The Birdcage Archives

Sunday 18 July 2010

The Passport

Hello Gentle Reader

After months of procrastantion, and weighing the prose and the cons of reading one of the Nobel Laureate of Literature of 2009: Herta Muller, i finally got around to buying one of her books. The unforunate part is, their is only one of her novels avaliable in the bookstore. "The Passport," tells of a village miller, who wishes to emigrate to Germany and be free of the totlitarian rule of the dictator Nicolae Ceau¸sescu.

Herta Muller has the most beautiful way of righting.

From the novel:

"Around the war memorial are roses.They form a thicket.So overgrown that they suffocate the grass. Their blooms are white, rolled like paper. They rustle. Dawn is breaking. Soon it will be day."

Herta Muller's short and poetic and beautiful sentences, remind of a single brush stroke of a painter. Her sentences often paint a more larger picture, in which each one is an individual stroke, but also communical in how to add's to the beauty of the novel.

I can now understand what they Swedish Academy meant when they said:

"who, with the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose, depicts the landscape of the dispossessed"

I must admit that i truly did love this novel. However is it fair to call it a novel. Only comming in at a 90 - 92 page book in all, its a short quick read; but a great intruduction to what Herta Muller rights about.

Our main protagonist Windisch is trying to obtain a passport so that he and his family can leave the small village where he works as the miller, and emigrate to Germany. Windisch is of the German minority living in Romania, behind the Iron Curtain, under the communist rule of totalitarian monsters. Truly it is Herta Muller's job I feel to speak out against totaltarian goverments and their harshness and inhuman treatment of people. Stripping them of all human diginity that they once possesed.

The novel/story follows Windisch's attempts at attaining a passport. Giving flour to the mayor, to hopefully bribe him into giving him a passport. These attempts fail, and her reluctantly is forced to turn to his most preciouse gift. His daughter. Sending her off to see the village officals. To do a deed. Truly quite a pity.

The novel is a dark and bleak one. When tractor drivers bribe a little gypsy girl to lift her skirt. To a man who feed's his child vodka, while his girl friend sings and vomits against a wall. Even the supersition of the villagers are portrayed. Like the apple tree that once sat behind the church, which was burned, for it had grown lips and ate its apples. The priest of the village, had said that the devil was inside the tree and so the villagers burned the tree.

Windisch's wife was forced to have a hysterectomy, and secretly pleasures herself. Windisch on the other hand enters a mental malestorm on sexual hatred, and anti-semitism. Its as if the entire weight of the communist regime in Romania has driven Windisch to the point of madness. The reality of the world, has long since lost all reason and meaning to the poor main character, and we as the reader, are forced to accept the fact that he no longer is who he was.

For only a 90 page book, the misery and suffering depecited is extrodinary. Someone once told me that: "all novels must have a sense of comic relief." I am afraid to say that person. There was no comic relief in this tale of unhappiness, misery, bleakness, and despair. I as the reader, looked at these poor people, and truly now understand that I am lucky to have the life that i have.

Sure schools and parents will say: "eat your food their are starving childeren in China," but at the sametime i can now understand what it means to starve when "Grass Soup," is considered both a stape and a luxury.

I am both amazed and shocked at what people can and will do to each other. Its almost unbelievable -- and at the same time it is believable because it has and continues to be that way. How do people justify this? i cannot say, and i am sure of one thing that i will never know. What i can say is this:

Herta Muller Nobel Laureate of Literature of 2009, is an amazing author. Not a pretentious author, nor does she patronize. She writes, in a episodic and clearly fresh and to the point prose, but paints a larger more beautiful picture. I am honored to have read this novel, and would recomend it to anyone, to read it and get any idea of what she will write. Certainly though not for people, who expect some sense of comedy in it.

Thank-You For Reading Gentle Reader
Stay Well Read

Take Care


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