Posts Tagged ‘Hugo Hamilton’

‘The Pages’ by Hugo Hamilton – Rescued from a Nazi Book Burning

 

‘The Pages’ by Hugo Hamilton   (2021) – 261 pages

 

Wherever they burn books, they will ultimately burn people also.” – Heinrich Heine

The narrator of the novel ‘The Pages’, instead of a person, is an old worn copy of the short novel ‘Rebellion’ by Joseph Roth which was rescued from a Nazi book burning in 1933.

Does this conceit of having a copy of a book telling the story work? I must say that for me it did not add anything. The narrator does not have a distinct or engaging personality which might have helped.

I have not read ‘Rebellion’. Although superficially it did not seem necessary to do so, I’m wondering if there are some subtexts to ‘The Pages’ that I may have missed.

We get two parallel stories here. One is the harrowing plight of the Jewish writer Joseph Roth in Germany in the 1930s. The other is a modern-day tale of the granddaughter of the man who rescued ‘Rebellion’ from the Nazi fires who now has possession of the book.

A Nazi Book Burning

I found the story of Joseph Roth interesting in a biographical way.

In Oxtend, in a small group of exiled writers, he enters a new relationship with the German novelist Irmgard Keun. She is not Jewish, but her books still fell victim to the book burning for portraying liberated female characters.”

I found the modern-day story less engaging and less memorable. It culminates in a treasure hunt which seemed like a letdown from the major issues of anti-semitism and book-burning that were raised earlier in the story of Joseph Roth. Whenever ‘The Pages’ switched to the modern story, I had difficulty remembering the specific circumstances of the various characters.

The two parts of the novel never gelled, never came together for me. I also found the novel cluttered and less than direct.

 

Grade:    C

 

 

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