To say that Bernhard Schlink’s book The Reader is a love story that turns into a Holocaust novel may be glib, but it isn’t completely inaccurate. The plot unfolds in two distinct sections. First, in the late 1950s, a German youngster of fifteen, Michael Berg, has an intensely sexual affair with a thirtyish streetcar conductor named Hanna Schmitz. After a summer of bedroom gymnastics and emotional bonding cemented, at her request, by the boy’s reading aloud to...
The remainder of this article is only available to paid subscribers.
Print subscribers to Commonweal are entitled to free access to all premium online content. Click here to purchase a print subscription, or if you’re already a print subscriber, register now for premium access.
Online-only subscriptions provide access to all premium online articles for just $34/year. Click here to subscribe.