Monday, May 10, 1999

The Portage to San Cristóbal of A.H.

by George Steiner

Adolf Hitler is found, very old but alive, by an Israeli search party in the hellish swamps of Brazil.  As various world governments plot and agents and mercenaries speed to the site, the five Israelis hold a crude trial for their prisoner.

A startlingly original novel, written in a confidently worldly style.  As a story, it’s compelling enough, but the message behind the story is unexpectedly powerful.  There are some fantastic passages, such as the Israeli mastermind’s litany of dead Jews to keep his party from humanizing Hitler; or the ruminations of the sous-secrétaire d’état on why the French really fought the war; even the cogent descriptions of the deadly swamp.  But the crowning passage of the novel is the end, Hitler’s impassioned, anti-Semitic, but perversely logical, defense speech.  He was no satanic mastermind, he claims, but an average man of his time who dared express what millions have before, notably the Jews: national supremacy, and destruction of those that oppose his people.  He even claims that he might be the Messiah that gave the Jews a national homeland and a sense of righteous militarism.  Disturbing, powerful, astonishing stuff.

four stars

No comments:

Post a Comment