1. Story Analysis
The Boys From Brazil
in 1976 by Michael Joseph Ltd. This edition published in 1977 by Pan Books Ltd.
Autobiography from the author
The author was born in New York City in 1929 and is a graduate of the “Horace Mann School” He lives in New York and has three sons. His first novel, the crime story “A kiss before dying” (1952), was an immediate public success. It was followed by “Rosemary’s Baby” (1964), a hair-raising fictitious account of modern deviltry and witchcraft. It was made into a film starring Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes, and gave rise to a spate of imitations in print and on the screen. Levin’s third novel “This perfect day” (1967) is a futuristic anti-utopia set in a computercontrolled world. “The Stepford wives” (1972) was another popular success. “The Boys From Brazil” has also found a wide reading public.
There were created little Hitler’s (the boys) in Brazil.
Doctor Mengele has summoned six former SS-men to a Japanese restaurant in Sao Paolo. They have been selected to carry out a task of the highest importance. 94-men in different countries, are to be killed on or near certain dates in the next two and a half years. What the conspirators do not know is that a young man named Barry Koehler has bribed a waitress to plant a hidden tape recorder in the room. But Mengele gets the waitress to betray Barry by giving her a large sum of money. The Nazis trace Barry to his hotel break into his room and murder him. The killings have meanwhile started and Liebermann racks his brain to find out what the victims may have in common to make them targets for the Nazis. A visit to one of the widows, Frau Döring, and the thirteen-year-old son teaches him nothing. When Liebermann goes to the United States for a speaking tour, he happens to get in touch with another woman whose husband has been killed. He is astonished to find that her son is the exact replica of the Döring boy, in appearance as well as behaviour, speech and age. This at last gives him a clue, for he remembers that twins were the subject of Mengele’s experiments at Auschwitz concentration camp, where he tried to breed perfect Aryans. Liebermann discovers that the American boy was adopted through the agency of a German woman who was a guard at Ravensbrück concentrationcamp. Liebermann makes a deal with her, and she tells him that some thirteen years ago she arranged adoptions of boy babies supplied by a German organisation in Brazil. The scene shifts to Brazil where Mengele is infuriated when he hears that the bosses of his Nazi organisation have called the six killers back. The risk to the Nazis becomes too great as a result of Liebermann’s activities. Determined to finish the job, Mengele disguises himself and travels to the United States, where he intends to kill Liebermann as well as the remaining victims on the list. Back in Vienna, Liebermann is told by a biology professor that Mengele has evidently succeeded in making “mononuclear reproduction” work in human beings. The experiment must be to make replicas of Adolf Hitler himself. Because Liebermann realises that official action may take too long, he also contacts the “Young Jewish Defenders”, a militant organisation led by rabbi Gorin. Gorin is eager to get at the Nazis and promises Liebermann all possible help. They agree to meet at the house of Henry Wheelock, who is one of the people to be killed. But Mengele has got wind of Liebermann’s plans and gets there first. He first impersonates Liebermann and kils Wheelock, and then impersonates Wheelock when Liebermann arrives. He tells Liebermann how the Führer allowed him to take half a litre of his blood and cutting of his skin, which Mengele used to produce replicas of Hitler. The boys will grow up to be exact Hitler replicas, physically as well as mentally and emotionally. When Liebermann tries to escape, he is shot and seriously wounded by Mengele, but he is saved by the unexpected return home of Wheelock’s son. (one of the Hitler replicas) Mengele tries to talk him over to his side, but the boy becomes convinced that Mengele is a dangerous lunatic and sets his father’s murderous dogs on him. After Mengele’s dead Gorin’s men arrive on the scene and take Liebermann to hospital. Liebermann consults with Gorin about the steps to be taken with regard to the little Hitlers. Gorin insists that they should all be killed to protect the world, but Liebermann cannot find it in his heart to become a child-killer like Mengele. When his arguments fail to convince Gorin, he flushes the list of names through the toilet.
Yakov Liebermann: Liebermann is the exact opposite of the glamorous superhero of spy fiction. A tired man past the middle age whose health is failing and whose life is marked with tragedy, he seems a loser rather than a winner. In spite of the determination with which he persues Nazi criminals in the cause of justice, he is neither hard nor uncompromising. He is guided by love and compassion even where they seem out of place, and he is prepared, to sacrifice justice on the altar of mercy when forced to make a choice.
Doctor Mengele: Single-minded fanaticism and cold-blooded ruthlessness are concentrated on his ideal of enslaving the greater part of mankind. Thus Mengele serves as a foil to Liebermann.
Rabbi Gorin: He is contrasted with Liebermann whose ally he is. Gorin’s solution to the problem posed by the Hitlers and Mengeles of this world is to fight them with their own weapons. The opposition between Liebermann and Gorin, that of idealism versus realism, is a fundamental human problem which will probably remain unresolved as long as men continue to be free individuals.
The way the story is told is also traditional: the events follow one another in chronological order and there aren’t flashforwards. The story is most told from the eyes of Liebermann.
Brazil, Sao Paolo, United States and Vienna
Should we use violence when it seems to guarantee a quick removal of the dangers threatening society.
This theme is represented by the militant organisation and by Liebermann. Should they kill the little Hitlers or shouldn’t they. Liebermann doesn’t want to kill them because he doesn’t want to become a child-killer like Mengele but the members of the organisation insist on killing the little Hitlers to protect the world.
Realising an ideal
Mengele’s plot, by producing a number of Hitler-replicas and to make it possible for the “Aryan race” to conquer the world and establish the Fourth Reich, is an attempt to realise the old Nazi ideal of creating a race of superior human beings.
2. Personal Text interpretation(dutch)
Er was een passage die ik niet helemaal begreep namelijk deze: Mengele was in het laboratorium waarin het boek uitgelegd werd hoe er kleine Hitlertjes gemaakt werden en even later had Mengele samen met zijn bondgenoten het laboratorium in brand gestoken. Toen ik het boek gelezen had snapte ik niet waarom dit precies gedaan was, maar na de film die we hebben gezien werd het me duidelijk, tenminste als de film precies volgens het boek gemaakt is. Hij had het laboratorium in brand gestoken om de sporen uit te wissen die Liebermann mogelijk zou kunnen vinden van de gemaakte Hitlertjes. De rest van het boek was voor mij eigenlijk wel duidelijk dacht ik.
Toen ik de titel van het boek hoorde “The Boys From Brazil” dacht ik meteen aan een boek die over de stranden en het mooie land Brazilië gaat maar dit boek ging dus over heel iets anders. Toen ik de kaft van boek voor de eerste keer zag dacht ik meteen aan de Tweede Wereldoorlog in verband met dat hakenkruis dat er op stond. Ik had een andere titel voor het boek gekozen bijvoorbeeld “The 94 Cloned Hitlerboys” omdat er in het boek 94 kinderen zijn gemaakt (gekloond) met hetzelfde doen en laten als Hitler. Of misschien wel deze titel “The Failed Mission” omdat het Mengele niet gelukt is een vierde rijk te creëren.
Ik interesseerde me het meest in Liebermann’s karakter omdat je jezelf hier wel in kan leven.
Deze man vertelde voor het grootste gedeelte het verhaal zodat je gemakkelijk in hem kon kruipen. Als ik in de schoenen van Liebermann had gestaan had ik precies hetzelfde gedaan als wat hij gedaan heeft.
Dit boek vond ik goed te volgen met af en toe wel wat moeilijke woorden die ik niet helemaal wist, maar door die zin nog een keer te lezen kon je meestal wel uit de zin opmaken wat het woord betekende. Bij andere boeken zoals “Brave New World” snapte ik heel veel niet aangezien Engels niet mijn sterkste vak is, heb ik dit boek toch goed begrepen. Ik denk dat dit komt door de korte zinnetjes, de manier van vertellen en de spanning in het boek.
Andere boeken van deze auteur:
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