When THE CASTLE IN THE FOREST, Norman Mailer‘s first novel in 10 years, was published earlier this month, the reviews were mixed, ranging from laudatory to cranky. But the reaction pales in comparison to the reception in Germany, where the Guardian reports people are rather upset at Mailer’s depiction of “Adi,” the young Hitler. “One can’t forbid artists from dealing with Hitler but art will never achieve an understanding of the phenomenon – it will rather serve as a distraction,” the Central Council of Jews‘s vice president, Salomon Korn, told the ARD television channel. “Anyone tackling [this subject] artistically should carefully consider what their real intentions are.”

The debate is timely in Germany: Mailer’s novel coincides with other cultural challenges to entrenched taboos about Hitler and the Third Reich. Earlier this month, Germany’s first ever Hitler comedy Mein Führer went on general release. As well as scenes of the dictator playing with toy battleships in the bath and losing half his moustache it also, more seriously, showed a neurotic man, psychologically scarred by his father’s beatings. As for Mailer, he claims to be continuing the story in his next book – inviting even more rounds of criticism…