Arab Today, arab today hhhh exhilarating metahistorical take on operation anthropoid
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HHhH: Exhilarating meta-historical take on Operation Anthropoid

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Arab Today, arab today HHhH: Exhilarating meta-historical take on Operation Anthropoid

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On May 27, 1942, two Czechoslovakian soldiers make their way to Prague where they pull off one of the greatest acts of resistance in recorded history: the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, so-called \"most dangerous man in the Third Reich\". Some 60 years later, a French schoolteacher sets out to write a novel about the mission. But there\'s one small problem: he doesn\'t believe in historical fiction. This is the premise of HHhH, Laurent Binet\'s first novel, which won France\'s Prix Goncourt when it came out in 2010 and, now in translation, it has gathered a pile of praise from the likes of Martin Amis, Gary Shteyngart and Bret Easton Ellis. The book follows the narrator, who may or may not be Laurent Binet (he says it is) as he attempts to tell the story of Operation Anthropoid, the name given to the British-orchestrated mission to assassinate Heydrich, head of the Gestapo and \"Protector\" of Bohemia and Moravia. HHhH refers to a saying circulated within the SS: Himmlers Hirn heist Heydrich - Himmler\'s brain is called Heydrich (Heinrich Himmler was head of the SS). In one of his many meta-narrative asides, the author says he wants to call the book Operation Anthropoid, noting that any other title means he\'s given into the demands of his publisher, who thought it was \"too SF, too Robert Ludlum\". Apparently, said publisher (Grasset) managed to convince Binet that it was preferable to market the book as one of the current crop of big, important translated books with inscrutable, four-character titles like Murakami\'s 1Q84 and Roberto Bolaño\'s 2666. HHhH is only really a novel in the most literal sense of the word: in its original mixture of memoir, history and fiction. We follow the narrator as he researches the story, begins to amass documents, travels through Slovakia and the Czech Republic with various female companions, scouring archives and museums. He reads and watches everything he can get his hands on, from movies and TV documentaries to guidebooks and archival materials, sometimes disparaging of what he sees as unworthy portrayals, other times berating himself for his own mistakes. The project takes on an obsessive character: \"At this rate,\" writes Binet, \"I will die without even having mentioned the preparations for the attack.\" In truth, HHhH is a neurotic book. Though this can sometimes feel tedious or gimmicky, at its best, the author\'s ambivalence unlocks an exhilarating form of meta-historical fiction. In short chapters, we are introduced to the main characters: the affable assassins, Jan Kubiš and Jozef Gabcík, and of course, Heydrich the \"Blond Beast\". Faced with gaps in historical documentation, the narrator is torn between the temptation to invent, to fictionalise, to inhabit the brains of his protagonists and, on the other, his abhorrence of the \"processes of glib falsification\" that he loathes in so much historical representation. Apprehensively flitting in and out of Heydrich\'s head, the author moves from his childhood stint as a musical prodigy to his brief career in the navy. He traces his rise through the Nazi ranks until he reaches \"the cohort of cranks, illiterates, and mental degenerates who populate the Party\'s higher echelons\". Allegedly \"the colleague Hitler most respects\", Heydrich has a role in nearly all the Nazis\' most atrocious accomplishments: he helps organise Kristallnacht and devises the infamous yellow star badges; he\'s the one who dreams up the egregious Judenräte, the Jewish councils by which Nazi policy was enforced in occupied Europe; he chaired the Wannsee Conference where the Final Solution was sketched out and was a central and indispensable architect of the Holocaust. Among his many nicknames (Hitler himself called him fondly \"the man with the iron heart\"), he was called \"The Butcher of Prague\" after he was sent to occupied Czechoslovakia to clamp down on the Resistance, which he did with unrivalled zeal. By/ The National

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