- Taschenbuch: 432 Seiten
- Verlag: Black Swan (5. Juli 2012)
- Sprache: Englisch
- ISBN-10: 0552775401
- ISBN-13: 978-0552775403
- Größe und/oder Gewicht: 12,8 x 2,6 x 19,9 cm
- Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 2 Kundenrezensionen
- Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 49.507 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
The Absolutist (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 15. März 2012
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"Extraordinary... The narrative is by turns surprising and tragic in equal measure while its troubling conclusion will stay with readers long after they've closed the book" (Carlo Gebler)
"Powerful, poignant and beautifully written. This will become a classic war novel" (Bookseller)
"Compulsive, stylish and gripping" (Reader's Digest)
"A wonderful, sad, tender book" (Colm Toibin)
"John Boyne brings a completely fresh eye to the most important stories. He guides us through the realm of history and makes the journey substantial, poignant and real. He is one of the great craftsmen in contemporary literature" (Colum McCann)
The dazzling new novel from the bestselling author of The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas.Alle Produktbeschreibungen
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The term "absolutist" is applied to a soldier who refuses to fight or take part in any wartime actions. They are different from "conscientious objectors", who were willing to serve in auxiliary roles at the front, i.e., nurses, stretcher bearers, ambulance drivers, etc. "Absolutists" refused - point-blank - to serve at all. These two men - only 18 years old when they meet at training school and then are sent to France to fight - are witnesses - and sometime participants - in brutality beyond description.
Tristan Sadler survived the war, returning to London and an entry-level job in the publishing industry. Still shattered by war-time experiences, he contacts the sister of his friend who was killed by the firing squad. Sadler has letters that his friend, Will Bancroft, had entrusted to him. These were letters to Will from his sister, Marian, and Sadler feels honor-bound to return the letters to Marian. He travels to Norwich to meet Marian and her parents. The Bancroft family is living as pariahs in their community because of the way Will Bancroft met his end.
Disgraced as the family of a "coward", Sadler tries to explain to them the circumstances of Will's declaration of his "absolutism" in wartime and the attendant result.
But there are secrets that Tristan cannot tell Will Bancroft's mourning family. And these secrets are what John Boyne so cunningly dole out in his novel. There's no black-and-white here, except maybe in the horrors of the trenches. Each character is nuanced, as are the situations that arise in the book.
Boyne's book is absolutely excellent. It's sad that "The Absolutist" is not yet available in the US; I bought my copy at an English-language bookstore in Berlin.
The novel begins in 1919, when Tristan Sadler, now twenty, arrives in Norwich, England, to return the letters that his deceased friend Will received from his sister during the war. Though war has been over for nine months, Tristan still suffers from nervousness and stress-related shaking, particularly of his right hand and index finger. Flashing back three years, the author then presents Tristan as a seventeen-year-old who has been thrown out of home and family. With no one who cares whether he is alive or dead, he enlists and trains as a soldier at Aldershot under a sadistic sergeant, totally committed to the war and to the killing. Eventually, he and his group of twenty men sail for France.
As the action of the novel follows Tristan back and forth between Norfolk in June, 1919, and France in July - September, 1916, the author creates suspense by having the characters in 1919 refer to events from 1916 which the author has not yet introduced, leaving the reader to wonder about the mysteries that underlie Tristan's visit. Some of these mysteries also evolve from Tristan's memories of his own childhood, some of which connect with what happens in France. Two characters in his group in France prove to be conscientious objectors, and they chat with Tristan about their feelings. Serving as stretcher-bearers, many of whom die, these men have dared to challenge the "moral absolute" of war and do not fire their guns.
Though author Boyne provides plot twists galore, the pattern of the plot structure itself eventually becomes predictable, with constant loose ends leading to mysteries which are then reconciled through new information. At times, the reader may feel manipulated, his/her feelings held captive by the author until he can reveal yet another surprise. Any big questions about characters arise from information withheld, rather than from conclusions the reader develops for him/herself on the basis of the action, a more subtle approach. In fact, the first "surprise" of the novel is one most readers will guess almost immediately. Tristan's appearance in the conclusion as an eighty-year-old man, brings his life up to date, as he reviews his decisions and behavior, but it also feels artificial - and convenient. The novel presents thoughtful contrasts between "absolutists" and those who see compromise as essential to survival, and though the novel is very serious, with no humor to leaven it, The Absolutist is a riveting and fast-paced experience.
But while the narrator's homosexuality is always paramount in his tale, there is also a strong anti-war theme throughout, as evidenced first by ill-fated Wolf and then later by Will, who, after witnessing an unconscionable cold-blooded murder by a fellow soldier, becomes not just a conscientious objector, but the 'absolutist' of the title.
Boyne's framing of the story with post-war events, flashbacks and a decades later final 'epilogue' was not, in my estimation, very effective. In fact it served mostly to draw out the story in such a way that it often veered toward the tedious. As a character, Will's sister Marian was not really very effective or believable, and seemed more to be a forced vehicle to insert yet another theme: suffrage and women's rights. There is also a telling scene between Tristan and Corporal Wells in which Tristan vehemently denies any close friendship with the condemned Will, and not once, but three times, in much the same way Peter denied Christ. Another undeveloped theme there perhaps? Maybe Boyne just tried to do too many things in his story. In an attempt to create suspense about the 'terrible thing' Tristan had done, the device of the fluttering forefinger instead serves to telegraph what this great secret is.
I wanted very much to like THE ABSOLUTIST, but often became impatient with is circular constructions and vacillation between themes. A better and more straightforward look at attitudes toward homosexuality in England can be found in the books of J.R. Ackerley. And Pat Barker's Regeneration or Frederic Manning's Her Privates We offer much better representations of anti-war themes and life in the trenches. THE ABSOLUTIST is not a bad book, but it certainly could have been better.
- Tim Bazzett, author of the memoir, BOOKLOVER
I gave this book three stars because through the whole book I felt that things must get better at some point, when in fact, they never did. Spoiler alert, there is not a happy ending... or beginning and middle. Just depressing. I would have been satisfied to give this book five stars if somebody had thrown a pie or even told a bad joke.