Author(s): Eugene VodolazkinDownload
Considerat o capodoperă a literaturii ruse actuale, bestsellerul Laur este de două ori câştigător al Premiului Bolşaia Kniga – Premiul întâi şi Premiul cititorilor – pe 2013. A primit, în acelaşi an, Premiul Iasnaia Poliana (Lev Tolstoi). Este tradus în peste douăzeci de ţări.Amintind de filmul Andrei Rubliov şi de romanul Numele trandafirului, bestsellerul Laur readuce la viaţă secolul al XV-lea, într-o intrigă străbătând timpul şi spaţiul, cu un personaj complex, care este pe rând vraci, nebun sfânt, pelerin şi călugăr. Cu o scriitură de o simplitate rafinată, trecând firesc de la real la fantastic şi de la cele lumeşti la cele sfinte, cu un spirit liber în religiozitatea lui inteligentă, cu un umor subtil şi o sensibilitate cuceritoare, Evgheni Vodolazkin ne oferă o carte de o mare frumuseţe şi profunzime, pentru a ne spune o poveste tulburătoare, pe care o numeşte „roman neistoric“.„Sunt lucruri despre care este mai uşor să vorbeşti în contextul unei Rusii străvechi. Despre Dumnezeu, de exemplu. După părerea mea, legăturile cu El erau mai directe pe vremuri. Mai mult decât atât, pur şi simplu existau. Acum natura acestor legături îi preocupă doar pe puţini, şi asta e neliniştitor. Să fi aflat noi, din Evul Mediu încoace, vreun lucru complet nou, care să ne permită să ne relaxăm?“ (Evgheni VODOLAZKIN)
Some Reviews: 743 in Goodreads.com
I hope this doesn’t come across as meaningless hyperbole – this book is extraordinary and the translation is brilliant. There are some fine detailed reviews here already, notably those by Antonomasia (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show…) and Paul Fulcher (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show…), and I accidentally left my copy on a train just after finishing it, so I’ll confine myself to a brief overview.
This is the story of Arseny, a humble 15th century Russian who begins life as the orphaned grandson of a village healer. After his grandfather dies, he saves an orphan girl and takes her in, but when she dies while giving birth to their stillborn son, he begins a series of travels and adventures as a form of penance, becoming increasingly saintly in the Russian holy fool tradition. The story follows many of the conventions of mediaeval myths, so we are expected to take all sorts of miracles at face value, and also says a lot about Russian orthodoxy and what it demands of its saints. Things get stranger when his Italian travelling companion appears, since he has detailed visions of the future including many 20th century events, some of which shed light on the author’s own motives, and allow him to discuss ideas with the knowledge of 20th century science. The story frequently lapses into archaic speech, for which the translator has cleverly found old English equivalents.
I am probably just scratching the surface of what could be said about this book, all I can say is read it for yourself.
When I got to the end of Laurus I thought: “this is the best book I’ve ever read.” I’ve had that feeling before with other novels and I hope I will have it again in the future but even so Laurus will remain one of the most perfect and memorable experiences of my reading life.
It probably changed my experience to have read “The Confession of St. Patrick” before reading Laurus. Unlike Augustine’s Roman intellectualism, St. Patrick’s Confession describes a chaotic reality where the spiritual and the physical worlds are so intertwined that they sometimes interact in brutish ways–as when Patrick writes:
“The very same night while I was sleeping Satan attacked me violently, as I will remember as long as I shall be in this body; and there fell on top of me as it were, a huge rock,and not one of my members had any force.”
St. Patrick describes the Devil as a force that can reach through from the spiritual world and manifest itself physically in this world, and the same sort of Christianity is at work in Laurus. In both Ireland and Russia Christianity developed without the mitigating rationality of Rome. This faith is visceral and unforgiving and absolute. Demons and angels are corporate. Faith healers are real. Holy fools are venerated. Future and past events can appear in dreams, and the consequences of sin and virtue are made manifest in this life: in the health of the body, in good or bad events, in the weather and the seasons.
The world view described with such tender care in this novel is very foreign to mine, and yet the writing is so grounded in physical detail, and so consistent throughout the novel, that I bought into it completely and was immersed in it entirely as I read.
I cried a lot. Even for the donkey. It’s an amazing novel. It got to the absolute heart of me.
This is an impressive read. In 15th Century Rus’, Arseny becomes a healer, spiritualist and holy man. The book charts the four parts of his life – as an orphan living with his Grandfather who is also a healer and then lives with Ustina who dies in child birth, he then wanders and becomes a holy man, he journeys to Jerusalem, years later he returns to his birth place.
Through this there is humour, naturopathy, old language, debates on time and when the world will end, prophecies, jumps to future events, spirituality, Arseny trying to find reason for the death of Ustina, belief, plague, pestilence and life in Medieval Russia.
A wild ride on every page.
I was very surprised to realize that this book has been published only recently, because the writing is consistent with an end of the 18th century style, and not only in its mimetic qualities, but rather in its actual construction. The author chose a medieval character and a travel across Russia towards the Holy Land in order to talk about God and the belief in God. The writing is exquisite, an absolute pleasure to read, and the characters are very, very nicely developed.
P.S.: Many thanks should go to my friend who let me borrow this book from him. You were right!
This book was not what I expected and my expectations of its quality were high. So when I began to travel along with the pilgrim, Arseny, I was initially left scratching my head at all the seemingly strange events that did not seem to be building toward anything. But then I read this quote from the author, Vodolazkin: “There are two ways to write about modernity: the first is by writing about the things we have; the second, by writing about those things we no longer have.” “Laurus” is a book about the things we no longer have. A world infused with God, where living in the mystery brings purpose rather than mere confusion, and a life of love that is sorrowful yet always rejoicing. To inhabit the world of “Laurus” and feel a pang of longing for something of the beauty and mystery in our modern place is to have read this book well.