By Bernhard Schlink

Hailed for its coiled eroticism and the ethical claims it makes upon the reader, this enchanting novel is a narrative of affection and secrets and techniques, horror and compassion, unfolding opposed to the haunted panorama of postwar Germany.

When he falls ailing on his approach domestic from college, fifteen-year-old Michael Berg is rescued by means of Hanna, a lady two times his age. In time she turns into his lover—then she inexplicably disappears. whilst Michael subsequent sees her, he's a tender legislation scholar, and she or he is on trial for a hideous crime. As he watches her refuse to protect her innocence, Michael steadily realizes that Hanna can be guarding a mystery she considers extra shameful than homicide.

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The argument has the effect of tempering the consolation, giving it an undertone of worldliness—philosophy as it is actually lived. The language reminds us that Theseus is a good rhetorician, aware of his audience and his need to reach them: “For it is proved by experience” (line 3001), he says, and “Wel may men knowe, but it be a fool” (line 3005). Nevertheless, the dominant effect is the sublime freedom of seeing the whole cosmos—“the fyr, the eyr, the water, and the lond”—extend before us, an order held “In certeyn boundes, that they may nat flee” (lines 2992–93).

As for the Amazons, they are led by one named for the horse that is the symbol of their freedom: Ypolita (“Horsewoman”), a woman both “fair” and “hardy,” which faintly suggests that she dwells beyond the periphery of what Athenians, and perhaps English dukes, would consider an appropriate lifestyle for a woman of the ruling class. Taken together, the Amazons and Thebans represent the kinds of social excess that do not belong in chivalric space. Athens being the center of this space, Scythia and Thebes are lawless outlying territories, while the Minotaur and the other animal motifs imply a blurring of the human image that threatens the humanity sheltered by chivalric space.

Lines 1772–78) As the kernel of his subsequent public address on love, lovers, and the tournament, Theseus’s “inner speech” is a humble but truer reflection of his identity 28 Chaucerian Spaces as prince. His appetite for hunting prevented Palamon and Arcite from killing each other (that was “destinee”), but it was his own “gentil” compassion for women (“pitee”), and consequently his mercy, that kept him from killing them. Aided by women’s emotions, Theseus has fought down the lion within his own heart, the “princely” anger that would prevent wise decisions, separating him from himself and from his body politic.

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