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Friday, November 20, 2020

A Racer and a Fragile Young Lady: Erich Maria Remarque's "Heaven Has No Favorites"

Silahkan membaca berita terbaru tentang otomotif berjudul A Racer and a Fragile Young Lady: Erich Maria Remarque's "Heaven Has No Favorites" di website Batlax Auto.

 I picked this book up after reading Remarque's Three Comrades. (See previous post). I had read that this work was lightly based on 1950s GP driver Portago, and wanted to learn more about Remarque's connection with the automobile and motorsports. Like the auto "Karl" in "Three Comrades," this novel features "Guiseppe," a low-slung sports car with a glorious sound. The time is 1948, and the two scenes most significant in the book take place at a Swiss Sanitarium and Paris, "The City of Lights."
 Initially I was taken back by the continuities from Three Comrades to Heaven Has No Favorites. After all, the female lead character in Three Comrades is dying of TB and the story ends at a Swiss Sanitarium. Her name is Hollmann, and coincidently, the co-driver of lead character Clerfayt is Hollmann! Driver Hollmann has TB and his friend and partner ascends the snowy Alps in perhaps an Alfa Romeo. It is at the hospital/retreat that Clerfayt has a fateful meeting with 24 year old Lillian, a Belgian beauty who has been a patient for three years. Both Lillian and Clerfayt share WWII scars that only complicate an emerging love story fraught with fear, doubts, and later a resolve to live fully and freely. And with that the car facilitates an escape from the routine deadliness of a sanitarium to the energy that is Paris.
The racing scenes featuring Clerfayt driving at the Targa Florio and Monte Carlo are wonderfully described, not as a motorsport journalist would write, but as a romantic novelist would. The motorsports theme is just a matrix, however, within which the theme of life and inevitable death are deeply probed. In the end both Clerfayt and Lillian reach Heaven, as expected. But the key to their passing is the final attainment of happiness, and that happiness can only happen after experiencing enduring love.

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