Wednesday, December 01, 2010
The portrait of self destruction - Goodbye Columbus
I have just read Philip Roth's first novella „Goodbye, Columbus”. I did that because I liked the two other novells The Dying Animal and Nemesis and I was happy to read them.
I was surprised how deep and thought provoking the author first novel was, and, indeed, it confirms the greatness of the author.
The plot of the novella is simple. The narrator Neil Klugman, a poor 23 years old librarian of Newark Public Library falls in deep and true love with Brenda Patimkin, a daughter of wealthy family and student of very a good school. However, as the narrations unveils, we see that their relation has some intrinsic unuttered problems, probably related to the difference in social status of the partners. They finally break after the discovery made by Brenda's parents of their sexual relations.
But, contrary to many, I do not find this book to explore the "classism" or assimilation problems (both Neil and Brenda were Jewish).
To me it is a record of self destruction — or the destruction of true love, of true great values in life by the narrator. The amazing value of the book lies in the ability of author to stay behind the hero, to create such a narration where, on a surface, while we read, we support his acts and his decisions. And only after a short musing we can notice this deception. We clearly see that there is no excuse for the hero, that he, almost deliberately, kills the love of his life — having not a single spark of remorse, and even trying to excuse himself.
Was it unconscious ? Was is really deliberate ?
As with all destructive steps of our lives — the main reasons are inside us ....
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