White Hotel Paperback – Jan 5 1982
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“A novel of blazing imaginative and intellectual force.”—Salman Rushdie
“To describe this novel as spine-tingling in its indescribable poetic effect would be to trivialize its profoundly tragic theme. Say then that it is heart-stunning.”—The New York Times
“Astonishing . . . elegantly experimental yet quite warm . . . A forthright sensuality mixed with a fine historical feeling for the nightmare moments in modern history, a dreamlike fluidity and quickness.”—John Updike, The New Yorker
“A dazzler that lingers in the mind.”—People --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
About the Author
D. M. Thomas is the author of the novel The White Hotel. He has translated works by Akhmatova and Pushkin. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Top Customer Reviews
The White Hotel (don't read on if you don't want to know what happens) is about several things, but is essentially about Freud's article Beyond the Pleasure Principle, in which he posits that humans are motivated by the life instinct (creativity, harmony, sexual connection, reproduction, and self-preservation) and the death instinct (destruction, repetition, aggression, compulsion, and self-destruction) - by sex and death.
In the novel, the historical Freud is helping a young woman who has debilitating pain that doctors think is psychosomatic. As part of her treatment she writes Freud a poem, followed by a narrative explaining the events in the poem, in which she describes a passionate tryst she has in a hotel in the Alps (which she calls the White Hotel) with a man she identifies as Freud's son. She has never met Freud's son. In this fantasy, while the lovers have sex other guests are killed in all sorts of horrific ways. Bodies fall outside their window.
The poem is meant to be shocking: it's obscene, erotic, sometimes gross, and jarringly personal in the way she keeps referring to her lover as "your son". When I read the book in 1981, the sex section at the beginning of the story balanced the shocking death scene at the end. However, in the intervening 27 years our measure of what is sexually shocking has changed markedly.Read more ›
One other thing, before I go, is that I think that the book is the author's self exploration into his own neurosis. I think he may have had an Oedipus complex. He is quite obsessed with the mother child bond.
I read The White Hotel in '82, the paper back emblazoned with the promise "soon to be a major film". 18 years on I gather that major film is finally in hand, again. Frankly I'd say this book was unfilmable. Is it genius? Maybe, if genius can be a one-off occurrence. D. M. Thomas' other fiction (mostly out of print now) is distinctly second-rate compared to this, the only work in which his faux-naif narrative style works properly.
That said, the depiction of Anna G as a symbol for Europe literally buried by barbarism is superbly achieved, and 18 years on I'm still reading it; if this isn't brilliance then it's not far off. Profound, disturbing, extravagantly sexual.
Most recent customer reviews
Whne I was first asked to read this book, I loathed the task of it. But from the moment you begin to read it, Tjomas sucks you in with the incrediby imagery he presents. Read morePublished on May 15 2002 by E. R. Butler
I had a warning before reading this book, it was that nothing would ever seem the same and my awareness of my own femimine sexuality would escalate. Read morePublished on Oct. 20 2000
As an astute reader will notice, opinions vary greatly about this book
from those who feel it's the greatest 20th century novel to those... Read more
D.M. Thomas' term for the blend of the real and the imagined in The White Hotel is "myth," by which he means "a poetic, dramatic expression of hidden truth. Read morePublished on Oct. 7 2000
I could throw around superlatives and they would not have much impact. Too many reviews are written about mediocre books that one would think them, from the reviewers reaction,... Read morePublished on Sept. 27 2000 by Bruce Kendall
This is the kind of book you need to read twice, at least. The second time I read it was when I realized that the long, surrealistic dream-poem in the first part was actually a... Read morePublished on March 2 2000
I read this book when I was a teenager and has stuck in my mind since. It is very profound and in reading it again, now that I understand it a little better, warrants a space on... Read morePublished on Feb. 29 2000
I found The White Hotel to be a stunning, amazing piece of work. Never in my life have I read a book with such depth and fascinating complexity. Read morePublished on Nov. 29 1999 by Tarums