Last week was banned books week, and while most books displayed at the Consortium’s entrance have great literary merit—A Clockwork Orange, Song of Solomon, The Satanic Verses—one stood out as having practically none: Hitler’s “Mein Kampf.”
The translator for this 2001 edition, Ralph Manheim, quickly highlights Mein Kampf’s literary deficiencies.
“There is no indication that he ever read any of the German, let alone foreign classics, from which he might have gathered some feeling for stylistic principles.”
Mein Kempf is sort of like a train cart with wheels on only one side; it progress simply because it is going down a hill.
There are many complex sentences that, when finished, make no sense. The translator provides the original German in those confusing areas as proof that the sentences actually exist.
Hitler enjoyed clichés and vague images. In the section “lack of ‘national pride’ he describes a young person’s behavior as something that would “make your hair stand on end.” The fictional abstraction comes home at a “god knows when hour” and what his parents teach him is “not fit to be repeated.”
He rarely brings in outside facts, theories, or notable people. When he does bring people in at all, they are rival members in the Nazi party, his personal heroes, or fictional generalizations.
It’s a 700 paged tirade soaked in subjectivity.
The National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, Abraham Foxman, writes the introduction that may be the only valuable part in this edition of Mein Kampf.
Unlike Hitler’s work, the introduction is nuanced, researched, and coherent. It’s amazing that Foxman, of Polish-Jewish decent, should look straight into Hitler’s 700 paged craze and soberly conclude that the book should not be banned:
“We dismissed him as a madman and we ignored his wretched book; the result was a tragedy of unprecedented proportions. This is yet another lesson to take from Mein Kampf: the lesson of vigilance and responsibility, of not closing our eyes to the evil around us.”
Written in 1926
This edition: 2001
@ your library: DD 247. H5 A327