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Book review: Vidjemunken strikes up a window to another time

”Vidjeflätningar is easy to handle – they can be washed and dried, they can be repaired; you can have it away which is broken and the braid there new. Of vidjeflätningar do you still cradles and baskets to hot air balloons, for plant fibers are light as birds ' bones, with the air in the core ... Withes are the flexible and elegant ... Withes can only be cut, but not annihilate. It is them you plant when you want to do poisoned, and the death of the earth pure again.”

Vidje – this lightweight but tough and wear-resistant materials – is the unifying symbol of the Latvian author Inga Abeles great epic novel ”Vidjemunken”. And vidjet, or rather their plaiting, a picture of how the novel is composed and cohesive: by lots of different stories from different time periods, myths and folk-tales.

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in Latgale, in the southeast of Latvia's provinces. Unlike the baltlettiska guvernementen Livonia and Kurland was Latgale in the tsarist part of Vitebskguvernementet, whose eastern borders stretched far to the east into today's Belarus and Russia. Lettgallens letter was catholic and had for that reason closer ties to Poland and Lithuania. Even linguistically held Latgale a special position, albeit that it is unclear whether the latgalian to be counted as a separate language or just as a Latvian dialect.

In a small village in this remote Latgale grows Francis Sebald as one of the seven sons of the farmer Tanclovs. Tanclovs is poor but enterprising. After livegenskapens elimination, as in Latgale takes place only in 1861, he manages to acquire some land and the family goes from having been on continually insolvency to become one of the better-off in the area.

Still reach life rarely over dagsverkets horizon. Francis is the only one of the sons is given a proper education. After the intervention of the district kyrkoherre, he trains himself to be a priest, and the novel follows him closely during the training time in Petersburg, where he works to increase the levels of literacy and create a clear cultural identity to their latgalian people.

the Events of the first world war, the bolsheviks seizure of power or the subsequent civil war unfolds in the novel's backdrops.

based its main character on a historical figure, Francis Trasuns, whose life, much like his fictitious namesake animal. Today is Trasuns position as one of the founders of the independent Latvian republic unchallenged. Abele makes him, however, to a militant cleric and politician. The book begins and ends with Francis exkommuniceras out of the catholic church, on paper, because he live together with his housekeeper (a sin for a priest), but in practice a result of the political ränkspel.

”Vidjemunken” go, therefore, to read that history in fictional disguise, a novel about a national awakening. But if you only look at the historical trajectory do not Abeles creative abilities full justice. It is the concrete livsödena which stands in the center while the events of the first world war, the bolsheviks seizure of power or the subsequent civil war, most evident in the novel's backdrops.

constantly out in the new associationsbanor as In the lets grow to the stories in their own right, as if the mother and faderslösa girl Zuza, who will be well taken care of in the small latgalian village but that goes under in a big-city slum. Or if Francis's nephew Jezup training to be a balloonist – with vidjeflätad balloon basket! and blows in the road all the way to Archangel, where he meets the love in the figure of the mother - and faderslösa the girl Maria.

the Concrete historical events, myths, legends: after all, are twisted together is becoming increasingly possible to tell. Possibly become part chapter, in particular where the political or ecclesiastical history entanglements to be sorted out, well kompilatartade. And to keep up the skiftesrika plot resorts to Addition, sometimes coincidences so unlikely that the credibility is put at hard test. But she tells us at the same time, with a vibrant energy that gives the novel, as a whole, almost 600 pages, a heavy but effective epic framåtlut.

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in addition to possess deep familiarity with the ancient manners and customs, do not know just how vidje cut and intricately woven, but also how the hunting with the dog went to the in the former Russia, or how the tea and tobacco was prepared by the kalhyggenas skogsblossa (also known as rallarros). With a precise and metaphorically driven language prisoners she åldrars and årstiders once over of the landscape and the people. The effect is that when a large window is switched to a different time: a bygone era becomes visible in all its fragrant and teeming diversity.

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