Eric Emmanuel Schmitt
Have you ever considered that the world outside your head never existed? That you were the only real person in this world and everybody else was just a part of your imagination? I certainly have. In this book the main hero who doesn`t even have a name accidentally discovers that there once was a philosopher named Gaspar Langenheart, who started a theory that he was the Creator of everything. And this hero starts looking for information on this philosopher, but it turns out that there`s there little to find. Not many people considered him significant, and more than that - there was no real proof that he ever existed and ceased to exist. But what happens is that the main hero partly becomes Gaspar himself, and its a thing like that - every 50 years a man jumps out of nowhere and starts digging up information on Gaspar Langenheart, thus prooving that the man was something like God and that he couldn`t die. Or could he? The book digs deep but manages to stay entertaining. It`s one of the best novels I`ve read this year, without the slightest doubt.
Buying this book I had my doubts. A book that`s called "A pervert" isn`t always good. But my intuition was correct this time. And I`m very happy about it, for before this book I had no knowledge of Mr. Schmitt whatsoever, but now I`ve become a real fan of his. The figure of Dennis Diderot is known to many people - he was one significant philosopher, even I have read a book entitled "Ramo`s Nephew" of his, although I don`t remember liking it very much. Still in this play we see him as a fighter for freedom and for pleasure. And we see that a philosopher can believe in things that don`t match one another at all. Diderot`s portrait is made by a young female artist named Trebouche but the cheeky thing is that he`s portrayed naked. And he wants to make love to her, but gets interrupted by lots of different people the whole time. Starting with his wife who`s had enough of him cheating on her, then there`s his daughter who wants to have a child from a friend of Diderot`s, and that`s not all. Diderot also tries to write something about morality for his encyclopaedia but he never quite achieves that, for every next thing that happens to him shows to him that morality isn`t what he thought just ten minutes ago. This is most surely a complete comedy, without any signs of drama, and its almost the perfect comedy, where dialogues are sharper than Albert Einstein.
The subject of what Pilate thought and did to Jesus has been used in lots of different books, and as for itself isn`t anything unmentioned before. But I already knew before this book that E.M.Schmitt is capable of creating very convincing stories. What I didn`t expect from this book was that it wasn`t a comedy or a farce based upon the birth of Christianity. It turned out that this book had two parts - Jesus tells about his own life until the last Thursday in the gardens, and after that the story is taken over by Pilate. The first thing that comes to mind about Jesus according to Schmitt is that he is loveable - much more than Jesus of Bible - he himself doesn`t have the faith to believe that he could be the Messiah. His closest friend is Judas, who`m Jesus asks to give him up to the law trying to save the rest of his people. To achieve that Jesus uses the same words that he does in the Bible - that`s one interesting thing that Jesus quite often in this book says what he says in the Bible but Schmitt brings a whole different meaning to those words. Pilate is also very similar to the biblical one - but it`s interesting to follow how he finds different explanations for the dissapearance of Jesus`s body, using the common logic but logic fails him every time. I guess, if the Bible was anything like this gospel, I would be much more of a Christian than I am now.
One of the stories E.-M.Schmitt wrote in his cycle of religions. As you can probably tell this one goes on the subject of Islam. Moses is a young Jewish boy who has no mother and almost no father (somewhere around the middle of the story his father really stops existing) who happens to form a relationship to a local shop owner Ibrahim who`s a Muslim living in the Jewish quarter and selling stuff all around the clock. As Moses becomes very attached to Ibrahim, so is Ibrahim attached to Moses. Ibrahim becomes Moses`s step dad and they go on a journey south to the place where Ibrahim lived when he was young. By his attachment to Ibrahim Moses slowly transfers from being a Judaist to being a Muslim, he even changes his name and when he meets his mom he refuses to accept her as her son but is ready to accept her as her sons (Moseses) best friend. This story ain`t as brilliant as the Christian one but it`s still very good.
This story is a part in the group of stories by Mr. Schmitt about religion. The story in question focuses on Christianity. Oscar is a boy of about ten who writes letters to God as the Lady in Pink has told him to do. This lady in pink is an old nurse at the hospital where Oscar is bound to spend his last days. He has cancer all over him and the lady in pink helps him to be able with his very close death. Unbelieving at first, very believing at last Oscar writes to God his whole life. The lady in red comes up with a plan - Oscar has to live every remaining day of his life as if it was 10 years. So he manages to live a fruitful and long life within the last ten days he`s given. He starts off with early childhood, goes through teenage years and realising love, until passing out being about 100 years old. In the notes for this book I read that E.E.S. himself couldn`t stop tears when he read the story printed, and I have very little doubt that it`s true. It`s so sad and yet so optimistic, so realistic, so fatalistic, so everything you want it to be that you don`t even need words to describe it.
The third part of the religion cycle. This one goes about judaism. You know I`m not particular interested in stuff that goes around the subject of Holocaust, especially since it`s been ridiculised by the money-grabbing morons of the world. It luckily ain`t the case for Mr. Schmitt who knows perfectly well how to separate what`s good from what`s bad. A boy at the age of circa ten has to leave his family in order to become a christian boy. He lives in a catholic school and becomes almost a christian child. Not really though, for he`s guided by a catcholic priest who thinks that it`s his mission to save things that are in danger of being no more. And jews are a collection of his, for which he`s ready to do almost everything. It`s probably senseless to say that once again humanity is the main thing that Schmitt gives us. It`s not really about the jews, as it isn`t about christians or muslims for him. It`s about the humans, and what`s human in them. Schmitt rarely writes about really evil people, and that`s good, for I don`t need more evil in this world than there already is. A touching book. Is the day coming when I`ll write something negative about one of his books? I doubt that.
No visiem mūsdienās dzīvojošajiem rakstniekiem Ēriks-Emanuēls Šmits manās acīs latiņu ir pacēlis visaugstāk, varbūt vienīgi Eko var viņam sastādīt konkurenci. To apliecina arī tas, ka no sešām līdz šim izlasītajām viņa grāmatām tikai viena izpelnījusies vērtējumu 8.0, kamēr pārējās - augstākus. Un par sevišķi labvēlīgu vērtētāju es sevi pilnīgi noteikti nenosauktu.
Kad pagājušā gada janvārī izlasīju "Ostendes sapņotāju", biju pamatīgi šokēts, ka veselus četrus gadus biju izticis bez jaunu Šmita grāmatu atklāšanas un izteicu vēlmi, kaut man nākamo viņa grāmatu nebūtu jāgaida atkal tikpat ilgi. Turklāt interesants ir tāds apstāklis, ka ir vesela virkne šī autora darbu, kurus lasījis neesmu, bet neko tur padarīt nevaru, jo pagaidām manas franču valodas zināšanas ir ļoti tālas no tā, lai varētu tajā mēģināt lasīt daiļliteratūru.
Ir ļoti patīkami nobeigt gadu ar izcilu grāmatu - nevis crappy zinātnisko fantastiku par tomātiem-slepkavām, un Ēriks Emanuēls Šmits ir noteikti viens no tiem autoriem, kuru grāmatas ir gandrīz droša garantija pret vilšanos. Viņa viens no svaigākajiem darbiem - stāstu/noveļu krājums "Koncerts eņģeļa piemiņai" to tikai vēl vienu reizi apliecina.
Šķiet, nekad nav gadījies tā, ka kāda izlasīta grāmata tik labi saskanētu ar manas dvēseles termometru, turklāt - vispirms es izlasīju grāmatu un tikai nedaudzas stundas vēlāk termometrs sasniedza to atzīmi, kuru šī grāmata pavēstīja.
Šī, ja nekļūdos, ir apjomīgākā Ē.-Ē. Šmita grāmata, un tās lasīšana man paņēma daudz laika. Ļoti daudz laika. Kā tā? Jo lasīju to franču valodā, un nav tā, ka tajā man lasīšana padotos izcilos tempos. Taču noteikti nenožēloju, ka iepazinos ar šo romānu, kurš gan ne tuvu nav Šmita izcilākais darbs.
Ar šo Ērika Emanuēla Šmita grāmatu cīnījos vairāku mēnešu garumā - gan tādēļ, ka lasīta tā tika franču valodā, gan tādēļ, ka tā manās acīs ne tuvu nav viena no viņa veiksmīgākajām. Patiesībā varētu pat izteikties vēl kategoriskāk - tā ir pirmā manis lasītā viņa grāmata, kura drīzāk būtu liekama "paldies, es esmu jau paēdis" plauktiņā. Mēģināšu pamatot - kādēļ tā.
Šo grāmatu lasīju netipiski ilgi - teju mēneša garumā, kas būtu neattaisnojami, zinot to, ka tās apjoms ir ļoti neliels. Taču man attaisnojums ir, kā gan citādi! Proti, šī grāmata tika lasīta oriģinālvalodā, bet manas franču valodas zināšanas prasa tik intensīvu vārdnīcas lietošanu, ka par jebkādu lasīšanas ātrumu var aizmirst.
Nu jau man sāk šķist, ka esmu izlasījis teju vai visas Ērika-Emanuēla Šmita grāmatas, vai vismaz uz to pusi, un pamazām man šis autors ir sācis apnikt. Bija laiks, kad viņu uzskatīju par ģēniju, vienu no mūsdienu literatūras dižgariem, bet pamazām mani viņa audzinoši izglītojošie darbi ir pārstājuši sajūsmināt. Nē, šaubu nav, ka viņa labākās grāmatas man joprojām šķiet tikpat fascinējošas kā iepriekš - par “Pilāta evanģēliju”, “Egoistu sektu”, “Izvirtuli”, “Ibrahima kungu un Korāna ziediem”, “Manu dzīvi ar Mocartu” un vēl dažiem citiem joprojām esmu gatavs stāvēt un krist. Bet tas vairs nenozīmē, ka manās acīs Šmits ir nevainojams rakstnieks, kuram nemēdz gadīties neveiksmīgāki darbi, un jāatzīst, ka pēdējā laikā tādi viņam gadās arvien biežāk (tiesa - visai banālais “Kad es biju mākslas darbs” iznāca jau 2002.gadā).