After the first pages, I thought that I will read the novel from the perspective of two sows with cute piglets and one boar, mad with boredom (I wouldn't have minded). Big, fat sows with narrow foreheads and ugly fangs, which lie passively as a latent threat. But later on, the frame widens and we find ourselves on a small island with green pastures and fertile soil, with a few inhabitants that are decent, hard working people. One day, a foreigner arrives, in search of the elusive land that would silence the voices in his head and cure him of his fears. Not only he does not find his peace here (or maybe he does, sort of), but he will bring chaos into this heavenly corner of the world; he will disrupt its balance and harmony, turning kind people into savage beasts.
An unstable mind finds its way upon the blissful island, a piece of heaven where it might finally heal. A red barn, projection of a once mighty will and, inside the barn, a horrific scene - a sow devouring its newborns. Something snaps, the mind drifts away completely. It wants to do harm and it succeeds. The inhabitants' minds, once lucid and balanced, are drowned into a surging wave of hatred and desire for revenge. A hunt that swallows more and more decent people, fathers and sons, mothers and daughters. A spell that annuls the humane. An angry mob that seeks a wrong justice. And then, the awakening from the poisonous fog, the guilt, the need to find a scapegoat. The guilt won't go away. In this paralysis of souls, only the mad woman of the island seems to understand - she brings the people together, she awakens their conscience. A night of collective remorse, a seek for forgiveness. And a new day, where the guilty find renewed hope in their green, fertile island and in the baby that will soon be born.
Tarjei Vesaas writes in a certain way, a way that imprints his story in the reader's memory. Apparently simple, the events he brings to life carry a deeper meaning, which I think I understand partially, but not completely. His words speak of the dark side of humanity - the latent beast that lays dormant inside each of us, no matter how kind we are, no matter how sensible; the beast needs only one spark in order to gnarl its teeth and attack, tear apart and taste blood. But there is also the seed, the seed of hope which brings relief and maybe forgiveness, and a chance for taming the beast in a future battle. But does this seed bring also understanding?
You know, I didn't feel confident that I should write reviews anymore. If I feel I'm not good enough at something, I usually give up (not a constructive attitude, I know). But making connections while writing down my thoughts made me understand some things about the novel - things I wouldn't have noticed unless I wrote them here - like the allegory of the pregnant woman/the seed growing in the soil, the sows that go mad /the dormant beast inside each of us.
I don't need reassurance, maybe I need to take care of the seed inside me and have patience while watching it grow. And silence the beast of uncertainty.