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The White Hotel Paperback – Apr 25 1996

4.5 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Paperback, Apr 25 1996
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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Indigo; New edition edition (April 25 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575400226
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575400221
  • Product Dimensions: 19.7 x 1.5 x 12.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 181 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews
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Product Description


“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.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I first read DM Thomas's novel The White Hotel when it was published in the early 80s. I loved it but found it extremely disturbing. This week, after 27 years, I read it again. My second reading was profoundly different from the first. It was still rewarding and disturbing. I cried pretty steadily for the last hour of reading and a while after. But the world has changed so much in 27 years that it's a different book.

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.
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Format: Paperback
First of all, I will confess that I have only read this book once, and just finished it moments ago. I had heard that you weren't well read in the 80's unless you had read this book, so I picked it up at a used bookstore expecting a great read. This novel seems to be a myriad of subplots on the one hand, and a story told over and over, chapter after chapter, on the other. The first two or three "chapters" are interesting in a fairy tale sort of way, however, it seems that there is no plot in sight. The latter half of the book is quite confusing at first. At the start of every chapter it is unclear who the author is writing about. He also changes the name of the heroine, which is fine, but he chooses to confuse you first. I greatly agree with the reviewer above who says that the last chapter is an unneccessary add on. Throughout the entire book there (again) is no plot insight until the last two chapters, where the book is very loosely tied together. Basically, as is written above, the first three quarters of the book are an individual account of pyscoanalysis told through different characters, which was intriging on it's own. The last two chapters are a look inside the holocaust through the eyes of the characters involved. As seperate books, all of these chapters would have made a great series about the main character (if expounded on), but as one book, it is all over the place. I will say that I did understand the undertones that the reviewers above mention, however I still find the book to be loosely put together. In a week or two, I may read it again, and who knows? Maybe I will have a better opinion of this book.
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.
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Format: Paperback
A demandingly-structured work whose parts I didn't connect until the second or third time I read it. Frau Anna G. is treated by Freud for hysterical pains in her womb and breast; Freud assumes all this arises from incidents in her childhood and from her repressed sexuality. A point he does not pick up is that Anna G has second sight. As the story unfolds, we discover that her pains are indeed the expression of pain, but pain arising from events in her future.
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.
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Format: Paperback
This novel on the surface seems to be a shocking exploitation of human sexuality and historical violence. However, the reader takes more away from this novel than an uncomfortable silence; this book beautifully weaves Virgin-Christ and Freudian imagery into a deeply introspective look into the mind -- the place where desires, memories, and even the capacity for the future lay. The heroine, Lisa Ergman, is treated by Freud and is the basis for his notorious "Anna G." case study. Thomas delves more deeply into this woman's life, illuminating the discrepancies and the events which lead up to her debilitating condition. Then he ties her suffering in the mind into the suffering of all humanity in the Holocaust. This is a book from which the more concerned and deeper reader can take away a valuable lesson in the human roots of psychoanalysis and the inner workings of humanity -- the torture and ecstasy from within and without. "The White Hotel" raises serious concerns about the validity of our own memories and the value of dissecting it. I would have given it five stars, but the last section of the novel seems tacked on and inappropriate.
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