понедељак, 12. новембар 2018.

The Commander (Was there ever An Empty Tomb?)


The subtitle of the novel The Commander (Was there ever An Empty Tomb?) reads: The Spirit of the Narrative, also in the role of The Spirit of Revelation, has in this novel endeavored to distinguish, experience and reveal the character and accomplishments of The One who could have been or was the Commander.

A boy bears witness to the first encounter between an orthodox priest and a Spanish soldier (a political school commissar in the Spanish civil war), denounced as a Trotskyist for mentioning Stalin’s Gulags. In the novel, each one of them wants to, in their own way, express and note their own idea and line of ascent – on how one can help a human being and his miserable earthly existence in recognizing and sensing that immortal spark (which actually is God’s energy), in order for him to lead a happier life and so that the human being itself could have a reason to be born.

World War II has come to the south of Serbia, and Španac (the Spaniard) organizes the first partisan units. It will be shown that the supreme headquarters of the Communist Party, led by Josip Broz, had proclaimed him to be a Trotskyist, surrounded by soldiers who had participated in the Spanish civil war. A command from the supreme headquarters, received by the district secretary of the Communist Party, states that all Trotskyists should be executed, one by one. Because he is favored by the people, Španac was to be separated and sent to another part of the country, and thus made to disappear. At the same time, the boy’s teacher, consumed by religious feelings, desires, in the personage of a Serbian priest, to discover and demonstrate both the evil and the good that befalls the Serbian people while the revolutionary battles continues. The boy, in the role of The Spirit of the Narrative, witnesses in his early years a meeting between Španac and the priest – who was to become one of the most renowned religious enlighteners among the Serbian people. Both The Spirit of the Narrative, i.e. the boy, and his teacher and later – the Professor, want and try, in their own way, to tell where the truth lies and who is right. What is that quintessential thing that helps the Serbian people endure not only in the World War II and the revolution but – as the priest would say – always. 

In the dialogs, and in certain situations – the particular problem is the one that is not mentioned publicly: what happened on Golgotha and whether the dead man from Nazareth really ascended to heaven. There, where the God’s energy was created, the one who is blessed enough to be touched by that light or those wandering waves – is capable of feeling happiness and loving life.

Tendentiously, one of the most significant biblical motives, as indistinguishable markings of the fate of human beings on Earth – is not mentioned in the novel. This: on Golgotha, there were two bandits alongside Christ, not just one. Christ takes one of them with him to heaven, and John the Baptist explains it to the people: in Christ’s words, it was not me who did it, it was my father. The first bandit was a revolutionary, convicted as a fighter against the Roman authority. The other one was a murderer. History will recognize the revolutionary in young Bonaparte and Karađorđe, and other similar figures in other nations, all the way to Che Guevara. In The Commander, Španac is the symbol of such a figure.

The ending of the novel may well provide some kind of answer to the question posed by the Spirit of the Narrative, which the student asks his teacher: whether the Professor was, even in the role of the priest and at least on some occasions – apprehensive about the idea or the dream – or even just a vision – of the Empty Tomb. Perhaps the only answer the Professor could give was – while lying down on the bed in Novi Breg, in the room where the boy was born, instead of a response – his silence, as he stared at the fresco of the White Angel on the wall.

And this: how and why was Josip Broz, while following Stalin’s method, killing Serbian trotskysts during the war and the revolution?

Radoslav Vojvodić (www.radevojvodic.rs)

“Draslar Partner”, 2017