‘The Revenge Of Forgiveness’ By Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt: Four Living Short Stories
What is a TBR list (To Be Read) useful for? In my case, just to have something to ignore. This time, the unforeseen thing that messed up my list was the fact that I received as a gift this beautiful book that I could not resist: “The Revenge Of Forgiveness”.
About the author
Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt is a Franco-Belgian (as he has dual citizenship) playwright, short story writer and novelist, as well as a film director, born in Lyon, in 1960.
He attended the prestigious École Normale Supérieure where he obtained the top French teaching qualification in philosophy. In 1987, he was awarded the degree of PhD for his thesis “Diderot and Metaphysics” at the Paris-Sorbonne University.
He debuted in 1991 with the theater play “Don Juan on Trial” but the next play, “The Visitor”, won three Molière prizes. In 2001 he was awarded the Grand Prix du Théâtre by the French Academy. His books have been translated into 46 languages and his plays have been performed in over 50 countries. Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt is a prolific writer and has been honored with over 30 literary awards throughout his career. Since 2002, the author has lived in Brussels.
For more information, see the author’s official website: Eric-Emmanuel-Schmitt – The official website (eric-emmanuel-schmitt.com).
About the book
“The Revenge Of Forgiveness” is my first meeting with Schmitt. And what a meeting! That kind of meeting after which I know that I will read all the books published by the author.
This volume consists of four short stories but my final feeling was that I finished reading four novels. And, although more than a week has passed since the completion of the book, I am still haunted by a few questions and still meditating on a few ideas that Schmitt has masterfully slipped through the lines. And the usual assumption is that thought-provoking literature is wrapped in a more complex form, in a philosophical writing with deep introspection and extensive analysis. Which would not have been surprising if we consider that the author has a PhD in philosophy. But this is where I think his genius sparks, because the deep themes subject to analysis are approached in such a cursive and natural writing, a living writing, with engaging dialogues and a well-defined and easy to follow epic thread.
Schmitt consciously plays with the reader’s emotions and leaves nothing to chance. The change of temporal plans and the order of the four short stories contribute to this emotional manipulation. Their order aimed a gradual increase of the emotions, reaching paroxysm in the third story, so that in the end the unpredictable and triumphant denouement of the fourth story brings a profound silence. Speaking of endings, I must say that I was very happy to see that all the stories either they have surprising endings or they are revealed in a surprising manner.
At first glance, the title made me think of the third short story, but shortly I understood that forgiveness as revenge is found, in one form or another, in all of them. I met characters I loved, characters I disliked (sometimes presented by antithesis), but also characters for whom I had mixed feelings.
I have a special mention for the fourth short story which is like an ode brought to Antoine de Saint-Exupery and to the literary miracle called “The Little Prince” and I think that even if only for this, the volume deserves to be read. Considering that, by chance, I reread “The Little Prince” very recently, I felt the author’s intention from the first subtleties and I watched with great curiosity where the story is going.
Revenge and maternal feelings are themes that are repeated and themes that impress by intensity. In addition, Schmitt speaks of love, forgiveness, sacrifice, morality, duty, fairness, destiny and, last but not least, he discusses a topic that has been in the debate of philosophers since ancient times and which has also aroused the interest of psychologists, anthropologists, geneticists: is man born good or bad or is he formed in one way or another as a result of external factors?
Today I recommend a book that is as easy to read as it is beautiful! Sit comfortably in an armchair and discover “The Revenge Of Forgiveness”. The book is Lust For Flying.
To the author:
Monsieur Schmitt, je sens que je commence à peine à voir la puissance de votre création, mais je sais déjà que ce sera une grande joie de découvrir tout votre univers littéraire.
(Mr. Schmitt, I feel that I am just beginning to see the power of your creation but I already know that it will be a great joy to discover your entire literary universe. –Google translation, French language)
Quotes: (English translation from the Romanian edition)
- “This is the way men are: guilt belongs to passing emotions, the permanent feeling remaining self-esteem.”
- “To succeed in a dishonest way does not mean to succeed at all. We must be able to consider ourselves proud of our actions. Proud of failures as well as proud of successes. It is not the result that is valuable, but the respect of moral principles.”
- “As a young man, you want your father to be a hero. As an old man, you wish your son was like that. After all, you never accept your loved ones as they really are.”
- “In love, the merit belongs to the one who loves, not to the one who is loved.”
- “Do you know what a mother is? (…) Someone who receives. Someone who loves. Someone who doesn’t judge. And forgive.”
- “Being unhappy is a form of love.”
- “There’s a warm unhappiness and a cold unhappiness. The warm unhappiness is when you love. The cold one is when you don’t love. In the warm unhappiness, there is someone. In the cold one, no one.”