Thursday, 19 November 2015

Invisible Love (Les deux messieurs de Bruxelles), by Eric Emmanuel Schmitt

One of the first authors I read in modern French literature, Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt remains one of my favourite ones (La Part de l'autre remains one of the books that opened my eyes...).  While French can be slightly complicated when in literature mode, his books remain an easy yet fulfilling read, with content that proves there is still much literary talent in our present day.

In this book, Schmitt deals with the subject of love in modern times.  A series of short stories, Les deux messieurs de Bruxelles found its place in my reading stash primarily because of its title:  anything that deals with Brussels, I have to buy and examine and have my opinion of it heard...

All the stories provide a twist on the notion of "love" - Schmitt goes beyond the caricature and investigates whether any one type of love better/more important than the other is.  The result is an insight into the various facets of our lives, how we deal with this feeling of intense care and how this feeling can influence and change the rest of our lives.

The first story by the same title had the strongest impact on me. And it's good this way, because it kept me yearning for more.   The stark contrast between the committed homosexual couple who will never have a family and the heterosexual couple who will go on to marry, have a family and create a huge mess of it all - it's just not right.... 

The deep love between Jean and Laurent will not be accepted by society.  But that will just not do - instead, they will "crash" the wedding of Eddy and Genevieve and take their own vows just as the young couple is celebrated by all their friends and families.  This link between the two couples will continue for the rest of their lives and will be manifested in financial and moral support as well as something more... The end of the story is wholly unexpected, which makes it even better.  (I have to admit I felt a little better for the future of mankind after reading this story.)

As so go on the short stories about the love for a pet, the love for the wrong partner, the love for one's child... All stories that defy our long-standing traditions, stories that make us (at least me!) look to our lives in a different manner.  Stories that make a point to challenge our perceptions and to change our attitude towards misfortune.  

Schmitt remains a master of short stories (and not only).  His use of the written word is the best antidote to everyday deception, betrayal, submission, apathy.  Because love is a universal theme and, however hard we may try to escape it, it will find us.  And conquer us. Hopefully...

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