Weights and Measures by Joseph Roth

Most people depart this world without having acquired so much as a grain of truth about themselves. Possibly they acquire it in the next world. Some, however, are granted self-knowledge while they are still in this world. It usually comes to them quite suddenly and alarms them mightily. Inspector Eibenschütz belonged to this category of men.

originally published in 1937  by the name Das falsche Gewicht and translated by David Le Vay from German, this short novel tells the story Anselm Eibenschütz downfall and tragedy.

in the beginning of the novel Eibenschütz was a reserved non commissioned soldier who enjoyed the life of barracks but because of his wife he was forced to leave the military life he enjoyed and to start to live like a normal civilian life

he would never have abandoned the military if his wife, in her rigorous, even inflexible, manner, had not compelled him to do so

after his departure from military he was appointed as Inspector of Weights and Measures to the district of Zlotogrod which was very corrupt town, and just as he arrived the townspeople and the officials didn’t like him just because

All the members of the group met Inspector Eibenschütz with mistrust, not only because he was a stranger and a newcomer but because they supposed him to be a thoroughly honest man who had not yet become a lost soul.
For they themselves were lost souls. They suffered themselves to be bribed and they bribed others. They defrauded God and the world and their superiors. But even the superiors in turn defrauded their higher superiors

if  his work environment was not positive his marital life also didn’t farewell as he felt very lonely around his wife and sensed her indifference to him but also very nostalgic to the very predicted military life he used to enjoy.

after several weeks our Eibenschütz discovers his wife infidelity and this leads him to hate his wife more and stay outside house more often then he used and even after his return to his house he become more lonely that even the cats didn’t allow him to pat them, just then he falls in love with gypsy women who  his passion to him would lead him to downfall.

although Eibenschütz is very kind person but he also very rigid when it comes to his work and doesn’t forgive any misdeeds done by the poor townspeople which only makes him to hate himself more and for the townspeople to hate him more, and how his love for the gypsy women changed his point view of world and nature around him.

it is amazing how love and mood can affect how we see our surrounding and how we humans have the ability to give meanings to something which have no meaning outside our brain

But the breeze from above was already mild and reminiscent of Easter, and when one looked up at the sky one could see that the stars standing there no longer looked quite so cold and pitiless. It felt as if they had moved a little closer to the earth. At the same time, a very benevolent, very gentle wind made itself felt

 

this is one of the least known works of Joseph Roth and unless you have little biography and background of the author and Austria Hungry empire you would loss the meaning of this novel and its autobiographical nature

 112 pages
Published October 5th 2017 by Penguin Classics

 

 

 

 

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Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel García Márquez translated by Gregory Rabassa

Publisher: Penguin Books

Date Read: May 2018

No. of Pages: 128 pages

Date Published: April 23, 2014

9780241968628

I find it really hard to explain this word Honor to people who live in modern nations and since this word with its meaning could be found in many societies but unless you lived in traditional society this short novella wouldn’t have much resonance with you.

how can you explain how my people consider Honor which is made up of  certainly a women, and that how my society sees women doesn’t look much different than how this novella town sees them, men honor depends on women and women honor depends on her virginity,what i found strange how a person dignity and humanity can be summarized to a small sheath of skin which determines how good or bad she is.

how many wars between tribes happened and how many people lost their life because of this word and how many societal tragedies has happened because of this word,

for instance in my hometown a women has fell in love and  run away with a man since her family refused the idea of her marrying a man from lower castes and since she run away with man she has dishonored her family name and the family has killed her with her lover,what i found inhumane was that no one tried to save the girl when she screamed for help and  the people divided between those ignoring her call for help and others actually cheering and supporting this crime.

The brothers were brought up to be men. The girls had been reared to get married

this short novella which is my second book i read for Garcia and i have read in almost two hours consecutively and while reading it it both reminded me how sexist societies are and how unfair they are to women and how your gender can determine how your parent would welcome you in the first hours of your birth to how much education you get and how much income your receive.

Chronicle of a Death Foretold, by Nobel prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez is a novella which the story of Santiago Naser who is murdered by the twin Pedro and pablo Vicario  and how his murder was so foretold that no one believed when it happened and everyone is doubted it could happen.

when Bayardo San Romá  proposed to Angela Vicario she didn’t feel any affection or love toward him and she told her family of her refusal to marry him but

her mother demolished it with a single phrase:
“Love can be learned too.”

and after get married and her husband discovers her loss of virginity he peacefully returns her to her mother who with her twin brothers forced her to say the name of her lover

found it at first sight among the many, many easily confused names from this world and the other, and she nailed it to the wall with her well-aimed dart, like a butterfly with no will whose sentence has always been written.
“Santiago Nasar,” she said.

but what is wrong in this murder is that no one was sure that Santiago was her lover since no one saw them together but since Santiago reputation was famous as womanizer around the town no one also thought he was innocent also

 

and since the twins were so much eager to revenge against Santiago but also so hesitant they told all the town about their impending crime so someone could stop them but no one thought their talk was serous so no one tried to warn and save the victim earnestly

eventually crime occurs and the twins will be pardoned since this is honor crime.

although this is a short novella it fills you with so many questions about sexist societies are and  how humans are so fragile and weak that no one remembers the same thing exactly and still in many societies including my own how women value is determined by her virginity and how men value is determined by how he protects his women or how he takes revenge for it.

ironically just as i finished this novella i discovered in Sudan a young teen Noura Hussein who was forced to marry  a man and she accidentally killed him was sentenced to death because of that

http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/sudanese-teens-death-penalty-marital-rape-case-highlights-widespread-problems-2078372463

 

 

The Blacker the Berry by Wallace Thurman

cover

I always wondered why Western authors who happened to visit my country from Richard Burton to Karen Blixen always claimed that Somali were far more superior to other African although they didn’t give reason for that superiority.

And after reading this book it made me more color conscious than ever, did those authors made their assertion because Somali had less thick lip than other Africans? Or they made their assertion because Somali have smoother hair than the African people? Or maybe Somali skin color are lighter due to inter marriage with Arabs and Europeans  than other hinterland Africans and for this they can claim to be special than Africans.

Who does light skin, brown eyes, more pointed nose and more smooth hair made you believe to be superior to people who happened to be more colored and have been blessed with more darker skin

Reading this novel made me get a glimpse of what it means to black in lighter skin society, from the Bantu who live in southern part of my country and who still face prejudice and discrimination because he is more black than the usual Somali to Darfur where Arabized African attack other native Africans

But this book doesn’t talk about the supposed superiority of Arabized Africans or mixed race individuals but the focus of the novel is how lighter skin people treat their darker skin people within the same race.

Here comes Wallace Thurman novel which was published in 1929 which tells the story of Emma Lou who is African American girl who faced systematic racism from her race just because she were more black than her what her family wanted her to be

What struck me in the novel was from the start you are told what fate wait our narrator

“More acutely than ever before Emma Lou began to feel that her luscious black complexion was somewhat of a liability, and that her marked color variation from the other people in her environment was a decided curse. “

Her first encounter with racism would come with from within her family who treated as curse because she were more darker than her family was and the family motto was “Whiter and whiter every generation,” she deviated from their goal and as a result was treated badly just for being more blacker than family .

Getting tired of her mother and grandmother racism she tries to run away from home to university where she beliefs that intra racial racism is something from provincial and it wouldn’t happen in big cities let alone in University but after being shunned from every club meeting her collage had she would run out to Harlem where she develop hypersensitivity and become more aware of her status and develops inferiority superiority complex and starts to treat men with the same racism she used to hate and fight against.

And eventually tired of self-hate and self-pitying she resolves to change but also accept who she is

“We are all living in a totally white world, where all standards are the standards of the white man, and where almost invariably what the white man does is right, and what the black man does is wrong, unless it is precedented by something a white man has done.”

 

and this quote

“ What she needed to do now was to accept her black skin as being real and unchangeable, to realize that certain things were, had been, and would be, and with this in mind begin life anew, always fighting, not so much for acceptance by other people, but for acceptance of herself by herself .”