The Man in the High Castle

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The Man in the High Castle  

Cover of first edition (hardcover)
Author Philip K. Dick
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Alternative history
Publisher Putnam
Publication date 1 January 1962
Media type print (hardcover & paperback)
Pages 239 pp
OCLC 145507009

The Man in the High Castle (1962), by Philip K. Dick, is a science fiction novel of the alternative history sub-genre, which it helped define, thus, winning a Hugo Award that, in turn, established the author as a science fiction writer of consequence.

The story of The Man in the High Castle, about quotidian life, for the victors and the vanquished, under totalitarian, Fascist imperialism, occurs in 1962, fourteen years after the end of a longer Second World War (1939–1948). In that time, moreover, the victorious Axis PowersImperial Japan and Nazi Germany — are conducting internecine intrigues against each other in North America, specifically in the former U.S., which surrendered to them once they had conquered Eurasia and destroyed the populaces of Africa; each intends to destroy and conquer the other, so concluding their individual plans for world domination. [1]


[edit] Plot summary

[edit] Background

Giuseppe Zangara’s assassination of U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in 1933, led to the weak governments of FDR’s Vice President John Nance Garner and of the Republican John W. Bricker in 1940; both politicians failed to surmount the Great Depression and maintained the country’s isolationist policy against participating in the Second World War; thus, the U.S. had insufficient military capabilities to assist the U.K. and the U.S.S.R against Nazi German aggression, and itself against Japanese Imperial aggression.

In 1941, the Nazis conquered the U.S.S.R and then exterminated most of its Slavic peoples; the few whom they allowed to live were confined to reservations. In the Pacific Ocean theatre of war, the Japanese destroyed the U.S. Navy fleet in a decisive, definitive attack on Pearl Harbor; in the event, the superior Imperial Japanese military conquered Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, and Oceania by the early 1940s. Afterwards, the Axis Powers, each attacking from opposite fronts, conquered the continental United States, and, by 1948, the Allied forces surrendered to the Axis. The Eastern Seaboard fell to German control, while California, Washington, Oregon, and parts of Nevada fell to Japanese control, then establishing the Rocky Mountain States, the Midwest, and most of the South West as the buffer zone between their North American empires. Nazi America re-constituted the Jim Crow Deep South as a puppet state in the style of Vichy France. Having defeated the Allies of World War II and won the war for the world, the Third Reich and Imperial Japan, as the resultant superpowers, consequently embarked upon a Cold War.

After Adolf Hitler’s syphilitic incapacitation, Martin Bormann, as Nazi Party Chancellor, assumes power as Führer of Germany, and proceeds to effecting Hitler’s plans of laid out in Mein Kampf of colonial empire and of genocidal extermination of the inferior, coloured races and — especially of the Jews in the American colonies and of the black-skinned populaces of Africa — in achieving and establishing Germany’s much-needed Lebensraum.

Moreover, absent Hitler’s technologic myopia, Germany continued its rocket science programs, and, by 1962, had an established, commercial, rocket transport system permitting hours-long intercontinental travel, and concomitant space exploration (i.e. of the Moon, Mars, and Venus), that, by the end of the 1950s, allowed planting the National Socialist Swastika flag on Mars. Like-wise, they developed television as a new, German technology, while Imperial Japan remained (somewhat) technologically behind the Third Reich; however, given the military and aerospace overspending, Germany suffers severe consumer goods shortages and a fragile economy, thus, the internecine intrigue against Japan.

In the event, Führer Bormann dies, and Joseph Goebbels and Reinhard Heydrich politically fight to succeed him as Reichskanzler; moreover, Nazi Party factions struggle for the supremacy of their programs: either war against their Japanese ally or colonizing the solar system for national Socialism.

[edit] Characters

The story of The Man in the High Castle is non-linear — each character’s life in fascist America is presented individually, yet, they sometimes peripherally approach each other, sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly in how they cope with living under totalitarianism; three characters guide their lives with the I Ching:

  • Nobusuke Tagomi is a trade missioner in Japanese San Francisco.
  • Frank Frink works for the Wyndham–Matson Corporation, that specialises in genuine reproductions of pre-war Americana artefacts; he is fired for showing his temper. He is a secret Jew ( Fink) who hides to avoid extermination.
  • Juliana Frink, a judo instructress, is Frank’s ex-wife.

Others believe different things:

  • Robert Childan owns American Artistic Handicrafts, an Americana antiques business supplied by Wyndham–Matson Inc. He believes the items genuine; Mr Tagomi is one of his best customers, who buys “gifts” for himself and for visiting businessmen. Given his mostly Japanese clientele, Childan has adopted their manners, Anglicised modes of speech, and ways of thinking, yet, despite such deference to the Japanese overlords, he is contemptuous of them, privately retaining his pre-war white supremacy — believing in the essential inferiority of the non-white Asian and African races; nonetheless, he is very conscious of his image, often deliberating, to himself, in the Asian mentality, how his actions might appear to others.
  • Wyndham-Matson (Frank Frink’s boss) muses about the difference between a real antique and a reproduction antique; via his girlfriend, he introduces the novel The Grasshopper Lies Heavy to the plot.
  • Mr. Baynes, a wealthy Swedish industrialist, is actually Rudolf Wegener, a Captain in Reich Naval Counter-Intelligence, who is enroute to meet Mr Tagomi, through whom he expects to meet an important Japanese representative. He is taken aback, by Tagomi’s gift of a “genuine Mickey Mouse watch” (bought at the American Artistic Handicrafts shoppe).

[edit] Story lines

The narrative story lines of the plot alternate among those of the characters, providing a broad picture of quotidian life in totalitarian America:

  • Mr. Baynes travels undercover to San Francisco, as a Swedish merchant. There, he talks with Mr Tagomi, but, in pursuit of his true mission, must prolong their meeting until the arrival, from Japan, of the Mr Yatabe (General Tedeki, formerly of the Imperial General Staff). His mission is warning the Japanese of Operation Löwenzahn (Operation Dandelion), a nuclear attack upon the Japanese Archipelago Home Islands planned by Joseph Goebbels’s faction within the ruling Nazi Party. To wit, Baynes is an Abwehr agent charged with obtaining Imperial Japanese support of the Reinhard Heydrich faction of the Nazi Party.
  • Frank Frink and his friend Ed McCarthy start a jewelry business; their beautiful, original art works strangely affect the Americans and Japanese who see them. Despite hiding his Jewishness from the police, they arrest him after his attempted sabotage of Wyndham-Matson — by telling Childan that the Americana he sells are fake.
  • Mr Tagomi, unable to acknowledge the unpleasant rumours he has heard, finds solace in action, fighting the Nazi agents attempting to kill Baynes; he uses the “authentic” Colt-brand U.S. Army revolver bought from Childan. Then, he retaliates against local Nazi authority, by directing the release of the Jew Frank Frink, who was slated for deportation to Nazi America. Tagomi and Frink never meet, nor does he know that Frank Frink created the beautiful artwork that so impressed him; however, as a devout Buddhist, the existential implications of deliberately taking a human so bother him they provoke a heart attack.
  • Juliana, living in Colorado, begins a romantic relationship with Joe, a truck driver claiming to be a Italian war veteran. He wants to meet Hawthorne Abendsen (the titular Man in the High Castle, so called, because he lives in a guarded residence), who wrote The Grasshopper Lies Heavy novel. Juliana travels with him, but discovers that he actually is a Swiss assassin meaning to kill the writer; she attempts to leave, but he bars her way. Distressed beyond reason and considering suicide, Juliana, instead, cuts Joe’s throat, with the straight razor with which she had considered a like suicide. In the event, she completes the journey alone, meets author Abendsen, and induces him to reveal the truth about The Grasshopper Lies Heavy.
  • Robert Childan desperately attempts retaining his honour despite the forced obsequiousness towards the Japanese overlords. Although ambivalent about the lost war and foreign occupiers of his country, whom he loathes and respects, he discovers a sense of cultural pride in himself. He also investigates the wide-spread forgery in the antiques market amid increased Japanese interest in “genuine” Americana.

[edit] The story-within-the story

Several characters in The Man in the High Castle read the popular novel The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, by Hawthorne Abendsen, whose title, putatively, derives from the Christian Bible verse: “The grasshopper shall be a burden” (Ecclesiastes 12:5). It is a novel within a novel, wherein author Hawthorne Abendsen posits an alternative universe where the Axis lost WWII (1939–1948), for which reason the Japanese and the Germans proscribed it in the occupied U.S., despite its being a widely-read book in the Pacific and its publication legal in the neutral countries.

The Grasshopper Lies Heavy postulates that President F. D. Roosevelt survives assassination and forgoes re-election in 1940, honouring George Washington’s two-term limit. The next president, Rexford Tugwell, removes the U.S. Pacific fleet from Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, saving it from Japanese attack, and ensuring that the U.S. enters WWII a well-equipped naval power. The U.K. retains most of its military-industrial strength, contributing more to the Allied war effort, making feasible: Field Marshal Erwin Rommel’s defeat in North Africa; a British advance through the Caucasus to join the Russian Communists to victory in the Battle of Stalingrad; Italy reneges its membership in and betrays the Axis Powers; British armour and the Red Army jointly conquer Berlin; and, at war’s end, the Nazi leaders — including Adolf Hitler — are tried for their war crimes; the Führer’s last words are Deutsche, hier steh’ ich (“Germans, here I stand”), in imitation of the priest Martin Luther.

Post-war, Churchill remains Britain’s leader; and, because of its military-industrial might, the British Empire does not collapse; the U.S. establishes strong business relations with Chiang Kai-shek’s right-wing (nationalist) China, after vanquishing the Communist Mao Zedong. In the event, the British Empire becomes openly racist, confirming the senile Churchill’s truly irrational, imperial aggression, while the U.S. outlaws Jim Crow, resolving its racism by the 1950s, both changes provoke racialist-cultural tensions between the U.S. and the U.K., leading them to a Cold War for global hegemony. As both are “liberal”, “democratic”, capitalist societies, the less hypocritical U.K. defeats the U.S., becoming the planetary superpower.

[edit] The I Ching as literary device

P. K. Dick used the philosophic I Ching (Book of Changes) to determine the plot particulars of The Man in the High Castle, explaining: “I started with nothing, but the name, Mister Tagomi, written on a scrap of paper, no other notes. I had been reading a lot of Oriental philosophy, reading a lot of Zen Buddhism, reading the I Ching. That was the Marin County zeitgeist, at that point; Zen Buddhism and the I Ching. I just started right out and kept on trucking”. [2] In the event, he blamed the I Ching for plot incidents he disliked: “When it came to close down the novel, the I Ching had no more to say. So, there’s no real ending on it. I like to regard it as an open ending”. [3]

The I Ching is prominent in The Man in the High Castle; having diffused it as part of their cultural hegemony overlordship of the Pacific Coast U.S., the Japanese — and some American — characters consult it, and then act per its replies to their queries. To wit, “The Man in the High Castle”, Hawthorne Abendsen, himself, used it to write The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, and, at story’s end, in his presence, Juliana Frink, queries the I Ching: “Why did it write The Grasshopper Lies Heavy?” and “What is the reader to learn from the novel?” The I Ching replies with Hexagram 61 ([中孚] zhōng fú) Chung Fu — “Inner Truth”, describing the true state of the world; every character in The Man in the High Castle is living a false reality.

[edit] Themes

The interpretation and confusion of true and false realities is the principal theme of The Man in the High Castle; it is explored several ways:

  • Robert Childan grasps that most of his antiques are counterfeit, thus, becomes paranoid that his entire stock might be counterfeit; a theme common to Dick’s writing (cf. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?), wherein the counterfeit is better than the original, because it is functionally real, e.g. the .44 calibre Colt Army Model 1860 revolver indistinguishable by no-one, but an expert armourer, as Tagomi’s shoot-out demonstrates.
  • Wyndham-Matson, himself a collector, has a Zippo cigarette lighter with documentation attesting to its having been in FDR’s coat pocket when he was assassinated. He compares it with his girlfriend’s identical lighter, inviting her to “feel the historicity”; despite, of course, his fortune depending upon genuine counterfeits.
  • Several characters are secret agents travelling under assumed personæ and pretences; the gentile “Frank Frink” is the counterfeit persona of the Jew “Frank Fink”.
The Man in the High Castle, 2001 Penguin Classics edition, cover by James P. Keenan.
  • The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, the book-within-a-book, postulates an alternative universe where the Axis lost WWII to the Allies, albeit with an alternative sequence of events.
  • The Frink-McCarthy jewelry more resembles 1960s American folk art than it does Japanese and German art; its connections with deeper reality manifested in the effect exerted upon the characters who handle it.
  • The Grasshopper Lies Heavy is the alternative history analogue of The Man in the High Castle, wherein it is a work of fiction within a work of fiction; the interpenetration of two false realities suggesting that the idea of a false and a true reality is inaccurate, because there exist more than two realities.
  • Novelist Hawthorne Abendsen, the titular Man in the High Castle, lives in a house after having lived in a castle (fortified house) that was more prison than home, yet, for the sake of perception (false reality) he perpetuates the myth of his castellar isolation.
  • At novel’s end, Hawthorne Abendsen and Juliana Frink consult the I Ching — it tells them they are living in an immaterial (false) world.
  • Mr. Tagomi briefly perceives an alternative world upon meditating over a pin containing a Wu (Satori) form of “inner truth”; said Frank Frink artefact transports him to a San Francisco city where white folk do not defer to the Japanese, the world of The Grasshopper Lies Heavy.

The authorial Dick asks: “Who, and what, are the agents behind this interpenetration of true and false realities?” “Why do those agents desire that the artifice of said realities be recognised?” These thematic questions feature in the novels Ubik, VALIS, and Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said.

The Man in the High Castle deals with justice and injustice (Frink flees Nazi racist persecution); gendre and power (the relationship between Juliana and Joe); the shame of cultural inferiority and identity (Childan’s new-found confidence in American culture via his limited, nostalgia and obsession with antiques); and the effects of fascism and racism upon culture (the devaluation of life under Nazi world totalitarianism and the presumptions of Japanese, German, and American racial superiority), cf. cultural hegemony.

[edit] The inspirations

Later, Philip K. Dick explained he conceived The Man in the High Castle from reading Bring the Jubilee (1953), by Ward Moore, which occurs in an alternative twentieth-century U.S. wherein the Confederate States of America won the American Civil War in the 1860s. In the “Acknowledgements”, he mentions other influences: The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (1960), by William L. Shirer; Hitler: A Study in Tyranny (1962), by Alan Bullock; Goebbels Diaries (1948), by Louis P. Lochner, translator; Foxes of the Desert (1960), by Paul Carrell; and the I Ching (1950), by Richard Wilhelm, translator.

The “Acknowledgements” has three references to traditional Japanese and Tibetan poetic forms; (i) volume one of the Anthology of Japanese Literature (1955), Donald Keen editor, from which is cited the haiku in page 48; (ii) from Zen and Japanese Culture (1955), by Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki, from which is cited a waka in page 135; and (iii) the Tibetan Book of the Dead (1960), by W. Y. Evans-Wentz, translator.

[edit] The sequel novel

In a 1976 interview, P. K. Dick said he was going to write a sequel novel to The Man in the High Castle: “. . . and, so, there’s no real ending on it. I like to regard it as an open ending. It will segue into a sequel, sometime [. . .]” and that he had “started, several times, to write a sequel”, but progressed little, because he was too-disturbed, by his original research for The Man in the High Castle and could not mentally afford “to go back, and read about Nazis, again”. [3] Moreover suggesting that said sequel novel might have to be written in collaboration with: “. . . somebody [who] would have to come in and help me do a sequel to it. Someone who had the stomach, or the stamina, to think along those lines, to get into the head; if you’re going to start writing about Reinhard Heydrich, for instance, you have to get into his face. Can you imagine getting into Reinhard Heydrich’s face?" [3]

Two chapters of said sequel novel are in The Shifting Realities of Philip K. Dick (ISBN 0-679-74787-7) a collection of essays about the writer P. K. Dick. The chapters describe Gestapo officers reporting to Nazi Party officials about their time-travel visits to a parallel world in which the Nazi world conquest fails, detailing the existence of nuclear weapons, available for the taking, by the Nazis, back to their world; the chapters end, abruptly; Ring of Fire, describing the emergence of a hybrid Japanese–American culture, was a proposed title for the sequel novel. On occasion, he said that The Ganymede Takeover (1967) originally was a sequel to The Man in the High Castle (1962), but, that it did not coalesce as such; specifically, the Ganymedans occupying the Earth began as the Imperial Japanese occupying the conquered U.S.

[edit] Translations

The Man in the High Castle (1962) has been translated from English to these languages:

[edit] References

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ Pringle 1990, p. 193.
  2. ^ Philip K. Dick's Final Interview, June 1982 John Boonstra, Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone Magazine, Vol. 2, No. 3, June 1982, pp. 47-52
  3. ^ a b c "Hour 25: A Talk With Philip K. Dick". Retrieved on 2008-07-30. 

[edit] Bibliography

  • Brown, William Lansing 2006. “Alternate Histories: Power, Politics, and Paranoia in Philip Roth's The Plot against America and Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle”, The Image of Power in Literature, Media, and Society: Selected Papers, 2006 Conference, Society for the Interdisciplinary Study of Social Imagery. Wright, Will (ed.); Kaplan, Steven (ed.); Pueblo, CO: Society for the Interdisciplinary Study of Social Imagery, Colorado State University-Pueblo; pp. 107-11.
  • Campbell, Laura E. 1992. "Dickian Time in The Man in the High Castle", Extrapolation, 33: 3, pp. 190-201.
  • Carter, Cassie 1995. "The Metacolonization of Dick's The Man in the High Castle: Mimicry, Parasitism and Americanism in the PSA", Science-Fiction Studies #67, 22:3, pp. 333-342.
  • Clute, John; Nicholls, Peter (1995). The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. New York: St. Martin's Press. pp. 1386. ISBN 0-312134-86-X. 
  • Clute, John; Nicholls, Peter (1995). The Multimedia Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. Danbury, CT: Grolier. pp. CD–ROM. ISBN 0-7172-3999-3. 
  • DiTommaso, Lorenzo, 1999. "Redemption in Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle", Science-Fiction Studies # 77, 26: , pp. 91-119.
  • Fofi, Goffredo 1997. “Postfazione”, Philip K. Dick, La Svastica sul Sole, Roma, Fanucci, pp. 391-5.
  • Hayles, N. Katherine 1983. "Metaphysics and Metafiction in The Man in the High Castle", Philip K. Dick eds. Olander and Greenberg New York, Taplinger, 1983, pp. 53-71.
  • Jakubowski, Maxim; Edwards, Malcolm (1983). The Complete Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy Lists. St Albans, Herts, UK: Granada Publishing Ltd.. pp. 350. ISBN 0-586-05678-5. 
  • Malmgren, Carl D. 1980. "Philip Dick's The Man in the High Castle and the Nature of Science Fictional Worlds", Bridges to Science Fiction, eds. George E. Slusser, George R. Guffey and Mark Rose, Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, pp. 120-30.
  • Nicholls, Peter (1979). The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. St Albans, Herts, UK: Granada Publishing Ltd.. pp. 672. ISBN 0-586-05380-8. 
  • Pagetti, Carlo, 2001a. "La svastica americana" [Introduction], Philip K. Dick, L'uomo nell'alto castello, Roma: Fanucci, pp. 7-26.
  • Pringle, David (1990). The Ultimate Guide to Science Fiction. London: Grafton Books Ltd.. pp. 407. ISBN 0-246-13635-9. 
  • Proietti, Salvatore, 1989. "The Man in The High Castle: politica e metaromanzo", Il sogno dei simulacri, eds. Carlo Pagetti and Gianfranco Viviani, Milano, Nord, 1989 pp. 34-41.
  • Rieder, John 1988. "The Metafictive World of The Man in the High Castle: Hermeneutics, Ethics, and Political Ideology", Science-Fiction Studies # 45, 15.2: 214-25.
  • Rossi, Umberto, 2000. "All Around the High Castle: Narrative Voices and Fictional Visions in Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle", Telling the Stories of America - History, Literature and the Arts - Proceedings of the 14th AISNA Biennial conference (Pescara, 1997), eds. Clericuzio, A., Annalisa Goldoni and Andrea Mariani, Roma: Nuova Arnica, pp. 474-83.
  • Simons, John L. 1985. "The Power of Small Things in Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle". The Rocky Mountain Review of Language and Literature, 39:4, pp. 261-75.
  • Tuck, Donald H. (1974). The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Chicago: Advent. pp. 136. ISBN 0-911682-20-1. 
  • Warrick, Patricia, 1992. "The Encounter of Taoism and Fascism in The Man in the High Castle", On Philip K. Dick, eds. Mullen et al., Terre Haute and Greencastle: SF-TH Inc. 1992, pp. 27-52.

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Stranger in a Strange Land
by Robert A. Heinlein
Hugo Award for Best Novel
Succeeded by
Here Gather the Stars
by Clifford D. Simak
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