The Third Reich

Added February 20, 2013
  • The Third Reich
  • Roberto Bolano
  • The Paris Review, Volumes 196 – 199, New York, 2011

the-third_-reich_-paris_-review-front_-covers These four volumes of the Paris Review constitute the true first English language printing of The Third Reich. Bolano wrote this novel in 1989, but never published it during his lifetime. It was found amongst his papers after his death and published in Spanish in 2010.

Natasha Wimmer translated it into English. It was published in its entirety by Farrar, Strauss and Giroux of New York in 2012.

In the novel, a young German war games magazine writer takes a working holiday to Spain with his girlfriend and becomes obsessed over a game of The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich with a mysterious local. By the way, this is a real and classic war game published by Avalon Hill.

For an early and unpublished novel, I was surprised at the quality of the writing. Bolano had, apparently, worked on it on and off right up to his death. the-third_-reich_-paris_-review-the_-plot_-thickens

The reviews were mixed. Michael Schaub, in his review for NPR, said that it was “compassionate, disturbing and deeply felt …in Udo Berger, Bolano has created someone complex, sometimes frustrating and absolutely unforgettable.”

Giles Harvey though, in his article for The New Yorker, wrote that the novel was too “moody and uneven” and went on to say that it “should join that shelf marked ‘For Completists Only,’ on which also sit Antwerp, Monsieur Pain, The Romantic Dogs, Between Parentheses, and The Skating Rink.”

the-third_-reich_-paris_-review-lost_-novel_ I agree with Schaub’s review. Bolano is already being seen as a writer whose work will stand the test of time. These smaller works, all of which were published in English after Bolano’s death, may lack the scope of The Savage Detectives or 2666, but are brilliant in their own right.

These four issues of the Paris Review are all in fine condition. New, each installment was around $17 plus shipping, but these are already getting very hard to find. In fact, the only copy available on AbeBooks right now is the first installment and is signed by the translator, Natasha Wimmer. It is in fine condition and selling for about $130.


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