What is it that make a critics all occupied with a novel that in part has passages that look like the Bobsey children book language? A melo- dramatic plot and all to well known gallery of personalities, that at least will make it look like a novel of dukes and dutchesses?
The plot of the book by Ildefonso Falcones, called the Cathedral of the Ocean is a cruel master and a hero called Arnau Estanoyal. The hero is born in 1321 and his roots are a proud farmers family from a kathalonian farm. On the wedding night to his parents, the cruel master comes and makes his claim to sleep with the bride. This destroys Aranaus mother completely, and makes his father Bernat to escape with little Arnau born 9 months later. He assure himself that the boy is not the son of the cruel master, but a real Estanoyal, by identification of the noble family birthmark above his right eye.
Arnau grows up Barcelona during its 14th century period. A city full of freedom to its citizens if they have been living there for a year or more. Father and son works hard, starvs, and are being treated bad by gready relatives. Berant can take it all, expect when the war creates a hunger and he can no longer stand that the rich has storage of food, while the poor dies of hunger. Bernat becomes one of the back men of a riot that happened in real life in Barcelona in the year of 1334. kelighetens» Barcelona i 1334.
Wealth and nobel title
The Cathedral of the Ocean is a so called historic novel. The title reflects on Satna Maria del Mar, and is according to Falcones one of the most beautiful churches of the world. It was built by volunteers of the people itself the ”bastaix” who carried rocks to build the church. Little Arnau has become one of these proud ”Bastaix’s”. Later the faith brings wealth and a noble title to our noble and beautiful hero. The story also makes him loose his loved one as a act of rank play, and he is thrown into prison and becomes the victim of the Spanish inquisition. But all is well in the end..
The author Falcones has done a thorough historic research. We are to be witnesses to a society that looks down on women, where the law in society determined that if you later married the woman you raped, you did not have to take any penalty. Here you will find descriptions of the inquisitors, the plague of black death, the continuous wars between the small states, a heroic slave and not least the Jews are described in the book. Every Easter lots of people had to die due to the crucifixion thirteen hundred years earlier, before the whole Jewish quarter in Barcelona is eradicated.
Seen from a litterary standpoint of view, the book is dead. Translations can take part of this blame, however not totally. It is some what curious that middle age people consisting of small lads, Scots which are noisy and have hidden laughs.
On the other side, the plot and characters are in line with the flat language, so it is tempting to assume that the book has gotten the translation it deserves.
A Copy novel
Recently a Italian professor went out and warned against Harry Potter copies destroyed the children’s book market. Harry Potter books are not dangerous by itself. Neither is the Barcelona novel called Shadow of the wind, which apparently is the inspirational source for the Cathedral of the Ocean book. The book is promoted through an enormous marketing apparatus. It has already sold more then 2 million copies and in pact with any success novel the author claims that seven publishers refused the book before it finally made it through its present publisher. It is hard to believe this story, but it makes good marketing material at least. The novel follows exactly the recipe of a modern bestseller, so it looks like something created for this purpose alone.
“If only all bestsellers were like this novel”, a Spanish critics announced in the Spanish newspapers. Well, if the book market continues to develop in the same commercial trend there is a good chance that his wish will come through. That all bestsellers will become like this where great entertainment is made out of pure recipes.
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