tENTATIVELY, cONVENIENCE's Reviews > Hebdomeros: With Monsieur Dudron's Adventure and Other Metaphysical Writings

Hebdomeros by Giorgio de Chirico
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really liked it
bookshelves: literature, art, surrealism

For the 1st 15pp or so I was inclined to give this a 5 star rating. It wasn't long after that the rating slipped down a notch. By the end of the bk I was close to giving it a 3. "Hebdomeros", the longest section, was my favorite. In John Ashberry's introduction he writes:

"The novel has no story, though it reads as if it did. Its soul character is Hebdomeros, a kind of "metaphysician" who evolves through various landscapes and situations, alone or accompanied by a shadowy band of young disciples."

Fair enuf.. & that's what I liked most about it. I often found myself reading something in it & suddenly stopping, thinking 'How did it get here?' & then backtracking a bit to trace the writing from the last part I remembered. Here's an excerpt:

"Sometimes a window would open and against the dark background of the room a figure would appear; but people said they were ancestral ghosts and nothing but a figment of the imagination. Though the district was now unquestionably elegant and so much more lively, Hebdomeros shunned it in favor of the park where the pine trees grew. They were martyred trees, for a strange epidemic was raging among them, these attractive, friendly trees, so healthy and tonic. Each one bore a stairway mode of white wood, twined round its trunk like a giant snake; these spiral staircases ended in a kind of platform, a regular torture-collar which choked the unfortunate tree, on which the man known as King Lear to the habitués of the palace amused himself by spying on the birds, hoping to catch them in little-known poses and expressions. He watched out especially for sparrows. Lying down on the platform, as motionless as a log, he no longer looked like a human being. But he did not look like a staute, either. Even when he turned over to take a few minutes' rest, there was nothing in his attitude reminiscent of those figures that lie on stone sarcophagi, be they Etruscan couples of landgraves armed from head to foot. Nor was there anything that reminded one of those old men with flowing beards and gentle eyes, indecently naked and regally reclining among reeds, with their elbows supported by amphorae lying on their sides, and who in ancient statuary represented rivers, the source of the richness of lands."

Anyway, I like De Chirico's metaphysical/enigma paintings but I've never found them to be impressively made technically. To my surpise, I found the writing more articulate. What I DIDN'T really find to be very articulate, or, at least convincing, was his more manifesto-like writing. In "Hebdomeros" strong opinions wd be put forth & it seemed somewhat arbitrary to me whether Hebdomeros supported the opinions or detested them. Later in the bk there's another story called "That evening M. Dudron . . .". Monsieur Dudron is a painter & may be a proxy for de Chirico. Writing about Dudron's reaction to enthusiasts of his work, there's "Another thing that caused him profound horror was when they spoke of dreams and mystery regarding his pictures." Really? That text may've been written 9 yrs after "Hebdomeros".
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Reading Progress

January 5, 2009 – Shelved
Started Reading
January 20, 2009 – Shelved as: literature
January 20, 2009 – Shelved as: art
January 20, 2009 – Shelved as: surrealism
January 20, 2009 – Finished Reading

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