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De muziek van een leven (2001)
door Andreï Makine
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belle écriture, balade littéraire à travers la Russie et son âme. ( )
At 106 pages, this is a very short novel, but a very powerful and haunting one - Makine is a master at finding emotion in small details.
This book opens with a narrator who is forced to spend a snowy night at a crowded station in the far east of the Soviet Union. He stumbles on an old man at a piano going through the motions of playing but barely touching the keys. This man helps him find a way on to the train and describes his life story over the course of the train journey to Moscow.
Like the first Makine book I read (The Life of an Unknown Man) this is a tale of survival told by an old man. This one's life as a concert pianist was curtailed when his family were caught up in one of Stalin's purges - he escapes from Moscow and steals the identity of a dead soldier, but is found out when his love of music betrays him. Makine's writing is luminous and elegiac throughout - I have yet to find anything by Makine that isn't worth reading.
Alexei Berg comes from a family of artists. His mother is an opera singer, his father a dramatist and Alexei is a budding young pianist. Unfortunately, it is Russia in the 1930s, and on the eve of his first public concert, his family is detained for political reasons. Alexei escapes imprisonment and survives by impersonating a Russian soldier. This short novel is only a little over 100 pages, but each word is carefully chosen, describing a life of someone who has to choose between his love of music and survival. I loved the lyricism of this book - it almost felt like poetry with a plot. Beautifully crafted and very descriptive. Enchanting.
This is the story of a thwarted life told to a stranger on a train. And there's a fair amount of time to tell it. The train runs from Siberia to Moscow, but still, considerable compression is necessary. The book is short and the end is always near. I stared into space a good 15 minutes once it came. I had to get my bearings again.
This is a story that could have been mired in all kinds of sentimental cliché. The man was, after all, almost a concert pianist. And at least 2 moments occur in the tale where I was willing him to shock everybody and play that piano in the room. Show them, Alexei! Show them you aren't that rude scarred soldier they think you are. Show them! Because we all love that moment when it is revealed that someone is of finer stuff than we ever imagined.
At one point, Makine even winks at this cliché, "They examined the hole, touched it, laughed at it. Then went across the road to collect the German's rifle. Alexei stopped beside the piano, let his hand come down on the keyboard, listened, closed the lid again. His joy at not feeling within himself the presence of a young man in love with music was very reassuring. He looked at his hand, the fingers covered in scars and scratches, the palm with its yellowish calluses. Another man's hand. In a book, he thought, a man in his situation would have rushed to the piano and played it, forgetting everything, weeping perhaps. He smiled. Such a thought, such a bookish notion, was probably the only link that still bound him to his past."
It is a fine tension that is very well played in this book, without a lead foot on the damper or an inappropriate emphasis on rubato. Makine writes with class, the story coming out in exquisite morceaux, like the flowers that fall out of old poetry books. The mystery of the owner's life no longer resides in the unturned pages but lives instead in those lowly pressings picked up from a kitchen floor.
The more I read Makine the more I get convinced that he is an undisputed master of content and form. This book is about how a burgeoning life can be ruthlessly broken by a tyrannical regime (Stalin's, in this case), a life that - but for that regime - could have flourished and, through its talent, could have brought joy to thousands of people, but instead had to be dwarfed into some semblance of an existence. Makine's thoughts on "Homo sovieticus" run alongside this sad story.
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Wikipedia in het Engels (1)
A brief but extraordinarily powerful novel by the author of Dreams of My Russian Summers and Requiem for a Lost Empire, Music of a Life is set in the period just before, and two decades after, World War II. Alexeï Berg's father is a well-known dramatist, his mother a famous opera singer. But during Stalin's reign of terror in the 1930s they, like millions of other Russians, come under attack for their presumed lack of political purity. Harassed and proscribed, they have nonetheless, on the eve of Hitler's war, not yet been arrested. And young Alexeï himself, a budding classical pianist, has been allowed to continue his musical studies. His first solo concert is scheduled for May 24, 1941. Two days before the concert, on his way home from his final rehearsal, he sees his parents being arrested, taken from their Moscow apartment. Knowing his own arrest will not be far behind, Alexeï flees to the country house of his fiancée, where again betrayal awaits him. He flees, one step ahead of the dreaded secret police until, taking on the identity of a dead soldier, he enlists in the Soviet army. Thus begins his seemingly endless journey, through war and peace, until he lands, two decades later, in a snowbound train station in the Urals, where he relates his harrowing saga to the novel's narrator. An international bestseller, Music of a Life is, in the words of Le Monde, "extremely powerful . . . a gem."
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Dewey Decimale Classificatie (DDC)843.914 — Literature French French fiction Modern Period 20th Century 1945-1999
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Hachette Book Group
Een editie van dit boek werd gepubliceerd door Hachette Book Group.
2 edities van dit boek werden gepubliceerd door Arcade Publishing.
Edities: 161145266X, 1611457203