It is currently Sun Dec 21, 2014 6:36 am

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]




 Page 1 of 2 [ 20 posts ]  Go to page
1, 2  Next
Author Message
 Post subject: TPAOL Question #11 - The Spectre that is Haunting Europe
PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2007 1:10 pm 
JDZ Moderator
User avatar

Joined: Thu Jun 24, 2004 2:13 pm
Posts: 12514
Location: The Left Coast
Jane Stevenson states in The Observer, July 3, 2005, that:

“In a revolution which has contempt for the individual as a basic principle, cannibalism is logical, saint and psychopath can be two faces of the same man. The whole trajectory of the story suggests that the terrorist cannibal will become a successful apparatchik in Stalin's Russia. It is as if Samarin is in himself the spectre that is haunting Europe.”

What does she mean by “the spectre that is haunting Europe”?



_________________________________________________________
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.
Offline
 Profile  
 
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2007 2:21 pm 

Joined: Tue Jul 06, 2004 1:37 pm
Posts: 1406
Location: VA
The essence of his being, and what he stands for, and aims to accomplish, through whatever means necessary, is the ill wind that blows across the continent..."the times, they are a changing".


Offline
 Profile  
 
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2007 2:54 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sat Jul 15, 2006 9:28 pm
Posts: 3907
Location: Florida
What does she mean by “the spectre that is haunting Europe”?
I think she uses it as a warning against acceptance of change by any means. The quote in the front of the book says it pretty well.

Busy remaking the world, man forgot to remake himself. By Andrei Paltonov.

I have a habit of putting everything I see in a search engine and when I put " the spectre that is haunting Europe " in, I get Communism and a Rock Band.



_________________________________________________________
"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." Will Rogers

Growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional.
Offline
 Profile WWW  
 
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2007 3:07 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Thu Sep 21, 2006 9:30 am
Posts: 2503
Location: Colorado
Last night I saw a segment on PBS that talks about this era in Western Civilization and it was pretty much narrowed down to the conflict between the Masses versus the Individual. The professor on TV called it the Age of Idealism, where politics and nationalism played a major role in shaping history for the first time. There was lots of filmed footage from WWI and the Russian Revolution, and also from WWII. He said that before this age a country's reigning monarch might change but the people pretty much lived their lives as they'd done before. But during this age the people were more of a pawn, and social upheaval was part of the deal. He mentioned the thousands of millions of people throughout (mostly eastern) Europe who were displaced - relocated, thrown out, rounded up, interned - for reasons of class, ethnicity, religion, etc. - over just a 25-30 year period.
Pretty staggering stuff.
Ms Stevenson seems to agree, and her words describe Samarin as the God of Destruction and Dissolution to a T. Like I said before, his type of personality and his penchant for manipulation, deceipt, persuasion and taking advantage of the fertile soil of chaos could very well have led him to be seen as a hero and a leader when the dust settled and a new regime took over.
In my reading on the history of Poland during that time, there was an old, surviving art historian who wrote that by the end of WWII the entire society of Poland was unrecognizable; the change had been so complete that he didn't know his own country anymore. I got the feeling his assessment of what took its place was not a good one. In any case it's awfully hard to imagine that kind of upheaval.
To me, the cannibalism part is the least of my concerns about Sam's character. To me, as a survival strategy, it has a twisted logic, as I said before. But as an example of the basic disregard for the individual, yes, I see the connection she's making. But I also see the 'spectre that is haunting Europe' as being a far wider array of bad behavior and moral corruption that passed for ideals in those days.



_________________________________________________________
"Belay that! ...Do something else!" ~ Hector Barbossa
savvy avi by mamabear
Offline
 Profile  
 
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2007 5:34 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Mon Dec 11, 2006 1:54 pm
Posts: 522
Location: Inside a prayer.
What does she mean by “the spectre that is haunting Europe”?

Expanding on cannibalism: consuming one's enemies completely. Extermination and destorying everything. Complete absorbtion of all that, which had made up their lives. A successful revolution leaves no remnant or even shadow of what it has consumed.



_________________________________________________________
“Know thyself” and “Nothing to excess” inscribed on the temple of Apollo at Delphi.
Offline
 Profile  
 
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2007 5:44 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sun Oct 29, 2006 10:30 pm
Posts: 686
Location: Dead Man's Pass near Reno, NV
Congratulations Parlez. . .nice bunch of words on a stange, haunting question!
Gemini, "communism and a rock band" ! Cool! ( Maybe we can start seeing rock stars in the making of TPAOL! )

“In a revolution which has contempt for the individual as a basic principle, cannibalism is logical, saint and psychopath can be two faces of the same man. The whole trajectory of the story suggests that the terrorist cannibal will become a successful apparatchik in Stalin's Russia. It is as if Samarin is in himself the spectre that is haunting Europe.”

What does she mean by “the spectre that is haunting Europe”?


OK, I have to backtrack here. Although Samarin boasted about his cannibalism to and fro the White Garden, and cut off that chaps hand and buried it in the woods, how do we know for sure that he ate people? Talk is easy and cheap.

As for "the spectre of Europe", I suppose Samarin is symbolic of a person who began a rather normal life, got caught up in the Revolution and went wierdo. But I'm not totally convinced that he was 1) a cannibal and 2) was heading for Stalin's Russia. It's here I'm thinking about the scene in the cabin with Balshov and Samarin. It seemed like the young Samarin came back here a while. . .

Is Samarin mad? like out of his head? Is that what it takes to join up with Stalin? Maybe so.

Lady Jill



_________________________________________________________
" After we're gone, the only thing that matters is the love we left behind."
Offline
 Profile WWW  
 
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2007 5:52 pm 

Joined: Tue Jul 06, 2004 1:37 pm
Posts: 1406
Location: VA
Lady Jill said:
Quote:
OK, I have to backtrack here. Although Samarin boasted about his cannibalism to and fro the White Garden, and cut off that chaps hand and buried it in the woods, how do we know for sure that he ate people? Talk is easy and cheap.



I went back and read that section several times while reading the book...because I just didn't want to believe it, and also I didn't pick up on all of the little clues on the first read. I think the 3rd time I read it, combined with the "white" guy's input, I picked up that that old hand he threw out (and tried to recover, without success), was gnawed up from being eaten. Also, the fact that he cut a strip out of the horse's flesh and ate it didn't settle too well with me. I think his talk was solid gold.


Offline
 Profile  
 
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2007 6:37 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Tue Jul 06, 2004 1:50 pm
Posts: 703
Location: Moscow, Russia
gemini wrote:
I have a habit of putting everything I see in a search engine and when I put " the spectre that is haunting Europe " in, I get Communism and a Rock Band.

I have to say, I’m not surprised. I don’t know anything about Rock Band, but about the Communism – it is a start of “The Manifest of Communistic party” of Karl Marx: “The spectre is wandering in Europe, the spectre of Communism. All powers of the old Europe are uniting for a persecution of this spectre”. I don’t know, if Mrs.Stevenson meant this allusion.

To be honest, it’s difficult for me to say exactly, what Mrs. Stevenson meant here. May be, she meant the past history of Europe – the revolutions blown up all Europe very often. Probably, there was no countries, which could escape of that cup. And (I think, Mrs.Stevenson is right), the revolution in any place always has contempt for the individual as a basic principle and is the conflict between the Masses versus the Individual - because the revolutions made by crowd, where the individual haven’t any place.

Parlez wrote:
The professor on TV called it the Age of Idealism, where politics and nationalism played a major role in shaping history for the first time. There was lots of filmed footage from WWI and the Russian Revolution, and also from WWII.

Parlez, I think, it was a really interesting program. But I can’t agree with that professor completely - although I agree, the name “Age of Idealism” was a pretty exact for that period in Russia, I can’t see, why the professor guesses, the nationalism is also the sign of the idealism, and thinks, the nationalism also was a sign of the October revolution. Communism, which was the main ideology of the Russian revolution, meant the internationalism to the contrary, the complete declining from any national differences. The nationalism was rather the ideology of the some European countries in 20-30 years of 20th century, and we know, in Italy, Germany and Spain it acquired the extreme forms in that time. The professor is right, speaking, “the thousands of millions of people throughout Europe who were displaced - relocated, thrown out, rounded up, interned - for reasons of class, ethnicity, religion, etc. - over just a 25-30 year period”, but it was not mostly eastern Europe – the Western Europe too. After all, Germany is the country of West Europe. I only want to say, it really starts to bother me, Russia in last time often is declared by many historians as the only example of mass repressions, though almost all large countries – England, USA, Germany, Spain, France – had in their history something like this. I think, it is a general misfortune of the world.

Lady Jill wrote:
But I'm not totally convinced that he... was heading for Stalin's Russia.

Good notes, Lady Jill! For me, I'm sure, he wasn't. If we will discuss Samarin separately, I'll try to explain, why I think so.



_________________________________________________________
I don't think I have any enemies, really. The scariest enemy is within, allowing yourself to conform to what is expected of you~ Johnny Depp, PE junket in Japan
Offline
 Profile WWW  
 
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2007 8:07 pm 
JDZ Moderator
User avatar

Joined: Thu Jun 24, 2004 2:13 pm
Posts: 12514
Location: The Left Coast
Noodlemantras, as usual you have come up with some interesting ideas and insights while I’ve been gone today. :cool:

After reading what you’ve written I just had to google the definition of spectre, just for the heck of it, and came up with the following. And of course, Gemini mentioned that the Spectre that was Haunting Europe came up as Communism. :-O

1. ghost: a mental representation of some haunting experience; "he looked like he had seen a ghost"; "it aroused specters from his past"
wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

2. A spectre is a representation of something supernatural or frightening, usually imaginary. In some role-playing or fantasy worlds, a specter is a particularly powerful type of undead. Compare with "phantom", "haunt". The term usually refers to a ghost, or sometimes to another kind of spiritual being or sprite.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spectre_(creature)

3. In the four-fold division of the individual into Humanity, Emanation, Shadow, and Spectre (see Albion and Eternal(s)), the Spectre functions to define and separate the individual from others. The Spectre acts as guardian and protector of the Emanation. When it is separated, it is reason, trying to define everything in terms of unchanging essences. It tries to freeze Eternity in a single state. It becomes the Selfhood, trying to impose an immutable and thus false identity on the individual. ...
facstaff.uww.edu/hoganj/gloss.htm

4. The Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion (S.P.E.C.T.R.E.) is a fictional terrorist organization led by Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Its first appearance was in Ian Fleming's James Bond novel, Thunderball, and subsequently in a number of James Bond films including the very first Bond film, Dr. No, where it has been the spy's most persistent opponent.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SPECTRE

I think all of these are quite interesting in light of Samarin and the times in which he worked his destruction. He embodies, as it were, the spirit of the revolution; he is haunting those with whom he comes in contact; he represents something frightening albeit not imaginary. In definition #3, there is the issue of individualism vs. the others. And S.P.E.C.T.R.E. represents a terrorist organization. I would classify Samarin as a terrorist, for sure.



Angelina wrote:
Lady Jill wrote:
But I'm not totally convinced that he... was heading for Stalin's Russia.

Good notes, Lady Jill! For me, I'm sure, he wasn't. If we will discuss Samarin separately, I'll try to explain, why I think so.


Angelina, thanks for pointing out that The Spectre that is Haunting Europe" is in The Communist Manifesto. We will be discussing Samarin again and again during this discussion. I think it would be OK, though, for you to share your explanation now.


My personal opinion is that I think Ms. Stevenson was using that phrase specifically because it is connected to communism. But I also think she is referring to the frightening political upheaval that Europe was experiencing at the time.



_________________________________________________________
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.
Offline
 Profile  
 
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2007 11:19 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sat Jul 10, 2004 4:50 pm
Posts: 2059
Location: Olney, Maryland
So isn't she saying that Samarin is a metaphor for Communism?


Offline
 Profile  
 
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2007 12:06 am 
User avatar

Joined: Thu Sep 21, 2006 9:30 am
Posts: 2503
Location: Colorado
Thanks, as always, for your input here Angelina. Very valuable indeed. The professor wasn't talking about nationalism as part of the October Revolution specifically. That event was all about ideals I think. But he was talking about a shift that took place in general around that time period, when allegience to a ruler/monarch changed to allegience to a government, and politcal systems replaced 'the crown'. As the people became more aware and involved in their countries' political systems, feelings of nationalism and patriotism started to arise because the systems held certain ideals the people felt strongly about. Apparently that was rather new in the course of history in Europe...?
I get what you're saying about Communism wanting to wipe out nationalism, but that was part of the ideological struggle, was it not: Communism vs Nationalism? They were both ideals as well as political systems.
Also, I think the professor said the massive displacement of populations happened mostly in eastern Europe because those were the areas that were up for grabs and had the largest masses of people who were either having to flee or who were being displace by countries like Germany.

I'm curious to know your thoughts on why Samarin was not heading to Stalin's Russia??

Liz ~ I love the way you summed up the four kinds of spectres! Amazing how perfectly they all fit, isn't it?! :cool:



_________________________________________________________
"Belay that! ...Do something else!" ~ Hector Barbossa
savvy avi by mamabear
Offline
 Profile  
 
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2007 1:09 am 
User avatar

Joined: Sat Jun 25, 2005 2:05 am
Posts: 2509
Location: Villa Incognito
I think Stevenson is trying somehow to make a leap of faith Meek never makes… that Samarin’s vision of paradise is somehow the same as the brutal and oppressive reality of Stalin’s communism. I don't think they were remotely close.

I think TPAOL is a cautionary tale, but not about communism. It is about the kind of flawed but charismatic people that rise from a landscape scorched by rapid waves of social, political and physical change. Anna tells the story of childhood in which the haves let the have-nots die in street—children no less—without much remorse. Can anything good come from such twisted foundation?

The quote Gemini found is a perfect fit:
Busy remaking the world, man forgot to remake himself... Andrei Paltonov

I’m also reminded of the U2 song Bullet in the Blue Sky:
Plant a demon seed - you raise a flower of fire



_________________________________________________________
"You can't broom out your head. You certainly can't broom out your heart. And there's a hot wire between them, and everything shows in the eyes."
—Johnny Depp
Offline
 Profile  
 
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2007 1:17 am 
User avatar

Joined: Sat Jul 15, 2006 9:28 pm
Posts: 3907
Location: Florida

Liz said
1. ghost: a mental representation of some haunting experience; "he looked like he had seen a ghost"; "it aroused specters from his past"
wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

2. A spectre is a representation of something supernatural or frightening, usually imaginary. In some role-playing or fantasy worlds, a specter is a particularly powerful type of undead. Compare with "phantom", "haunt". The term usually refers to a ghost, or sometimes to another kind of spiritual being or sprite.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spectre_(creature)

3. In the four-fold division of the individual into Humanity, Emanation, Shadow, and Spectre (see Albion and Eternal(s)), the Spectre functions to define and separate the individual from others. The Spectre acts as guardian and protector of the Emanation. When it is separated, it is reason, trying to define everything in terms of unchanging essences. It tries to freeze Eternity in a single state. It becomes the Selfhood, trying to impose an immutable and thus false identity on the individual. ...
facstaff.uww.edu/hoganj/gloss.htm

4. The Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion (S.P.E.C.T.R.E.) is a fictional terrorist organization led by Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Its first appearance was in Ian Fleming's James Bond novel, Thunderball, and subsequently in a number of James Bond films including the very first Bond film, Dr. No, where it has been the spy's most persistent opponent.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SPECTRE

I think all of these are quite interesting in light of Samarin and the times in which he worked his destruction. He embodies, as it were, the spirit of the revolution; he is haunting those with whom he comes in contact; he represents something frightening albeit not imaginary. In definition #3, there is the issue of individualism vs. the others. And S.P.E.C.T.R.E. represents a terrorist organization. I would classify Samarin as a terrorist, for sure.
Angelina, thanks for pointing out that The Spectre that is Haunting Europe" is in The Communist Manifesto. We will be discussing Samarin again and again during this discussion. I think it would be OK, though, for you to share your explanation now.


My personal opinion is that I think Ms. Stevenson was using that phrase specifically because it is connected to communism. But I also think she is referring to the frightening political upheaval that Europe was experiencing at the time.


Another scary parallel is the use of Ghost and Spooks as a name used for undercover CIA agents.



_________________________________________________________
"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." Will Rogers

Growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional.
Offline
 Profile WWW  
 
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2007 1:27 am 
User avatar

Joined: Sat Jul 15, 2006 9:28 pm
Posts: 3907
Location: Florida
oops duplicate post.



_________________________________________________________
"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." Will Rogers

Growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional.
Offline
 Profile WWW  
 
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2007 6:06 am 
User avatar

Joined: Tue Jul 06, 2004 1:57 pm
Posts: 1381
Location: uk
Quote:
I think Stevenson is trying somehow to make a leap of faith Meek never makes… that Samarin’s vision of paradise is somehow the same as the brutal and oppressive reality of Stalin’s communism. I don't think they were remotely close.

I think TPAOL is a cautionary tale, but not about communism. It is about the kind of flawed but charismatic people that rise from a landscape scorched by rapid waves of social, political and physical change. Anna tells the story of childhood in which the haves let the have-nots die in street—children no less—without much remorse. Can anything good come from such twisted foundation?


I agree, d_b.
The second sentence does seem to suggest that she is thinking of Communism as the spectre. But I don’t think it follows, automatically. I have looked up the rest of the article, and would question her interpretation elsewhere. For instance, she suggests that the novel has a Dickensian happy ending and quotes the Czechs going home as an example of that. But that happy ending is not so simple for Mutz; there is a sting in the tail (tale) for him.

I think it is much wider than communism. I don’t know what Meek intended, but personally, when asked to think of a spectre hanging over Europe, I don’t think of communism, I think of the holocaust. Only yesterday, my dad was in conversation with two Polish women, explaining about cremation. Their response? That they don’t have cremation, because it is reminiscent of Belsen.

But probably, this also is too narrow a view. The novel is set in 1919: the year of the Treaty of Versailles. Within twenty years, there would be war again. I have typed up an extract from my history book, because it expresses it better than I could:

Quote:
There are shades of barbarism in twentieth-century Europe which would once have amazed the most barbarous of barbarians...

Future historians, therefore, must surely look back on the three decades between August 1914 and May 1945 as the era when Europe took leave of its senses… When choosing the symbols which might best represent the human experience of those years, one can hardly choose anything other than the agents of twentieth-century death: the tank, the bomber, and the gas canister: the trenches, the tombs of unknown soldiers, the death camps, and the mass graves.


EUROPE A History, Norman Davies



_________________________________________________________
"Luck... inspiration... both only really happen to you when you empty your heart of ambition, purpose, and plan; when you give yourself, completely, to the golden, fate-filled moment."
Offline
 Profile  
 
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
 Page 1 of 2 [ 20 posts ]  Go to page
1, 2  Next

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  


phpBB skin developed by: John Olson
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group