Inescapable, too, is military service, which Christian embarks on before he is to begin university -- and here conditions and demands do crush him, preventing him from pursuing his dreams.
He is not the only one who, by trying to maintain some personal integrity, is ruthlessly marginalized in a system that tolerates nothing that could be considered in any way subversive. The book begins with a lengthy description of the to-do around Richard's fiftieth birthday, and his situation suggests the possibility of getting by fairly comfortably in this society, as he has found considerable success and enjoys a few privileges. Yet he's also mired in an awkward affair that has no hopes of working out well, with gossip starting to reach his wife and the woman in question reacting poorly to their situation.
Tod einer Göttin (Lisa-Marie Reuter)
Richard's half-hearted attempts to do the right thing don't work out particularly well. His meetings at the local Writers' Union and his interaction with various figures make for a good overview of the difficulties faced by authors and publishers, and the compromises that were expected. The discussions get very frank, even as the amount of leeway the censor permits is limited.
Meno is working on a lyrical work of his own, but it is the fate of an author he is drawn to and tries to take a bit under his wing, the very talented young Judith Schevola, that Tellkamp focusses on. Like Christian, she -- another promising member of the younger generation -- suffers most under the crushing weight of the regime and its demands.
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Tellkamp offers a vast survey of East German life, even as he keeps it within relatively limited areas: school, the workplace the hospital and the publishing house , army life. For the most part, those whose lives are described are fairly well-to-do -- if not financially particularly well-off, at least relatively secure in their places, and certainly comfortable even as that occasionally proves illusory. True, occasionally strangers are assigned a portion of their living spaces, as lines are redrawn in the houses and officialdom literally encroaches on their lives further, but most can get by relatively comfortably.
Tellkamp does, however, pointedly describe the lives of the truly privileged, the nation's favoured sons, which some of the others catch a glimpse of -- an entirely different world. The official party line is the one thing that is sacred, as those who oppose it suffer Draconian punishments. Doubts about anyone being a good citizen -- defined largely on the basis of unquestioning support for the Soviet position -- can be devastating, while taking the step of filing an application to leave the country means burning all one's bridges in one quick and massive blaze.
There is a great deal of period-detail here, such as the lines at shops that people get on even if it's unclear what will be on offer the thinking being that any special delivery is worth getting one's hands on , or the amount of time involved in dealing with even the smallest bit of bureaucracy. It's not just far from a loving portrait, however: there's no Ostalgie nostalgia for the old Eastern ways here at all and, if anything, Tellkamp's version is almost too consistently sour.
Christian is a self-conscious, acne-suffering teenager with incredible ambition and drive at the beginning of the book. He plows through books at a ridiculous pace, and barely seems to enjoy any leisure time, but there's also no sheer love of learning or reading here.
It's all ambition -- and his choice of medicine as a field is also not fueled by his interest in helping others but simply because he wants fame and adulation. It's hard not to see Tellkamp in Christian, and it's hard not to see this book as the result of an only slightly more controlled ambition. At nearly a thousand pages Der Turm is well in the upper reaches of Thomas Mann territory, and there are points -- even stretches -- where one has to wonder why he didn't show more restraint. Der Turm is not a smooth-flowing narrative: the many, relatively short chapters may be Mann-like, but the overall result is a very different one.
Certain chapters are true asides, excursions elsewhere, while others do follow a course of action in sequence. Tellkamp begins his book with a brief 'Overture' and closes it with a 'Finale' -- and music does play a small role in some of the characters' lives -- and there is something of a musical composition to the novel. Especially in those parts and passages that allow one or another instrument to show off a bit: Tellkamp has the writing chops and can't help but introduce a few flourishes -- but that doesn't always work to best effect.
One of the writers notes: "Wahrheit! Als ob es in der Literatur um Wahrheit ging!
σαρακοστή στο νηπιαγωγείο GABOR αθλητικό
Romane sind keine Philosophieseminare. As if literature had anything to do with the truth! Novels aren't philosophy-seminars. Die Stollen blieben geschlossen, bis zur Wende. Mittelbau-Dora ist anders. Das wurde ihm schon bei seiner Ankunft klar. Das Wasser, in das er und sein Team getaucht sind, ist eine schlimme Giftsuppe. Die Wassertemperatur liegt konstant bei sieben bis acht Grad, der Sauerstoffgehalt geht nahe null. Der Nazi-Schrott schon.
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Denn wo kein Sauerstoff ist, kann auch nichts rosten. Alles war noch da. Die Bauelemente musste man sich nur zusammensuchen. Es war so unheimlich. Als Kramer und seine Kollegen zum ersten Mal in die Fertigungshallen des ehemaligen Konzentrationslagers abtauchten, begann ein Wettlauf mit der Zeit.
Das meiste in den Jahren von bis Hier haben Verbrechen stattgefunden.
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Hier freuen wir uns, wenn wir in einen Stollen gehen, in dem wir noch alles finden, was damals von Herrn Kramer inventarisiert wurde. Es waren vor allem Nazis und Pseudohistoriker, die in den Kohnstein eindrangen.
Die einen wollten sich ein Andenken daran sichern, was Hitlers Ingenieure in den vierziger Jahren des vergangenen Jahrhunderts entwickelt hatten. Bei anderen war es blinde Sammelwut. Seit zwei Jahren ist nun auch der Hintereingang versperrt. Der Bergwerksbetreiber hat Pleite gemacht.