Monika Helfer talks about her ‘marginalized’ – Books – A book a day

Monika Helfer talks about her ‘marginalized’ – Books – A book a day
Monika Helfer talks about her ‘marginalized’ – Books – A book a day
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MONICA HELFER, THE MOOSBRUGGERS (Keller Editore, pp. 216, 16.50 euro)

Far from the world, in a small village hidden in a remote valley of the Austrian mountains, Josef and Maria live with their children, sharing the constant fatigue of a peasant routine of little satisfaction, and never saying I love you, not because it is wrong or not. you wish, but because their language doesn’t have the words to say it. Thus begins the story of the ‘marginalized’ told by the Austrian Monika Helfer in the novel “I Moosbrugger”, published in Italy by Keller (available from 30 August), with the translation by Scilla Forti.
Literary case in the German publishing world, winner of the Schubart-Literaturpreis, the book with an extraordinary lightness spans the whole of the 20th century, from the beginning of the First World War to the present day. At the center of the novel, the author places the events of her own family, and narrates them with a loving and measured grace that represents one of the strengths of the book. You strike the clear and lively style, in which the lexical choice is so appropriate as to suggest that there is never too much word in the text or that a few are missing. When her husband Josef left for the front in 1914, Maria’s life changed, even though she did everything she could to keep going. The woman, so beautiful that she is always looked upon with suspicion, is even more isolated without him, on the edge of the small village community. One day at the door of her house a stranger arrives, Georg, of whom she is fascinated; then after a few months Maria’s belly grows: she is pregnant, and gossips and jealousies are unleashed, even though Josef has returned several times on leave.
The author spans the ages, and tells about her family by paying attention to big as well as small things. Peasant life, its rhythms and many hardships, dry but intense interpersonal relationships, the unknowns of war, the transformation of society intersect with the stories of the characters, all authentic, whose humanity is told in depth, with a few effective brushstrokes . Among these, Maria obviously shines (“My ‘splendid’ grandmother was a model and accuser. All the positive things were thanks to her, but if something about me did not go well with my mother, then she said I had to be careful not to become like her” , writes Helfer, who is Maria’s nephew), mother and proud wife, whose overflowing beauty appears as a gift but also as a damage.
Through Maria, with the prejudices of which she is a victim and with her ability to resist, Helfer has the opportunity to explore the female condition in a specific historical moment. The author offers a poignant portrait of her, which does not yield to sentimentality, always contained, yet very intense. After all, the measure of each element is what characterizes “The Moosbrugger”: in the pages Helfer moves agile between the family saga, the characters and historical events, choosing the right tone and building, even in brevity, a great, powerful novel. in the feelings, light and fluent in the language.


The article is in Italian

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