Alguns comentários sobre livros são tão bem feitos que, além de despertar a vontade de ler os livros propriamente, já se aprende um bocado somente lendo a crítica.
Procurando informações sobre “Postwar”, de Tony Judt, descobri o comentário de Anthony Gottlieb no New York Times de 16 de outubro de 2005. “Postwar”, uma descrição detalhada da recuperação da Europa depois da Segunda Guerra, é tido pelo NY Times como um dos melhores livros de 2005. [Abaixo Der Hirte por Georg Baselitz (1966). O quadro faz parte de uma série chamada “Heróis” ou “Os novos tipos”. Segundo o texto do catálogo de um leilão da Christie’s em 2001, é o retrato de um homem aos andrajos e cheio de dúvidas num terreno devastado (em contraste à natureza sublime da tradição romântica alemã), provavelmente um soldado derrotado voltando para casa.]
One of the pleasures of this rich and immensely detailed book is its portrayal of Europe’s recovery from the devastation of 1945 as an organic regrowth. What seemed back then to be the twitching limbs of the dying was in fact the stirring of new life.
As Judt movingly draws it, the picture of Europe at the end of World War II is pitiful almost beyond bearing. Some 36.5 million Europeans are reckoned to have died between 1939 and 1945 because of the war. Tens of millions more were uprooted by Hitler and Stalin. In the immediate aftermath of Germany’s defeat, the continent was scarred with violent retribution, purges and outbreaks of what in some places — like Greece and Yugoslavia — amounted to civil war. As Judt notes, the war in Europe did not really end in 1945 at all. Neither did the persecution of Jews end with the closing of the death camps: well over a thousand Jews were killed in Polish pogroms after the liberation of Poland.
É horrível, mas faz sentido. A Polônia talvez tenha sido o país mais cruelmente devastado durante a guerra, e quando existe confusão não é raro a corda arrebentar do lado mais fraco, neste caso os judeus que sobreviveram ao holocausto e que tentaram voltar para casa. A respeito disso, outro livro interessante acaba de ser lançado e comentado na Magazine do NY Times deste último domingo: “Fear: Anti-Semitism in Poland After Auschwitz. An Essay in Historical Interpretation”, por Jan T. Gross. O primeiro capítulo do livro pode ser lido aqui.
Voltando ao comentário de Gottlieb sobre “Postwar”, de Tony Judt:
Continuing anti-Semitism in Europe, and the fact that Germany was not always the source of it, is a topic to which the author returns often. While Germany quite rightly bore the brunt of the blame for Europe’s tragedy, other villains slipped away unnoticed. It was Austria, after all, that gave the world “Waldheimer’s disease” — the inability to remember what you did during the war, named for Kurt Waldheim, a secretary general of the United Nations who became Austria’s president in 1986. In a country of under seven million inhabitants, there were still more than 500,000 registered Nazis in Austria at the end of the war. Austrians were greatly overrepresented in the SS and among concentration-camp staff. Tellingly, over 38 percent of the members of the Vienna Philharmonic orchestra were Nazis, compared with just 7 percent of the Berlin Philharmonic. And in an epilogue on modern European memory, Judt reminds us that the sickness that fueled Auschwitz is not fully cured. In 2000, criticizing a study of a wartime massacre of Jews by their Polish neighbors, Lech Walesa, the hero of Poland’s anti-Communist uprising and a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, dismissed the study’s author as “a Jew who tries to make money.”
One of the starkest indications of the “Himalayan” task facing Europeans in 1945 was the destruction of the housing stock. Germany had lost 40 percent of its homes, Britain 30 percent and France 20. (In Warsaw 90 percent of homes were gone).
Gottlieb continua, falando da economia européia no pós-guerra e do plano Marshall. [Acima está Man in a Cap por Francis Bacon, uma composição inacabada usando uma foto de Joseph Goebbels, por volta de 1943.]
Na edição de 5 de junho, a New Yorker trouxe Adam Gopnik comentando dois livros sobre o terror na França revolucionária. Um dos livros é “The Terror: The Merciless War for Freedom in Revolutionary France”, por David Andress. [Abaixo Marat assassiné, por Jacques-Louis David (1793).]
(…) Andress sets out to demonstrate, the Terror was also a consequence of the reactionary encirclement of France by the other powers of Europe. Those powers had learned nothing and forgotten nothing; they had it in for Republican France, and intended to restore a vengeful absolutism to the throne. What drove the Terror was not a crazed intellectual desire to extend the Revolution to every corner of existence but a desperate desire to maintain its achievements in the face of opposition. Robespierre and his group were revolutionary butchers, but they were butchers surrounded by vampires. “It is necessary to maintain a sense of proportion,” Andress writes in his introduction.
O outro livro vem a detalhar o magistrado deste terror — “Fatal Purity: Robespierre and the French Revolution”, por Ruth Scurr.
“Fatal Purity” is in its way just as rewarding, because of what Robespierre represents: the ascent of the mass-murdering nerd—a man who, having read a book, resolves to kill all the people who don’t like it as much as he does. (…) It is often said that terror of this kind is possible only when one has first “dehumanized” some group of people—aristocrats, Jews, the bourgeoisie. In fact, what motivated the spectacle was exactly the knowledge that the victims were people, and capable of feeling pain and fear as people do. We don’t humiliate vermin, or put them through show trials, or make them watch their fellow-vermin die first. The myth of mechanical murder is almost always only that.
Para terminar o post com aspectos mais nobres da natureza humana, outro comentário que vale a pena ser lido do começo ao fim é Renaissance Man, também por Adam Gopnik (New Yorker de 17 de janeiro de 2005), falando de dois livros recentemente publicados sobre a vida de Leonardo da Vinci.
When I was a teen-ager, I wrote a science-fiction story about Leonardo da Vinci. (…) Sensing, sadly but with characteristic prescience, that the market in occult stories involving strange codes hidden in Leonardo’s works was essentially nil, I left the story unfinished; just recently, a new pair of Leonardo books brought it to mind. The basic notion—that Leonardo is so weird that he might as well be from another planet—turns out to be hardy enough to have survived even a century of scholarship aimed at replacing romantic, otherworldly Leonardo with historical Leonardo, a man of his time.
Gopnik apresenta “Leonardo”, por Martin Kemp, e “Leonardo da Vinci: Flights of the Mind”, por Charles Niccholl. O primeiro o sumário de sua obra, o segundo recheado de história social e especulação bem embasada. Nas palavras de Gopnik:
[T]hey complement each other almost perfectly: Kemp’s is Leonardo seen from the inside out, Nicholl’s from the outside in. Kemp explains Leonardo’s principles of design and his theory of the world from an intense knowledge of his mind and drawings; Nicholl shows where his ideas came from and who paid to subsidize them, through a broad rendering of his life and times.
O comentário de Gopnik é cheio de coisas fascinantes sobre a vida e obra de Leonardo, como sua tentativa de transcender arte e beleza na busca por um sistema universal de proporção que explicasse a natureza — o que, ele não sabia, dois séculos mais tarde seria chamado de força gravitacional por Isaac Newton. Já que lhe faltava uma matemática mais avançada, seus processos mentais eram visuais e geométricos. [Na foto à esquerda, a Ponte Leonardo em Aas, Noruega, construída em 2001 a partir de uma idéia de Leonardo em 1502.]
E Gopnik tem mais a dizer sobre a imensa popularidade de estórias envolvendo códigos escondidos nos trabalhos de Leonardo…
A cultural anthropologist, a hundred years from now, will doubtless find, in the unprecedented success of “The Da Vinci Code” during the time of a supposed religious revival, some clear sign that, in the Elvis mode, what a lot of Americans mean by spirituality is simply an immense openness to occult superstitions of all kinds.