#86 ~ The i Tetralogy

July 16, 2008 at 5:00 am | Posted in Books, Culture, LIfe, Reading | 13 Comments
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The i Tetralogy by Mathias B. Freese

I remember very well the first time I learned about Hitler and what happened to the Jewish people under the rule of Nazi Germany. My teacher taught us that Hitler wanted to create a pure race and to me at that time, Aryan meant blond haired and blue eyed. I was very relieved when he said that. I was certain that me and my family would have been safe from the tortuous concentration camps. Reading The i Tetralogy brought those thoughts back to the surface. I had never considered what it might have meant to be one of Hitler’s chosen. As a child I only felt better knowing that we wouldn’t have been tortured. I never gave any thought to what it would have been like to look the other way or, perhaps worse, to become the torturer.

The i Tetralogy is a fictional account of the Holocaust and its impact from four points of view: a nameless Jewish man enslaved in a concentration camp (seems to be Auschwitz), from Gunther, one of the lead “untersturmfuhrer” of the same concentration camp, from Gunther living in the United States at the end of his life, and finally from Conrad, Gunther’s son born after WWII ended. It is a vicious web that allows no one to escape unscathed.

In graduate school I took a Literature of the Holocaust class and it was one of the most profound of my life. The work covered in that class was mainly autobiographical and focused on such works as The Drowned and the Saved by Primo Levi, Night by Elie Wiesel, and This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentleman by Tadeusz Borowski. We also read Maus and Maus II by Art Spiegelman. For me, Primo Levi’s work was the most difficult, emotionally painful, yet precious to read (if this makes sense). The i Tetralogy reminded me of that experience and amplified it. In it Freese said those things that were left unsaid by the survivors.

Freese, as I discovered while reading Down to a Sunless Sea, is a talented writer. The passion he poured into this novel is clear. It was a difficult book for me to finish. Over the week it took me to read this novel, my anxiety level rose steadily. My jaws would be so sore when I woke up in the morning and I found them clenching for no reason throughout the day. My physical reaction is a testament to the power of the experience. The i Tetralogy would not have worked if it were written by a lesser author.

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To buy this book, click here.

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13 Comments »

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  1. I enjoyed your review. This list is going on my TBR list.

    Another book about WWII written from a slightly different perspective is Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum. My book club read this a few months ago and everyone loved it.

    Cheers,
    Shana

  2. Shana, thank you so much for the comment and the recommendation. I haven’t heard of it, but when I’m ready for additional reading on WWII, I’ll keep this in mind. When you get to read this book, please be sure to read the question and answer section at the back first. It really helps you to prepare for reading the book. I’m very glad that I read it, but it is really hard to read.

  3. You might be interested in The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness by Simon Wiesenthal. The book asks a compelling question: “You are a prisoner in a concentration camp. A dying Nazi soldier asks for your firgiveness. What would you do?” The book contains the answers of over fifty people.
    You might also be interested in visiting the Holocaust museum in Los Angeles.

  4. dear literste housewife
    thank you for that review. if you conduct “giveaways,” I’d be willing to forward a book to any winner as a way of encouraging the reading of my book.For other observations, see “On the Holocaust” on my site –www.mathiasbfreese.com
    matt Freese

  5. Sounds like tough subject matter. Glad to hear that the author succeeded!

  6. […] a Copy of The i Tetralogy! July 17, 2008 at 8:22 am | In Books | After I posted my review yesterday, Mathias B. Freese has generously offered to provide an autographed copy of The i […]

  7. i’m glad the contest is on my birthday. my suggestion for a list of books on the Holocaust is a book which I did not read before writintg my book –I would have used it intensely. It is The Survivor, An Anatomy of Life in the Death Camps, by Terrence Des Pres. in places it is astounding.
    The other book is by Rudolf Hoess, commandant of Auschwitz, The Confession of the Commandment of Auschwitz; as i said in my book, it is the Rosetta Stone to understaning the Nazi mind and the death camps. And for the nazi mind and their usual defense of “splitting” read Robert Jay Lifton’s, The Nazi Doctors. Read all three and you will have a very good take not only on the nazis but on the human soul. we are indeed a damaged species.

  8. I would never have read the Q&A section at the back first without being advised to do so. I’ll follow your suggestion – thanks!

  9. Matt – I will definitely add your suggestions to my compilation list and I am so happy this will take place on your birthday. Perfect!

    Shana, Matt actually suggested that I read it first and I’m thankful that I did. Thanks for posting about my giveaway! I’ve got you down for three entries!

  10. I don’t know if you are sending the prize to NZ – I’ll help with postage ๐Ÿ™‚ – but my recommendation is “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” – an outstanding young adult book that makes the topic real for readers now (a bit like the diarys of Anne Frank did for me many years ago). Well worth a read, have not met someone yet who thought it was dull.

  11. […] miss out on my current free book giveaway ~ a copy of The i Tetralogy signed by the author, Mathias B. Freese. There’s only a few days […]

  12. Surfgirl, I’m not sure about that, but I’ll ask Matt. Hopefully we can work something out. ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. […] They were both easy and enjoyable books to read. Two books in 4 days is just great if you ask me. The i Tetralogy, however, really slowed me down from a reading perspective. It was intense and upsetting. It took […]


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