By Wiesław Myśliwski
Our hero and narrator is the getting older caretaker of cottages at a summer time inn. A mysterious customer conjures up him to proportion the tale of his lengthy existence: we witness a cheerful youth lower brief by way of the conflict, his hiding from the Nazis buried in a heap of potatoes, his plodding makes an attempt to play the saxophone, the brutal homicide of his relations, loves misplaced yet remembered, and footloose travels in another country. informed within the demeanour of pals and friends swapping tales over the mundane job of shelling beans—in the grand oral culture of Myśliwski’s celebrated Stone Upon Stone—each anecdote, lived adventure, and reminiscence accrues cross-stitched layers of that means. by way of turns hilarious and poignant, A Treatise on Shelling Beans is an epic recounting of a existence that, whereas common, is something yet traditional.
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Extra info for A Treatise on Shelling Beans
They declaim against the passions without bothering to think that i t i s from thei r flame philosophy ligh ts its to rch . . - ( and what m axims they are ! ) that mighty and obsessing murmur which sometimes arises from literature, and is perhaps i ts justification : A:l1iel, 4 Montaigne, the Kalevala, the Ramayana . I f i t be obj ected that these I include among sacred books h ave never h a d their religion nor their fai th ful, I shall begin my reply by saying that it is a very good thing and that we should be glad ( thereby being in a freer position to judge the books on the i r own merits instead of by their effects ) .
Marquis \Vhether or not he actudly was a marquis is open to question ; but there is no que:;tion that a certain number of persons, and apparently re:;pectable persons, held him to be divine-or properly diaholical, which is something akin. Still, on this score 1 doubt does assail me. I wonder, when today I behold so many writers struggling so hard and so consciously to avoid Ii :erary a rtifice in their treatment of an indescribable event o f whose e rotic and at the same time frightful character we a re given every assurance, mindful in all ci rcumstances to mi sconstrue Creation, and busy look ing for the sublime in the infamous, the great in the sub versive, demanding furtilermore that every work commit and compromise its author forever in keeping with a kind of efficacity ( which is n,>t without its resemblance to the wholly physiological an d local efficacity I referred to earlier ) , I wonder if Oll( is not compelled to recognize, in a terror so extreme, less an invention than a remembrance, less an ideal than a nosta 19ia, and in short i f our contempo rary literature, in that area where it seems to us most alive -most aggressive, in a ly case-is not oriented entirely toward the past and, to )e precise, dominated, determined by Sade as eighteenth-cen tury tragedy was by Racine.
We have but to observe man objectively, to submit him to our investigations. Sooner or later he'll come clean. Should he contrive to hide ( for he i s crafty ) some one or other of his penchants from us, ou r grand children will get a t them. Time is on our side. " Sade belongs to his age. He too begins with analyzing and patient collecting. That gigantic catalogue of perver sions, The 120 D ay s of S o d o m , was for a long time taken to be the summit and conclusion of his work. Not at all ; i t i s the foundation of his work, and the breaking of ground for it.
A Treatise on Shelling Beans by Wiesław Myśliwski