M. Cornelis van der Weele IV's Reviews > Mount Analogue

Mount Analogue by René Daumal
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I had never heard of René Daumal before this. This book, essentially, was an accident for me. I stumbled across it on Wikipedia late one night in relation to Jodorowsky's The Holy Mountain and, finding the brief synopsis interesting, made it my goal to give the book a shot. Such random occurrences, in my experience, have always proven quite fruitful.

The trick, of course, is that Daumal died before the book was finished, rendering the work somewhat incomplete and almost impervious to review. One can't criticize the ending for obvious reasons. One might not even be able to properly critique the contents of what's left, seeing as how they may not have had the opportunity for intended refinement before hitting the presses. All one can really do is somehow quantify what's left with an eye on cautious speculation, and this much while trying to not spoil too much of the content therein.

Compounding this fact is the size of this theoretical "what's left." Having grown use to Kafka, the idea of reading through an unfinished novel wasn't new or a detriment to my decision. When the book arrived, though, I was surprised to find it just in the vicinity of 100 pages long. As a matter of course, then, the book finally becomes something of a curious footnote to a career with which I am unfortunately unfamiliar.

I cannot find fault to Daumal's voice as it appears via translation. He is direct, succinct, and possesses a certain absurdist sense of humor in portraying his characters. My copy of the book incluced a handsketched diagram showing the appearances of his fictional mountain-climbing party. I am uncertain if its presence was always intended or included here merely for academic curiosity.

The story breezes through quickly. Perhaps too quickly. It's interesting that a book about mountain climbing possesses so few footholds for the memory, and the supplemental notes seem to imply only two chapters were left incomplete at the time of Daumal's death. And, of course, once things appear to really get interesting, we find ourselves facing the cruel, immovable wall of the obvious.

Much of interest is established in this book and little is, unfortunately, answered. Daumal possessed talent, and an ability to draw me in, though, and I look forward to reading more of his work in the future--whether I am proved right or wrong in my speculation. This is probably not the best introduction to Daumal, but it would be of interest to people who have found their way through at least some of what currently exists of his work.

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