May 31, 2010

Embers, by Sandor Marai

This short novel is a little gem of psychological fiction. Nothing much ever happens, and even though we hear the story of what has happened in the past, not much actually happened there either. The action, instead, lies in the mind of the main character, a man who has been waiting alone in his home for over forty years to hold a conversation with the man who once had been his best friend. He wants to discuss the past, but slowly realizes that what's done is done, and no forgiveness, or compassion, or apologies can change that. The truth of what occurred is no longer important, only the fact that on a single day, he lost a wife and a best friend, his wife lost a husband and a lover, his friend lost a lover and a friend. The woman is long dead, and her silence is the third main character. She cannot speak for herself, and even when she could, she did not. And now she's dead. So what can it matter, what happened so long ago, when the person because of whom it happened is no longer there, can no longer tell her story? The silence has consumed them, and now there is nothing left to say.

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