Thursday, March 13, 2014

Abel Sanchez by Miguel de Unamuno

Abel Sanchez
by Miguel de Unamuno
Paperback, 192 pages
Published July 28th 2005 by Terramar Ediciones (first published November 8th 1917) 

Quixotic madmen are the protagonists of these imaginative stories, which probe the horror of a nothingness beyond death.

Abel Sanchez is an interesting version of the Biblical story, of Cain and Abel, Cain's name in the novel is Joaquin. Joaquin becomes a successful physician, and Abel a famous and recognized artist. But Joaquin has been always jealous of Abel, he has always felt that he has to compete with his brother, and what bothers him the most is that Abel has never seen such competition.

I honestly cannot even explain why I liked this book as much as I did. I had to read it for my Modern European Novel course and devoured it in a few hours despite the fact that I did not particularly like any of the characters or the story itself. The miniscule amount sympathy I felt for Joaquin was lost the more I read. In fact, the further I got into the novel and saw more of his character and personality, the more I grew to dislike him. He was just a sad, miserable man full of hatred and envy. He had a life that people would be envious of, yet he was blinded by his jealousy; he wanted what he could not have.

The only characters in the story I liked were Antonia, Joaquin's unfortunate wife, and their daughter and son-in-law. Antonia I felt extremely sorry for. She was a devout Christian woman and loved Joaquin despite knowing that he did not return her love and possibly was incapable of ever doing so. She pitied him and thought her love would be able to save and salvage him. Unfortunately, Joaquin was too consumed with his hatred towards Abel and Helena.

Again, I don't know why I devoured this book. Normally it takes me awhile to get through books I am forced to read, yet I just had to finish this one today for I could not stop reading it. Its especially strange because it was a parallel to the biblical Cain and Abel story. Not being a religious person myself, I always hesitate when reading something with a biblical premise, only because I don't have much knowledge of the Bible myself to help in understanding the connection. Thankfully, the story of Cain and Abel is one I have studied before. 

This is just going to be one of those books I have a love/hate relationship with; everyone has a book or series like that. I probably won't ever understand how I enjoyed it when I laughed at its absurdity and complained to any unfortunate soul within my vicinity about it. 


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