Bernhard Schlink, author of The Reader, the book from which the movie was based, shares with Oprah.com his thoughts on Kate Winslet's Oscar®-winning performance and provides some insight to his stunning novel. The Reader was chosen as an Oprah's Book Club selection in 1999.
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Q: The guilt felt by all the characters, for their own varying reasons, is incredibly palatable. In the case of Michael, it certainly felt that as a young adult he was attempting to shoulder the guilt for both his actions and Hanna's. Was it your intention, in his actions as a grown man, for him to exorcise some of that guilt?
A: The guilt that Michael Berg feels is the guilt of keeping the secrets of those who committed the crimes of the Holocaust. Certainly he loves Hanna and feels some solidarity toward her, and he never fully stops loving her, though later he reduces communication drastically. But she still plays a role in his life, and he wants her to play a role. The feeling of guilt is from Michael knowing someone who committed crimes like that. That is still with Michael.