Guilt About the Past
Written by Bernhard Schlink
Publication Date April 03, 2010
The six essays that make up this compelling book view the long shadow of past guilt as a German experience as well as a global one. International bestselling author Bernhard Schlink explores the phenomenon of guilt and how it attaches to a whole society, not just to individual perpetrators. He considers how to use the lessons of history to motivate individual moral behaviour, how to reconcile a guilt-laden past, the role of law in this process, and how the theme of guilt influences his own fiction.
Based on the Weidenfeld Lectures Schlink delivered at Oxford University, Guilt about the Past is essential reading for anyone wanting to understand how events of the past can affect a nation's future, tapping into worldwide interest in the aftermath of war and how to forgive and reconcile the various legacies of the past.
BERNHARD SCHLINK was born in 1944 near Bielefeld, Germany, to a German father and a Swiss mother. He grew up in Heidelberg and studied law in Heidelberg and Berlin. Prior to his retirement in 2006 he was a professor of Constitutional and Administrative Law and the Philosophy of Law at Berlin's Humbolt University and a justice of the Constitutional Law Court in Bonn. Schlink has published several works of fiction and nonfiction, most notably his novel The Reader was an international bestseller, winning multiple prestigious international literary prizes, and it has been translated into more than thirty-seven languages. His most recent novel, Homecoming, was published in 2008 to critical acclaim. Bernhard Schlink divides his time between New York and Berlin.
"Schlink’s essays provide a thankfully atypical view of the burden left by the years that included “the Third Reich and the Holocaust.” A specific German view comes clear, a writerly philosophy is offered and the era’s influence on contemporary life comes into focus." The Canadian Jewish News