So now that we’ve all finished vol 2 (or will have finished it soon), I’d like to ask everyone to weigh in on Tupra (or Reresby–and here’s a question to start off: Did anyone notice any rhyme or reason to how Deza applied each of those monikers throughout vol 2? I’m not sure I did.)
But anyway: Tupra. In my reading, the point of Deza recalling that awful story his father told him about Ronda–where the fascists baited a man like a bull as they murdered him for sport–the point of that was to draw a comparison between Tupra’s actions in the restroom to what those fascists did to their prisoner. And I would say that, even despite the wide gulf between Tupra and a fascist lackey, the comparison is not altogether invalid. I came into that scene wanting to see Rafita get what was coming to him, yet I came out of that scene wishing he hadn’t gotten what Tupra gave him.
And I think this is a crux of this book. Clearly this incident has stayed with Deza–perhaps it is that drop of blood that he cannot wipe away–clearly, Deza has lost faith in this enterprise in a very real and meaningful way. Do you find that valid? Did you too lose faith–or maybe respect is a better word–in Tupra after that sadistic lashing? And is Deza’s clear sympathizing with Rafita–a man he has only contempt for–a sign of his humanity, and perhaps his redemption from this nasty business he’s been pulled into?
Or is Deza not redeemed? Throughout this long book we’ve met with countless instances of people either being complicit with evil or doing nothing to stop it, always with the feeling (at least on my part) that Deza condemns those who participated and believes he would have done differently. But now perhaps we can say that he has joined them. I’m not sure, though, and the answer will rest i part on what happens in this long conversation that between Tupra and Deza that is cut off a the end of vol 2.
A criticism: I found the last chunk of vol 2 unnecessarily slow. Throughout Your Face Tomorrow, Marias has clearly been an author who tends toward more words than less, yet it was never quite so intrusive as it was in the final pages of this book. I just found the sentences too overrun with clauses that seemed to serve no real purpose, and then the paragraphs too overrun with sentences that more or less said the same thing as the one before. For instance, this fragment of from when Deza imagines Tupra is interrogating him after the beating:
Perhaps we should start by asking why he took the sword out in the first place. It was melodramatic and unnecessary and, in the end, he didn’t even use it, except to cut off the hairnet and frighten his victim half to death, and the witness too, of course. One has to ask oneself whether he brandished that sword purely so that I would see it and feel alarmed and shocked, as indeed I did, or, I don’t know, so that I would believe he was capable of actually killing, without giving it a second thought, in the most brutal manner and for no reason. . . .
First an observation: how interesting that Deza parses this shocking and horrible experience by turning to the man who was responsible for it (it’s as though Deza has had his mind infected by this man! Can he understand his world in no way other than to filter it thought Turpa’s questions?). But as to this chunk, I see no need for “and unnecessary” after “melodramatic,” nor any need to recapitulate what happened with the sword (we just read it). That big first clause in the second sentence could lose a number of words, in fact that whole second sentence has a lot that feels extraneous.
And so on, for pages and pages. For me, this typified the reading experience of these last 50 pages or so, and bloat has been something I’ve been keeping an eye out for throughout the book (you can’t not when dealing with something well over 1,000 pages). So I would like to know if people felt the book was slowing down a bit too much.
One last thing: It looks like Terry from Vertigo–which I know as “the Sebald blog”–has joined us.