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

Rob Bliss

Beautiful and horrifying. Genius!

Tyler

At the end of this story one mystery lingers: Did something magical happen? “If you answer yes,” the book seems to say, “humans are inescapably haunted. If you answer no, people may be safe, but the cost will come elsewhere.” Either way I now see clearly why Prussia suddenly vanished.What instigates the mystery is the protagonist. Abel Tiffauge is a fairly normal French guy despite thinking of himself as an “ogre” with his over-muscled shoulders. But what’s normal is relative. Who among us hasn’t experienced this: You’re listening to someone you’ve known just a little while. Every sentence he utters makes perfect sense, but you gradually realize that the more he talks, the crazier he sounds. Some strange force subverts the logic of his discourse, and you end up staring, not hearing. Tiffauge has that effectOur ogre’s conversational detours, however, dazzle rather than annoy. At times he gets caught up in his private notion of the phoric, referring to things that carry. Cars fascinate him because they carry people – anthropophoria. And people carry objects and other people, in their arms and on their shoulders. Ancient spirits might carry things, too, if they existed. Or as another example, purity in Tiffauge’s mind becomes opposed to innocence. Then come his ideas about symbols. What moral status do they possess? Are they able to act own their own? Exceptional meanings, for this man, affect the ordinary incidents of life.The story and its musings take Tiffauge from the Paris garage he owns to German Prussia during World War II. Once there “the violent bear it away,” as Flannery O’Connor, quoting the Bible, once expressed it. Tiffauge’s changed environment eerily resembles The Erl-King, a mythic 19th century poem by Prussia’s own Goethe. Tiffauge’s passions soon become entwined with Prussia’s destiny. As the war reaches its climax and the Russian Army pours over Germany’s borders, we learn who Tiffauge takes himself to be and what he intends.This novel ranks high for its originality and style. Because the particulars of the story also appeal to my own tastes, I give The Ogre the highest rating. Indeed, this book won France’s top literary award in 1970 – that’s one of the reasons I ordered it. Barbara Bray has done a fine translation which reads smoothly in English. This provocative tale never actually insists anything mystical took place within its ken. Yet on the whole a phoric spirit enfolds the plot.

Richard

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 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_U3uIl...).Ce 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"]>

katy

I'm practicing reading French, and may have missed a lot of vocabulary here, but what I got was fascinating and mysterious. The theme of the book is based on a poem by Goethe which I must investigate further. The setting is largely a military school for boys in Hitler's Germany. The protagonist is a French prisoner of war with an affinity for animals and young boys. The author's commentaries on photography, war, symbols, and many other topics are unique. I'll read more of his work.

Marc L

A very special kind of book, there's no doubt about that. But I don't know 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 children.Then 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 aide of Göring 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. I'm not going to reveal the end, but in the midst of the apocalyptic sceneries of the end of the Third Reich, Tiffauges comes to repent his sins. This part in Eastern Prussia is much easier to read, as an interisting developing story. But this also has a perverse side-effect: hunting red deers, the maniacally dissecting and analysing of racial and phyiscal characteristics of children, the atrocious 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 had 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 exhibit the perverse 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.

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.

Editorial Alfaguara

�Una gran novela... Cubre simult�neamente los acontecimientos internos de una mente y los de un continente.� THE NEW YORKER El Rey de los Alisos, la novela con la que Michel Tournier obtuvo el Premio Goncourt, narra la historia de Abel Tiffauges, un extra�o prisionero franc�s en la Alemania del II Reich, mezcla de ogro depredador y adolescente perverso, que se siente predestinado para llevar a cabo una misi�n en Prusia, cuna legendaria de la naci�n alemana. El celebrado autor de Medianoche de amor nos muestra aqu� lo m�s oculto, tierno y enfermizo del ser humano, siempre en busca de significados, ritos y se�ales que le gu�en y rediman de su condici�n de ser para la muerte. Fantas�a ins�lita sobre los tiempos tenebrosos de la �ltima guerra mundial, este libro constituye un extraordinario viaje hacia la infancia y un inquietante ensayo sobre el amor.

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?

Jacob Wren

Michel Tournier writesThere’s probably nothing more moving in a man’s life than the accidental discovery of his own perversion.and:The very perfection of its functioning and the terrible energy that went into it were enough to exclude him forever, but he knew no machinery is safe from a piece of grit, and that fate was on his side.and:The moth flies on wings of love toward the electric light bulb. And when he gets there, close to it, as near as he can be to that which attracts him irresistibly, he doesn’t know what to do. He doesn’t know what to do with it. For indeed what can a moth do with an electric lightbulb? .

Tom

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'!

Albert F. Jester

a strange and disturbing novel..framed by the old german myth of the "erl-koenig" [erl king] /and the famous poem of goethe/ and st christopher..a french prisoner recruits young boys for a hitler youth camp and everything in the world a sign.."now I know that any human face, however vile, becomes the face of Christ when it is struck"

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.

Kobe Bryant

This book has a lot of symbolism and the protagonist has weird feelings towards children and animals and the ogres here are metaphorical and not the fantasy creatures

carl theaker

Saw the not well known flic 'The Ogre' with John Malchovich, which is basedon this book, which has inspirations from the Goethe poem 'The Erl-King'.The book is situated just before and during WWII, both are pretty good.Author Tournier appears to be a French Gunter Grass. He uses the protagonist,a simplistic Frenchman Tiffauges, to view the Reich in a sentimental fashion,allowing him to critique his own country (France) a bit.Tiffauges, a mechanic in Paris 1938, injures his hand so while taking some time off heuncharacteristically starts writing his life story with his left hand and is magicallysurprised to find he cannot only write with it, but better than with his right.He records all those tragedies that happen to a kid when in a boarding school,picked on etc. and you see how he obtains an understanding & somewhat obsessive loveof children. This is carried on with his life in Germany as an Erl-King of sorts.Published in 1970 it is definitely written in the tone of the anti-Vietnam war era.Excerpt: In reality our society has the justice it deserves: a justice appropriate to the cult of the assassin which literally blossoms at every street corner, on all the plaques setting forth for public admiration the names of the greatest warriors, or in other words of the most bloodthirsty professional killers in our history.A great tale ending in the heartbreaking invasion of Eastern Germany by theRussians (well maybe not if you're the Russians). Perhaps it's a signof a good book, but Tournier seems to wrap things up too quickly.

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