onsdag den 2. august 2017

Deliverance, James Dickey



I was standing in the most absolute aloneness that I had ever been given.

Da fire venner, alle middelårige forretningsmænd, beslutter sig for at tage på en kantotur ned af den fiktive Cahulawassee flod, har de ingen anelse om, hvad de begiver sig ud i. Selvom vores fortæller, Ed Gentry, er lettere skeptisk og utryg ved situationen helt fra begyndelsen, er humøret straks højt, da de kommer afsted, og da aftenen falder på efter den første dag, og de fire venner sidder omkring bålet ved flodens bred, mens de drikker øl og spiller guitar, ånder alt idyl. Men dagen efter bliver de skilt fra hinanden på floden, og da Ed og hans kanopartner trækker kanoen i land, støder de på to meget ubehagelige mænd, som sætter de fire venner på en alvorlig prøve.

Deliverance er en rejseroman, hvor menneskets psyke er i fokus, og hvor naturen spiller den igangsættende rolle. Rejsen foregår både fysisk langs floden og indeni Ed, som undergår en transformation og tankevækkende frisættelse i løbet af romanen. 


Jeg har en forkærlighed for bøger, hvor hovedpersonen fjerner sig fra det velkendte og bevæger sig ud i naturen. Jeg elskede for eksempel John Williams Butcher's Crossing, hvor den unge Harvard-dropout Will Andrews rejser til en lille flække midt ude i ingenting for at opleve naturen, hvorefter han bevæger sig på en en livsændrende rejse i jagten efter bøffelskind. Deliverance gør lidt det samme, og det var jeg selvsagt vild med. Og ligesom i Butcher's Crossing bliver mennesket sat på prøve og testet mod større kræfter. 

På bagsiden står der om bogens handling, at "the adventure turns into a struggle for survival as one man becomes a human hunter who is offered his own harrowing deliverance", hvilket fik mig til at sammensætte og forudsige et plot, som var helt skævt fra det gældende, men som jeg ikke desto mindre synes, ville have givet slutningen et helt andet tvist. Slutningen skuffer dog ikke, og jo længere tid der går, jo flere kuldegysninger får jeg, når jeg tænker på den.





I was standing in the most absolute aloneness that I had ever been given.

When four friends, all middle-aged businessmen, decide to go on a canoe trip down the fictive Cahulawassee river, they have absolutely no idea, what they are getting themselves into. 
Although our narrator, Ed Gentry, is rather sceptical and uncomfortable in the beginning, they all enjoy themselves immensely after their first day: sitting around the camp fire close to the river, drinking beer and playing guitar, surrounded by peaceful nature. But the next day changes everything, when the four men get lost and Ed and his canoe partner run into two unshaven, shaggy men, who puts them to test. 

Deliverance is a travel novel, where man's psyche is in focus and where nature plays the determining role. The travel takes place both physically along the river and within Ed, who undergoes a transformation and deliverance during the course of the novel.

I have a great love for books, where the narrator leaves everything familiar and sets out into nature. That's why I loved John William's Butcher's Crossing, where the young Harvard drop-out Will Andrews travels to a tiny town in the middle of nowhere to experience nature, and then travels further out into nothingness in his hunt for buffalo-skin. Deliverance has the same movement into nature and like Butcher's Crossing it also tests man against greater forces.

On the back of the cover, it says "the adventure turns into a struggle for survival as one man becomes a human hunter who is offered his own harrowing deliverance", which made me construct a plot in my mind which was completely off, but a plot that would have given the book a twist. Now, in retrospect, I think the ending is much better as it is. As time passes, the ending seems more and more powerful and sends shivers down my spine. 

1 kommentar:

  1. Hi Ida,
    You gave us a fascinating review of your feelings during reading James Dickey’s novel “Deliverance”. I’m happy that you like that book. The story was a page-turner for me. I couldn’t stop reading. The narrative throws me in. I had to answer the question for myself, what should I had done in such a situation? That is a real Catch-22 event, and my answer would be with words by Joseph Heller: “…that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind.” In my brain would be placed only one single word: “Survive!!!”. I read the book in an excellent German translation. This book was published in the third edition in 1986 in the former GDR, that means in an entirely different social system. However, from my point of view, the described case seems to be very independent of the social system, it can happen anywhere. On the blurb you could read the following: “Violence, fear of death, bloodshed, from now on, determine the descent accompanied by new, unexpected dangers. It demands not only high physical use but above all moral decisions, which men have to humanly fail because they have grown up in a normative ethical system deformed by bourgeois society, which places selfishness and brutality above humanity and law.” That is a rather ideological statement. Crimes are immanent in every society, only the extent is different. In the former socialist states, it was quite impossible to get real weapons like rifles and so on. But it was the time of the cold war. The reviewer either believed in his sight, or that was the camouflage suit, which makes it possible to publish this novel in the former GDR, where the most books of the major US authors were printed. On many blurbs of the books of American writers, you could read similar texts. I can understand why the well-situated middle-class members acted as they acted and I do not condemn them. At the end of the story, Lewis calls Ed “U.V”=”Ungeplantes Verbrechen” means “unplanned crime”. If their actions could have been proved by the police, they would have been imprisoned for long years. The accusation would have been vigilante justice and elimination of evidence.
    Some month ago you already mentioned “Butcher’s Crossing”. In the meantime, we have a German translation, and I’m excited about reading it.
    Best regards
    Wolfgang

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