Updated: Apr 13, 2022
In the margins of different settings, the remote marsh of Second Place, the grueling hydraulic press in Too Loud A Solitude, the desolate hot mountain spring of Snow Country, the ominous gravesite of Kokoro, and finally, in the stoic life of Stoner, you’ll find a deeply familiar and moving universality of existence. It is made up of sentimental transcendence buoyed by the disbelief in any kind of ubiquitous answer to the questions of the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of life and living.
We welcome solitary characters because they radiate a kind of quiet and remote passion for living. Each solitude of every character is impenetrable. It possesses its own form and hue; a summation of the projections of an interior life with that of an external world that is ambushed by its own transitoriness. Perhaps this is not so much an epilogue to a person’s life story but a ‘fleeing away from’ a trite, and a clone of an existence. That is what you feel in varying degrees of intensity in the lives of these characters.
Every story resonates with the consolations of truth wedded to the abstract ways of life, the philosophical musing of death, and the uncharted routes in between:
In Second Place, this is a deconstruction of sorts, heightened by descriptions of nature, aging, the exploration of self.
In Too Loud A Solitude, this alienation is visceral. It provokes a more corporeal and existential yearning to know what life is. Because Hrabal merges the sublime into the narrative of the grotesque, the story is fragile as it imitates the frailties of not only human life but that of society as well.
In Snow Country and Kokoro, there exists a beautiful intimacy of opposites; light and dark, birth and death, cold and hot, bitter and sweet. Each description of nature, people, and objects is a rare occurrence; it’s a complete voyage of everything one experiences in a lifetime, but it’s also an inevitable unburdening of life.
For Stoner, I can only paraphrase because nothing I write would amount to anything in comparison to Stoner’s ability to both embrace and forgive the affectability of his life.
“Who are you? A simple son of the soil, as you pretend to yourself? Oh, no. You, too, are among the infirm—you are the dreamer, the madman in a madder world,... You think there's something here, something to find. Well, in the world you'd learn soon enough. You, too, are cut out for failure... You'd let it chew you up and spit you out, and you'd lie there wondering what was wrong. Because you'd always expect the world to be something it had no wish to be.”