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Rise and Decline of the Third Reich» Forums » News

Subject: New fiction book on the game rss

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Here the truceless armies yet / Trample, rolled in blood and sweat; / They kill and kill and never die; / And I think that each is I. // None will part us, none undo / The knot that makes one flesh of two, /
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Sick with hatred, sick with pain, / Strangling -- When shall we be slain? // When shall I be dead and rid / Of the wrong my father did? / How long, how long, till spade and hearse / Puts to sleep my mother's curse?
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http://www.amazon.com/Third-Reich-Novel-Roberto-Bola%C3%B1o/...

On vacation with his girlfriend, Ingeborg, the German war games champion Udo Berger returns to a small town on the Costa Brava where he spent the summers of his childhood. Soon they meet another vacationing German couple, Charly and Hanna, who introduce them to a band of locals—the Wolf, the Lamb, and El Quemado—and to the darker side of life in a resort town.

Late one night, Charly disappears without a trace, and Udo’s well-ordered life is thrown into upheaval; while Ingeborg and Hanna return to their lives in Germany, he refuses to leave the hotel. Soon he and El Quemado are enmeshed in a round of Third Reich, Udo’s favorite World War II strategy game, and Udo discovers that the game’s consequences may be all too real.

Written in 1989 and found among Roberto Bolaño’s papers after his death, The Third Reich is a stunning exploration of memory and violence. Reading this quick, visceral novel, we see a world-class writer coming into his own—and exploring for the first time the themes that would define his masterpieces The Savage Detectives and 2666.
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Dave Baxter
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Cool interview with the translator:

http://conversationalreading.com/nine-questions-for-natasha-...

She admits to having bought the game off eBay for purposes of research but never having played it.

SE: Fascism and the Nazis in particular were important touchstones to Bolaño throughout all of his major novels, so it’s obviously notable that he titled this book The Third Reich, of all things. But then, being Bolaño, he turns that in to something of a red herring, as he never actually discusses the thing that we all immediately think of when we hear the words “third reich.” Instead, Bolaño’s third reich is a Risk-like board game played by a nerdy subculture (that’s the name of the game, The Third Reich), sort of like Dungeons and Dragons. How do you see this game functioning in the book?

NW: I guess I see it as a stand-in for literature, as something at once ridiculously trivial and deadly important. I think there’s a consciousness of that tension in most of Bolaño’s novels, but here the triviality is played up to an unusual degree. It’s this triumph of the trivial—the conclusion that yes, gaming is meaningless, and literature too, by extension—that gives the novel an unfunny edge. Incidentally, the game referred to in the book is a real game, called Rise and Decline of the Third Reich. I bought an old copy of it on Ebay for research purposes.

SE: I’m surprised to hear that the game exists, but not that surprised, since I read that Bolaño was a huge enthusiast of these games. (I love the idea of the author of By Night in Chile and Distant Star playing this game.) It would be interesting to actually see the game as a real, physical object, since in The Third Reich Bolaño only grants the game a kind of piecemeal presence, where you feel like you only ever have access to bits and pieces of this whole that you never come into contact with. With all that said, I don’t know that I’ve ever heard of a translator purchasing a board game as a translation aid. Was it strange to see the game after having it presented in The Third Reich?

NW: It was exciting to see the game—you rarely have that kind of tangible connection to a novel you’re translating. It was mostly useful to me as a source of vocabulary: the instructions are very long and detailed, and the terminology corresponds pretty closely to Bolaño’s descriptions in the book. To fully immerse myself, I really should have played a match, but it’s not an easy game to pick up quickly.
 
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