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HEIDEGGER’S GLASSES By:Thaisa Frank November 8, 2010

Posted by lycan librarian in book reviews, Books and reading.
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          This novel is about the Compound of Scribes, a society of writers in Nazi Germany during WWII who are concealed in an old mine shaft. Their job it is to answer letters written to those who have already died at the hands of the SS. They live underground in a false world with a mechanical sky that is cranked from night to day. The nighttime sky shows the constellations in their positions on the night Hitler was born. There are cobblestone streets, gas lamps, wrought iron benches and over fifty people wearing the coats and other clothing of the dead.

      The book centers around Elie, a woman with Aryan good looks who is obsessed with freeing the oppressed while running errands to and from the Compound. She is lovers with Gerhardt Lodenstein, Oberst of the Compound, and admired by all the residents. The others who live their lives in these odd circumstances are as eccentric as one might expect, using word games and lotteries to keep themselves entertained and sane. Although the society and all but a few characters thrown in for historical accuracy are fictitious, Frank does such an amazing job of bringing this tale to life that this reader had to explore the internet to discover exactly how much of this novel was true. It is no more or less sensational or unbelievable than any number of other Holocaust  stories.

     The Lycan Librarian is constantly amazed at the ongoing amount of books inspired by the Holocaust, but what is even more wondrous is the vast and diverse array of fantastic and unique tales, most of which have roots in true stories. When one thinks about the tremendous number of people who were effected by the Nazis, and how they were each individuals wanting only to survive the ordeal, it is clear there will continue to be even more books on the subject yet to come, because while they all reflect the same subject, they are each as different as the people whose stories they tell.  As the author of this piece so eloquently put it in reference to the trunk of mementos from the Compound: “She wished the trunk were the Compound , and that everything in it could bring those people back. But nothing will ever do that. And there will always be one more thing left to add. And one more thing after that.”

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