It is this use of actual rather than fictional characters as middlemen that makes The Kindly Ones into a piece of historiographic metafiction.
My second example of French historiographic metafiction, Yannick Haenel's Jan Karski, is doubtless lesser known in English-speaking countries than The Kindly Ones. Published in 2009 and translated into English as The Messenger, it is--as its French title indicates--centered on one character: the Polish resister Jan Karski who was sent in 1943 as a "messenger" from the London based Polish government in exile, Karski told American authorities about the situation in occupied Poland, asked them about the Allies' plans for the country after the war, and briefed them about the mass killings of Jews in Central and Eastern Europe.
Only three are left, which concern the plausibility of some details in The Kindly Ones (189), Binet's urge to talk about this work (191), and the fact that Littell's novel, with its "postmodern nihilist" narrator, can only be described as "Houellebecq doing Nazism" (204).
"The Kindly Ones is a tawdry, familiar tale in comparison to recent novels that covered similar ground, such as William T.
"The Kindly Ones, for all its aspirations to profundity, is less a moral challenge than a sheer test of endurance.
"Willfully sensationalistic and deliberately repellent, The Kindly Ones ...
If I had room, I would discuss Melissa Scott's novel, The Kindly Ones
Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings and Little's The Kindly Ones
. These seventeen entries cover theory, ethics and reading, ethical responsibility of the author, and textual studies, including questioning whether we should read or teach literature now, a meta-literature "way out," the diachronization of narratology, moral issues and suggested reading strategies to use with the Bible, reading fiction as voyeurism without shame, Coetzee's Elizabeth Costello, Frayn's Copenhagen, the ethics of literary "borrowing," the ethics of Huckleberry Finn, reading intellectual disability in Vesaas's The Birds, demonic pacts and moral sentiments in Gothic novels, the grieving mind in words and images, anonymity and space, form and affect from poetry, and the age of "scientific" racism.
Authentic and moving as Quigley's The Conductor and Thomas's The Keeper of Secrets are, they pale into insignificance alongside that massive 900-page masterpiece The Kindly Ones
by Jonathan Littell, the greatest novel ever likely to be written about the vast and tragic tableau of World War Two.
The Kindly Ones
maps the tradition from the Greeks to the late 19th century novel, and then through Kafka, Grass and Camus, onto the geography of Hitler's genocidal Europe.
So it should come as no surprise that the recent publication in Germany of Jonathan Littell's The Kindly Ones sparked an unprecedented blizzard of controversy.
The 1,000-page fictional memoir of a high-ranking SS officer, Maximilien Aue, The Kindly Ones was already a classic in France when it arrived in Germany last February.