Under the pear tree
I took the time the other day to leaf through the list of the best-selling books of the last few years.
At the top of the list are of course crime novels and thrillers, followed by guidebooks and non-fiction books. Novels are found at the very bottom, and then only as historical spectacles or romantic dramas.
Of course I have thought about why good literature is so difficult today.
I think one reason is that the world today has become too complex for people to find their way around in. So it’s probably a good idea to deal with a crime novel, for example, which simply and clearly follows its rules.
An act. A culprit. Someone who cares. Who is faced with a mystery and masters it by the power of his personality alone.
Meanwhile, the reader can sit back, observe everything and wait for the end with a pleasant shiver. To then put the book aside and devote himself to his life again.
Undisturbed, because rarely do questions remain that touch on the essence of being human and touch beyond the book.
I have found a different approach in the new book by the American author J. M. Twenge. In “Me, My Selfie and I” she talks about how people get stuck at an earlier stage of development due to the influence of new media. That they become adults later and later or fall behind in their development as adults.
I like this theory and in many points it confirms what we can observe day by day.
It also explains a lot in terms of the beautiful literature.
Because good literature raises more questions than it answers. It touches deeper levels of our being, lets us look behind the veil of the everyday and gives us deeper insights into the nature of man.
But many of us are now like children. We want to hear exciting stories. Stories in which something happens and the tickle of the new never ceases.
Which of course is also due to our time. Because through senselessly spent years in front of the TV or hidden behind banal books and thoughts our brain has changed and is hungry for excitement and entertainment.
And we fend off everything that could tear us out of this twilight state.
Nevertheless, today I would like to talk about a crime story. The story of a crime of greed. The focus of “Unterm Birnbaum” is not the crime itself, but the world of thoughts and feelings of a murderer and his wife.
Abel Hradscheck is a bad host. He gambles, drinks and throws his money out the window with both hands.
Maybe he is just unhappy, because his wife Ursel is adapted and satisfied on the surface, but she could never be content with her social decline and the life of an innkeeper’s wife and tries to cover her inner emptiness with luxury and small gifts.
But due to the increasing debts, the laboriously constructed building of her life lies threatens to collapse.
Abel sees only one way out: the murder of a traveling salesman and the theft of the gold he brought with him.
And so he manipulates his wife, because he knows her nightmare is to become poor again: “Poverty is the worst, worse than death.”
But Abel’s wife cannot cope with what has happened. She falls ill and dies, unable to process her feelings and live with her guilt.
Hradscheck, on the other hand, is not troubled by what happened. Even after the death of his wife, he lives in a flurry, outwardly untouched and only for the moment. But beneath the surface the worm bores its way into his soul and denatures his life.
Th. Fontane did not write a classic crime novel. Rather, he created a dark painting and shows what a crime does to people and how much it changes them. Until the bitter end.
One of the few works of crime literature that I have read and can recommend to you.