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Piecing together the past,
This review is from: New Finnish Grammar (Dedalus Europe 2011) (Kindle Edition)
One could say that 20th century literature is more preoccupied with memory and the individual dealing with the past more than any other period of world history. It is a theme that has continued up untl the end of the last and beginning of this century. Notable texts of this later period include those by Julian Barnes, W. G. Sebald and now Diego Marani's 'New Finnish Grammar.'
The plot is a simple one: a man wakes up in Trieste during he 2nd World War not remembering who or where he is and, most importantly, no knowledge of any languages. As the novel progresses we follow him on his search to figure out who he is, who he was, and where he should be.
Through this plot, Marani is able to explore issues of identity, language and the self with the world of war as a backdrop. These issues are most powerfully portrayed in the first thirty pages of the novel, some of the most outstanding to have been written in recent years. The opening passages recall the opening scenes of Proust's 'A la recherché du temps perdu' where our protagonist also wakes up and struggles to place himself in time and space and give the reader a real insight into what life with language and personal memory of one's past would be like.
'New Finnish Grammar' is a lucid, adventurous novel which questions our perception of self-identity in a mature and innovative manner.