The author’s discovery of the book on Belfast fiction inspired the Nazi Olympics

A writer in Belfast told how a chance discovery at Queen’s University of a picture book about the 1936 Berlin Olympics led to the idea of ​​her debut novel.

et in post-Troubles Belfast, The Stamp Of Beauty by Fionola Meredith tells the story of a young married woman who begins an intense love affair with an older man as a way to escape her manipulative mother. .

Although very much a Northern Irish novel, Ms. Meredith explains how the idea for the piece had no roots in the Olympic Games that was used as propaganda by Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.

I was very conflicted because it was a beautiful piece of work, but at the same time Hitler paid for itFionola Meredith

She said: “A few years ago, I was in the library at Queen’s University in Belfast. I was looking for a book, now I can’t really remember what it is.

“I saw this tattered red book with the word Olympia on the spine. It’s a picture book by Leni Riefenstahl about the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

“I started looking at it and the pictures were beautiful, especially the divers.

“From the moment I knew little about her, I knew she was the one who made great propaganda films for the Nazi regime; so I was conflicted because it was such a beautiful piece of work, but at the same time Hitler paid for it.

“I kept thinking about it and then I got really interested in Riefenstahl. She is completely unrepentant about her involvement with the Nazi regime.

“I knew I wanted to write about her, I had absolutely no idea how.

“This figure just popped into my head one day, a character named Patti Barbour, a war photographer from Belfast who took many pictures of the Troubles.

“Her muse is Riefenstahl, so much so that she calls her daughter Leni. Pattie is one person’s nightmare, like an old teenager who has never really grown up.

“She came to stay with Leni and that was the starting point of the story. Patti is like an unexploded bomb in the family.”

Ms Meredith said her first novel was also an examination of Belfast after the Troubles.

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“It’s very much like a Belfast novel, it’s mostly set here,” she said. One of the things I’m trying to do is look back at the past and see how far we can get away from it.

“Belfast at the present time in this book is quite fashionable, but to what extent does that thin shell of darkness, chaos, and all kinds of unresolved problems?

“Similarly, I wanted to ask about how that happens in families. Are we doomed to repeat the traumas of previous generations or can we change?

The Stamp Of Beauty is published by Dalzell Press. The author’s discovery of the book on Belfast fiction inspired the Nazi Olympics

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