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Duende Kindle Edition
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|Length: 492 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Once I opened "Duende" and began reading, I found it impossible to put the book down.
The story follows the lives of Antonio ("Nayo") and José from their school days in Barcelona to their studies and developing careers in Madrid and does it so well that I felt I was there as Nayo painted and José studied and taught philosophy as their world gradually descended into violence. Reading "Duende" is more than reading about these two men and the world they lived in, it is being there, being inside their heads as they struggle to comprehend the forces that threaten to tear their world apart. I have seldom read a novel that is quite like this one, that includes in such detail the intellectual and creative struggles of its characters, and makes it so lifelike and lively that I felt a part of the story. How is it possible to include so much information about what a philosopher teaches and an artist struggles with and make it vitally interesting to a reader? Yet Lizzie Eldridge does it, does it superbly well, and does it in her debut novel. I am impressed.
The love between Nayo and José is tender, poignant, and beautifully drawn. I felt I knew these two men, that they'd be a joy to have coffee with, that I couldn't wait until Nayo's next exhibit (I even knew what painting I wanted), and I feared for them and their friends as the situation in Madrid worsened.
Lizzie Eldridge is a writer to watch. I look forward to her next book. This one is a definite winner.
Sometimes there is too much show instead of tell, but in the whole it is an intelligent and enthralling book.
Politics and the friction between the extremes of the political spectrum take a back seat, however, to the evolution of Western art, philosophy, poetry and theatre, all of which the author has an exceptional grasp.
The weaving, interlocking and the drawing of parallels of philosophical, spiritual, and psychological ideas reads like a classic in this beautifully written novel, and spans from Ancient Greece to the Renaissance, through philosophers, such as Hegel, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. The book is concerned with how to find meaning in existence, controlled as it may be by blind will and Darwinian natural selection, and how literature, paintings and the other arts - the gateways to 'the deep lakes of the soul' - may act as a salve.
The horror of existence - its brutality and cruelty - is the central problem which Nayo and Jose must contend with. 'All too often,' Jose's Philosophy professor says, 'ideas harden into rigid ideologies and these become used to justify all sorts of atrocities.' Duende, which lies at the heart of our striving and shakes the roots of existence through its bitter duel between life and death, is epitomised here with the horrific bullfight, in which the bullfighter's eye is gouged, and serves as a metaphor throughout the book.
Probably more so than the arts, it is ultimately love that can redeem us. Love acts as a refuge from the dichotomies of the world: determinism/free will; beauty/ugliness; civilisation/savagery; self/other; subject/object. Love can halt Schopenhauer's will to life or Nietzsche's will to power. Love may offer light through the murk of Platonic and Hegelian illusion. Love is what the poet strives for and from which the painter begins; and the love between Nayo and Jose is the emotional core of the novel.
Plot is of lesser importance to a book of this kind, which instead strives for something else. Like Nayo's second art exhibition, 'there was no apex, simply a meandering through ideas and sensations which encourage the viewer to reach their own conclusions.' So is it here with this novel: a whirlwind of ideas, dizzying in unexpected parallels drawn, a mesmeric trip through philosophic, artistic and political thought.