Regarding Roderer by Guillermo Martínez
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
With creativity and charm succeeded Guillermo Martinez to explore, in only 100 pages, few of the big literary themes: friendship, intelligence and knowledge. The approach is mathematically philosophic, in the good (and safe) tradition of Borges and Hesse, and with a “Faustian” pinch of Mann.
Being himself a mathematician, Martinez had as premise for his first novel the controversial topic in the foundations of mathematics: the question of what is true versus what is demonstrable. And from here, he started to model two forms of human intelligence: wit and genius, with their reciprocal relationship and their ways of relating to the world. The exponents are two high scholars: the unnamed narrator – a brilliant young man who gets the knowledge by absorbing it, much and quick, and his best friend, Gustavo Roderer – the genius, the one who questions everything, even the proof, the one who tries to go beyond, to reach the unattainability. The genius is however an unearthly quality; at least, it does not belong to this world. Roderer has to first suppress his human knowledge and then his human mind (thanks to the opium) and finally, his human body in order to achieve his goal. To be the first one who is above. On the other hand, the clever narrator has to suppress his small and humble feelings (such envy or vanity) in order to have the chance of understanding, of passing beyond. But this unfortunately is not the case. The only human chance, as Martinez suggested, is love. The pure and unconditional love.
Again I miss halves of star. It’s not quite a 5 stars book, but is definitely more than 4!
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