Blindly (The Margellos World Republic of Letters)

Blindly (The Margellos World Republic of Letters)

Claudio Magris

Language: English

Pages: 400

ISBN: 0300185367

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Who is the mysterious narrator of Blindly? Clearly a recluse and a fugitive, but what more of him can we discern? Baffled by the events of his own life, he muses, "When I write, and even now when I think back on it, I hear a kind of buzzing, blathered words that I can barely understand, gnats droning around a table lamp, that I have to continually swat away with my hand, so as not to lose the thread."

Claudio Magris, one of Europe's leading authors and cultural philosophers, offers as narrator of Blindly a madman. Yes, but a pazzo lucido, a lucid madman, a single narrative voice populated by various characters. He is Jorgen Jorgenson, the nineteenth-century adventurer who became king of Iceland but was condemned to forced labor in the Antipodes. He is also Comrade Cippico, a communist militant, imprisoned for years in Tito's gulag on the island Goli Otok. And he is the many partisans, prisoners, sailors, and stowaways who have encountered the perils of travel, war, and adventure. In a shifting choral monologue—part confession, part psychiatric session—a man remembers (invents, falsifies, hides, screams out) his life, a voyage into the nether regions of history, and in particular the twentieth century.

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gleam at the edge of that darkness, fragments of exploded stars hurled into shadowy space where they founder and die out. No, I don’t think I heard the creaking of the figurehead breaking away from the ship and I think it fell on top of me. Undoubtedly I didn’t ward it off; maybe I was asleep, on that fleece that a moment later would once again be drenched in blood. I don’t remember, the memory capacity evidently got used up here. The corroded, worm-eaten wood of the old prow figure must have

adolescence, yes of course, it’s obvious, Doctor, you want to understand, to go back to the origin and cause of it all. Well, you can’t complain; you can’t expect to go further back than that, it seems to me. We’re going back, back, gradually further back, to the zygote, to the original diploid happily transplanted—no, unhappily, but that’s another matter and I know it doesn’t interest you, happiness doesn’t interest anyone. In any case, however, transplanted to live and survive, despite all the

autobiography. People stroll through that park—I go there too, Doctor, on the afternoons I’m allowed out, when you think I’m out walking here in Barcola or in Miramare. Here, so to speak; it’s you who think so and all the better for me, a free bird on the loose, whom everyone thinks they’ve put in a trap. Captain Jones thought so too, after the three weeks of my Icelandic reign, when he was bringing me back to Liverpool on the Orion, in chains—in the end they had to remove them soon enough, we

ceasefire signal. But Nelson brings the spyglass to his blindfolded eye, observes the carnage with the wrong eye, the blind one, and sees only the black patch, no white flag, I’m damned if I see it, the shells continue to fall on people who no longer defend themselves, then come the surrender ceremonies, admirals and dignitaries in full dress, swords handed over and magnanimously returned, a blindfold is convenient, it helps you close an eye to the slaughter. Butchery down here and up there,

quick as his adversary, in no time he would have noticed that he was losing and would have retreated, losing definitively—this way instead, thanks to the fact that he didn’t instantly realize what was about to happen, he found himself winning, maybe even without being immediately aware of it this time ... 53 IT’S NOT TRUE that that description of the attack at Hougoumont derives from the story told to me by Count Lobau who commanded a position at Waterloo. Naturally, I spoke with the Count; we

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