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READ PDF Â The Man Who Was Born Again ⚸ Paul Busson s legendary tale of the Baron Melchior This grim account begins with its hero losing his head during the French Revolution, and really picks up from there, with the good Baron through swashbuckling and amorous activities finally becoming the master of death itself I read The Man Who Was Born Again, by Paul Busson His second novel, the Fire Spirits, is impossible to find in English this one has been reprinted in translation several times, and happened to be easily available to me in hardcover through the Smith College library It hadn t been checked out since 1945 I guess Busson really is an author that no one reads It probably seemed out of fashion even in the 1920 s set during the years of the French revolution, the novel seems indistinguishable fro I read The Man Who Was Born Again, by Paul Busson His second novel, the Fire Spirits, is impossible to find in English this one has been reprinted in translation several times, and happened to be easily available to me in hardcover through the Smith College library It hadn t been checked out since 1945 I guess Busson really is an author that no one reads It probably seemed out of fashion even in the 1920 s set during the years of the French revolution, the novel seems indistinguishable from a romantic gothic novel of that time Its structure is as idiosyncratic as an 1800 s gothic novel, althoughcondensed its imagery is continuous with that of E.T.A Hoffman.The novel isor less a sequence of vaguely connected set pieces in a picaresque fantasy adventure mode, lended coherency by the roguish protagonist s inner spiritual quest Born to an aristocratic family background, from a young age Baron Melchior is watched over by opposing beneficent and maleficent spiritual forces His good side is a mysterious, oriental, tall dark handsome stranger who represents immortality and life of the soul in eternity the bad angel is a really cool Hoffmanesque devil who carries around a leather purse full of squeaking human souls Throughout his misadventures the main character is guided onwards by his Anima, in the figure of a girl he wanted to have sex with when he was like 10 years old this is always the tiresome part of these novels, or at least for me it is because I m a homosexual and I find it hard to give a shit and I m pretty sure it was his cousin, so it s basically the same thing as Poe s Annabel Lee PoliticsThe story s final episode, where Melchior goes to France and becomes embedded in the revolution as it takes place, comes out of left field Busson goes out of way to depict the Baron as a blueblood with a heart of gold, deeply touched by the plight of the revolutionary lower class This political dimension is interesting and is one of the few things that make the novel actual seem of its time, and not a total anachronism it s like Busson feels self conscious that the story he s writing is a throwback to an era ofrigid class structure in Germany, when novels like these were written by and for the literate upper classes, depicting the agonized spiritual quests of their upper class protagonists, with things and people outside of that narrow scope of experience treated as exotic objects Maybe he felt he had to apologize for that, so he tried to create some distance by throwing in some political speeches I m not complaining, I thought it was interesting Hermetic symbolismThere s lots of symbols concerning Baron Melchior s spiritual quest which are consistent throughout the novel but didn t strike any particular chord with me The part that I thought interesting was tucked in subliminally After climbing here and there among the stones I found a tolerably preserved vault, where the walls retained some traces of fresco painting I recognised one of the subjects as the Wedding in Cana, and when I inspected the peeling paintingclosely, I discovered that one of the jugs in the picture had an almost effaced inscription on itHie jacet, meaning Here lies Perhaps it was intended only as a witticism of the painter s, to convey that in these jugs and their wine lay the quiescent force that excites a man s body with the wine and by degrees lets loose all the passions, eventually overpowering his reason.It might also have signified that mirth slumbered in the round belly of the jug and would express itself in the laughter, gladness and song of those who drank I meditated on these and similar subjectsSuperficially, the painted jug of wine is incidental to the narrative, since the fresco is introduced only as a plot device behind the jug is a secret compartment full of treasure but the protagonist s musings on the multivalent and conflicting meanings of wine as a symbol signal the author s familiarity with a deep vein of hermetic symbolism When taken in excess, wine intoxicates the senses and clouds man s reason but when taken with care and in cooperation with the reasoning intellect, these intoxicating forces reveal spiritual truths that reason by itself cannot access To those who lack knowledge and insight, the inscription on the fresco reveals no secrets but for the narrator, whose intellect penetrates beyond surface meaning, the reward is literal treasure which symbolizes a deeper and rejuvenating font of spiritual truth In an episode that comes shortly after, the Baron engages in discussion with a learned older gentleman on the significance of some markings at the town s entrance written in thieves cipher his agility in decrypting the markings hidden meaning literally saves him from a lynch mob, since in doing so he is able to prove that he is not in fact one of the thieves gang as he was taken for I really liked this interesting tale Published after WWI it feels like a Victorian era supernatural tale filled with occult and christian eastern mysticism I found it to be a great change of pace from what I usually read It starts off a bit slow but then one really starts to gain interest in the protagonist s life and it takes off from there Worth checking out. A fractured and hallucinogenic novella about deja vu, reincarnation and the what it was like to be in an 18th Century European army.