The Master of the High Castle
the Master of the High Castle (original title: The Man in the High Castle ) is a Romance of Philip K. Dick. He was written in 1962 and received the Prix Hugo of the best novel the following year. He falls under the possibility of a victory of the Germany and Japan at the time of the Second world war (1939-1945), exploiting the kind of the Uchronie.
The history proceeds with the the occupied United States for half by the Germans and half by the Japanese, and puts in scene a writer who imagines how the United States could have gained the war.
The title refers to the house where the character of Hawthorne Aberden saw.
SynopsisThis novel is a Uchronie: it describes one present which cannot take place because the author changed the course of the real history. Here, the various unloadings combined in Africa and Europe failed. In 1947, the Allies capitulate to the forces of the Axis (Nazi Germany, Japan imperialist, fascistic Italy ). The United States is divided into three:
- an Eastern zone of which it is question in the novel only in the form of rumors of concentration camps;
- a Peaceful zone under domination Japan ease;
- the central zone which forms a vassalized and bloodless country.
It is in the two zones power station and Western that are held the various actions of the intrigue. One follows to San Francisco several characters:
- an officer Nazi in secret visit being made pass for a commercial Scandinavian;
- commercial Japanese who must accommodate it: Mr. Tagomi;
- the Childan antique dealer who at the same time mistaken, admires and fears Japanese;
- an American contractor, Frank, which seeks by the entreprenariat and the craft industry to overcome in him the rancour of the occupation.
- the ex-wife of Frank, Juliana which lives in the rock ones.
During the novel, the stories cross without never meeting. The majority of the characters have a bond with Childan. Commercial Japanese who must accommodate the false Scandinavian is a regular customer of the antique dealer in whom it seeks a gift for his distinguished guest. Frank is made return of its factory in which its main activity was illicit: it created false American antiquities appraisals by the Japanese. It launches out then in a trade of a new kind: metal jewels of a completely new style. It sells its jewels with the Childan antique dealer who tries to launch them to the Japanese. The latter will find them completely ugly and without interest at the beginning, but will find there a balance of form which they will allot to a kind of interior spirituality. Frank, of Jewish origin, will be saved of accuracy of the deportation Nazi by Mr. Tagomi without the characters not meeting. Mr. Tagomi will simply refuse to sign paper authorizing his deportation by anger against the Nazis. Indeed, following the secret appointment with the false Scandinavian, true officer Nazi, who came to inform Japan of an imminent attack of Germany. It will have been obliged to kill two men coming to intercept the officer Nazi in his office. Very disturbed by its act, one of the jewels of Frank which it will find at Childan will help it a little to find an interior peace.
In the States of the Rock , Juliana, the ex-wife of Frank, éprend of a young Italian migrant. This one has a secret mission related to a novel that all the quoted characters will cross: the Grasshopper weighs heavy . It is in fact this novel which is the true bond between all the stories. It returns many times during the novel. Its title comes from a quotation of the Ecclésiaste (12: 5).
the Grasshopper is a novel in the novel, a uchronie in the uchronie: Hawthorne Abendsen wrote a history where the Allies beat the Axis. The Japanese and German heroes observe this book with curiosity, knowing that the Nazis want to eliminate the author from it. The two States-uniens discover it with feelings and different conclusions. The author does not deliver all the details of the novel to us. But one manages to distinguish that the world which is described there is not completely similar to ours. the Grasshopper speaks well about president Roosevelt (assassinated in the world of the Maître of the high castle ) and about the battle of Stalingrad. However, it is also evoked a Anglo-Saxon domination on Russia and even a possible war between the United Kingdom and the United States.
In the novel, the book the Grasshopper is interdict in all the part under domination Nazi. Juliana will discover which that which she believed being Italian routard is in fact an officer Nazi charged to eliminate the author from the novel. Horrified, it will kill it before going to inform the author of science fiction of it.
A second book animates the characters. the Book of the transformations or ( Yi King ) is a Chinese work which makes it possible to have oracles using drawing lots. It is besides thanks to him that Juliana and Abendsen include/understand the incredible truth: while making use of the Book of the transformations to write to the grasshopper , they discover that the Allies really gained the war.
If the uchronie changes the course of the history to create an intrigue and to make reflect, the author leaves the real history whose elements are found in this changed world:
- It is the early death of the president Roosevelt which constitutes the point of change for Philip K. Dick.
- the Nazi regime remains in the conquered territories: Genocide on the East coast, and rumor of conquest and ethnic cleaning in Africa.
As later, Robert Harris in Fatherland , Dick cannot imagine a Second world war which would not finish in Cold war. The relations between the German and Japanese allies are far from being cordial in the novel.
In reality, the conclusion of the novel is coherent, not on the military level, but on the economic plan. The defeat in 1945 of the Germany and the Japan had an economic effect: prohibited to have armies and to preserve their prestige by the military culture, the two overcome countries were folded up towards economic excellence. In a few decades, they became world economic powers during the “Glorious Thirty”. In the Master of the High-Castle , the inhabitants of the United States belong themselves slowly to the defeat by the artisanal innovation, by the sale of their inheritance to winners who appreciate it. They start to take their revenge as shows it the Frank character in his relation with the Japanese, but are described like keeping a Complex of inferiority fort in front of the culture of their winners.
Lastly, Philip K. Dick draws the technological conclusions to the victory of the Nazis. The United States, in its uchronie, does not have any more the means of developing their aviation with reaction, it is the German engineer Werner von Braun which will invent for Germany of the rockets for the intercontinental flights: the Moon is conquered shortly after the end of the war, the first missions about Mars start in the decade which follows, which Dick charges in the book to the taste for the abstraction of the German culture, “the race, space colonization, the vital Espace: they reason only like that”.
In reality, it is well von Braun which developed rocket-missiles V2 for Hitler before being recovered by the United States of America and to take part in the projects of space rockets: the project Jupiter will be entrusted to him after the repeated failures of the Programme Vanguard of the Navy which had not consulted it, and will be, him, one without fault.
The end of the book is interesting. Indeed Juilana learns whereas it is the oracle which wrote to the Grasshopper and with the " question; Why? " , the latter answers that it is the truth. Which is this truth about which oracle speaks? In a novel where the world is clearly under the domination of the Axis, the characters must admit that " Germany and Japan lost the guerre". One can see there a new setting in abyme where, without acknowledging it clearly, the characters must admit that they live in a fiction. However, the book written by oracle does not describe our reality completely. And delivers it can only return us to our own questioning, which is our reality? Because us also, like the characters of the novel, we read a book which describes us another world by telling us " it is the réalité". Through these sets of mirrors, the novel of Philip K. Dick again raises the question of the definition of reality, of its border with the fiction, our existence and its uncertainty.
Traditional of the science fiction
This novel is regarded as a great classic of the Science-fiction in the following reference books:
Annick Beguin, 100 principal titles of the science fiction , Cosmos 2000,1981;
- Jacques Goimard and Claude Aziza, Encyclopedia of pocket of the science fiction. Guide reading , Presses Pocket, coll “Science fiction”, n°5237, 1986;
- Denis Guiot, the Science fiction , Massin, coll “the world of… ”, 1987;
- Investigation of Fanzine Carnage society man near his readers, 1989;
- Lorris Murail, the Masters of the science fiction , Bordered, coll “Compact”, 1993;
- Stan Barets, science-fictionnaire , Denoël, coll “Presence of the future”, 1994.
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