June 28, 2011
All human suffering, without a father and son having to fall in love with the same woman, without desire between a brother and sister, without kinship, or aberration, or blindness, or madness– all human suffering makes Tragedy and
All the blessings of human life, without the millionaire marrying the factory girl, without a happy marriage between a blind man and an ugly woman; without power or glory, but for Passion, the only certainty (Fernandez 9).
Macedonio Fernandez claims that The Museum of Eterna’s Novel is “The First Good Novel.” In this passage, he pits his work against other literary greats that have been considered good novels, and asserts that these other classics fail to get at the essence of what is human “Tragedy” and what are “the blessings of human life.”
Fernandez’s first reference, “without a father and son having to fall in love with the same woman” is a reference to Sophocles’s Oedipus, who killed his father and married his mother. I am not entirely sure to what “desire between a brother and sister” refers, but it may hint to Le Morte D’Arthur, in which King Arthur and his half-sister Morgan Le Fay had an incestuous relationship. Fernandez continues in the vein of sexual incest–“without kinship, or aberration, or blindness, or madness” (King Oedipus blinded himself and then went mad).
“Without the millionaire marrying a factory girl”– I don’t know exactly to what this is a reference to, but it mocks the Cinderella-story narrative trope. “Without a happy marriage between a blind man and an ugly woman” is a certain reference to Jane Eyre.
Fernandez mocks these famous and idealized narratives, because they fail to grasp the all-encompassing depth and breadth of all human suffering and all the blessings of life. No narrative is able to encompass all of life, but Fernandez attacks these narratives for attempting to deal with the Mysteries of life and falling short.
The Museum of Eterna’s Novel is preoccupied with love that ends in death. Fernandez claims that all the characters of a book die at the end, when the reader finishes reading and closes the book. I would like, however, to respectfully disagree with this claim. The characters we read about live on after we shut the book– they continue in our minds and thoughts and influence our actions. They live in us. So too, those we love and have lost continue to live in and through us.
I think Fernandez would find this song comforting: