The White Hotel Analysis

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The White Hotel, written by D.M. Thomas and published in 1981, is a post modern novel that does not read easily, with its graphic, frustrating and at times absurd story line, read through a fragmented structure. The novel, though it does not appear to do so in the beginning due to the nature of its explicit, and in some cases pornographic entries, becomes part of the Holocaust literature genre, detailing events specific to the atrocities that happened at Babi Yar, and retold from a version written by Anatoli Kuznetsov. This is where the controversy comes in to the novel, around the idea of placing such explicit scenes alongside such a serious and horrific part of history, and around the authenticity and plagiarism of this section in the novel.…show more content…
The novel moves out of the prologue letters into a poem written by our protagonist, which Freud asked her to write in order to explain her psychosexual hallucinations. This poem was written in the staves of the opera ‘Don Giovanni’ (relevant as it is an opera about love and death), and details her sexual experiences with a soldier she meets on the train (Freud’s fictional son), as they watch violent incidents happening outside their window (fires, landslides, floods and cable cars plummeting into the earth). The poem reveals an obsession that Lisa has with sex and death, as she loses her inhibitions, and allows her activities with her male partner to draw her away from the terrible happenings outside of the window. Freud’s confusion around this poem, however, causes him to ask Lisa to write her analysis of the poem, in order to explain what is occurring in her hallucinations, and in turn her poem. She does this in the next chapter, ‘The Gastein Journal’, in an expanded, third person speaker format. This third person narrative allows the reader to follow what is happening in this story more closely, and to disregard the descriptions somewhat, as they become less important in this retelling. This part of the novel follows a…show more content…
Death for Lisa is heightened, as she sees many instances of death in her hysterical sexual hallucinations, which is noticed in her poem, and in her reflective analysis of the poem. “…The young woman was thinking of the smoke of the train being carried away behind them. Also she saw this friendly young soldier lying frozen in his coffin…” (p.34. Chapter 2) This is again indicative of her sense of death, but also of her psychic energies, as she is able to predict the deaths of people who are somehow connected to her. The soldier in this extract is a character who is mentioned throughout the first three sections of this novel as Freud’s son, whom Lisa has her erotic encounters with, thus reinforcing the life and death instincts further. Life and death are important in the novel, as they clearly associate strongly with the Holocaust. The idea of creation of life through sex is coupled with death through the drives, and it reveals to the reader the fragile nature of life in the concentration camps, as life was so delicate, and so easily taken away in various horrific ways, in such large numbers. It reduces the victims to a primitive nature, due to the dehumanisation they experienced. It is Lisa’s poem that
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