Friday, April 06, 2012
The real purpose of books is to trap the mind into doing its own thinking.
Morning glory. Geilston Bay. April 2012..
Two books to have a look at this Good Friday (not a bad day weather-wise). The first is German author Elke Schmitter's Mrs Sartoris. A subtle, but very dark, novel that explores the life of an ordinary - but spurned - titular character. For a text that revolves around the boredom of suburban life in a small German city, it is surprisingly engaging.
As an exploration of marriage, motherhood, sensuality and bourgeois morality in the post-war period, this is a well-composed and balanced novel about the ways in which a wronged woman might choose to hit back. Recommended.
The second - Guilt About the Past - is by another German, author and jurist Bernhard Schlink. Now, readers of Schlink's fiction will know that most of his books are in some way about reconciling the past with the present. This book is a series of essays (based upon a series of lectures) that explores the concepts of collective guilt; how we might use history to motivate individual moral behaviour; how to reconcile a guilt-laden past; the role of the legal process in all of this; before settling on how the theme of guilt influences fiction.
Written in an authoritative but accessible style, it should be read by anyone keen to explore the concepts of remembering and forgetting in the aftermath of terrible events and how we might forgive and reconcile the various legacies of the past. Highly recommended!