, though the first chapters are so full of incest, that it is a bit disgusting.
Even though I enjoyed the book most of the time, I came out feeling a bit disappointed. I picked up this book because I was very curious what Norman Mailer would write about Adolf Hitler and the person he became. It promised to be a revealing novel, but it was only an account of one of the theories about Hitler's ancestry in which the protagonist was Hitler's father Alois.
Also, the hand of the supernatural was ever present in the lives of the Hitlers and it can hardly be plausible to conclude that the interference of the devil was the possible cause for Hitler's hatred and the atrocities he came to commit when he was in power. Perhaps the book has not been correctly presented as the synopsis promises that the author would `respond to these and other crucial aspects of Hitler's personality'. I don't know what Mailer's intention with this book was, but it couldn't possibly be an explanation of Hitler's personality. So what was the point Mailer was trying to make? Whatever that was, I didn't get it.
I also regret that despite the outstanding writing skills of the author, and the fact that I found the novel intriguing, sometimes I found it hard to enjoy it because no matter what I read about the family, I could not set aside my feelings about Hitler and the monstrosities he committed. I could not seem to overcome the repulsion to really enjoy this work of fiction.