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Literature / The Castle in the Forest

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Norman Mailer's last novel before his death in 2007, The Castle in the Forest is a (highly) fictionalised biography of the early years of a certain Austrian boy, as well as his immediate family.

The novel starts during the Third Reich, with Heinrich Himmler attempting to prove his theory that Hitler is the offspring of incest (which, according to Himmler, can lead to genius as well as to congenital defects). Himmler sends the narrator, an SS man named D.T. (short for Dieter), to investigate the missing links in Hitler's ancestry.

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However, the novel soon leaves the realm of realism and reveals itself to be a theological fantasy where D.T. is in fact a minor devil who has been masterminding Adolf's development since his conception.


This novel provides examples of:

  • Defector from Decadence: D.T. considers becoming this, which is one of his main reasons for writing the book.
  • Foregone Conclusion
  • Literary Agent Hypothesis: The novel is supposed to have been written by D.T. in modern-day USA.
  • Primal Scene: The very young Adolf walks in on his parents having sex at one point.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: D.T. never says or does anything particularly heinous.
  • Satan: Known as "the Maestro" among the devils. D.T. talks to him a few times, but he mainly stays in the background. It's mentioned as a possibility that he personally takes over watching over Hitler after dismissing D.T. from this position.
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  • Title Drop: But only in the epilogue. Up until then, it is a Non-Indicative Title.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Edmund Hitler.

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