Bernhard Schlink to Give Reading April 15
What if you discovered
that your dearest relative, favorite teacher, or beloved partner
once committed a heinous crime? Could you understand, forgive,
and love again? Prize-winning author Bernhard Schlink confronts
such difficult questions, most notably the guilt and shame felt
among many Germans for the crimes committed by their parents'
or grandparents' generations during World War II. Schlink will
read from his recently published and unpublished fiction Monday,
April 15, at 8 pm in Gamble Auditorium. A discussion and book
signing will follow the reading.
The reading is one
of several events planned for the author's two-day visit to the
Five Colleges. Schlink will also read (in English) at Smith College,
Monday, April 15, at 4:30 pm, in room 106 Seelye Hall, and at
Amherst College, Tuesday, April 16, at 7:30 pm, in Stirn Auditorium.
He will conduct a student seminar (in German) for Five-College
students at both the undergraduate and graduate level on Tuesday,
April 16, at 4 pm, in Herter Hall 601 at the University of Massachusetts.
acclaimed book, The Reader (Pantheon Books, 1997), describes
the relationship of Michael and Hanna, a fifteen-year-old German
boy and a woman twice his age who, he discovers, once served as
a Nazi prison camp guard. The book illustrates the tension felt
by the postwar generations, says Schlink, the tension of acknowledging
that unforgivable crimes were committed but, at the same time,
recognizing that it's wrong to make those who committed them into
monsters "so alien to us that we don't have to relate to
them." A visible SS tattoo on the arm of a favorite teacher
forced Schlink himself to confront war crimes as a very real and
personal problem. "If they had been monsters we wouldn't
have a problem," he says. "But we have a problem because
they are us."
Flights of Love (Pantheon Books, 2001), Schlink again delves
into the moral implications of his characters' behavior and emotions.
In each of seven stories, he focuses on love, not as a sentimental,
fairy-tale feeling, but as a complicated weave of desire, guilt,
jealousy, sacrifice, betrayal, obsession, and rebellion. From
a love triangle set during the fall of the Berlin Wall to a man's
obsession with his dead wife's adulterous relationship and her
former lover, the stories have been called "as perfect as
small plays," "as timeless as they are completely of-the-moment."
Schlink has also written
four bestselling German crime novels now being translated into
English, The Gordian Knot, Self Deception, Self-Administered
Justice, and Self Slaughter. He is a professor of law
at Humboldt University in Berlin and at Yeshiva University in
New York and a state supreme court judge in Germany.
background represents the best of interdisciplinary cross-fertilization,"
said Karen Remmler, codirector of the Harriet L. and Paul M. Weissman
Center for Leadership and associate professor of German. "His
visit will enhance ongoing efforts by German studies at the Five
Colleges to reach out to the local community and to promote interdisciplinary
exchange at the Five Colleges, in this case among German studies,
literature, and legal studies."
Cosponsors and organizers
for Schlink's visit are the German studies departments at Amherst
College, Smith College, and Mount Holyoke College; the Department
of Germanic Literatures and Languages at the University of Massachusetts;
the Five-College Lecture Fund; the Department of Law, Jurisprudence,
and Social Thought at Amherst College; the European Studies Program
at Amherst College; the Georges Lurcy Lecture Series Fund at Amherst
College; the School of Social Science at Hampshire College; the
Center for the Book and Law Program at Hampshire College; and
the Odyssey Bookshop.