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Saragossa 4

What I seem to be pointing toward is that the Manuscript Found in Saragossa is that rare polymath literary attempt to encompass the full range of humanity at a specific point in time.  In this case it is the dawning of the Age of Enlightenment that transforms the frame of the supernatural or  religious-based tales, the amorous escapades, the picaresque confessionals, as though through the eyes of an ethnologist who wishes neither to promote nor condemn the objects of his study.

It makes me wonder whether there are antecedents to the story of Diego Hervas related by the Reprobate Pilgrim as a cautionary tale. The man spends his whole life attempting to sum up in encyclopedic fashion all the categories, as well as the content, of human knowledge.  He succeeds in his scholarly effort, but the world takes no notice, and he succumbs to a madness in which his immense erudition becomes merely a jumble of irrational and unresolvable links.

There can be no final summation to this work without much re-reading and contemplation, but it is safe to say that there is much worth pondering in this book.  It contains the trivial and profound, a humanist impulse to raise man above superstition, a broad cross-section of individuals living and breathing large in the expanse of the Mediterranean-linked kingdoms of its time.

If nothing else, I learned that a dog may be loyal but will never fight a duel over a point of honor.  Or to try to make this seem more profound-- that man is the only animal with the capacity to attempt to shape his own nature.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 13th, 2013 11:26 pm (UTC)
Sent here by Joculum at LJ. This already makes me like the book you have made me imagine this one to be. But it it?
Oct. 14th, 2013 02:05 am (UTC)
John, I think you would find even more to it than my generous appraisal of it suggests.

Since posting this I have gone through Part 1&2 of Don Quixote, and quite strongly feel that Patocki's Alphonse is intended as an updated Quixote for his own time. After Cervantes abandoned the practice of including stories unrelated to his knight's guest in Part 2, his writing takes on a more linear novelistic style, though with surprising (and delightful) meta-fictional elements.

Patocki, though following later, seems less novelistic by inclusion of a multitude of divergent stories, but finds unity by the Eastern method of framed-tales, and by choosing older stories, or making new ones (I suspect) that are thematically enhancing to the story of the main frame: Alphonse's tale, which is the first tale begun and last finished. In aggregate Patocki's book has the feel of a novel, but is composed in a chunkier less homogeneous style.

Patocki has made something like a novel with all the source material included in the narrative itself.

My only fear is that a somewhat droning translation style might fall flat for you, though as source material, a hundred good novels ought to be salvageable from this one book. And yet there are a good number of witty conceits throughout, and thoughts worth pondering.

Edited at 2013-10-14 02:22 am (UTC)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
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