Anyone who gives his first novel “The Masterpiece” can be called quite self-confident – even if the manuscript in Anna Schnabel’s novel bears that title. It is unfinished and herein lies its quality. For he, hitherto imperfect, is capable of separating people from one another and bringing others together, liberating them or linking them together.
Schnabel, born in Slovenia in 1985, grabbed attention two years ago with a number of stories in which characters attribute their problems to others in a strange but compelling way. Schnabl, who, as the false propaganda says, “deals with women in psychoanalysis,” now extended such projections to art.
Adam’s manuscript “Masterpiece” is the author’s self-determination: Nargis, oscillating between feelings of inferiority and resentment, lets his main character escape loneliness through art. Aspiring editor no less narcissistic Anna wants to review the text – less action, more “psychological prose” – but finds it fascinating. Because she, too, wants to escape a frightening and restrictive gift.
A woman in her mid-thirties and a man in his fifties became very close: In chapters titled Between September 1985 and April 1986, Schnabel recounts about double adultery in Ljubljana, Slovenia.
the burden of liberties
The end of Yugoslavia is already on the horizon. Adam anxiously contributes to an opposition magazine while Anna reluctantly serves the struggling regime. Only promoted to editor thanks to commitment as an instant reporter. She is supposed to watch Adam for the sake of the state security apparatus, and Love encourages her in her decision to move out. Or is it the desire for freedom that creates love in the first place?
The Masterpiece is about freedom: the freedom of art, politics, and the individual and how these freedoms can be reconciled with life and love. However, Schnabl only hints at the competition between the various concepts of freedom and the many struggles in her room she plays with a few of the characters.
Its strengths are passages in lived discourse in which Anna and Adam struggle with themselves, with love and obligations. However, many of their psychological insights seem quite straightforward. Some are simply based on a common analyst’s guess: they state the opposite of the obvious.
Pale supporting characters
On the other hand, couples of lovers are less defined as shapes. So the focus is on Anna and Adam’s individual artistic design, along with their expectations and self-deception, while ignoring the everyday and political constraints embodied by others. Adam’s beautiful wife Vera, who unconditionally submits to him, threatens to become a caricature.
Even the translation isn’t always satisfactory: she likes to stuff a second main clause into a longer sentence with the help of a few commas, like a surprising idea. Then the “indicators of whole generations” draw a whirl, young people cannot “sign” a wonderful story, and the morning “sprout” approaches.
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