Hannibal Rising (Book)
September 6, 2015 3:29 PM - Subscribe

This is a club talk post for us to informally discuss the book Hannibal Rising in anticipation of our Hannibal Rising movie re-watch tentatively scheduled for the first Saturday in November.

The mods gave us permission to use talk posts as a venue to discuss the books for our cannibal club since books are not yet an official part of fanfare. I've set up a calendar baed on tel3path's plan for us to read a chapter a day to help everyone follow along and to show how this would break down over a weekly basis with today (Sunday 9/6) designated for chapter 1. The discussion doesn't necessarily have to stick strictly (or even at all) to this schedule, but if we do want to talk about the finer details of the text, the chapter a day framework seemed like a good way to do it.
posted by litera scripta manet to Cannibal Club (173 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
So according to the prologue, Hannibal's memory palace resembles the Topkapi Palace because of its organic structure.

The layout of Topkapi is described here. Quote: "Various related buildings such as small summer palaces (kasrı), pavilions, kiosks (köşkü) and other structures for royal pleasures and functions formerly existed at the shore in an area known as the Fifth Place, but have disappeared over time due to neglect and the construction of the shoreline railroad in the 19th century."

Also quote: "He used the highest point of the promontory for his private quarters and innermost buildings"; remember that Hannibal's bedroom was at the highest point of his high-ceilinged house (and thus the furthest distance to fall from). And "Few of the buildings exceed two stories" - I don't think we've ever seen Hannibal live or work higher than two storeys up.

And from the novel, this explains why the "Lecter Dvaras" we saw made no sense and consisted to all appearances of only a graveyard and a hunting lodge: "Spaces devoted to Hannibal Lecter's earliest years differ from the other archives in being incomplete."

Directly quoted in the show: "Pleas and screaming fill some places on the grounds where Hannibal himself cannot go. But the corridors do not echo screaming, and there is music if you like."

And "Here in the hot darkness of his mind, let us feel together for the latch." Referenced in the imaginary session outside in the estate: "here you are, fumbling at the latch" and then in Will's initial interrogation of "Lydia Fell".

Adding to the explanation for the transition from the procedural format: "We will add to them what we have learned elsewhere, in war records and police records, from interviews and forensics and the mute postures of the dead."
posted by tel3path at 3:58 PM on September 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

The last line in the prologue is also echoed in season 3 of Hannibal, when Bedelia meets Chiyoh.

From the prologue: By our efforts we may watch as the beast within turns from the teat and, working upwind, enters the world.

Bedelia talking to Chiyoh in Dolce: "Did you watch as the wild beast within him turned from the teat and entered the world?"

I think the comment about "static scenes" also came up when Hannibal was first telling Will about his memory palace.

(Incidentally, Memory Palaces are yet another thing that my two favorite fandoms, Sherlock and Hannibal, have in common.)

It's going to be really interesting to see just how many nods to the original source material there are in the TV show. One thing I'm curious about, though, is how Bryan Fuller would reconcile the timelines for these two different Hannibals. If we're to assume that the show is set in present day, and with Mads being right around 50, he's at least 20 years too young to have been through the second world war, but that's right where this book starts, Operation Barbarossa. I was trying to think if there could be a similar event which might serve as a catalyst for Mads' Hannibal, but I don't know enough about Lithuanian history (and a quick google didn't turn up anything).
posted by litera scripta manet at 8:59 PM on September 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

That wiki article about Topkapi is an interesting read. One thing that stuck out to me:

Unlike some other royal residences that had strict master plans, such as Schönbrunn Palace or the Palace of Versailles, Topkapı Palace developed over the course of centuries, with sultans adding and changing various structures and elements.

This seems to go along with the Palace being a good blue print for Hannibal's memory palace, since he's adding rooms as he goes.
posted by litera scripta manet at 9:01 PM on September 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh, also, on a more general note: I made this post through the Cannibal Club page as a club talk post, so it wasn't supposed to show up in main fanfare talk, but it seems like maybe there was some sort of glitch in the system. I sent the mods a note when I noticed the issue, and they said that pb will have to look into it, but for now it's fine for this post to stay up in fanfare talk.
posted by litera scripta manet at 9:10 PM on September 6, 2015

So the epigraph is the Philip Larkin poem in its entirety. Does anyone remember if our introduction to the Lecter estate includes an axe? Because an axe and a woodpile appear in the final battle with the Dragon.

The battle in which Hannibal the Grim captured his staff is also known as the Battle of Grunwald. It was during Hannibal the Grim's lifetime that Lithuania converted to Christianity; before that Lithuania had been a pagan society. The name Hannibal is distinctly non-Christian, the -bal ending marking him as a follower of Ba'al, and as we all know the name means "Grace of Ba'al" (so in a way, the show is just an alt version of Will and Grace).

Mischa is a Russian boy's name which doesn't belong on a Lithuanian girl in any way that I can parse. According to this, though, Michael is translatable as "no one compares to the Lord," which loosely fits with Mischa's status in Hannibal's life and her role in his religiosity. It apparently is also French Cajun for "ma chère", though I don't see how that could have influenced anyone in 1940s Lithuania. Since Hannibal is eight and Mischa nearly three at this point, I don't think it could have been a nickname emerging from his trying to call the new baby "ma chère" and garbling it.

Black swans are plausible members of the Lecter Castle waterfowl population, having been introduced to Europe in the 1800s. Clearly this chap is a descendant of the swan that confronted Hannibal and Mischa.

So Mom Lecter is a Visconti and a Sforza. Here is an exegesis of that. About the Viscontis of Milan. About the Sforzas of Milan. The descent from Italian nobility could have explained Hannibal's talent for intrigue, power games, and general fucking around with people, if we'd had any indication that his mother Simonetta had acculturated him to it. But, like, he's eight so I don't see how. The noble descent is the first Mary Sue trait to be assigned to Hannibal. At this point, the unusual name is a borderline, and fully explicable, case.

It's from Simonetta that he gets his famous maroon eyes, but maroon eyes are not a thing. Only if they had albinism would their eyes appear to be red or violet, and clearly Hannibal does not have albinism, and they would likely have mentioned it if his mother had it. The unusual eye colour is the second Mary Sue trait to be assigned to Hannibal. However, it's only chapter 1, so he only has 11 Mary Sue points thus far.

As for Lithuania, the Soviets occupied it as of 1940 and Operation Barbarossa reached Lithuania in June 1941.

TV Hannibal must have been born in 1965 or 1966, firmly during the Soviet era. The only possible way his family could have retained control of the estate in any form would be if the chief Lecter at the time of the Soviet occupation, and subsequent Nazi operations, were a highly skilled political ducker and diver who managed to play both sides and retain exceptional amounts of power and privilege no matter what. The biggest obstacle would be the Soviets. Possibly the estate was turned over to the state for some public purpose but the chief Lecter became a privileged Communist party official with covert ownership and control, biding his time until he could overtly take ownership post-independence in 1991. The doors began to open for the possibility of Hannibal's leaving Lithuania in the late 80s; by independence time he would have been 26 or so and we can loosely suppose he could have just walked out. Pazzi encountered him in Florence "20 years" ago, in 1995, putting him at around 29-30 and loosely within bounds of the description of "a young Lithuanian man".

As for Chiyoh, I know she's supposed to be a timeless otherworldly figure and all that, but the actress is 30, therefore the character she's playing could be as old as 40. If she was sent to tend Lady Murasaki when she was "just a girl" of 14 or 15 that places her as going to Lithuania in about 1989 or 90. Hannibal would have been about 25 then, so a bit old to be called a "cub", but maybe Hannibal is about 5 years younger than MM and so could be 45? So he could have met Chiyoh when he was 20 and she was 14-15? If he were hovering around 19-20, LIKE ABIGAIL WAS, that would make SO MUCH SENSE. I don't know what Mischa's age is supposed to be doing, considering she was definitely still a child according to the show. Eat the Rudecast observed that the bird of paradise we saw on Mischa's grave is a flower to mark the 9th anniversary, so perhaps Mischa was nine when she died. It is not actually clear whether Chiyoh ever met Mischa or was simply introduced to her as a legendary figure, as she was introduced to us.

Mischa's death, and/or the imprisonment of her supposed killer, could have occurred during the chaos of the January Events if you stretch that explanation a bit thin; Aukstaitija is north of Vilnius but parts of it are geographically reasonably close. I incline to the interpretation that Chiyoh never met Mischa and that the man she held prisoner was framed by Hannibal years after the fact.

Apologies to any Lithuanians who may be reading this if I've played too fast and loose with your history in my speculations. I welcome your corrections.
posted by tel3path at 3:40 AM on September 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

I just re-watched the beginning of Secondo, where we see Will exploring the ancestral Lecter home for the first time, and I didn't spot any axe or wood pile.

One other thing about the timeline is I'm pretty sure at one point in the series (I've been re-watching episodes in random order so I can't remember where this was), I think Hannibal mentions going to boarding school in Paris as a boy, which may very well mean when he was in his mid to late teens, but that throws some other things off. That would seem to align more closely with the events in this book. I know Hannibal (in the show) also name drops Lady Murasaki (one time, in the first episode of season 2, I believe), and then Chiyoh brings her up as well.

It's also interesting that Pazzi said 20 years ago was when he met Hannibal Lecter. I would have guessed their interactions should have happened when Hannibal was in his early twenties (20-22), because I would assume this was before he went and did his residency at Johns Hopkins. Since Hannibal started as a surgeon, and appeared to stay a surgeon long enough to be an attending physician (based on a convo he had in a flashback with Miriam), it makes me think that he probably did residency before he was 30. I wonder if he did a surgical residency and then did a psychiatry residency after that, or if he did them simultaneously (which would seem kind of unorthodox).

I could also buy the fact that Pazzi was a bit off on his timeline. Or maybe we should just assume this show refuses to be subject to various laws of time, space, physics, etc.

Mischa is a Russian boy's name which doesn't belong on a Lithuanian girl in any way that I can parse.

Yeah, this is something that stuck out to me as well, but I thought maybe it was similar to "Sasha" in that this is a nickname for Alexander in Russian but I have seen it used as a girl's name. (I can remember one friend I had growing up who was Polish and her first name was Sasha. Also, we have a dog named Sasha, although I did initially object to her name on this very premise.)

Mary Sue Points

I feel like we can also add another Mary Sue point based on the fact that we already know from the show that Hannibal is basically gifted at everything. Surgery, cooking, art, musical instruments, knowledge of a variety of academic subjects, fighting people to the death, and of course, murder.
posted by litera scripta manet at 6:08 AM on September 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Harris got his inspiration to write Red Dragon from the creation of the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit, which was formed in 1972. Harris probably started working on RD around the time he completed Black Sunday in the mid 1970's. Harris writes much more slowly than events transpire in his bookverse and I think it's fair to assume that the events of RD, SOTL, and book Hannibal all take place before 1985. This makes Hannibal's childhood origins in WWII quite plausible.

The central theme of all of Harris' Lecter books is transformation, and HR is about the transformation of Hannibal himself from an ordinary human into the shamanic demigod of the later books. Since Series Hannibal isn't a shamanic demigod -- Fuller has been quite explicit about abandoning this aspect of the character, and Series Hannibal does some things which are far out of character for Book Hannibal -- I think it's fair to say that the central theme of HR is simply not there in the series. So what we are going to have are visual quotes to let us know that Fuler knows HR exists and giving a little meat to Hannibal's past but eliding the big messages of the book. Lady Murasaki has a central role, both dramatically and thematically in HR, but she is almost entirely absent from the series; if she's mentioned at all it's as an historical cipher.
posted by Bringer Tom at 6:20 AM on September 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Okay, so on further re-watch of Secondo, I'm only now realizing how many lines seem to have been plucked straight out of this prologue. (tel3path quotes some of this upthread as well).

Here's a rough transcript that I typed up for that whole scene:

[Imaginary Hannibal and Will sit in therapist/patient chair in the woods outside Lecter's childhood home]

H: It's not healing to see your childhood home, but it helps you measure whether you are broken, and how and why. Assuming you want to know.*

W: I want to know. Is this where construction began?

H: On my memory palace? It's the door at the center of my mind, and here you are, feeling for the latch.

W: Spaces in your mind, devoted to your earliest years, are they different from the other rooms?

[Change scene, now in Hannibal's office in Baltimore, same seating arrangement]

W: Are they different than this room?

H: This room holds sound and motion, great snakes wrestling in the evening and the dark. Other rooms are static scenes, fragmentary, like painted shards of glass.**

W: Everything keyed to memories leading to other memories. Rooms you can't bring yourself to go; nothing escapes from them that causes you any comfort.

H: Screams fill some of those places, but the corridors do not echo screaming because I hear music.

* I'm like 99% sure this first line of Hannibal's dialogue is lifted almost verbatim from somewhere in Hannibal Rising, but I think it might come up much later in the book.

**The snakes line and shards of glass also show up in the prologue, as does the static scenes line.

Upthread I misattributed the static scene line to the season 2 finale. Upon re-watch of that scene, they do discuss Hannibal's memory palace, but only briefly. This is where we get the line about the foyer being the Norman Chapel in Palermo. (I wonder if that comes up anywhere in the original novels or if it was made up just for the TV show.)
posted by litera scripta manet at 6:50 AM on September 7, 2015

LSM, the "measure whether you are broken" passage is on page 243 of the paperback, a couple of pages before the end of Chapter 42. The entire paragraph is: "Just before nightfall Hannibal approached Lecter Castle through the woods. As he looked at his home, his feelings remained curiously flat; it is not healing to see your childhood home, but it helps you measure whether you are broken, and how and why, assuming you want to know."

I have to say this is quite an insight, as it almost exactly echoes how I felt when I saw my childhood home for the first time after hurricane Katrina.
posted by Bringer Tom at 7:16 AM on September 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

LSM: just wait till we get to Red Dragon. The show quote density is unbelievable.

Although of course the show is not a direct adaptation and therefore doesn't need to deal with anything from the books it chooses not to deal with - and although I prefer "nothing happened to me, I happened" to "weird cannibal trauma happened and made me who I am"- I did decide on a plausible headcanon for how the whole thing with Mischa getting eaten could have happened in the TV timeline.

There are multiple recorded incidents in the modern era of planes crashing in isolated locations, such as mountaintops or jungles, and the survivors being forced to resort to cannibalizing the dead. I imagine a situation in which this happens, and then the stock of dead runs out, and then the remaining survivors, still awaiting rescue, begin to turn on each other. Having already broken the cannibalism taboo, it would be easy to take that next step. This has been known to happen in many different contexts - shipwrecks, of course, and there was that famous Australian convict cannibal who ate his traveling companions.

In fact, anthropologically speaking, the reason we have cultural prohibitions against eating the dead is almost certainly a safeguard against deciding to eat the living.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:41 AM on September 7, 2015 [3 favorites]

That's an interesting and very plausible headcanon scenario, showbiz_liz. I hadn't thought of it before, but it would definitely make sense.

As far as the explanations for why Hannibal is the way he is, I think the show may be striving to push the equilibrium a little closer to "this is who I've always been" as opposed to the "this is what I was made to be" explanation apparently favored in HR, although I don't think we've gotten enough information in the show to make many definitive conclusions.

On that note, there's a bit of dialogue from season 2 that may hint at Hannibal's position on this matter. It takes place in episode 2, when Jack bring Hannibal to the human mural crime scene for the "first" time:

Jack: How could a human being go so bad?

Hannibal: When it comes to nature versus nurture, I choose neither. We are built from a DNA blueprint and born into a world of scenario and circumstance we don’t control.

(Incidentally, that first line from Jack could so easily apply to Hannibal, although of course at that time Jack was still in the dark on that matter.)

I think in both the show and this book, we're also encouraged to maintain a sense of unresolvable uncertainty and ambiguity. In HR, the prologue sets the stage for this in a small way: "[Hannibal] altered dates freely to confound the authorities and his chroniclers."

The ambiguity also seems to stem from two separate issues: the fact that Hannibal may purposely be misleading (a theme which the show also makes clear) and the fact that Hannibal may himself not know the exact boundaries of truth and fiction.

In the show, Chiyoh seems to draw attention to some of this ambiguity regarding Hannibal's backstory. For example, in Digestivo, when she asks Hannibal if he ate Mischa, he replies, "Yes, but I did not kill her." Even though his words are definitive, I feel like we as the audience are still invited to doubt. At the very least, I don't feel 100% certain that TV-Hannibal didn't kill Mischa.
posted by litera scripta manet at 9:35 AM on September 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

Yeah, I agree, though it also makes me more inclined to believe that he didn't kill her.

I think it suggests that if he did kill her, he wishes he hadn't.
posted by tel3path at 12:14 PM on September 7, 2015

I don't think Hannibal would lie about killing Mischa simply because he has no reason to lie about it to any of the people such as Chiyo or Bedelia who know of his hobby. The background Harris drew for it is really too far in the past for a character active in 2015, and other conflicts haven't had the right style or timing, leaving us maybe with something like Showbiz LIz's scenario.

One thing worth considering is that things in the show simply don't fit together in the meticulous way they do in Harris' novels, and Fuller may have just handwaved it. A similar example which has bugged me since S1 is the use of the facial restraints on Will and Hannibal. In Harris' novels there were damn good reasons for subjecting Hannibal to those restraints; he had demonstrated an inventive capacity for mayhem that made everyone very paranoid. Nothing like that has happened in the series though, and it's really bizarre that such extreme restraints are being used particularly on Will, who is after all only a murder suspect. Unless this is another aspect of the Fullerverse, like the crazy high incidence of Art Murder as a hobby, which is Just Different.

The thing is, Harris explains stuff like that and his explanations are complete and airtight. Fuller is using a lot of Harris' imagery, but he takes shortcuts on the backstory if it makes for a good visual.
posted by Bringer Tom at 1:41 PM on September 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Will justified it by exploding out of the ambulance flinging attendants left and right. However... The ultimate reason for it was because they were irrationally persecuting him, let's face it.

Hannibal, I guess, IDK. He didn't attack any nurses, Gideon had already done that. And they didn't have Gideon in extreme restraints.

I think what explanation there is, is that Alana wanted to show Hannibal that she was the boss. Also, he ate Chilton's lip which is just gross. Try doing that with a mask on, Mr. Cannibal, oh dear shall we find you a straw?

Whereas Harris!Hannibal was bitey, as we all know.
posted by tel3path at 3:54 PM on September 7, 2015

FWIW, I did not get the sense that Hannibal was lying to Chiyoh when he said he didn't kill Mischa. However, plenty of people have had the sense that Hannibal was being truthful when he wasn't. And his motivation could have been that Chiyoh's geis was to imprison and, if it came to that, kill the person who killed Mischa. When Hannibal said it wasn't him, Chiyoh was free to go, and so was Hannibal.

Nevertheless, my personal impression was that he was telling Chiyoh the truth as he believed it. We are still left with room for doubt that he could be lying to himself first. If it's a childhood traumatic memory, nobody could blame him for confabulating.
posted by tel3path at 3:58 PM on September 7, 2015

i think it's because the source material is complete and airtight that we're able to trust that there is an explanation for all this even if it's handwaved away.

Also, the reveal of exactly how Abigail was done was put there as an example of how there's always an explanation for how the trick was done, even if we can't figure it out. But... That still doesn't explain how Abigail was so chipper after having what's got to have been more than a pint of blood drained. I mean right after. Was he pausing in between drainings to give her a sandwich, a lie down and a glass of squash? Surely she'd have needed plenty of time to recover after each pint, and would have been woozy even under the best of conditions.

Anyway, yes, the Harrisverse fridge logic is always all there.
posted by tel3path at 4:49 PM on September 7, 2015

Mod note: moved this thread to Cannibal Club Talk per litera scripta manet's comment.
posted by pb (staff) at 5:12 PM on September 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

oh i was wondering where all you cannibal nerds went
posted by poffin boffin at 5:23 PM on September 7, 2015 [3 favorites]

Here is a sample of the Das Mannlein song known as Ein Mannlein Steht im Walde (A Little Man Stands In the Forest).
posted by AdagioCantabile at 8:02 PM on September 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

yup! We've been conditioned by the show to find it sinister, but it's a riddle: the answer is, it's a rosehip.

There is one Russian name, Mr. Jakov, that appears, and all we know about him is that he feels uncomfortable (politically) speaking German. He might be there because of the Soviet occupation, but maybe he's just around. He gets information from "Colonel Timka" about how to be safe. There are at least two German names floating around: "Berndt" and "Lothar", neither of whom seem to have anything to do with the Nazi occupation but are local people working in the household. At that time, it seems about 9% of the population were Lutherans including a fair few Germans, so most likely Berndt and Lothar are among these. Cook doesn't seem to have a name. The one unmistakably Lithuanian name, Vladis Grutas, belongs to the traitor.

From Hannibal's point of view, which the book seems to be in even though it describes a number of events he didn't witness, these other people associated with the household are basically human and equal. Whatever racism or tribalism was in the atmosphere of that place and time, Hannibal isn't displaying any. Hannibal has always been portrayed as a meritocrat, he may be a huge snob but he is meant to be neither classist nor tribalist.

I'm guessing Vladis Grutas wound up in TV canon as the Goya-looking child-eater that got turned into a firefly, but we'll see.

So into the foundations are built stones from the pagan era, from an altar used by followers of the cult of the grass snake, now passed into folklore as a benevolent household spirit. I wonder what, if anything, this has to do with the remarks about wanting a mongoose under the house for when the snakes pass by; generally Hannibal wants his own home to be a safe haven so I'm guessing it's not connected.
posted by tel3path at 10:43 AM on September 8, 2015

So, we all know Harris picked Lithuania because if he said Transylvania it'd be too obvious. But what is more classic than a Count of an East/Central European country that not too many people know well. Lithuania's a really good choice, though, because it's so interesting and generally underrated, and also the language is weird and fun and has lots of Sanskrit still in it which gets Indo-European enthusiasts all excited.

I've been to Lithuania, BTW, it's nice. Very friendly people. You'd think they'd be huffy about speaking Russian, but they're not. They understand that not many foreigners know a lot of their language, so they do what works.
posted by tel3path at 10:50 AM on September 8, 2015

Doesn't show!Hannibal introduce himself to Anthony Dimmond as Boris Yakov?
posted by fancyoats at 10:52 AM on September 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I think he did, fancyoats. Good catch!

Going back to Will's little side trip to Lithuania, I've been trying to decide if the place where Chiyoh keeps the prisoner is meant to be a version of the lodge where Hannibal's family escapes to, or if it's meant to be connected to the main house/castle, maybe one of the torture chambers/dungeons belonging to Hannibal the Grim or one of the other previous Hannibal's. Or maybe it's not connected to either of these things.

There is one Russian name, Mr. Jakov, that appears, and all we know about him is that he feels uncomfortable (politically) speaking German.

Isn't he supposed to be Jewish? (A Russian Jew, I guess.) I think that's mentioned explicitly, but maybe it doesn't come up for another couple chapters.
posted by litera scripta manet at 1:16 PM on September 8, 2015

I took the series prisoner cell to be in the basement of Castle Lecter; a little later in HR there is explicit reference to the basement having once (before Hannibal's father's time) been a place where prisoners had been tortured and murdered. Also the entire arc involving the hunting lodge may not be there in the series, depending on how Fuller's backstory for Mischa goes.
posted by Bringer Tom at 3:05 PM on September 8, 2015

Explanation of the term Blitzkrieg.

Totenkopf involvement in Barbarossa.

The tanks parked near the moat.

Various German tank destroyers.

Various half-track trucks.

Ouch. Poor Ernst. Then I also realized that the gardener is now contributing to the garden in a different way. Little piece of cruel irony there.

The term 'Hiwis' acquired its negative connotation during Operation Barbarossa.

Interesting, the Lecters had a wild-boar pennant on their castle.

You're right, Mr. Jakov is Jewish.

"the ring and the scars of Heidelberg - the university.

I can't figure out what a "ravenstone" is.


"Tears stood in Count Lecter's eyes as he listened to Berndt" - not a psychopathic type, then, Hannibal's dad.

The Germans began at once to refer to Lithuania as Ostland

Ilyushin bomber.

Augh. Poor swans. Note the emotional reaction of Mrs. Swan, and her bravery. At least, when Hannibal destroys someone, he does so with purpose and awareness (well - TV Hannibal does, but what about that particular thing in one of the later books), and I hate it when I end up saying something in his favour but clearly he is meant to be better than a Nazi. Well maybe not *a* Nazi, but certainly than *the* Nazis.
posted by tel3path at 7:52 AM on September 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

I can't figure out what a "ravenstone" is.

i assumed it was the hearthstone or corner stone of whatever medieval fortification preceded lecter castle. either that or something that was once used for swearing upon.
posted by poffin boffin at 8:59 AM on September 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

I didn't expect to ever read this book, but look what you lot have made me do. I just got it out of the library and read it in one big gulp. I realized that I have no mental map for a young Anthony Hopkins as young Hannibal, it's all that Mads photo Pazzi showed everyone.
posted by PussKillian at 8:05 PM on September 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

There's an interesting detail in Ch 4 (at least I think it's chapter 4) where it mentions that the nanny read to Hannibal out of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale book when he was very young, until he started reading it for himself because naturally he was this brilliant wunderkind/prodigy/genius etc.

So, that inspired me to do some "research" (okay, okay, it was totally for the purposes of fanfic) into the stories that are in the Grimm collection, and one thing I noticed is that a lot of those stories involve cannibalism. Sometimes it's only attempted cannibalism (ex: Hansel and Gretel), but it's definitely a recurring theme.

It's kind of interesting, and I'm guessing maybe not a coincidence on Harris's part (or if it was, it was a very apt coincidence). I don't know that I'm willing to try to argue that Hannibal was influenced by those stories, but it's certainly worth noting.
posted by litera scripta manet at 9:07 PM on September 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

I reallllly loved the Grimm stories when I was growing up. Should I be concerned?

I also have a lot of feelings about the swans.

Not much else to say yet but I'm only a few chapters in, and if I recall correctly, it's later in the book that I start just wanting to throw it at stuff. For now it's fine.
posted by Stacey at 5:10 AM on September 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

So, we know now why the adult Lecter maintains numerous addresses that he can retreat to at all times. It's hard for me to figure out how to map this onto Soviet Child Lecter's experiences. I do know people whose grandparents were exiled to Siberia by Stalin for owning tiny amounts of land, so my guess is that the Lecter family started this practise early - probably during WWII as described in this book! - and kept it going. It may have been a very regulated society, but everything was done on paper, and maybe if you went far enough into the woods, and lived off the land as the book family did, you could sneak away undetected for long periods of time.

Here's the first item for the medium-term reading list: Treatise on Light. I wonder, can/should I start a master post for written works referenced in the text?

Of course the little smeghead would be a mathematical prodigy. His type always is.

As for always being able to read - other languages aren't hard to read like English is. A dependable thrill.

And as you say, the Brothers Grimm. Nanny, are you sure you thought that through properly?

Euclid's Elements.

Awww. So Hannibal did have feelings of sibling rivalry towards Mischa. And at the same time, he just couldn't resist her. D'awwww. And his love manifests by wanting to show her things, let her have the thrill of discovery.

Leipzig, one of not just Germany's but Europe's oldest universities.

Gosh, that Uncle Elgar sounds like a riot.

Oh, a gnomon is a sundial.

So, it's Mr. Jakov who introduces the Mind Palace concept to Hannibal. I suppose I did a version of this naturally since I was a child - it's my grandmother's house, with stairs added in front of the dining room hallway to a second floor that I added - but I certainly don't remember everything and never used it systematically.

Mr. Jakov's a good example - has empathy for everyone, doesn't put himself above anyone, meets everyone where he finds common ground.

It seems like everyone treated Hannibal well and he lived in a household of great civility and respect. Household staff are family. Where on earth did the little shit get it from, I can't even.
posted by tel3path at 1:06 PM on September 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

Where on earth did the little shit get it from, I can't even.

You're about to meet some of those influences. So far we have seen the foundations of Lecter's skill and taste. But he has not begun his transformation yet. As things do for Clarice Starling on page 1 of Hannibal, things are about to turn very awful for young Hannibal, and he will as a result acquire the foundation of his inhuman self-control and the beginnings of his understanding that human is just another kind of meat.
posted by Bringer Tom at 4:23 PM on September 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

Okay, so re-reading Ch 4, it sounds like "Uncle Elgar's Room" where Jakov stays may well be the same place that Chiyoh keeps the prisoner in season 3, especially with that whole "iron grate" thing.

Also, was anyone thrown off a bit by the dialogue? I know Hannibal is a child genius, but still, it's a bit stilted and I don't know...mature, maybe? But I don't want to get into nitpicking. After all, the plot is more interesting to me.

It is very interesting to learn about Jakov's influence on the young Hannibal, both his broad education and the development of his memory palace. One interesting piece of dialogue:

H: Do you wonder if I am worth your time?

Jakov: Every person is worth your time, Hannibal. If at first appearance a person seems dull, look harder, look into him.

Of course, adult Hannibal seems to to be pretty disdainful of a lot of people, although, at least in the TV show, we don't see him manifesting any broad prejudices. He does seem to evaluate people based on who they are as individuals.
posted by litera scripta manet at 8:52 AM on September 11, 2015

I'm not sure if this is the place for it, but I've been thinking a little about the whole "eat the rude" tag that gets slapped on to Hannibal. I think it's part of why his popularity as a pop culture villain has been established - he's scary, but if you're a good person (polite, do your job well) you may survive your encounter with him. It seems vaguely tied into the whole horror movie trope of "if you have sex the killer will get you and it's kind of your fault." So Hannibal kills people but maybe not you, because you're good, you'd never be rude to him. Except really, it's more about whether or not he's inclined to kill you at the moment. He may take pleasure in leisurely selecting a victim from someone who has crossed him in some way, but you're in just as much danger if you accidentally catch his eye crossing the street and he makes some sort of fathomless decision.

I think one of the things that the tv show has been good at (despite a few handwaves in the "he only eats the rude" direction) is depicting how much of a warping influence Hannibal is even to people who are polite and nice to him and part of what he considers cultured society. It swings him in a much more Luciferian direction, where there is no way to safely deal with him except to get out of his sphere of influence as fast as possible. I don't know that TV Hannibal has had the benefit of Mr. Jakov's words, or if he has, he's clearly decided to jettison them. If he takes people as they are, it's still automatically from a place where they are beneath him. It's just degrees of difference from there.
posted by PussKillian at 9:42 AM on September 11, 2015 [3 favorites]

LSM I saw the dialog as a throwback to Victorian culture which didn't see childhood as a separate stage of life and tended to portray children (even in paintings) as miniature adults. Also everyone is polylingual and the family has a deep background in politics and law, which require a precise attention to how language works.
posted by Bringer Tom at 9:56 AM on September 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

I wonder, can/should I start a master post for written works referenced in the text?

I like this idea. To be on the safe side, run it by the mods to see if this would be an okay Cannibal Club talk post. We could make it a general "works cited" post for this book as well as the future ones, and maybe include references (if any) that show up in the movies too.
posted by litera scripta manet at 9:56 AM on September 11, 2015

It's really hard to write believable child geniuses, hardly anyone gets it right.

I haven't picked this up yet but I will soon. I'll pretend it's fanfic to soften any details I think ruin the previous canon.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:11 AM on September 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

I really only got through it by considering it in context of the show and how the two speak to each other. Fanfic is pretty close to how it works for me too!
posted by PussKillian at 10:13 AM on September 11, 2015

PussKillian, "He only eats the rude" is an observation Clarice Starling makes in SOTL but it's actually a simplification of something she goes on to explore: why he eats the rude. At RD/SOTL/H/series point in Hannibal's life he has been looking into a lot of people and has observed that most of them are dreary and predictable. There are basically three types of people in Hannibal's world:

1. People with the possibility of Becoming something better than they are. Will, Francis, and Clarice all interest him because of this potential.

2. People who don't matter. He can predict what they will do all day long with boring accuracy and they are not inclined to change and become interesting. Despite his hobby Jame Gumb falls into this group.

3. People who get in the way of people type #1. Sometimes you are doing the people who do matter a tremendous favor by taking one of the ones who don't and forcing them to change into something less annoying. Such as the flutist who can't carry a tune becoming a nice dinner for the rest of the orchestra.

Now inasmuch as the FBI kids are all nominally trying to unmask his secret hobby and make him stop, they are all potentially in group 3. Something the show gets better than the books (because I think Harris did grow a touch of Mary Sue about Hannibal about half-way through the third book) is that for all his other virtues and talents, Hannibal also just enjoys the hell out of killing people and eating them. He is almost certainly aware that this puts him in group 3 from the viewpoint of people in group 2, but he maintains his own worldview on the fact of his own obvious intellectual and emotional superiority. So, group 2 loser, you might think of Hannibal as group 3 but good luck trying to get him to change for you.

It does show Hannibal's priorities though that both Will and Clarice are trying to hunt him but they earn his respect as interesting potential Becomers despite their potential to annoy him. Their potential to Become is simply more important than the danger they might represent to him. By contrast, Hannibal plays with Jack and Alana and Team Sassy Science like a cat playing with a cornered rat. When the fun goes out of it, he casually destroys them and moves on.
posted by Bringer Tom at 10:17 AM on September 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'll have to think a bit about what you just said, Bringer Tom. I do want to clarify that some of what I'm pondering is Hannibal outside his own story - He Eats The Rude has kind of become codified as one of Hannibal's scary monster attributes as a pop culture figure and I'm interested in poking around in the source texts and also how they get interpreted to see why that might be. But I also know I'm not too fluent with the horror genre so I may be contemplating stuff that has been hashed to death already.
posted by PussKillian at 10:36 AM on September 11, 2015

It's really hard to write believable child geniuses, hardly anyone gets it right.

octavian in the first season of rome was pretty well done, i think, but i can't really think of any others. this impression is also compounded by how he was portrayed in S2, though.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:37 AM on September 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

PK you should consider that neither the original novels nor the movies made from them really qualify as horror; at their heart they are police procedurals with a little extra graphic violence and philosophy. Lecter is a monster but his role is more like that of an example godlike being, and his role in both RD and SOTL is very marginal, unlike horror movies where such a creature (like Freddy Krueger or the Plan of Death) is an unstoppable menace forming the central threat of the story.

I see Harris getting the idea for RD in the early 1970's as he's wrapping up Black Sunday and the movie is being made, and he decides the newly formed FBI BSU might make a good setting. So these guys try to predict what people will do, he thinks, well what would happen if someone was changing as they profile him? And so the theme of Red Dragon becomes transformation, with Will and Hannibal tugging in opposite directions as Francis tries to turn from one into the other. Hannibal's role in RD is very largely symbolic; you could entirely remove him from the story without changing it very significantly.

So along comes Bryan Fuller in 2013 and of course now Hannibal has taken over the franchise in a way Harris probably could not have foreseen in 1975, and there is a rich canon of increasingly graphic horror stories which also didn't exist in 1975. (The grandfilm of them all, The Exorcist, came out in 1973 when Harris was probably reading a news article about this new BSU thing.) So the series is fully informed about a lot of things that didn't even exist when RD was written and Harris created Hannibal the Cannibal.

Many of the reasons people hate book-Hannibal and -HR are down to the fact that character Hannibal was meant to be an enigmatic mystery, and like the big bad of the Alien franchise he looks a little ridiculous when you start explaining him in detail -- and explaining things in detail is what Thomas Harris does, he can't help himself. So I think what Fuller has done is to use the tropes of the horror genre, which didn't even exist when Harris created Hannibal, to tell the whole arc in a style that does work.

But the book at hand, and for the most part the movie that was made from it, are a Thomas Harris joint and so I think of them more like a procedural where some of the procedures are abstract or supernatural and you just have to roll with the assumptions to enjoy the ride.
posted by Bringer Tom at 3:27 PM on September 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

So, yeah, that was a nice touch from Harris, making two Nazi soldiers briefly sympathetic in comparison to Grutas and his merry band of war criminals.
posted by tel3path at 3:52 PM on September 11, 2015

And in this chapter, with the soldiers asking for water, we see war as something that seeks to annihilate civility itself. When the friendly soldiers fire back at the Stuka, they unintentionally cause even more damage to the family and the lodge.

Characteristic cruel irony that it's Mr. Jakov's brains that get et by wolves.

Hannibal's father is a marginal figure in his mind - always present, but barely gets a mention. Mr. Jakov is the most important adult, Mother seems to come in second, then Berndt, Nanny and Lothar, and that dad-type person is floating around somewhere, whatever.
posted by tel3path at 12:25 PM on September 12, 2015

AND Hannibal's first instinct is to try to help and protect his family, and he's driven by the need to protect Mischa after the two of them are the only ones left alive. This probably had something to do with why he later becomes a surgeon, and is definitely the reason why he always has the role of caretaker on the show and in every fic ever written ever.

I'm thinking of alt!nice!Hannibal from my preferred fanfic universe - he must be pretty straightforwardly comforted by having the power to heal and comfort others. What a shame tv!Hannibal had to be such a sicko and pervert that drive into its opposite.
posted by tel3path at 1:34 PM on September 12, 2015

Another chapter, and I must admit that so far, the writing is really not bad. Harris does this thing where he writes starkly and evokes dread through implicature. I heard on Eat the Rudecast that his writing style isn't that great. I disagree. Given what happened in the previous chapter, the ostensibly plain sentence "a wolf dragging something" is just horrifying at the thought of *who* that something might have been.

This is where Hannibal learned that the best way to prey on people is to pose as a medic.
posted by tel3path at 2:50 AM on September 13, 2015

Oh and The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci.
posted by tel3path at 2:52 AM on September 13, 2015

Whatever one might think of Thomas Harris' stories, anyone who thinks he writes poorly can safely be dismissed as an idiot. The man is a craftsman who uses language like a precision tool. The problem with Hannibal and Hannibal Rising is not that either is poorly written, it's that a lot of people don't like what happens within.
posted by Bringer Tom at 8:24 AM on September 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Thus far, I've got no objection to what's happening within this book. I'm given to understand that that's about to change, though.

In principle, I don't mind Hannibal having a backstory or having his violence explained. I feel strongly about the idea that humans make human monsters - that's such a clearly stated philosophy from word one of Red Dragon. And it's also true that Mischa doesn't quantify what Hannibal does or explain any of it away. The idea that Hannibal is less scary or less of an inhuman, supernatural monster for having had possibly formative childhood experiences - well, it's what he does that makes him scary, and I'm kind of bothered by the idea of trying to view human wrongdoers as supernatural monsters anyway. I always hated the "born bad, evil child" thinking behind Michael Myers because it's so clearly a way of trying to absolve adult society's failure to care for its young. It also punctures Hannibal's self-mythologizing balloon, which I think has been mentioned here or on the TV thread, that he's above such petty human stuff as being affected by his childhood experiences. Of course he wants to think he was unaffected by his childhood experiences and that he was above it all and the prime mover the whole time. That's one of a range of understandable emotional responses to having stuff happen to you like is happening in this book right now. He has always been most interesting as a human, even though he doesn't want to be merely human.
posted by tel3path at 11:56 AM on September 13, 2015

So, wait, Tel3path, the soldiers asking for water, you said they were Nazis? The writing on their tank says in Russian, "Avenge our Soviet Girls" and "Wipe out the Fascist vermin" which suggests they were Soviet.

And then a Stuka bomber plane (which is German, yes?) crashes in the yard? And everyone dies? Except Hannibal and Mischa. And then Grutas shows up with his jerks.
posted by fancyoats at 5:20 PM on September 13, 2015

no the soldiers seeking water are clearly soviet
posted by tel3path at 12:04 AM on September 14, 2015

So the looters are a mix of German, Lithuanian, German-Lithuanian, and Belorussian. Agon is a real Albanian name, meaning "dawn". Albanian isn't intelligible with many other languages. I thought it would mean "struggle".

This is a KV-1.

The German Werewolves they were watching for.

The Panzerfaust rocket.

And Hannibal's elective mutism begins.
posted by tel3path at 3:44 AM on September 14, 2015

So the following chapter provides the explanation for why Lecter Castle wasn't destroyed in the war - Grutas et al knew what was in the hidden room and they cut the fuses to the explosives in order to get to it.
posted by tel3path at 3:32 PM on September 15, 2015

So, Hannibal was kind to animals as a child, not sadistic as Will said in Red Dragon (and how would any record of that have been accessible?). Heck, they're the only people left from his old home.

The headmaster pisses in the fireplace? Wouldn't surprise me.

Now we know where Hannibal's expressionlessness in the face of pain began - with his mutism.

He went to a Parisian boarding school as a boy, which means in theory his family could have been powerful for a time and could have met a similarly violent end. If he had relatives outside the USSR, they could well have gotten him out too.
posted by tel3path at 9:22 AM on September 16, 2015

So, Hannibal's entire home and family life have been treated as something to be consumed, by basically everyone. And then excreted, as the frequent mentions of excrement make clear.

Again, this goes some way to explaining why he sees the rest of the world the same way in return. He also has a deep resentment of being treated as something to be consumed, and he perversely expresses it by posing as the perfect host.
posted by tel3path at 6:31 AM on September 18, 2015

So he draws Mischa's hand like God's hand reaching to touch his.

The mutism reminds me of Abigail saying "I remember, I just didn't want to talk to them about it"
posted by tel3path at 9:55 AM on September 18, 2015

Um, and of course the obvious doodah where Hannibal himself feels he's been flung into the oubliette and empathizes with the man who scratched "pourquoi?".

Also the stuff about being of his line and not of his line - part of that is not yet being in touch with the side of his lineage that would ever have been capable of throwing somebody into an oubliette.
posted by tel3path at 7:50 AM on September 19, 2015

So "Count" Lecter has been using his title nonlegitimately for years. Does that imply he presumed his brother dead for years and just now got around to thinking about collecting his niece and nephew, or what? It obviously says something about Robertus, but what?

The Catherine Palace.

He had some photos published in Gorn.

So, Colonel Timka's back, he's been in this area since 1941.

The Soviet Border Police, including some photos, though none with uniforms that can specifically be matched to 1946.

At this point, Hannibal has an average morality and we are being continually encouraged to take his side: "it's the bullies who get injured". But he's no danger to the little ones. And he gives them his treats? He's actually exceptionally kind.

Come on, Harris. Get real.

Hahahha. And the punchline is that Headmaster had to grease Timka's palm to connect Uncle Robertus with Hannibal, and the Headmaster was willing to pay to get rid of Hannibal. Lolololol.
posted by tel3path at 8:02 AM on September 19, 2015

Remember that in every Thomas Harris novel transformation is the theme of the story. It wouldn't be a Thomas Harris joint if Hannibal didn't start out relatively normal. Every story he's ever told supports the assertion that people aren't born that way, they're made. And this story is about how Hannibal was made.
posted by Bringer Tom at 7:05 PM on September 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yeah. Ideologically speaking I prefer that.

If he'd been brutalized between the ages of three and five, when his conscience was being formed, we could say it wasn't his lucid choice to be the way he was. They very deliberately show him NOT being brutalized at that particular age.

Someone once said if you bred Ted Bundy and Squeaky Fromme and then raised the offspring in a loving and nonviolent home, would you have bred another killer? Probably not!
posted by tel3path at 12:25 AM on September 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Interesting to see Hannibal's first encounter with psychiatry. The pendulum! I couldn't decide whether I loved or hated the fact that his yes/no sounds were fart noises.
posted by fancyoats at 4:27 AM on September 20, 2015

So a Delahaye was a heavily taxed luxury car. Either Uncle Bowie did well to hang onto it during the occupation - and what are the odds - or he's coining money hand over fist now that he's in fashion again.

Huygens' volute.

I like the imagery of the gloss and the gleam, which the rain adds to.

They're still looking for Mischa. No wonder Hannibal's gone electively mute. He doesn't want to have that awkward conversation.

omg the Kendo mask arranged like a skull and crossbones. OMG the weeabooism that is coming our way any chapter now, I don't know if I can take it.
posted by tel3path at 7:21 AM on September 20, 2015

Also, either the staff were devoid of better options or they were extremely loyal to work for subsistence. Note that they're introduced as basically equal and on respectful terms.
posted by tel3path at 7:23 AM on September 20, 2015

Oh, yes, and this - Uncle Bowie apparently earned the things he has, he didn't just straight up inherit it all, unless I'm about to find out otherwise. (i assume Murasaki didn't arrive penniless into his life.)

Harris is class conscious, but he doesn't seem to resent wealth. Which is good, since he was no doubt rolling in it by the time he wrote this book. If anyone earns their money fair and square, it's the artist of a bunch of bestselling paintings or, you know, the author of a bestselling book.
posted by tel3path at 12:17 PM on September 20, 2015

I love that you call him Uncle Bowie. I can't picture him as anything else, either. I just pray to the cannibal gods that we eventually get to see him as such.
posted by fancyoats at 2:06 PM on September 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

A masterpost of works cited is here. We need to keep these in order of appearance, so please don't skip ahead.
posted by tel3path at 3:28 PM on September 20, 2015

Okay, so Chiyoh is named in book canon as being "about Hannibal's age" - 13 or 14, and starting work at 14 sounds about right.

In TV canon, she has been guarding the prisoner for 25 years, which puts her age at about 40. Since Tao Okamoto is 30, that just about fits. It also means that she can't be "about Hannibal's age" since Hannibal is definitely in his late 40s. You could maybe insist that he's 45-46, but I don't think he'd pass. Clearly, when TV Hannibal influenced TV Chiyoh, he had the advantage of age.

TV Chiyoh has bobbed hair - in a 1930s style, no doubt to obfuscate timelines and make her seem all supernatural and eternal and such. Unlike some meta writers, I'm convinced that that's why they styled Alana's hair in the faux-bob for the second half, when the task of becoming Hannibal's keeper temporarily passed to her.

Well, Chiyoh certainly is not eating out of young Hannibal's hand.

The koto.

And this is clearly the point where the book jumps the shark, because up till now it was really good.

Spying on Murasaki in the bath, for heaven's sake.

Ono no Komachi. Excuse me, I eyerolled so hard that I think I'm stuck now.

Uncle Bowie must be spared exertion? Guess he has a heart condition?

Sheba? WTF is that line about.

Biting the cheek of Mischa's assailant - no wonder Hannibal is so approving when Will bites Cordell's cheek later on.
posted by tel3path at 8:38 AM on September 21, 2015

Time for another check on Hannibal's Mary Sue points. He has now racked up to 56.
posted by tel3path at 8:58 AM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Okay, I looked up both Japanese and French flower symbolism and the pussy willow isn't encoded in either. It probably symbolizes itself - it's like including a bouquet of kittens with the note you slip under someone's door. Of course Hannibal puts his face to them. Clearly, Murasaki is a class act.

Telling time in Japanese. It is, of course, too hard.

Wow, talk about playing around with timelines. Murasaki Shikibu. She and Ono no Komachi were probably school friends or something.

Moribana. I'd like to try that some time.

What Murasaki says to Hannibal about having this moment in this room is kind of consistent with ACT. It's how Hannibal manages to be such a happy little duckling.

Deer skulls weren't added to the Hannibal symbology by Fuller, they were there already.

Stitching somebody's hand at home - that's a terrible idea. But it's one more reason for Hannibal to go into medicine and surgery. To be more like Murasaki.

Shrines to ancestors. Hannibal is distinctly Christian-in-the-breach; I almost but not quite say anti-Christian, even though I should. His philosophy demonstrably involves teaching patients to repudiate their parents, not to worship them. Recall how he tells Mason that he can't go on worshipping Daddy the way he does; the way he shows Abigail how to cut the throat of her father's corpse.

Origami cranes. I would like to try that too.

Greek comic masks.

Kabuki costumes.

Noh costumes.

The Tanto dagger.

The long and short swords.

Not sure about the war axe. We've all seen the suit of armour.

So much emphasis that it is Hannibal's choice what kind of man he'll become. He's so attracted by the samurai's power, understandably, but Murasaki's had a rough time of it too.

Well, she sure is seductive all right. She's literally leading him through centuries of theatre, otherworldliness and erudition. Now we know where he gets his love for sensuality and attention to detail.
posted by tel3path at 11:54 AM on September 22, 2015

Okay, hands up, I get it. I don't like how sexualized and exoticized Murasaki's introduction was, but Chapter 16 is important in showing us what influenced Hannibal to become the otherworldly and seductive figure he is on TV, which we haven't been shown half so successfully in any other work.
posted by tel3path at 12:01 PM on September 22, 2015

Hannibal's introduction to hypnotherapy - complete with metronome! The entire TV series was heavily influenced by Hannibal Rising, even though BF is dismissive of it.

Hannibal is physically capable of speech, so I can only assume he's registering his opinion of his therapist.

Also, clocks in therapy.

Knibb and Roman striking.

Hannibal is, very plausibly, now using his love of learning as a way of not focusing on the thing he's being forced to think about.

"He follows several trains of thought at once, without distraction from any, and one of the trains is always for his own amusement." Come on now. His thought process as described in this chapter isn't unusual for an intelligent person, and just because he's electively mute doesn't mean his brain hemispheres have decoupled or whatever nonsense. "He's opaque to me" - he's a bit of a Victorian genius, but otherwise he's not odd or unusual besides being highly intelligent. Pfeh.

Also, he remembers perfectly well what happened to his sister and told the doctor right there.

However, this is where I start to think the doctor's not that stupid: saying he'll remember when he can stand it. You can see the doctor's approach as discretion, then. And certainly, attentive compassion. He recognizes the chain marks. He's all right, this shrink.
posted by tel3path at 10:31 AM on September 23, 2015

The Essonne region.

The Essonne river.

Interesting that Hannibal's season in hell was winter (and convenient for a Toronto-based filming schedule) and his season in heaven was someplace nice and hot. I mean I'm sure it gets lovely and warm in the Baltic in summer too, but.

Of course Will's domestic paradise was a winter wonderland, so you don't wanna make too much of it, but still.

He has ducky friends in the river, awww.

Parachute spiders (cw: spiders). Aww cute.

Why does Uncle Bowie call his wife "Sheba", I don't get it, why would he call her that it's icky.

Also icky that he admits to fancying her while she was still a child. I mean, he clearly didn't *do* anything wrong, but can we just remember not to talk about certain things in polite society, Uncle?

The first mention of fireflies, in Hannibal's imagination as he sees the painting in progress of Lady M.

The Harvest moon.


Oh, the Aroma Identification Game as referenced in Contorno. I actually would like that game, but that's just me.

Hannibal hates bullies. Clearly, mini-Hannibal is an anti-hero. There's no excuse for his turning out so bad, AFAICT, though Robertus warns him that his family is not like the others.

Oh dear Chiyoh is 13 and already has been engaged "for years". Poor kid. I wonder if tv!Chiyoh faced that fate, and whether she was better off on the Lecter estate. Yikes.

And now we know where Hannibal learned calligraphy.

Eternity In Eight Strokes is Chinese? But is the basis of Kanji.

Folding origami cranes again.

I won't link to any articles about radiation sickness because they all contain pictures. But I guess the only reason Murasaki is alive is because she was on the diplomatic circuit.

Chiyoh's cousin Sadako was Sadako Sasaki. Hannibal's family seems to be connected with an extraordinarily large number of remarkable people, but since his aunt is a ~1000-year-old poet and his uncle is David Bowie, what do you expect.
posted by tel3path at 10:12 AM on September 24, 2015

The first time I read it I was a bit taken aback by his name-dropping Sadako Sasaki since she has surviving family who are presumably not in reality related by marriage to Clan Lecter.
posted by Bringer Tom at 3:16 PM on September 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Marshall Foch.

Sous Les Ponts de Paris played on a barrel organ.

Fiddlehead ferns.

Grana cheese.

Marc, otherwise known as Pomace brandy.

Hannibal using a leg of lamb as a weapon, I guess that's meant to be... something or other, but I think the book might be jumping the shark right around now.

Here is where Hannibal starts to definitively classify humans as animals.

Lady Murasaki is, of course, badass. I don't know if there's a translation or if it's just a battle-cry.

They can't take Hannibal anywhere, can they? Dearie me. If women erupted into that kind of violence over every little bit of street harassment, the male population would be decimated within the first hour.
posted by tel3path at 6:12 AM on September 25, 2015

"Flog no one else with meat" is a line of dialogue so terrible that I can't even deal with it. Although I do sort of like the idea of an alternate version of Hannibal where he gets fixated on killing people with meat and just travels the world clobbering people with lamb shanks in perpetuity. Screw art murder, Hannibal just really likes beating people up with dead sheep.
posted by Stacey at 6:19 AM on September 25, 2015 [3 favorites]

Although I do sort of like the idea of an alternate version of Hannibal where he gets fixated on killing people with meat and just travels the world clobbering people with lamb shanks in perpetuity. Screw art murder, Hannibal just really likes beating people up with dead sheep.

sounds familiar...
posted by showbiz_liz at 6:54 AM on September 25, 2015

That's another one for the fanfic prompts then.
posted by tel3path at 10:19 AM on September 25, 2015

Actually, Dahl's completely fucking twisted sense of humor marries very well with this show in general.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:25 AM on September 25, 2015

Yeah, and the TV show Tales of the Unexpected had a numinous quality that was hard to account for. People still ask questions about who played the girl dancing in the title sequence. That girl isn't doing anything special, she is nice but not extraordinary looking, and yet everyone who sees that title sequence is completely entranced by it.
posted by tel3path at 10:32 AM on September 25, 2015

I can't do the meat clobberings, I'm turning my attention to a Drunk Hannibal story for showbiz_liz. No fancy allusions. Just Drunk Hannibal. Someone else should pick up the Dahl inspiration, though. I hadn't thought of that story in years!
posted by Stacey at 10:35 AM on September 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

I do like the idea of using a frozen murder victim leg as a murder weapon, creating a never-ending ouroboros of murder
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:37 AM on September 25, 2015

So now, Hannibal has become anti-religious? Or showing the first signs of it.

Hannibal empathizing with Murasaki. Wonder if it's just for her or if he can extend it to others.

(the butcher btw is marked as an out and out villain because he carried the carcass of a lamb)

(but you know, Count Lecter totally brought it on himself, what a nidiot)

(finally we see where Hannibal gets it from)

Oh, Hannibal does miss his uncle, okay. Fair enough.
posted by tel3path at 1:52 PM on September 26, 2015

A key difference between Harris Hannibal and Fuller Hannibal is that Harris Hannibal does not love other people. Part of his transformation was giving up that wild, primitive and dangerous emotion. Whereas, of course, Series Hannibal is in love with Will Graham.

Instead of love, Book Hannibal allows himself to feel respect. His virtues are understanding, precision, strength, and willpower, and what he respects are people working positively to acquire those same virtues.

Lady Murasaki is the last person Book Hannibal will ever love, and that love will be the thing that effects his final transformation into Book Hannibal.
posted by Bringer Tom at 2:35 PM on September 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

Wow, chapter 21 veers annoyingly between present and past tense in the telling. Harris must have done that deliberately but it definitely reeks of trying too hard.
posted by Bringer Tom at 2:40 PM on September 26, 2015

Hasn't he always done that, though?

The series messes with the timeline and orientation in time as well, but it does a much better job of it.

If book!Hannibal were alive today, he'd be pushing 80 and probably crying over stewed apricots, like Chilton said. Because Harris did a magical tense spell over him, he is timeless and ever with us, moving to and fro throughout history like a character you can't get rid of so have to find ways to cope with. Fortunately, some depictions have coped very, very well.

Hopkins said that the thing about Hannibal was his ability to love. That was what he put into the role. Cox was very close to the book material, and that Hannibal was nowhere near any capacity for love of any kind.
posted by tel3path at 3:59 PM on September 26, 2015

Or rather, Cox was close to the book material at that time. Romantic Hanni began with SotL.
posted by tel3path at 3:59 PM on September 26, 2015

There was nothing romantic about SOTL Hannibal in either the book or movie. He was appreciative and (in his way) respectful, but in a tough love way because he knew Clarice needed a shove to direct her toward her Becoming.

Hopkins Hannibal was not Harris Hannibal until the book Hannibal, when Harris took what Hopkins did to the character and ran with it, probably because of a gun to his neck and a bag of money dangling before him. This may be part of the problem with Hannibal Rising, because this Hannibal is really two different people, one a shamanic and almost demonic figure of pure power and the other a figure of of intense emotion and empathic envolvement.

I believe Harris created Hannibal, who was a very bit player in Red Dragon, as a kind of prototype or example of what the two real main characters, Dolarhyde and Graham, might aspire to. As such he was kind of a perfected creature and such characters don't sustain much of an examination of their backstory, because LOLdemons.

But an examination of Hannibal's backstory is exactly what Hannibal Rising is, and as such it is almost certain to disapoint at some point simply because it is trying to do something that is impossible. The biggest mystery is why Harris thought it was a good idea, but I suspect that was a combination of $MILLION$ and FUCK YOU.
posted by Bringer Tom at 7:03 PM on September 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

The orb-weaver spider.

Who let Hannibal anywhere near a motorbike?

Hannibal makes a reasonable request. It's very fair to ask Paul the Butcher to write a letter of apology, though he undermines the case for it by calling it "unforgivable". If something can't be forgiven, how can an apology be welcome?

Well, Hannibal, there's such a thing as unnecessary roughness.

Huh. Maybe that's why Hannibal is a humanitarian. He's just too kind to animals to ever eat one.
posted by tel3path at 10:56 AM on September 27, 2015

"Go, go," is what Will says to Chiyoh's prisoner as he frees him!
posted by tel3path at 12:13 PM on September 27, 2015

You know it's possible that if the vegetable guy had harassed Murasaki, Hannibal wouldn't have been triggered this far

Also he must have no doubt in his mind that the butcher killed Robertus
posted by tel3path at 12:59 AM on September 28, 2015

Okay, so this is where Young Hannibal not only did his first literal Art Murder (1. Art. 2. Murder.) but also learned that if you pick the right victim, gruesome murder is okay!

The Citroen Traction Avant. I'm getting the sense that, perhaps, Harris likes cars.

They managed to get Gilles de Rais to trial? Crikey, that is some damn fine detective work right there. Jack could take a lesson in persistence from these guys.

And straight from the murder to the kitchen! That's our Hanni.
posted by tel3path at 2:19 PM on September 28, 2015

Reminding of the predatory nature of cute doggies like the mastiff. Yes, we get it, Hannibal is in touch with his own animal nature. But then, so was Paul the Butcher.

Suiban flower vessel.

Hannibal, that is not nice.

It's not a nice thing to do to Madame.

It's not nice to display evidence in Madame's house.

You had to know she would find it eventually.

Shame on you.


Okay, so the cops did figure it out. You're not in Baltimore any more, or yet, Hannibal. This is Essonne, where cops are cops.
posted by tel3path at 11:01 AM on September 29, 2015

Good for Lady Murasaki, insisting that if Hannibal is questioned an adult must be present. Even knowing that he totally did it.

But, she doesn't follow through. I don't know what his rights would have been under French law.

Also, Hannibal addresses his crush as "my lady". GaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaa.
posted by tel3path at 2:38 PM on September 30, 2015

Well, Hannibal certainly seems to have an excellent way with words for someone who was mute only a few days before, and is conversing in a foreign language.

IDK though, maybe they routinely spoke French at Castle Lecter? That would be an old Russian habit, but I can't imagine why Lithuanians would adopt it.
posted by tel3path at 2:48 PM on October 1, 2015

Well. If they're going to use the wrong investigative techniques of course they won't be able to indict Hannibal. Plus ça change.

Clanzoflat datasheet.

Ah, the ol' "I understand, anybody would have done the same" technique.

Yes, we get it, Hannibal is a child prodigy. Whoop de do.

Okay, well, whatever this book's virtues are or not, they at least explain the whole "I can't believe Hannibal gets away with this stuff! In real life, he would never" blah blah blah.

Also, Hannibal was pulling the same thing with the judge in Hassun as Murasaki did for him. This book was way more influential than BF is ever going to admit.

Wisteria in Japanese art.

Hannibal sleeps soundly and finally has access to his good memories, because he's finally the one in control. The violence you teach me I will execute, &c.

And Murasaki sends him a note of approval. Dear me. Talk about your Addams family values.
posted by tel3path at 3:01 PM on October 1, 2015

The Heian period.

The Place des Vosges.

King Henri II.

The colours of Diane de Poitiers. Her emblem.


Popil's got some brass neck. Murasaki can't have been widowed for more than a few weeks.

Hannibal, you rude little shit, if anyone brought me chocolates from Fauchon I'd keep my opinions to myself. My silence is pretty easily bought.

Now when Popil pressures him about his sister - interrogating him, now, and it feels like a guilty secret because it stands out as one in relief even if everyone, including Hannibal, including Harris, were to insist Hannibal doesn't feel guilty. That's one more Mary Sue point for him. You know, if this is an interrogation it reminds of what they put Abigail through.

Oh, good for Murasaki, telling Hannibal how rude he's been.

Murasaki Sue. This book is taking on the feel of, of listening to the anecdotes of someone who's had past life regression hypnosis and is convinced they were a long succession of famous people in previous lives.
posted by tel3path at 2:46 PM on October 2, 2015

The Jardin des Plantes.

Place Monge markets.

Rue Ortolan.

Holland & Holland. Swoon. Their guns are incredibly beautiful.
posted by tel3path at 3:12 PM on October 3, 2015

See how early Hannibal learns that bullshit is accepted because he's special, as long as he doesn't give them any trouble.

Musashi Miyamoto, Japan's greatest swordsman, also known for paintings of birbs. I think the illustration at the start of the book is one of his, since it isn't signed with Hannibal's Eternity In Eight Strokes.

Hannibal is behaving fairly typically for a gifted child, one must admit.

Oh, naughty kid, working on his own business during school hours.

Rue des Saints-Pères.

Rue Jacob.

There are indeed a few galleries in the area.

I've got to say, this is kind of well thought out. Gifted kid whiles classes away drawing fanart, then sells it. It doesn't have to ne a work of genius to sell, it just has to be commercial, and it is. He can't be getting all that much money per each if he has to save that hard for a birthday dinner.

Also explains how he "found time" to be good at these things later in life - Murasaki showed him how, plus he had a lot of raw talent from his uncle's side, plus he got a lot of practice.

Luxembourg Gardens. Pond with sailboats.

St Germain.

Place de Furstenberg.

Café de Flore, still going.

Rue Saint Benoît.

Rue de l'Abbaye.

Map of the corner of St Benoît and Abbaye.

I can't immediately find a recipe or school dinner slang for "Martyrs' Relics".

Galerie Leet does not seem to be based on any real place or person.

In Anglo-Saxon etiquette a boy Hannibal's age would be properly addressed as Lecter, but in French etiquette it's not clear that there's any such exception.

Hannibal learns to equate charm with con artistry.

One example of Turner's mists.

A painting of the Grand Canal with Santa Maria della Salute in the background, a Guardi supposedly recognized from Lecter Castle.

posted by tel3path at 4:30 AM on October 4, 2015

Hmmm, Belgium tried to stay neutral beforee WWII but got invaded by Germany. At the crossroads of Western Europe, making the gallery owner Belgian sort of sketches in a path for the painting to travel.

Also, the word "foxing" doesn't translate into any language spoken chez Lecter except English, so are we to assume English was regularly spoken at home? Lady Murasaki speaks to Hannibal in English, but she must be fluent in French, so does that mean he's not? This must have been obfuscated deliberately.
posted by tel3path at 4:54 AM on October 4, 2015

Ah, I see Hannibal learns early the importance of having friends in the police department. Now he's got Popil running errands for him, and Popil knows he's a murderer!!!

The Quai des Orfevres is the iconic Parisian cop shop in popular culture.

Hmmm, so police brutality is just fine with Popil, which explains why he's just fine with Hannibal's brutality. At least they're tough on rape suspects, which is fine, I guess? Unless the suspect isn't guilty, in which case, sucks to be them.

There are zillions of paintings by Guardi covering that cityscape, and Leet of course is using the ambiguity to obfuscate which painting he has. I'm not even sure the one I cited is the same one Harris has in mind, or if the Lecter Castle painting is an imaginary addition.

Emppu Makinen does not seem to be a particularly uncommon name in Finland.


The Jeu de Paume.

Bellotto's Bridge of Sighs.

Canaletto's Bridge of Sighs.
posted by tel3path at 3:18 PM on October 5, 2015

This secondary literature on Thomas Harris explains that Bellotto was Canaletto's nephew and pupil, and not above using his uncle's name to promote himself. I doubt one could accuse Hannibal of the same thing, really, since his drawings seem to stand on their own merits and the gallery owners don't want customers to know a child did the drawings. Anyone who would be attracted by Robertus Lecter's work would also know Robertus was dead, so.
posted by tel3path at 3:25 PM on October 5, 2015

The Tuileries.

The Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives Program.

Eh, yes, we get it, Catholics eat their saviour and it's icky, plus the Bible and associated fanart is way gorier than, like, a TV show or whatever.

I can't find a painting called "Meat Lunch". But of course it's ham, it would be.

The Springer spaniel.

School of Rubens.

Chanel. Counterfeit, Lady M? For shame!!!

Caravaggio's Judith beheading Holofernes. Oh, tee hee. Yeah okay all this murder is completely socially acceptable in context Hannibal isn't a freak he's normal we're all just jealous cuz he's smarter than us.

Ratlines. I couldn't find a Dragunovic, I did find a Dragánovic. A Catholic priest.

Suit types, among them English.

Article 46 of the Hague Convention.

The Sacrifice of Isaac.

Hannibal thinks it's the privilege of (a) God to eat humans, that I guess is the basis of his religion. The whole point of the sacrifice of Isaac was that human sacrifice was right out, but in Hannibal's version of the story it goes differently.

TREBELAUX, YOU BLASPHEMER. Ooh, it makes me so mad.
posted by tel3path at 2:29 PM on October 6, 2015

I'm having a hard time verifying that gym bags were in common use in the 1940s. Maybe a duffel bag as used by ex-Navy?

That is the second time they've spelled it "Gare de l'Este". Duh.

Rue de Babylone.

It turns out that Trebelaux really was going to a Roman bath-type situation, so I guess "gym bag" was the right descriptor for whatever type of bag he was carrying.

Now, at this point in the narrative, with Trebelaux and Leet in the sauna, I half expect tv!Hannibal to pop up and start doing gratuitous kendo.

Meaux, 25 and a half miles northeast of central Paris.

Fontainebleau, also in Ile-de-France.

Veal Paillard.

The Commissariat of Enlightenment.

Petras Kolnas was, of course, one of the looters when the hunting lodge was bombed.
posted by tel3path at 12:30 PM on October 7, 2015


The Marne.

Dragunov sniper rifle.

Thompson submachine gun.


Panzerfaust anti-tank weapons.
posted by tel3path at 2:33 PM on October 8, 2015

On to part II. I guess Randall Tier must be Mercy, then.

The Paris Opera. IME not an easy place to enjoy anything.

They must be at Gounod's Faust, since Berlioz' one doesn't seem ever to have been performed at the Paris Opera. Full version, performed in 1975.

Well, he wasn't kidding when he told Bedelia he was rooting for Mephistopheles and contemptuous of Faust. I might find him less annoying if he were to get into rock 'n' roll and boogie on down to the rebellious sounds of the fifties, but you can't have everything.

"in appearance Lady Murasaki remained exactly the same" - one would hope so, since she's pushing 1000 years old at this point. She seems to share this quality with Chiyoh, though it's not clear that they're related by blood.

The Flight of the Bumblebee.

Hannibal, are you murdering people so you can spend time with your crush all by yourself? You little freak. The impulse to stop one's mother-figure from remarrying is more relatable, but I'm still giving you the side-eye for how you went about it.

Beniamino Gigli. Singing Salve Dimora. Singing Tardi si fa. This would be 1951, so was he really still performing in full operas then? Wonder when he slid over to doing just concerts.

The Prefecture of Paris.

Oh, of course Hannibal is the youngest person ever admitted to medical school in France, because of course. I must check his Mary Sue score after this.

Hannibal is trying to be all charming and smooth and stuff... wonder why specifically he needs to get all his money back; is he that poor, or does he just prefer to spend it on something else? Shame they didn't have Amazon Buyback in those days. Or perhaps the point is to let us know that he can assimilate an entire medical textbook in a week, because of course.

200 French Francs would have been something under a US dollar in the early 50s, I think?

Grand stair ceiling of the Paris Opera, by Isidore Pils.

The Place de l'Opéra.

Hmmm, so Popil has Hannibal under constant surveillance, Murasaki is oddly nervous considering she COVERED UP HER NEPHEW'S EARLY TEEN MURDER ANTICS I'm just saying it sounds like A BIT OF A FAUSTIAN BARGAIN TO ME, but hey.

I mean what could possibly be unnerving about being in an enclosed space with a fully grown teenager who murdered a guy five years ago and is now in medical school and has an inappropriate obsessive crush on you and you are his aunt by marriage. Nothing disconcerting about that at all. I see he doesn't stay over at home any more, even though he lives in the same city. Big wonder why. You'd think it would save on living costs.

Oh, a police inspector is intrigued by Hannibal, it's just sooo fascinating, it's like Popil has a crush and is engaging in romantic comedy behaviour just like Hannibal does with Will. How cute.

Place des Vosges.
posted by tel3path at 12:25 PM on October 9, 2015

Hmmm, only up one Mary Sue point to 57. Either teen!Hanni is written with more nuance than he's cracked up to be, or the test is unreliable.
posted by tel3path at 12:31 PM on October 9, 2015

Is it possible that Hannibal really doesn't remember what happened to Mischa? Of course it's possible, but is it true?

Did I mention that we now know how the Leda and the Swan painting wound up in Hannibal's dining room - because when he saw Murasaki in the bath-house all those years ago he imitated the swan. Pfft

Also, the tradition of baiting police started early. The Hannibal of the show really is very consistent with the Hannibal in this book, much as BF claims to have dismissed it.

Le Marais.

The Pont Louis-Philippe.

East side of Notre Dame. Which I guess makes Paris itself the spiderweb. And God the thing that has Hannibal trapped there and is waiting to devour him.

The Gare d'Orsay, not a public railway station at the time of this narrative.

Ile de la Cité, also including a view of Notre Dame from the east. There is more than one footbridge.

Portail du Jugement.

Yeah well I'll try this method on a memory palace scene, but I really feel like if it worked that well we'd all be doing it.

And memory palaces need to be well lit? I'm surprised anything on the show is remembered by anyone ever because you literally cannot see a fucking thing. I got eyestrain yesterday trying to pick out a screencap because it is fucking pitch dark because what are they hiding? Couldn't afford to overdecorate the set? To be fair, I'm not sure you could pull a Dogville on NBC Hannibal, though I'd like to see them try it. Maybe after the musical episode. In the fourth series.

Joan of Arc.
posted by tel3path at 12:36 PM on October 10, 2015

The Pont au Double.

The Rue de la Bûcherie.

Kif, though I don't suppose that needs much introduction here.

The Rue Dante.

Musée national du Moyen Âge, previously known as the Cluny.

The Rue de l'École de Médecine. The site of the old medical school.

Alone in a medical school at night? Pull the other one.

The Fort of Montrouge is one of the 16 fortifications around Paris.

Fresnes Prison. La Santé Prison.

He doesn't specify which string quartet and I can't find a complete listing for Bach, darn it.

Carnavalet Museum, dedicated to the history of Paris.

Okay, so he really did hide the memory of Mischa's death from himself. Awww.
posted by tel3path at 8:18 AM on October 11, 2015

Well, unlike the TV show, you can't accuse this book of sparing the shoe leather.

IDK if Hannibal has that much of a spatial memory, but Harris certainly seems to.

Also it's as if he went on holiday to Paris and now he won't shut up about it.

Anatole Tourneau is not on this list of Messieurs de Paris, though the article has multiple issues.

(sigh) Rue de la Tombe-Issoire.

How the guillotine works.

Combination Underwear, aka the union suit, like Mason Verger wore in Digestivo.

Actually, No. 36 is not a bad chapter at all.
posted by tel3path at 3:16 PM on October 12, 2015

Vesalius' De Fabrica.

Louis Jourdan.

So... for whatever reason, Hannibal is more humane towards a condemned man than someone else is? Far out.
posted by tel3path at 12:51 PM on October 13, 2015

The condemned man is about to go on an unwanted but potentially epic journey. Hannibal respects that.
posted by Bringer Tom at 3:18 PM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yeah. And I see that this is the volume where the question "where were the police when [children got victimized]" is asked, and they really just keep on asking it all through the TV series, don't they?

Oh, ew. It takes a few MINUTES for a beheaded body to settle down? What?!? Not minutes, surely.
posted by tel3path at 2:34 PM on October 14, 2015

Thanks to the French Revolution we have lots of data on what happens after a body is decapitated. The head often seems to experience a few moments of lagniappe consciousness too.
posted by Bringer Tom at 3:19 PM on October 14, 2015

You know, given that the purpose of the transaction was to transform this prisoner into something beautiful and/or useful - a textbook illustration - and the cards were on the table from the start, I can see why Hannibal wouldn't feel any need to be sadistic towards the prisoner, even though he is arguably like one of those who killed his sister.

I'm guessing Mischa was beheaded, Hannibal hasn't remembered that yet, and he's extending empathy towards someone about to be beheaded for that reason.

It's also clear why the letter of the law is irrelevant to Hannibal (well, of course he'd think he was above it all) and secondary to Popil. I'd say it's normal for war veterans and survivors to be in that mindset.
posted by tel3path at 2:12 AM on October 15, 2015

Anyway, what the fuck does Popil think he's doing, insinuating that Hannibal murdered his sister when he was under ten years old and when it's known that Hannibal has been plagued by nightmares ever since?

It's one thing for the tv show to put that idea out there for consideration, especially when Hannibal's age at the time it happened is obfuscated. It's another thing for a guy who knows kid!Hannibal and knows the timelines to be insinuating the same thing. tf is wrong with you, Popil. And I say this even taking into account that you know 13-year-old Hannibal sliced and diced a guy.
posted by tel3path at 2:16 AM on October 15, 2015

I know the head probably remains conscious for a few seconds or (shudder) even longer, but minutes? What would the body be doing in that time, boiling an egg? Fitting in one last 7-minute intensity workout?
posted by tel3path at 2:18 AM on October 15, 2015

Good job of having Hannibal be an artist in a garret without having him be starving or any of that. Were rooms really lit by candlelight at that time in Paris? I guess so, eh. What a world.

Oh, so memory recovery drugs (which don't really work in any reliable way) are a part of book canon as well. The more you know.
posted by tel3path at 7:59 AM on October 15, 2015


I couldn't find a picture of a 1950s Soviet police sedan, but here are some post-War Skodas.

Vilnius University.

You can all imagine a block of Russian-built Soviet-era flats, right? I don't have to link to that.

Wow, Dortlich must be some string-puller to be able to get a maid for his dad in the highly structured Soviet economy.


ROFL. Hannibal joining the youth league of the Communist party? That's hilarious.

A Wartburg - used to be, items manufactured in East Germany were sought after in the USSR because they actually had quality control in East Germany - but this is a car! Dortlich, a cop, has his own private car!!! Dude seems to constitute his own little Mafia.

"To catalog for the people the library at Lecter Castle" - that's a good one, Hannibal. Such a joker!
posted by tel3path at 10:00 AM on October 16, 2015

Okay just more shoe leather in this chapter, nothing to see here.
posted by tel3path at 3:52 PM on October 17, 2015

The Neris River.

posted by tel3path at 4:22 PM on October 18, 2015

I can't find any evidence that there is any such place as Dubrunst, or that the word has any meaning.

The C-Ration. Notably, Hannibal is not a smoker. That would have given him a tremendous physical advantage at a time when most people did smoke.

The Internationale. Lithuanian lyrics available on this page though it may have been sung in Russian.
posted by tel3path at 4:41 PM on October 18, 2015

Wow, talk about walking into the haunted forest for real.

I am not sure if the lodge in the show is meant to be the same as the bombed-out lodge in the book?

Ohai, little ortolans.

Oh good heavens. Mischa's ACTUAL BODY in the tub. Poor Hannibal (and I don't say that too often).

Glad to learn he also misremembered the part about the teeth.

But then, this line: "he plucked a bay leaf out of the tub and threw it away".


Oh, poor dear Hannibal. Normally I think it's a waste to bury jewelry with its owner, but not in this case. Not in this case. And it's something he remembered their mother wearing, too. And diamonds, so laden with both sentimental and monetary value.

There is "no God"? I don't think Hannibal believes that at all.

Up until this point the chapter is genuinely moving.

Morels? Just goes to show that Hannibal can make a living in any circumstances he finds himself in.

Well. Um. All that talk about how Dortlich et al kept feeling him and Mischa to see who was fatter, and now, with the mayonnaise. Well. Um.

Bremerhaven, a postwar enclave of the US within the British zone (which I guess is how Grentz would have wound up in Canada).


The "Place Fontainebleau" - is that a typo? Odd.
posted by tel3path at 1:18 PM on October 19, 2015

A brochette.

Ew, Hannibal.
posted by tel3path at 2:18 PM on October 20, 2015

Mind you, this explains why "home" is where Hannibal "can never go".
posted by tel3path at 2:18 PM on October 20, 2015

Wait though: excuse me for being Captain Obvious, but ISTM we just learned that Hannibal WANTS it to be true that the body is all one has after death, which makes his cannibalizing of Dortlich a metaphysical defilement, not just vengeance.
posted by tel3path at 2:20 PM on October 20, 2015

Le Pré Catelan.

Chez Paul. It doesn't seem to be particularly near the Quai des Orfevres, but Google Maps is playing silly buggers and won't give me directions.

This was a Thermofax, a copying machine, not a fax machine.

Blimey, Hannibal, you weren't trying too hard to cover your tracks even then, were you?
posted by tel3path at 11:29 AM on October 21, 2015

Vert le Petit.

Dirlewanger of the SS.

The Pleven Plan.

Lucas Refrigerators.

Bosendorfer pianos.
posted by tel3path at 12:19 PM on October 22, 2015

How close are you to the end? I might have to actually read this damned thing, since I need to know some of the info for something I'm writing don't look at me, but I was hoping to power through it in a couple of days to lessen the trauma.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:30 PM on October 22, 2015

About to start chapter 47 of 60.

showbiz_liz, when you're committed to something, you stick to it even when you're not enjoying it. Hannibal would have gone through with eating Will's brains if nobody had stopped him. I think you can go through with reading this book.

Akiko Yosano.

It's gross that Hannibal has this fixation on his MOM, ew. Ew. Bedelia's just one of the latest in a long line. And ew. EW!

And the dialogue is trying to make fun of us.
posted by tel3path at 3:26 PM on October 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm on chapter 57. I've been reading it in longer chunks, then taking breaks from reading, because it's really difficult to just read one chapter a day (the chapters are so short! And I feel like I just stall out and never get momentum if I only read 5 pages and stop). Which also makes it tricky to know what's ok to bring up for discussion, bc I haven't been sure how far everyone else has read to. I don't want to get ahead of myself.

I haven't hated it so far. Which is good? I've been really enjoying tel3path's links, they have been very enriching. It's also been fun picking out specific lines and references from the television show.
posted by fancyoats at 5:06 PM on October 23, 2015

But Lady Murasaki is most definitinitely NOT his mom, he's never thought of her that way, his regard for her has always had an adolescent-fantasizing-thing going on, right from when they first met. He was 13 when he came to live with them. I don't think she has ever treated him or viewed him maternally, either.
posted by fancyoats at 5:26 PM on October 23, 2015

Yeah, I know, I know. It's still icky.

Anyway, Chapter 48. We can do this, people.

BMW boxer twin, German army - it is implied that Hannibal just sort of found it lying around, or something.

The Paris Apache subculture.

Oh, hello again, ortolans. Of course they're the kind of thing they'd serve at the Evil Bastard Café.

Just, ew. The smell of corked wine is not subtle, and it doesn't mean wine that's just got a bit of cork in it or whatever. It's wine that's gone off. It smells and tastes like soggy newspaper that's been left in a damp cellar for a while; it's not palatable in the least. So I guess the point is that the ortolan-eaters don't really care what they are eating, they only care about the wickedness of it.

History of the Rotary Club in Europe in the mid-20th century.

I don't think Rue Juliana is a real street. The closest literary allusion I could find is in the poem by Cynewulf about St Juliana of the Diocletian persecution. Juliana confronts a demon and makes it confess its sins in front of all its little demon friends, which is really embarrassing. Then she turns down a pagan suitor because they don't share the same faith, the suitor gets really mad, tries to boil her in lead but the flames don't touch her, finally she gets beheaded. Beheading seems to be a thing so far, so let's go with that.

.455 Webley is the ammo, not the revolver itself. A British brand.

HANNIBAL DO NOT EAT A LITTLE GIRL, WE KNOW YOU ARE AN EVIL BASTARD WITH NO MORAL BOUNDARIES BUT CAN YOU JUST NOT, PLEASE. (Also, if Hannibal were to hurt Kolnas' little kid, that would be a true case of fridging.)

Hannibal sticking his tongue out briefly and then offering a red fruit (cherry) to a female: okay we get it, serpent in the garden.

I can't pinpoint a Church of the Redeemer in Fontainebleau.

I can't really find anything distinctive about Sicilian art in particular during the seicento period but I'm sure we can all picture the look and feel. Messina in particular took a bashing that century, but we're left with only the vaguest idea of how the painting could have made its way to the Paris area.
posted by tel3path at 5:58 AM on October 24, 2015

Roll up roll up for Chapter 49.

Weeping cherry - they must mean the dwarf type?

The floodlit Sacré Coeur.

The Sea In Spring by Miyagi Michio.

"difficult to read" - like Chiyoh, who said "I will go with you" to Will; and like Will himself, increasingly, over the seasons. Darn right Hannibal finds that quality refreshing. As does Will. Yeah, you can accuse them of indulging the "inscrutable" stereotype, but there is a purpose.

this dialogue omg i'd laugh, but

Now this is interesting: Hannibal implying that darkness captured him. Well, that's almost like admitting that something happened to him, isn't it?

So, she offers him love, if he'll give up all this horrid killing business. No wonder, decades later, he falls so hard for Will.

St Michael's scales. In Catholicism.

I see, Murasaki isn't the only one who prays to the dead.

Date Masamune was known for his ruthlessness, one must point out. Of course the armor belonged to someone legendary.
posted by tel3path at 3:57 PM on October 25, 2015

You know, it just shows how powerful Hannibal's violence really is, that his Original And Best Teenage Crush offers to put out for him if he'll quit the murder and vengeance business, and he turns her down WHILE HE'S STILL A TEENAGER.

Hannibal, you dumdum. Why didn't you accept her offer, and then say "actually I've changed my mind, seeya" while getting dressed real quick and sprinting out the door. Say what you like about him, he does have some integrity.
posted by tel3path at 4:15 PM on October 25, 2015

Say what you like about him, he does have some integrity.

This was always one of Lecter's defining characteristics even when all we had of him was three scenes in Red Dragon. He might not deign to give you the time of day but if he does, you can depend on it being correct because it would be beneath his dignity to do something as petty and low-class as lie.

Also there is that thing about the Devil not being allowed to lie...
posted by Bringer Tom at 12:49 PM on October 26, 2015

Chapter 50. Albin Michel is a publishing house, in case you didn't know.

Here's the Rue Huyghens. Albin Michel Editions is right nearby on Edgar Quinet. BTW, also note that Rue Froidevaux is spelled without an 'e' in the last syllable whereas Franklyn's last name is spelled 'Froideveaux'. On its own, 'vaux' just means 'dales' but with the 'e' added it becomes 'veals'.

Wow, he's crediting his own drawings to Mr. Jakov? Or actually incorporating his old tutor's name into his own name? Awww, sweet. Also, a sign of family not necessarily consisting of just blood relatives.

"He did not appear to be armed" - wow, Milko, you don't have any idea what you're getting into do you?

The bal-musette.

Milly-la-Forêt, not le-Forêt.

Satrug, Inc. That's original.

Wikipedia on documented cases of cannibalism between 1940-49. The list - which, being Wikipedia, will only describe what is agreed to be true - doesn't include anything resembling the scenario in this book, though many of the list items relating to Soviet history make the book's events sound credible. It should go without saying that the article makes disturbing reading. But I don't get from it that what was done to Mischa was anything but an extraordinary occurrence in that part of the Soviet Union at that time.

Kaunas, Lithuania's second city.

Beheading's been mentioned twice in this chapter, not counting Dortlich. Once postmortem.

Welp. Hannibal has the institutional power to commit a crime with a police inspector in the room. It started early. He's been good at getting the right kind of power for a long time. There are legendary figures - Gilles de Rais, Countess Bathory, and more recently H. H. Holmes - who had enough power and/or enough access to the right sort of land and these real, actual people just ran unchecked with shit you wouldn't believe. The idea of the aristocratic vampire/serial killer is completely based in plausible reality. Since Hannibal is landless and has no societal power or wealth attached to his title, he has to position himself for power in other ways. And he does.

And it's only because of Popil's emotions that Hannibal has gotten away with as much as he has. Wow, he learned early.
posted by tel3path at 12:54 PM on October 26, 2015

So he wouldn't lie about what time it was...

He just wouldn't necessarily say *where* it was that time. In Australia, it's already tomorrow! Or yesterday.

It's always either after eight in the morning, or after eight in the evening, right? So you can legit eat After Eights at any time of day. I bet Hannibal wouldn't touch them, though.

Mmm... After Eights...
posted by tel3path at 12:55 PM on October 26, 2015

Hannibal, what would Mr. Jakov think about you immersing a guy in formaldehyde, admittedly in self defense*, but then a police inspector is literally in the room with you and wants to arrest the guy and he's still alive?

I think Mr. Jakov would sit you down and have a serious talk with you about ethics.

Do you want to disappoint Mr. Jakov, Hannibal?

*well, sort of
posted by tel3path at 4:21 PM on October 26, 2015

A WWII five-ton truck.

Porte de Montempoivre. Yes, unlike the TV show, this book does not skimp on details about journey times or means of transportation.

Bois de Vincennes.

African figs.

Rue de Buci Market.

Westphalian ham.

Which reminds me: the Post-War economy of France; contrast with the paragraph above about food shortages during WWII.

Garcia Lorca, A Margarita (Xirgu). Warning: directly downloads a Word doc.

Uh-huh. Harris can't bear to think about Hannibal's sexuality either. He has to displace it onto fruit. I was just remembering how, when he brought home the fish after killing the butcher, the cook said he had peach ice cream, and Hannibal turns to Murasaki and says "peach!" and also we know what that symbolizes in Japanese traditional hairstyles and... Well, suffice it to say that a lot of it gets sublimated into food, and the rest of it gets sublimated into violence. Pretty sure supermarkets in Buenos Aires were overstocked after Clarice moved in, and the death rate plummeted.

Bauhaus architecture.

Rue de Paradis. There does not seem to be any real company called the Gabrielle Instrument Co.

The name Zigmas is Lithuanian, and the name Milko is Belarusian, BTW.

Oh, but of course Hannibal is irresistible to the ladies. Of course he is.

Lawrence Welk, in case you young whippersnappers don't remember him. He did have a TV show as early as 1951. Shown in France, IDK.

And a wild windowpane check appears, the first of its kind.

Spider angioma.

Vichy France.

Night and Day by Cole Porter.

Rock-Ola Luxury Light-Up jukebox (SLYT).

Anthony Quinn in Zorba the Greek, which was not made until 1964, and the actor did take art classes in earlier life. I guess there must be a joke in the reference to the line "logic is a woman's behind" which I'm not getting.

The Kelvinator company.

L'Humanité, the French Communist Party newspaper.
posted by tel3path at 4:17 PM on October 27, 2015

And MeFiFoFannibals, you should be making ready for our upcoming viewing of the movie, since there are now only nine chapters left.

We can do this.
posted by tel3path at 5:03 PM on October 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

So what's the order - HR book/movie, RD book/movie/movie, Silence book/movie, Hannibal book/movie, show rewatch?
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:09 PM on October 27, 2015

No, the next thing after the HR movie is Season 1:


Since the operasode will probably be available recorded by then, it will come right after the end of season 2.
posted by tel3path at 3:07 AM on October 28, 2015

And since at least scraps of Silence! The Musical are available online, we'll see what we can of that at the very end.
posted by tel3path at 3:10 AM on October 28, 2015

Chapter 52. Present-day prison safety razors. Explains all those "but how did Hannibal sha-a-ave" questions I kept hearing.

Someone gets the drop on Hannibal, for once.

And this "would you have fed me to her, if she were starving?" "of course" Well, I guess that's Hannibal's philosophy of life, right there.
posted by tel3path at 10:43 AM on October 28, 2015

I don't know - I think it might be better to wait on the series rewatch until all the other parts are finished, because having that knowledge of everything else will recontextualize the show.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:45 AM on October 28, 2015

But the Hannibal we meet in the TV series is chronologically closest to Hannibal as he is at the end of Hannibal Rising.
posted by tel3path at 10:52 AM on October 28, 2015

That's true, but who says we have to do this in strictly chronological order?
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:37 AM on October 28, 2015

Plus, I think more people would hop onboard an 'official' show rewatch after a little more time has passed.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:37 AM on October 28, 2015

I'm not saying we have to do it in strictly chronological order, but I think it's interesting to move from the last known record of Hannibal into the next known stage of his life.

However this book ends, in the meantime he apparently moved to Baltimore, became a surgeon, converted to psychiatry, all while having a happy time eatin' peeps and generally being on top of the world; and then with S1 episode 1 it gets interesting. It's a chance to see his character development unfold.
posted by tel3path at 4:14 PM on October 28, 2015

I can see that, but of course, the Hannibal of Hannibal Rising is not the same character as the show Hannibal. He simply can't have been, because the show character can't have been a kid in WWII.

I think the show is so much a reboot of (and love letter to) the existing books and movies that it would be a shame to do the rewatch without having done the other books beforehand. (I say this having read the first three books in like a month while season 3 was airing... as I've rewatched certain episodes, the book info has really added to my enjoyment/understanding of the show.)
posted by showbiz_liz at 4:23 PM on October 28, 2015

Well there's no reason not to mention book material during the episode rewatch, especially when many of us have read the three other books. It's also bidirectional - when reading a book it's very easy to remember and compare how a certain thing was handled on the show.

Obviously show!Hannibal hasn't had the exact same set of experiences as the Hannibal in Hannibal Rising, but we are given to understand that some equivalent trauma happened to him, transposed to a later decade. We don't know the details because show!Hannibal gets little or no backstory, in keeping with the other characters in the show who also get little or no backstory. However, it seems to me that this book!Hannibal is pretty consistent with the Hannibal of season 1.
posted by tel3path at 4:44 PM on October 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

Chapter 53. Daube.

As already mentioned, the wisteria in Japan symbolizes unrequited love. It also grows very fast and threatens to spread out of control.

Crepe myrtle. Okay, in western symbolism it is a love-flower, but in Japanese symbolism its name, sarusuberi, contains the word "depart" (saru) so I'm not sure what's going on there? The pine symbolizes long life, as far as I can tell. In western symbolism pine stands for hope and pity.

How to open and eat sea urchins.

Okay, red tulip for fame in Japan, eternal love in the west. Casablanca lilies. Ferns for the hope of posterity in Japan, but magic, fascination and secret love in the west.

Wow, cops, you're always intruding on Hannibal's dates.

Albert Pierrepoint, last of the British executioners. He was known for his efficiency, which is likely what Popil is alluding to.

Marshall Pétain. The wrong leader will lead you astray.

Pascal's Pensées. Warning: arduous reading. Pascal was a Catholic writer, and also a pioneer of scientific method, using the unheard-of unthinkable empirical approach to proving the existence of the void, rather than just taking daddy Aristotle's word for it without question.

I just... why study Hannibal, he's no more mysterious than any of the other evildoers in the story. I mean, come on. I'm sick of hearing that oooh, Hannibal is just in a class of his own.

And of course, the policeman protecting Hannibal because they're On The Same Side, Really. EYEROLL right out of my head and bounce down the stairs.
posted by tel3path at 1:53 PM on October 29, 2015

...it helps if you picture Hannibal doing all these things with a pudding basin haircut and wearing lederhosen.
posted by tel3path at 4:36 PM on October 29, 2015

Dutch door.


posted by tel3path at 1:51 PM on October 30, 2015

I don't know if Hannibal blew up Grutas' house with the children in it. It's not mentioned in any way. In fact Grutas says Hannibal has killed "two men" and he would presumably have mentioned it if his own family members had also been killed, regardless of how much he cares or doesn't care.

it seems like Hannibal was reckless as to whether the children were in the house or not, at least.
posted by tel3path at 1:55 PM on October 30, 2015

Citroën 2CV.

OK I forgot that it's Kolnas who has kids, not Grutas. Silly me.

And now I see where Fuller made the decision not to make rape a plot point on the show.

Canal du Loing.

Webley & Scott firearms.

Ah, so this Hannibal is a liberator of ortolans. Of course he is. Why, once, when a councilman paved over an endangered bird habitat, he even...
posted by tel3path at 3:11 PM on October 31, 2015

Jugged hare.

I found a Bistrot le Champ de Mars but has been under current management only 20 years, though they boast an authentic 40s decor and atmosphere. Not sure if it's really meant to be a real restaurant or is just a placeholder for one.

Wow, Grutas, touché.

Ah, the face a mask of red. So Hannibal was the first to wear it.

Also: hero saves damsel, damsel says "ew gross".

I just. If Murasaki was okay with covering up the same level of violence when Hannibal was a kid, how is she appalled by it now? Because he had the chance to be a bit less violent towards one person but didn't take it? It's like... Saying it was that last drink that got you drunk, or something.

Plus, Hannibal is remarkably vigorous and vital after getting shot in the back. Is Harris going to explain that one, I wonder.

Also that thing about being left alone with the dead after a woman rejects him reminds me of Alana's line after she cleans out his cell. Not the first time he's been through a thing like that.

Also, the thing about him not wanting to remember eating the Mischa soup. I wonder if that's what turned Murasaki off him, just to make her seem unfair?

Feh, none of it makes sense anyway, including the fact that she basically brought him up like this level of violence was OK, and I can't even really be bothered to think about it.
posted by tel3path at 1:08 PM on November 1, 2015

Simone Signoret. One of her notable films is Les Diaboliques.

Place DauphinE, where she lived. Another typo.

It is called the Pont Neuf, but ha ha! Actually it is an old bridge!

Also, the Communist students are staging a demo to free their comrade Hannibal?!? Wat??? Now here is a similarity with the TV Hannibal: he has ranks of loyal supporters, people he associates with and who consider him part of their gang; but we never see him socialize with these people because he doesn't actually give a shit about them. They're a means to an end.

OMG though, imagine having that kind of publicity in your past. Le Canard Enchaîné. Note that they don't have a web edition even now. So much of Hannibal's social costume depends on his having nothing suspicious on record. L'Humanité is a different story. But, if in show time this all happened in the mid-80s, possibly nothing ever found its way to an easily searchable archive.

Oh, and it's gotten out that his little sister was et? It's a matter of public record? Who spilled the human beans there then?

Also, he's writing Communist articles, well so much for the idea that show!Hannibal is always honest In His Own Way. Also comforting to know he would equally have written for a fascist publication. I don't know why this makes me hate him more than other shit he's done, but, ugh.

L'épuration sauvage - wild justice, revenge, not like l'épuration légale.

And yet again, Hannibal plays to public sympathies, and the law backs down on important points for personal reasons.

Japanese dominance of the motorcycle market in the 1950s.

The excerpt from The Tale of Genji is from the translation in Atsumi & Rexroth's Women Poets of Japan.

Wow, so Hannibal actually does go to jail and not to an institution? But he hasn't been tried yet? And he gets to volunteer to work in the dispensary? This is not really a maximum security institution, then.


This is, like, the ultimate "he's an asshole but, plot twist: he's good at his job!!!" trope to the nth power.

And then Dr Dumas writing him a reference because he likes him. IF JACK COULD FIND OUT HE GOT TO JOHNS HOPKINS ON AN ART SCHOLARSHIP OR WHATEVER, HOW WAS HE NOT ABLE TO FIND THIS STUFF OUT. I guess maybe show!Hannibal never was arrested at all?

Wow, Hannibal, talk about being petty and exploitative in small things. Guess Will was wrong about that bit of your profile, huh. Eat your ill-gotten jugged hare alone, you miserable bastard.

St-Sulpice. Actually, Hannibal, no, where TWO believers agree, a prayer is most effective, and the prayer of a righteous man is indeed powerful but there is no sense in which you meet that definition at this moment.

"He dined alone and he was not lonely" - this is Hannibal as we meet him for the very first time in the TV show. The first scene that portrays him shows him doing just that.
posted by tel3path at 2:43 PM on November 2, 2015

Part 3, time for a bit of the old Faust.

Okay, chapter 58 was mercifully brief.
posted by tel3path at 1:51 PM on November 3, 2015

Grisslehamn, Sweden.

Clerestory windows.

Lithium grease.

Okay, well, that pretty much ensures that Hannibal will never get his paintings back.
posted by tel3path at 12:03 PM on November 4, 2015

And the final chapter of this godforsaken book:

The Lièvre River.

O Canada. He sure is doing great with the local colour, eh. I can almost taste the maple syrup.

I don't fully understand the "Sistine fashion" layout of the taxidermy. This is the layout of theceiling.

Arctic fox


Canada lynx.


The Carlyle.

Dial M for Murder, screen version. Productions between 1952 and 1954.

Picnic, most likely the production that Hannibal saw.
posted by tel3path at 4:50 PM on November 5, 2015

The epilogue cites a few works which I've mentioned in the appropriate thread.

Overall, I've got to say that... having read the book, which lays out a more or less logical progression for Hannibal's childhood development and is careful to ground it in historical reality, really not much about it is particularly unbelievable, except the ridiculously sexualized and overidealized Murasaki; and even that can be explained by her being viewed through the prism of Hannibal's teenage crush combined with his attachment issues. I wouldn't say it makes for enjoyable or convincing reading, but I can see it.

...having read the book, it affirms Fuller's choice to not spend too much time on fridge logic or "shoe leather" in the TV series. The logic of this book may be perfect, but it still sucks donkey balls through a straw. Hannibal is a completely charmless, unappealing, and uninteresting character in every way and you close the book wishing for him to just not exist and just never to hear one single word more about this character ever, not never. For some of us, this process began with the Hannibal novel, such that we would never have considered reading this book without some extraordinary stimulus. But it's this kind of characterization that made the whole world sick of Hannibal Lecter. The night I turned on the TV and watched a few minutes of the TV show, which I didn't even know existed, was the night I turned the TV off again because there was nothing good on. I was just that sick of it all. It was only the MeFiFoFandom that persuaded me to give it another go. (That, and the fact that the scene that was playing was the one where Abigail opens the cushion and finds human hair inside.)

Notice that the TV show is consistent in ultimately never really giving Hannibal a backstory, just as all the other characters without exception get minimal or no backstory. (Well, I guess you could say we know Abigail's backstory, but not more than is necessary to understand the story that begins with the series.)

I'm not one of those who objects to Hannibal having a backstory at all because you're not a proper monster, somehow, if your actions can be explained. For one thing, there really isn't any good explanation for behaviour like Hannibal's. As Will put it in S3, Mischa doesn't explain Hannibal, "she doesn't quantify what he does". And yet he presumably was a kid once, and the fact that things did demonstrably happen to him despite his assertion "I happened" tells us something essential about his character.

Also, I find the Michael Myers "bad seed/inexplicable monster" approach to supervillains really distasteful. It relishes the idea that certain children are simply "born bad" and arrive in this world essentially as demons in human form, and I think that that is a terrible way to view children which has real-world consequences for actual children. The flip side is that it ironically also panders to Hannibal's God complex and his need to see himself as being the prime mover in his own life and not subject to influence or cause and effect like the unwashed masses. I think Hannibal is most interesting as a man, one who, however gifted, athletic and capable, is still only human and susceptible to human limitations. I think the effect TV!Will Graham has on him is to peel away the person suit and find... an actual person underneath, which is the last thing that is expected.

And, I mean, he was a kid like everyone else, formative things happened to him like they do to everyone, so "he won't be a scary enough monster" is not, to me, a good enough reason not to tell this story. Harris could've just, you know, told it better. (Except I know he couldn't have because time constraints yada yada, but, given better conditions he could've.) This really feels like the skeleton draft for a novel that he could have written extremely well. But, because it's just the fridge logic of Hannibal's childhood, it not only doesn't have the entrancing and hypnotic quality of the first two books, it's just not interesting at all.


Th-th-that's all, folks, for this book. The chronologically first, authorially last, and indisputably worst piece of work in the canon is over... unless, of course, the movie is worse.

Tune in tomorrow, Saturday 7 November, for viewing and discussion of the Hannibal Rising movie... if you dare.
posted by tel3path at 1:19 PM on November 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Uh, I guess one detail which is nearly interesting is this: if he were interested enough, he could probably try to find out what these guys did with the art they stole. Though... that might draw more attention to himself than he wants, and it would involve getting behind the Lithuanian border again which is HIGHLY risky. But Svenka's GF or roommate or whoever, knows exactly what the coffin is for, so it's not like it's completely untraceable if someone were motivated enough.

But... he seems to be NOT AT ALL CURIOUS about this. Most of his family's art treasures are buried under Dortlich's dad in an area of Sweden so remote that it's unlikely anyone will ever find it. The best you can say is that the cold weather would slow the rate of decomposition so the paintings might not be all gross if/when someone eventually finds them. But no, temperatures in Grisslehamn show normal seasonality. So maybe by the time anyone did find those paintings they wouldn't really want them.

I think the point is that you would expect Hannibal to be zealous in trying to recover his family's art treasures, but he really isn't. He cares about revenge and violence and once he has that, he's satisfied and isn't driven to satisfy any other emotional needs related to his past.
posted by tel3path at 1:42 PM on November 6, 2015

This has been an incredibly epic effort and you should share it on the Tumbls or something
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:57 PM on November 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I don't have a Tumblr account... I'm pretty leery of social media except as a lurker :-D
posted by tel3path at 2:27 PM on November 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh, and going by book canon alone, Hannibal's Mary Sue score is now 79.
posted by tel3path at 2:54 PM on November 6, 2015

Tel3path, I think you are right on in your thoughts about Hannibal's personhood/monsterhood/backstory/etc. Though I do think this book had rather more elements incorporated into the show than I expected, for all the talk about how Bryan Fuller wanted to pretend this book never happened. It was more cherry-picked detail-y things that added ambience to the show (the ortolans, certain lines of prose-->dialogue), rather than over-arching character stuff being integrated into the fabric of the Hannibal character.
posted by fancyoats at 3:20 PM on November 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

True, but the Hannibal on the train, the one who will eventually become a patron of the arts, the one who will stare back at the audience watching what their faces give away about their innermost thoughts? The one that's going to stay at the Carlyle on his victim's money? The one who dines alone and is not lonely, and the one whose heart is frozen in winter, especially: that's our Hanni, all right, as of the start of S1.

The Hannibal who's some kind of anti-hero, or at least can temporarily look like one? Nah son. Not our Hanni. Except that it is just appearance, because like I said, he could just as well have put that energy into recovering his paintings and yet to all appearances has no interest in trying; it's not really sentimental attachment to his family that's driving him any more. We haven't, by the end of the book, seen him kill anyone who didn't "deserve" it but then it was pure coincidence that the butcher happened to be a war criminal, wasn't it? If he were, say, a resistance fighter who'd become alcoholic because of the stress of multiple acts of self-sacrifice, and had run off at the mouth because of alcohol-related impairments, Hannibal would still have sliced and diced him. He doesn't have some magical ability to know if you've been bad or good, he's just inherited the family trait, demonstrated by his uncle, of overreacting in extreme and violent ways to verbal insults that could have been ignored. Combine that with the patient, long-term-planning, dispassionate Hannibal of the final chapter and we're good to go for S1 of the TV show.
posted by tel3path at 4:51 PM on November 6, 2015

oooOOOooo gross

I just had the thought of how Hannibal said he first cooked the Mukozuke meal for his aunt under "similar circumstances" - i.e. mourning a death, or a "death".

And the "he was a flounder".

What circumstances

What flounder

Inquiring minds would rather not know and thankfully, I don't think we ever will know.
posted by tel3path at 4:54 PM on November 6, 2015

The logic of this book may be perfect, but it still sucks donkey balls through a straw. Hannibal is a completely charmless, unappealing, and uninteresting character in every way and you close the book wishing for him to just not exist and just never to hear one single word more about this character ever, not never.

Well, yes, this is the problem with telling the story of a character who achieves perfection; that isn't a very interesting story. When we meet Book Hannibal in Red Dragon, assuming the future-written HR as canon, the only person who has ever really presented Hannibal with a meaningful challenge is Will Graham, who captured him in the Wound Man incident. HR is not so much a story as a puzzle reconstruction of how Hannibal came to exist as we meet him in Red Dragon.

And Hannibal in Red Dragon is very deliberately meant to be a perfect, or nearly perfect character; he exists mainly as a warning of the danger that Will Graham is in danger of falling down the same rabbit hole.

Hannibal doesn't pursue his family's art because he has Become. He doesn't need or care about the money and realizes the art is not very important anyway. He has all he needs of it in his memory palace. And besides, he has found a much more interesting and effective way to accomplish positive change in the world, one that animates him in a much more compelling way. This saves him from another fate, where much as Book Mason Verger worries, having saved the family art and whatever else, he might reach a dead end of motivation. Become Hannibal has an infinite universe to improve with is culinary skills though.

The books imply that Graham drifts off into an alcoholic haze. If the plan for Series S4 was for Will to do the Clarice Book Hannibal Epilogue Roadshow, though, it would actually be a very interesting way to salvage his character, at least in dramatic terms. Let Fuller toss Graham down the Hannibal rabbit hole he sidestepped in the books and see if he pops up any different, and watch the fireworks.
posted by Bringer Tom at 6:42 PM on November 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

And a 'perfect' character, in Hannibal's mindset at that point, is one who is self-made, invulnerable, and perfectly self-sufficient. That fits the American model of the self-made man quite neatly.

Actually, you could say Hannibal is the perfect self-made American outlaw. Nothing we've seen places him within a European model of seeing humans in classes below your own as essentially livestock - the Hannibal of this book doesn't display any tribalism or class prejudice, indeed takes as his pen name the Jewish name of the tutor who raised him. He's a meritocrat.

And one who arrives on American soil bearing only what he can carry in his hands - no baggage.

There might also be a point being made there about survival of the fittest in a bastardized sort of way - all the animals around Grentz are subordinate to Grentz and are his creation, and Hannibal is about to assume that same position of superiority over Grentz.

Hannibal's key weakness is his denial of his need for love. He just doesn't need it, see? He's entire unto himself. This is ALSO a problem that all the major S1 characters are experiencing in one form or another.

- Alana doesn't have friends (confirmed by Katharine Isabelle, who said nobody else was at Marlana's wedding because neither has friends) other than Hannibal. She needs to be perfect and do everything correctly and the intimacy that goes with friendship or love might catch her in a less than perfect moment. She calls Will a 'friend' but they're not close, and in fact she leaves the room rather than be alone with him because she doesn't believe she could relate to him correctly (really she's afraid he'll see through her, but she'll never admit that).

- Jack has Bella, but she's trying desperately to hold her own against the cancer with no help and freezes Jack out rather than risk letting him see her as abjected, a 'ceremonial object'. They make progress over the span of three seasons towards greater intimacy, and we all cheer. But they won't have a real breakthrough until S2, the unintended result of Hannibal's meddling.

- Will has his dogs, because he announces upfront that he is unsuited to human company. Others reflect this self-opinion back at him, whenever he does reach out to connect to another human Alana warns him he's being unhealthy and/or Hannibal drives a wedge between them. When Beverly reaches out to Will as an equal, Will doesn't know what to do with that, and much prefers to pursue Alana who confirms his own view of himself by rejecting him over and over and insisting that he needs to be helped and pitied but also kept away from real involvement with other people and the world. Even S1 Hannibal is way more into Will than vice versa; Will doesn't fully understand how much Hannibal Wants To Be His Friend.

- Enter Beverly, who is the first exception. She has many brothers and sisters with whom one assumes she is in regular contact. Of all the characters, it is plausible to believe she has as rich a personal life as the demands of her workload allow. IMO, the character most strongly resembling Beverly is Molly.

- Freddie apparently has always had a Wendy at home (really? even when she was boffing Zeller to get info out of him? I hope not, but maybe), and Freddie is a law unto herself so of course she'd do outrageous things like get into a steady committed relationship that lasts for many years. It shouldn't be allowed!!!

- Hannibal doesn't really understand what he's getting into. Normally, "the company of the dead" is enough for him because he mentally moves to and fro in time in his memory palace, which no-one ever leaves and therefore he never has grounds for missing anyone. Until he met... HIM!!! But it won't be until S2 that Hannibal is sitting across from an empty chair and truly MISSING the person who should be sitting there. And it won't be until S3 that Hannibal learns - very nearly the hard way - that he can't just eat Will and go "there, now I have him with me forever" because he would have regretted THAT for the rest of his life. Almost doing something like that, and then being in jail for 3 years with no access to the man he loves, really impresses upon Hannibal that he. needs. Will. ACTUALLY PRESENT. And that he can't get on top of this problem and control it because all his usual methods for Not Needing Anyone Else have failed in the face of this One True Love.

posted by tel3path at 3:52 AM on November 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

...you might say Hannibal's love for Will is UNBECOMING

posted by tel3path at 4:09 AM on November 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Also note: TV canon has Hannibal orphaned until he was "sixteen", not thirteen as in the book.
posted by tel3path at 9:49 AM on November 13, 2015

Hey, so this may have been mentioned already and I missed it, but has anyone linked to this post mortem interview with Mads? It's from season 3, but the only version of it I could find was put out by AXN brazil and has like 3,000 views, so it may not have gotten that much attention.

In the interview, Mads explicitly says that in the show universe, Hannibal caught Chiyoh's prisoner in the act of molesting and killing Misha. Apparently he was just some guy who happened to be on their property and decided to do this terrible thing. I guess Misha was already dead by the time Hannibal got there.

I don't know that this has every been confirmed by Bryan Fuller so it may or may not be the official canon version of events.
posted by litera scripta manet at 10:16 PM on November 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

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