THE HOLY LAND by Par Lagerkvist


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This small, allegorical, phantasmagorical, enigmatic statement about the condition of man is a startling appendage to the Nobel prizewinner's Pilgrim At Sea. There is enough symbolic furniture here to occupy allegory buffs through many a meditative hour.... Thrust ashore by a crew of which they were a part, the blind Giovanni and his companion, Tobias, find shelter in the ruins of a temple, moldering upon a blasted heath. It is inhabited by simple, kindly herdsmen, who cannot remember the raison d'etre of the crumbling edifice nor the stone god for whom the temple was erected. But then, Giovanni cannot remember the original contents of the empty locket he wears around his neck. When an orphan boy inexplicably appears from the mountains, having learned about death in the arms of his dying mother, and the shepherds worship, the old pilgrim searches back. When death comes to the child and to Giovanni, the shepherds turn to blood rituals under the vultures of death. Tobias with the locket goes back to the mountains where he dies. But he has seen three crosses with no meaning and has surrendered his empty soul. In the contemporary pilgrimage God may be dead, but love and joy lie in the ruins...A superbly constructed parable, but very, very special.

Publisher: Random House