Most amusingly, Donatien, his batman, hears the voices of his brothers and sisters in his head when faced with a problem:. It was his intelligent brother. When a journalist, Lassalle, arrives from Belgium to cover the erection of a statue of the Virgin Mary in a remote part of the Congo, he narrates his thoughts as newspaper articles.
The blue ribbon of his medal of Our Lady is always visible. His faith is echoed by the camp cook, Livo, who, when things begin to go wrong, seeks the advice of a local wise woman. This entry was posted on April 13, at 7: You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.
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Seven Houses in France by Bernardo Atxaga – review. This is a colourful tale of decay in the Belgian Congo. Miranda France. Fri 30 Dec Seven Houses in France: A Novel [Bernardo Atxaga, Margaret Jull Costa] on domaine-solitude.com *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. A brooding novel of colonial .
Set in the opening years of the 20th century in a military outpost in the Belgian Congo, this novel is a lucid depiction of the cruelty and greed at the heart of empire. The soldiers in Yangambi are led by Lalande Biran, a captain and middling poet who is increasingly tired of his daily grind in the jungle. He works only to satisfy the demands of his Paris-based wife, who has a dream of owning seven houses in France.
His lonely pleasures are poetry and having sex with young virgins that his soldiers bring back from raids on nearby villages. The racket has made all three men rich and they are close to realising their dream of a comfortable retirement back home. But he does not mix well and avoids the company of women.
He is very wrong, which only fuels his jealousy and anger towards the newcomer. We learn that Chrysostome's aversion to women is born of an obsession with purity and a devotion to religion. Neither purity nor religion goes down well here. For the other officers such things have long since rotted away in the heat and isolation. Careful of his position among the white men, Livo nevertheless sides with Chrysostome as things come to a head, and has his own ideas about how to exact some vengeance. Seven Houses in France has a reasonably interesting set of conflicting characters, spending years together in a difficult environment, with little contact to family, home, and civilization -- many sustained only by illusions or artificial goals seven houses in France, bedding two hundred women, etc.
The odd fish Chrysostome is also, ultimately, too much of an odd fit -- and perhaps too much a reminder of what they have given up, as Yangambi is a den of or moral corruption and pollution. Even a strict limit on, for example, gambling stakes only makes for the illusion of civilized behavior. Atxaga does a reasonably good job with his tale, with its mix of quirky characters, impulsive behavior, and that backdrop of complete depravity, but it does all feel a bit tame and simple -- there's an odd sort of nonchalance to the whole narrative -- and it can seem he isn't doing quite enough with it all.
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