An irregular, irreverent, post-modern account of the surreal, the ordinary, and the bizarre happenings on and around the Felia lavender farm in Crete

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Book Review - Vanishing Point by Aristoteles Nikolaidis

Three pages into this fascinating book I found that it was taking me a very long time to read each page. Published in 1975 it won Greece's very first National Book Award for a novel and documents the supposed disappearance of an individual during the times of the Greek civil war and general unrest after world war 2. So why was it taking so long? It wasn't until I came upon myself late at night mentally rephrasing sections of text painstakingly into a modern voice that  I worked out what was wrong. I could almost hear the author's text struggling to get out of a frighteningly wooden translation and have its say.

Let me say straightway that I thought of giving up there and then. But what I had already read piqued my interest so much that I persevered. The underlying book rolls gracefully along examining the nature of identity and reality, starting with, but not limiting itself to, the identity of the narrator while the juggernaut of the translation chugs on above it. The final section covers the very personal nature of paranoia and leaves the reader wondering about the possibility of any coherent reality in the 20th century.

I would love to read a sympathetic translation of this book - I think it is an important book of modern Greek literature - an important novel of 20th century European literature. I would not recommend it though, to any but the brave in its current form.