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MUST READ | Mefisto

The feeling that comes with this book is that of a journey through oneself.

india Updated: Jan 21, 2006 17:03 IST
Sayanhya Roy
Sayanhya Roy

John Banville
Price — Rs 525
Publication — Minerva
Since John Banville won the Booker Prize for his book The Sea, his fortunes are said to have risen. The great thing about being awarded the Booker Prize, at least financially, is that it props up the work to such a visible height that readers are tempted to obtain a copy.

So the days succeeding the award sees customers line up outside stores to secure the famed copy for themselves. This is perhaps human nature among many others. But to really appreciate a writer one must look at his works that preceded his last great work. One must examine the first step a writer takes, or at least the earliest possible.

In Banville’s case, I had to go to the year 1986, for that was the year when Mefisto was published.
How can one describe Mefisto? It is unlike frozen words on a sheet of paper. It cannot be read, because then it would be impossible to comprehend. It took me three days to get past the first page. And a day to finish the rest. The feeling that comes with this book is that of a journey through oneself.

Strangely, it reveals nothing in particular. But it is perhaps that void that makes this work so haunting. The story of a boy growing up, the people in his life.
Then again could it be really called a story? I cannot find an ending. I don’t think the end exists.

So I would stop just short of calling it a story. It is an experience, and this is as close as I can get to describing Mefisto.
The characters make up this work.

Somehow the sheer void is created within the characters themselves that permeates through the pages. It is tough to resist the temptation to finish the last page and begin again with the first.

First Published: Jan 21, 2006 17:03 IST