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An international bestseller and winner of the Prix Goncourt France's most prestigious literary award The Ogre is a masterful tale of innocence perversion and obsession It follows th A very special kind of book there s no doubt about that But I m not sure what to feel about it The first third is a mix of diary excerpts memories and reveries especially about the youth of Abel Tiffauges a crippled garageholder in Paris It s difficult reading but it s clear enough Tiffauges looks at reality in a very strange way with special attention to young children yes indeed he sees himself as childbearer and Saint Christopher his patron saint but a girlfriend refers to the oger myth a humanoid monster in fairy tales that hunts childrenThen the perspective changes the Second World War starts and Tiffauges is prisoner of war in a camp in East Prussia deep in Germany He is afforded a lot of freedom becomes an aide of G ring and eventually ends up in a castle school of the Hitlerjugend In the slipstream of nazi rigor and cruelty he can develop his special talents It is here the link is made with the known poem of Goethe the alder king Der Erlk nig I m not going to reveal the end but in the midst of the apocalyptic sceneries of the fall of the Third Reich Tiffauges comes to repent his sins This part in Eastern Prussia is much easier to read as an interesting developing story But this also has a perverse side effect hunting red deers maniacally dissecting and analysing of racial and phyiscal characteristics of children atrociously training of the Hitlerjugend at a certain point it becomes attractive Add to this the beautiful depicting of the eastprussian landscapes dark woods lovely lakes and grand castles of the teutonic order all very wagnerian and attractive Tournier has drawn a lot of criticism for this as though he wanted to make nazisme likeable I don t agree on the contrary he has succeeded in exhibiting the perversity in every human soul and he clearly shows the excesses this can lead to In short there is a lot in this book to make it a beautiful but shocking work but in the end I can not say this was pleasant to read So a very mixed and ambiguous judgment

Summary æ E-book, or Kindle E-pub ☆ Michel Tournier

Le Roi des Aulnes

Novel since The Tin Drum Until the very last page when Abel meets his mystic fate in the collapsing ruins of the Third Reich it shocks us dazzles us and above all holds us spellboun If you wish to be an ogre then it is very important that you not only be bullied mercilessly but that you react by choosing someone completely unsuitable as a role model This is what happens to Abel Tiffauges the son of an auto mechanic who despite his height is treated like dirt at a Catholic school and ends by inheriting his father s garageAlong the way he develops some strange ideas regarding children While he is not a pederast and never even attempts to initiate any overt molestation Yet he is falsely accused by a little girl to whom he has given rides in his car of rape Just when he is about to be adjudged as guilty of crime a sympathetic judge frees him providing he joins the army It is only days before the German invasion of France and the Phony War is about to turn into a real shooting warBefore long Abel is captured by the Germans and sent to a prison camp in East Prussia where he develops a reputation as a trusted hard working prisoner Because of his ability with motor vehicles he is transferred to Goering s giant hunting lodge at Rominten and from there to the napola of Kaltenborn where he becomes an assistant to a racial theorist named Otto BlaettchenThese napolas are short for National Political Academies where German youth are trained to become SS officers As always Tiffauges enters into the spirit of the institution and even takes over Blaettchen s position when the latter is transferred to the Eastern Front In the end Tiffauges is so successful in finding prototypically Aryan looking recruits that he develops a fearsome reputation in the Prussian hinterlandThis warning is addressed to all mothers in the areas of Gehlenburg Sensburg Loetzen and LyckBEWARE OF THE OGRE OF KALTENBORNHe is after your children He roves through our country stealing children If you have any never forget the Ogre he never forgets them Don t let them go out alone Teach them to run away and hide if they see a giant on a blue horse with a pack of black hounds If he comes to see you don t yield to his threats don t be taken in by his promises All mothers should be guided by one certainty If the Ogre takes your child you will NEVER see him againAt the napola the boys and girls are raised in a military discipline heavily laden with the ersatz symbolism of a uasi fictitious Teutonic past What eventually happens of course is that the Russians invade on their way to take Berlin The ending of Michel Tournier s The Ogre is exceedingly strange and not altogether successful The book does however show how one on the borders of evil can still be strangely innocent while contributing to the overall evils of National Socialism The Ogre is probably one of the best French novels of the second half of the Twentieth Century Tournier succeeds in keeping the reader enthralled from the first page to the last

Michel Tournier ☆ 9 review

E passage of strange gentle Abel Tiffauges from submissive schoolboy to ogre of the Nazi school at the castle of Kaltenborn taking us deeper into the dark heart of fascism than any Do you not hear what the Erlking uietly promises meThe title of this brilliant novel comes from a poem by Goethe and traces back the love and admiration that the French novelist Michel Tournier 1924 2016 felt for Germany His father being a renowned expert in that country s culture the boy learned the language at an early age He was raised with a German model in mind and a compulsive cult for order Published in 1970 the novel is centered in the figure of Abel Tiffauges who we follow throughout his life In the first part of the book by his crits sinistres sinister writings a diary written with the left hand where we learn of his vices and obscure views of the world and in the second part by a third person narrator from 1938 to 1945 In Goethe s poem the ErlKing is a bleak mythical elf who is said to linger in the woods Erlk nig means literarily Alder King in French Le Roi des AulnesTiffauges vous tes un lecteur de signes je l ai bien vu et d ailleurs vous me l avez prouv Vous avez cru d couvrir dans l Allemagne le pays des essences pures o tout ce ui passe est symbole tout ce ui se passe parabole Et vous avez raison D ailleurs un homme maru par le destin est vou fatalement finir en Allemagne comme le papillon ui tournoie dans la nuit finit toujours par trouver la source de lumi re ui l enivre et le tue Mais il vous reste beaucoup apprendre Jusu ici vous avez d couvert des signes sur les choses comme les lettres et les chiffres u on lit sur une borne Ce n est ue la forme faible de l existence symboliue Mais n allez pas croire ue les signes soient toujours d inoffensives et faibles abstractions Tiffauges you are a sign reader I have seen it and by the way you have proved it to me You thought you would discover in Germany the land of pure essences where everything that passes is a symbol everything that happens parable And you re right Moreover a man marked by fate is doomed fatally to end up in Germany as the butterfly that spins in the night always ends up finding the source of light that intoxicates and kills him But you still have a lot to learn So far you have discovered signs about things such as letters and numbers that are read on a terminal This is only the weak form of symbolic existence But don t think the signs are always harmless and weak abstractions Abel Tiffauges was a car mechanic who lived in the district of Champerret in Paris and believed he was a fairy tale character He was obsessed with deciphering signs all around him While holding an injured fellow worker in his arms he experienced a revelation that would prove crucial in his view and understanding of life The word phorie in French relates to the act of holding the world or a boy as Saint Christophe the patron saint of his school according to legend held once the boy Jesus in his arms and carried him to the other side of a river With this image in mind he patiently awaited the heroic moment that eventually would arrive Erkl nig Moritz von Schwind 1804 1871Car s il y a dans la Gen se une chute de l homme ce n est pas dans l pisode de la pomme ui marue une promotion au contraire l accession la connaissance du bien et du mal mais dans cette dislocation ui brisa en trois l Adam originel faisant choir de l homme la femme puis l enfant cr ant d un coup ces trois malheureux l enfant ternel orphelin la femme esseul e apeur e toujours la recherche d un protecteur l homme l ger alerte mais comme un roi u on a d pouill de tous ses attributs pour le soumettre des travaux serviles For if there is a fall of man in Genesis it is not in the episode of the apple which marks a promotion on the contrary the accession to the knowledge of good and evil but in this dislocation which broke the original Adam in three bringing down the man the woman then the child suddenly creating these three unfortunates the eternal orphaned child the lonely frightened woman always in search of a protector the light man alert but like a king who has been stripped of all his attributes to subject him to servile work The author makes a strong case of the idea that good and evil live together in the mind of his fictional character The paroxysm of opposites seems to haunt him in the crucial moments of his life The ambivalence of human beings is put into uestion as the novel evolves Tiffauges finds it hard to fit in his social role when the community unjustly points a finger at him Deep inside he expects that same society to someday redeem him A loner by nature Michel Tournier lived for most of his life secluded in Chevreuse a commune outside Paris where he wrote in solitude His early formation was devoted to Philosophy an important presence in his fiction In Le Roi des Aulnes there is no exploration or innovation of formal structures There is however luminous originality in the writing superb richness of language and impeccably built prose baroue in nature surrounded by persuasive rhythmic vitality Erkl nig Julius Sergius von Klever 1850 1924Tournier said he lacked imagination and declared in interviews that the invented parts are minimum in the overall plan of the story There is a strong influence of Flaubert in his writing that is reflected in specific sections of the plot Like the 19th century novelist he saw himself as a collector of stories from history and everyday life Tiffauges first a prisoner during the war and gradually engaged by the Nazi regime is seen as an ogre by the outside world although he considered himself righteous and noble But is he really so evil The uestion remains opened and is resolved epically in the last scene biblical in its conception bringing the mythical figure to human proportions in the grandiose apotheosis of the novel Erlk nig poem by Goethe music by Franz SchubertThe setting of Goethe s poem Erlk nig composed by Franz Schubert when he was 18 years old and performed in this historic video by the legendary Dietrich Fischer Dieskau ERLK NIG Who rides so late where winds blow wildIt is the father grasping his child He holds the boy embraced in his armHe clasps him snugly he keeps him warmMy son why cover your face in such fearO don t you see the ErlKing nearThe ErlKing with his crown and trainMy son the mist is on the plainSweet lad o come and join me doSuch pretty games I ll play with you On the shore gay flowers their colors unfoldMy mother has made you a garment of goldMy father my father o can you not hearThe promise the ErlKing breathes in my earBe calm stay calm my child lie lowIn withered leaves the night winds blowWill you sweet lad come along with meMy daughters shall care for you tenderly In the night my daughters their revelry keepThey ll rock you and dance you and sing you to sleepMy father my father o can you not traceThe ErlKing s daughters in that gloomy placeMy son my son I see it clearHow grey the ancient willows appearI love you your comeliness charms me my boyAnd if you re not willing then force I ll employNow father o father he s seizing my armThe ErlKing has done me the cruelest harmThe father shudders his ride is wildIn his arms he s holding the shivering childHe reaches home with toil and dreadIn his arms the child was dead Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


10 thoughts on “Le Roi des Aulnes

  1. says:

    At a high point in a pivotal relationship formed during his refectory days in an alien French boy's school Abel Tiffauges is told the gruesome apocryphal story of the Baron des Adrets' newfound awareness of cadent euphoria by the obese enigma Nestor The crescendo is reached when the latter murmurs in coda that

  2. says:

    A very special kind of book there's no doubt about that But I'm not sure what to feel about it The first third is a mix of diary excerpts memories and reveries especially about the youth of Abel Tiffauges a crippl

  3. says:

    This earned a star from me for the research and inventive musings the author had obviously done to do pedantic exhibitions about1 monsters;2 the Aristotelian concept of potency which he managed to tie up with the sexual act;3 the two types of women the woman trinket one who can be manipulated by men and the woman landscape one whom

  4. says:

    Do you not hear what the Erlking uietly promises meThe title of this brilliant novel comes from a poem by Goethe and traces back the love and admiration that the French novelist Michel Tournier 1924 2016 felt for Germany His father being a renowned expert in that country’s culture the boy learned the language at an early age He was raised w

  5. says:

    Since The Ogre is a book obsessed with taxonomy heraldry classification of all kinds I'll start by saying that the author MIchel Tournier most reminds me of is Thomas Mann Mann's playful ironic fictions seem to have fallen out of use

  6. says:

    Michel Tournier's Der Erlekonigaka The Ogre aka Le roi des aulnes accomplishes the remarkable feat of making the reader feel even ueasier than does the poem by Goethe from which it takes its nameI still recall reading Goethe's poem i

  7. says:

    The ogre of the title is Abel Tiffauges a French mechanic who first appears a kind of autistic naif strange rather than frightening in his obsessions or perversions It begins in France 1938 in the years before Hitler's invasion — then as the

  8. says:

    Michel Tournier writesThere’s probably nothing moving in a man’s life than the accidental discovery of his own perversionandThe very perfection of its functioning and the terrible energy that went into it wer

  9. says:

    If you wish to be an ogre then it is very important that you not only be bullied mercilessly but that you react by choosing someone completely unsuitable as a role model This is what happens to Abel Tiffauges the son of an a

  10. says:

    One of the weirdest books I have ever read Très bizarre