A Review of ‘The Shadow of the Wind’ by Carlos Ruis Zafon
Why do we read? When we move our eyes over blobs of inks on dead parchment or your favourite e-reader, are we only understanding the words in front of our eyes? Are we only forming words from letters, sentences from words and ideas from sentences or are we living another lie, walking through a portal into another world and stepping into someone else’s shows to experience a world that exists in our minds and our minds alone and this world is so personal that even its creator is denied the right of admission.
What this world come alive? What if you get sucked into the sinister snares of the mysterious life of the author of the latest book you have been reading? What if your life starts mirroring theirs and you inherit the vicissitudes of their fate?
This inheritance of insanities is what forms the core of the book ‘The Shadow of the Wind’ by Carlos Ruis Zafon. Set in Barcelona in mid 1940’s after the gruesome Spanish civil war, we journey with Daniel Sempere a young boy on the cusp of his manhood. We see him heart break and bleed over unrequited love, we see him win persevere in the face of adversity and enormous challenges from powers beyond his ken and we see him battle his own mind and try to hold on to the precious images of his dead mother which is getting vaguer as the days pass. He believes he can find a cure to his pain if he can cure the pain he senses in the writings of the author Julian Carax. Daniel believes that the path to his salvation is by finding Julian’s.
This is where the spoilers begin.
I see a lot of similarities between the lives of Julian and Daniel.
- Both of them are tormented by unrequited love. For Julian it is Penelope Aldaya and for Daniel it is Clara. All their love, despite falling in love with other people and in Daniel’s case happily and in Julian’s grudgingly or like an arrangement of convenience, both the protagonists are longing for their lost love.
- Both of them fall in love with their best friends sister and almost are beaten to death for the same. Both of them seek something that is almost forbidden for them and out of their social class and this lands them into troubles.
- Both of them are bugs waiting to fall into Javier’s trap and be killed mercilessly but thankfully both of them avoid the same make it out safely.
- Victor Hugos’s MontBlanc pen that connects both of them is symbolic of both the protagonists ambitions to create through words.
- Julian publishes lots of books and unwittingly opens up pandoras box and loses everyone around him in the process including himself (physically and mentally). Daniel on the other hand never gets to pen down anything beyond the accounting books in the shop and never opens that said box. He gets married to the girl he loves, has a son who he later introduces to the cemetery of forgotten books. Embracing his words was Julian’s damnation and not doing so was Daniels’s escape rom purgatory.