The Ogre

ISBN: 080185590X
ISBN 13: 9780801855900
By: Michel Tournier Barbara Bray

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About this book

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 the 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 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 spellbound.

Reader's Thoughts

Philippe Malzieu

Very difficult book. When I read this book, i'm complain to think to Hannah Arendt and banality of evil. This concept asks essential questions on the human nature. Eichmann was a small poor man, Tiffauge, "The ogre" also. The black part of inhuman is placed in each one of us . In a totalitarian mode, those which choose achieve the most monstrous activities are not so different from those which think of being unable about it. It is the discomfort of the book. The title comes from a poême of Goethe. The king carries a child and saves it. Tiffauge save one who escape fron dead camp, but he condemned hundreds of them. And the latent paedophilia is unbearable.Very hard book

Rob Bliss

Beautiful and horrifying. Genius!

Lubov Yakovleva

Стёклышки от бутылок, если подносить их к глазам,сдвигают вещи со своих мест, расширяя, добавляя в пространство эффект гладкости, мутности, непрозрачности.Смотреть в стёклышки захватывающе, это простой способ сменить свою реальность,вдруг надоела.Книга Турнье - то же битое стекло, с мягкими, сладкими краями,излизанными морем.


The English translation of the title "Le Roi des Aulnes" is somehow awkward. Nevertheless it is a Michel Tournier's brilliant account on the humanity through the eyes of one of the most curious characters in literature.

Pierre Fortier

Mon état d'âme ne s'y prêtait pas? Le sujet ne m'intéressait pas? La forme me laissait indifférent? Force est d'admettre que ce livre m'a profondément ennuyé et que j'ai dû arrêté au 2/3 du parcours avant de sombrer dans la lecture par obligation.

Jim Coughenour

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 war progresses, the setting moves eastward, into a winter-world of horror, and ultimately, transcendence — which I admit doesn't tell you much. It's an unusual, demanding novel; to my mind, a work of genius, unlike anything I've ever read, including the other great, equally odd novels of Tournier: Gemini; Friday; The Four Wise Men.Not a book for the weak-hearted.

Michael Selvin

I can't understand le prix Goncourt. This book is about a creep and attempts to make him interesting. Fails. Makes a feeble effort to understand the theology of the Nazis through this warped individual. I'll never look at a horse again in the same way.

Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly

This earned a star from me for the research and inventive musings the author had obviously done to do pedantic exhibitions about:1. 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 a man can only visit);4. benign inversion (evil becoming good, sort of) and the malign inversion (the reverse);5. euphoria, phoria ("to carry"), phoric, phore, anthropophoric (the pricipal protagonist, Abel Tiffauges, likes to carry sick, young boys in his arms, experiencing euphoria in the process);6. atmospheric saturation, e.g., when an atmosphere is saturated with beauty one feels an intoxication that has a distant affinity with phoric ecstasy (like, again, holding a wounded child in one's arms);7. photography as the raising of an object to "imaginary power";8. developing photo films as involving the inverse and reversible worlds;9. the French Penal Code;10. the use of pigeons during war, the different kinds of such pigeons;11. the peat-bog men (carcasses of long dead men preserved in peat bogs);12. Nazi hunting lodges, their games, animal droppings;13. the different ways of measuring stags' antlers;14. the dynamics of horses;15. the origins of great East Prussian families traced way back to the Teutonic Knights;16. human twins;17. human hair;18. symbols in war; and 19. different positions of boys while asleep.I also gave it another star because although I already "knew" the overall complexion of the story and its probable trajectory (what with its dead giveaways : the "ogre" title, its first 1/3 part consisting of Tiffauges's "sinister diary", his huge body and the smallness of his penis, his obvious megalomania and pedophiliac tendencies, the war era, France and later Germany as settings) it turned out differently and quite beyond my expectations.Apart from these, however, I felt this was just a piece of crap. Yes, I've read the other reviews, and saw its high GR ratings. But what can I possibly do when, after finishing it, I felt that the author had just taken a dump inside my brain?

Jem Wilton

Worst book for a long time..the one revelation - that we all like to look or experience something horrible now and again... well, surprise, surprise...!!! The rest was boring, but stupidly, I read it front to back.

Mikael Kuoppala

Disturbing an powerful, the Ogre takes the reader through the scary psychology of totalitarian thinking by exploring the mind of a Nazi scientist during WWII.When Michel Tournier is mentioned to someone, you often hear comments like: "Isn't that the author who could only write about human sexual perversions?", but if you examine his work more deeply, you'll see that there is a lot more to his writing than that."The Ogre" is Tournier’s second novel. It begins by telling us the story of a French mechanic named Abel Tiffauges, living during the end of 1930's, who one day injures his right hand. This random occurrence sets the character on a disturbing journey the reader gets to witness in horrid fascination.This intriguing novel is divided into six segments, from which the first (and the longest) is the most fascinating. It deals with this multi-dimensional character's past and present through one year's worth of diary entries- which he starts writing with his left hand after the previously mentioned accident. By the end of the segment this strange character of Abel Tiffauges with his peculiar habits and personality feels extremely real and deep, hence securing the feeling of reality for the whole artistically written book. The segment ends as Tiffauges stops writing after the beginning of the war between France and Germany.The first segment is followed by three weaker segments which, unlike the first one, are told in a traditional third-person narrating and are filled with surprisingly unlikely coincidences and contrived events as they depict Tiffauges' journey through Nazi-Germany, first as a French soldier, then as a prisoner of war, and finally a ranger.Then the novel improves again as it gets to its fifth segment, which almost raises to the level of the first one. It shows us an intriguing transformation process as, again by ridiculously unbelievable coincidences, Tiffauges ends up becoming an SS-officer and an instructor in a Hitler-Jugend training facility.Step by step this at first reluctant character grows more and more fascinated with antisemitism and the complex eugenic assumptions about racial differences. The segment is dark and unsettling, as it describes a transformation in which Tiffauges gets divided psychologically and ultimately can't separate reality from what he's been taught. The reader goes through the same process. Tournier has an uncanny ability to take a reader’s mind and mold momentarily through the viewpoint of what you would assume would be completely unrelatable characters.In the sixth and final segment the reader gets to witness Tiffauges's journey through chaos as he experiences an enlightenment that leads to his understanding of his own inner evil and eventually carries him into self-destruction. This process is unevenly illuminated and it occurs suddenly, seemingly not leading towards any sorts of conclusions. The ending of the book is blurry, and it leaves the reader frustrated but intrigued with issues unfinished and not dealt with.In the end "The Ogre" is a book that I recommend to anyone, even though many people will probably not like it as much as I did. And I did. A lot. Despite all my criticism about the structure and pacing.

Mika Auramo

Michel Tournierin romaani Keijujen kuningas on napakymppi myyttien kyllästämän todellisuuden ystäville. Kun vielä kirjailija yhdistää siihen legendaarisen Goethen runon, pähkähullun ranskalaisen päähenkilön ja syväluotauksen natsi-ideologiaan, jännittävä lukuseikkailu voi alkaa.Niin kuin elävässä elämässä ja monissa kirjoissa, päähenkilöiden lapsuudenkokemukset, pelot, ystävät ja muu lähipiiri vaikuttavat ratkaisevasti elämänkulkuun. Abel Tiffauges -niminen nuorukainen ammentaa yhä sairaalloiseksi tulevaa nyrjähtänyttä elämänhimoaan Pyhän Kristoforoksen sisäoppilaitoksesta omituilta omituisilta kokemuksiltaan.Eletään 1930-luvun Ranskassa, ja kertoja Abel alkaa kirjoittaa vasemmalla kädellä muistelmiaan, jotka nimeääkin ”Vasenkätisiksi kirjoitelmiksi”, koska loukkasi autokorjaamollaan oikean kätensä. Korjaamolle hän päätyi isänsä tahtoa uhmatakseen, ja sen jälkeen uhmatakseen luonnonlakeja ja ryhtyi pelkäksi lihansyöjäksi: raakaa lihaa eri muodoissa, ja pituus venähti kunnioitettaviin mittoihin.Läpi romaanin tietynlainen maaninen vimmaisuus on Abelia eteenpäin tyrkkivä voima. Hän on kuin luonnevikainen luonnonlapsi, joka innostuu milloin mistäkin. Nimisymboliikkaan hän hurahtaa ja pohtii omaa tulevaisuuttaan Raamatun-tarinoiden perusteella, kunnes elämän päämääräksi tulevat lapset, ja sairaalloinen suhde heihin. Ensimmäisenä sen saavat kokea pariisilaislapsoset ja ennen kaikkea eräs nuori petollinen tyttönen: Tiffaugesin kohtalo näyttää sinetöidyltä, mutta sota pelastaa.Tietynlainen kolkko kohtalonusko leimaa koko romaanin ajan Tiffaugesin vaiheita. Monien jännittävien vaiheiden jälkeen sotavangiksi joutunut kyyhkysenkasvattaja ja metsänhoitajaksikin ylennyt ranskalaismies odottaa kohtalonsa täyttymystä, ja lopulta ajautuukin onnekkaiden vaiheiden jälkeen Itä-Preussiin, jonka historiaan luodaan onnistunut katsaus. Välillä toki käydään kalparitareiden matkassa Virossa, ja Kalterbornin linnanherra ottaa hänet suojelukseensa.Romaani kehittyy huikeasti loppua kohden, ja taustalla häämöttävät kolmannen valtakunnan sotatapahtumat. Niistä Tiffauges ei juurikaan välitä, vaan hän keskittää kaiken tarmonsa ”rakastamiinsa” lapsiin ja innostuu omalla sairaalla tavallaan ”ihmissyöjän kutsumuksestaan”. Hän näkee itsensä kuin kentaurina muuttuen lopulta pelottavaksi hirviöksi: ”Kentauri on anaalienkelin lihallisesti ihmiseen sulautunut olento.”Vaikka asetelma vaikuttaa absurdilta, romaanista välittyy mielenkiintoinen näkökulma natsi-Saksan rotuoppiin terävästi havainnoiden. Tiefaugeksi tituleerattu ”tekonatsi” päättää uransa vieraan vallan alla kohoten esimiesasemaan napolassa eli nuorten kasvatuslaitoksessa. Jungvolkin jälkeen on vuorossa Hitlerjugend, ja näitä parhaita voimia kouluttamaan tarvitaan SS-miehiä, jollaiseksi mielenvikainen, terävä ”nero” sotavankikin menestyksekkäästi ryhtyy.Viimein kuitenkin puna-armeija vyöryy kohti länttä, ja keväällä 1945 myös Kalterbornin kohtalonhetket ovat käsillä. Suunnatonta nautintoa Tiefauge onnistuu keräämään itselleen mitä vastenmielisimmistä asioista aina kasvattiensa kärsimykseen ja verensekaisiin mielettömiin tunnelmointeihin. Minämuotoinen kerronta vie onnistuneesti romaaninsa mystiseen loppuun saakka. Tarkkaavainen lukija pystyy liittämään yhteen kaikki ennusmerkit, aina Kristoforoksen koulusta, suosta löytyneeseen ”keijujen kuninkaaseen” ja Raamatun diasporaan. Hän on Abel ja Abelin kansaa niin kuin mustalaiset ja juutalaiset. Luvattu maa odottaa, ja keskitysleirin poika toimii oppaana, mentorina loppuun saakka…


Ohlala. Voila un livre qui est difficile à expliquer. Beaucoup d'éléments provocatives, une histoire influencée par la mythologie et la Christianité. Si vous êtes préparés pour un boulversement éthique, lisez 'Le Roi Des Aulnes'!


struggled and not overly enjoyed

Danielle Tremblay

Ce roman a pour thème la pédérastie, mais comme toute œuvre de Michel Tournier, tout est en symboles et en métaphores. Aucune société ne s'est réellement souciée d'analyser et d'établir la nature profonde de la pédérastie. Michel Tournier a pris la place de la société démissionnaire en analysant avec son habituelle finesse et sa sensibilité, cette nature particulière. Il lui a même donné un sens et un rôle : la phorie.(view spoiler)[Abel Tiffauges, le personnage principal, raconte son enfance, sa vie au pensionnat Saint Christophe de Beauvais. Il y rencontrera Nestor qui prendra cet enfant malingre et maltraité par ses camarades sous son aile, son ami décèdera dans l'incendie du collège. Abel devient mécanicien, photographe amateur.En 1939, arrêté pour viol, emprisonné, il évite la Cour d'Assises, l'armée a besoin d'hommes, il est envoyé en Alsace. Il sera colombophile.Prisonnier de guerre, on l'enverra en Prusse Orientale, après un passage au camp de Moorhof, il se retrouvera au domaine de chasse de Goering qu'il appellera l'Ogre de Rominten.1943, la Mazurie, dans une forteresse école militaire du IIIe Reich, le soldat français se germanise. C'est lui l'ogre, l'Ogre de Kaltenborn, recruteur d'enfants destinés à mourir face aux soviétiques.Il sauvera Ephraïm, petit garçon juif, en s'enfuyant avec lui dans les marécages. (hide spoiler)]Le titre de ce roman est tiré d'un poème de Goethe : Der Erlkönig Le Roi des Aulnes. Ce poème commence ainsi :« Qui chevauche si tard dans la nuit et le vent ?C'est le père avec son enfantIl serre le jeune garçon dans ses brasIl le tient au chaud, il le protège ».Ce poème a aussi inspiré un compositeur : Le Roi des Aulnes de Schubert en 1821 ( poème aborde la symbolique de l'homme portant un enfant, symbolique omniprésente chez Abel depuis le pensionnat portant le nom d'un saint représenté avec un enfant sur son dos (Saint Christophe) jusqu'à sa mort en portant Ephraïm.Œuvre de Jusepe de RiberaAbel est un personnage complexe, obsédé mais cherchant à se maîtriser, il ne touche pas les enfants, mais se repait de l'odeur de leurs cheveux dont les mèches garnissent son oreiller.Il exprime ainsi son ambition :« Il ne me sied pas de nouer des relations individuelles avec tel ou tel enfant. Ces relations, quelles seraient-elles au demeurant ? Je pense qu'elles emprunteraient fatalement les voies faciles et toutes tracées soit de la paternité soit du sexe. Ma vocation est plus haute et plus générale. »Il crée le concept de "phorie" et son expérience lui fait décliner ce concept : le cerf est nommé l'ange phallophore, le cheval est l'animal phorique par excellence, la superphorie correspond au cavalier portant un enfant et l'officier SS marchant sur les enfants allongés accomplit un acte antiphorique par excellence.Le destin d'Abel n'est fait que de signes qui lui permettent de deviner la chute du IIIe Reich. C'est un monde sombre dans lequel nous entraîne Abel.Accaparé par la lecture des signes qui éclairent son destin, grisé par son pouvoir croissant à Kaltenborn, Abel perçoit lors de la chute de l'Allemagne nazie que l'idéologie nazie est le reflet inversé des valeurs auxquelles il croit, la pureté recherchée étant l'inversion maligne de l'innocence.Sa prémonition au sujet de cette chute trouve sa réalisation dans sa mort : portant un enfant juif échappé d'un camp, Abel s'enfonce dans la vase d'un marécage jusqu'à la mort. L'enfant portant une étoile jaune, Abel parle d'astrophorie.Le Roi des aulnes a obtenu le prix Goncourt en 1970. De mon point de vue, il méritait totalement ce prix prestigieux car c’est peut-être le roman le plus réussi de cet auteur.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>


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 garage.Along 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 war.Before 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 Blaettchen.These 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 hinterland:This warning is addressed to all mothers in the areas of Gehlenburg, Sensburg, Loetzen and Lyck!BEWARE OF THE OGRE OF KALTENBORN!He 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 again!At the napola, the boys (and girls) are raised in a military discipline heavily laden with the ersatz symbolism of a quasi-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.

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