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The Reader Social Concerns

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O riginally published in German as Der Voleser in 1995, Bernhard Schlink's The Reader deals with one of the weightiest possible social concerns: the Nazi Holocaust that wiped out over six million people— the majority of whom were Jewish, although Slavs, gypsies, Communists, homosexuals, and Jehovah's Witnesses were also targeted.

Set in the 1960s, the novel is concerned with the legacy of collective guilt inherited by the post-war generation, and it raises important questions about complicity and what could have been done differently. Schlink attempts to make his subject-matter manageable by reducing his focus to a single cross-generational relationship—that between the narrator, Michael Berg, and the much older Hanna Schmitz, with whom he has his first sexual encounter.

Michael initially meets Hanna when he is stricken by hepatitis outside her apartment block. She comes to his aid, and months later he visits her to thank her...

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This section contains 290 words
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