An ethereal almost floating story. Underlines the simple concept of how much easier it is to love things when they remain unseen and distant. Any conf...moreAn ethereal almost floating story. Underlines the simple concept of how much easier it is to love things when they remain unseen and distant. Any confrontation makes that fascination almost over and futile. Full of poetic scenes and gestures, Snow Country is a nice read. Unfortunately, the fleetingness was not just limited to its theme, but extended to the treatment of the story. Many a times, you are just left at the periphery, only grappling at what is going on within the story and in characters' minds/lives.(less)
Nooteboom is a traveler. His books travel through places, weaving ideas from many different cultures. And it is remarkable that in all cultures and pe...moreNooteboom is a traveler. His books travel through places, weaving ideas from many different cultures. And it is remarkable that in all cultures and people he is able to find unifying themes which link them together. Of course, like in most postmodern works, in his works the protagonist stands alone, disconnected from the world around him/her, irrespective of which place in the world he stands. In Rituals, the protagonist Inni is a drifter. Married to a woman he loves, he still continues to drift to other women in search of a lost memory. When his wife leaves him, he tries (fleetingly) to find a ritual to synthesise his life around. It is during this period of search that we are introduced to two men of rituals whom Inni has met and will meet in a space of 20 years - Arnold and Philips Taads - father and son. The father's way of dealing with his disbelief in God is in constructing a life divided in time. Each unit of time and the task assigned to it becomes the absolute law. This makes Arnold a loner because his laws do not allow the uncertainties of others. He spend a large part of the year in a cottage in Swiss Alps. The son, on the other hand finds relief in spiritualism and Eastern philosophy. He too lives alone in a cottage, wrapped in his rituals. Both men lead unenviable lives, and through their stories, Inni seems to be justifying an absence of rituals in his own life. Because when both these men have met their lonely deaths, he still lives - the silent observer with no rituals of his own.
The book is rich in ideas. One of the best passages is on memory, on how Inni remembers his own life in random snapshots rather than like a movie. On why he remembers some irrelevant poems and facts but not the stories of his own life. There are also some intriguing thoughts on loneliness, on religion. And more.(less)