Fictional Friends

I have made very good friends over the years. They have enriched my life in countless ways and helped me overcome painful situations. Yet, I have never met some of those friends in person. They belong to the world of fiction and an impenetrable barrier sits between us. Well, that is not entirely true…every time I have sought their help they have generously shared valuable lessons and inspiration. They have never asked for anything in return but I feel I owe them and perhaps this humble entry will go some way to repay my debt.

The first one is a Greek king, who went to war in order to “rescue” another man’s wife and experienced the most eventful journey home ever written. Over two thousand years, he has enjoyed an awful reputation as a womanizer, hedonistic and impious scoundrel but in my opinion, his story is one of the best metaphors of human existence ever composed.


Odysseus was extremely resourceful and had in his extraordinary intelligence the key to fool even the wrath of the gods and defeat his enemies. He taught me to pursue one’s goals relentlessly and endure setbacks and pain when they are required to achieve a worthy goal. He was no angel, his hands were covered in blood and left most of his ideals shattered by his journey through life.  Yet, he was not afraid of the truth and always loyal to his friends. Odysseus is the only king I would greet with a bow and inspired me with an everlasting fascination for Greek history and myth. I cannot stop wishing that, perhaps one day, I will encounter the old rogue and get to ask him about Troy, Circe and Polyphemus and hear his own account of the tale. More importantly, I would try to convince him to tell me about those other stories that the blind poet forgot to sing about.

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Categories: Fiction, Films, History | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Any Human Heart

“Never say you know the last word about any human heart”

Henry James

“Every life is both ordinary and extraordinary – it is the respective proportions of those two categories that make that life appear interesting or humdrum”. This line comes from “Any Human Heart”, a profoundly moving novel by the British writer William Boyd. The book portrays its protagonist, Logan Mountstuart, through excerpts from his intimate journals. It provides not only details of his intimate tribulations but a greatly evocative depiction of major historical events through the twentieth century.

Logan is born to a well-to-do English family but his identity is modelled by certain facts and influences that set him apart from the beginning. He is the son of an English father but his mother is Uruguayan and his first written words were in Spanish. The author displays an inclination for introducing these singular traits into a character that comes to exemplify human life in all its vigour and weakness.

Logan records his life on a number of journals that take the reader into an exhilarating ride through school, the life of a promising undergraduate at Oxford University, the early successes and challenges of a young and successful writer, marriage, the Spanish Civil War, the Second World War, the art world in New York, the economic misery of the seventies and the denial of history in modern France….

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