Roman over de invloed van Spinoza's "ketterij" op de joodse gemeenschap in de 17e eeuw en tegenwoordig

Een paar dagen geleden, 6 juni, verscheen in Amerika een historische fictie, die - net als Vrij man van Nelleke Noordervliet uit 2012, hedendaagse met 17e eeuwse geschiedenis mengt én Spinoza centraal op de achtergrond heeft:

Rachel Kadish, The Weight of Ink, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, June 6, 2017, 576 pages, ISBN-13: 978-0544866461 - Amazon


Ik heb het uiteraard nog niet gelezen, heb het nog niet in huis, maar stel uit diverse besprekingen voor dit blog alvast een signalement op. De recensenten zijn zeer positief en komen i.h.a. met vijf sterren. Enige grepen hieruit:

Set in London of the 1660s and of the early twenty-first century, The Weight of Ink is the interwoven tale of two women of remarkable intellect: Ester Velasquez, an emigrant from Amsterdam who is permitted to scribe for a blind rabbi, just before the plague hits the city; and Helen Watt, an ailing historian with a love of Jewish history. 

As the novel opens, Helen has been summoned by a former student to view a cache of seventeenth-century Jewish documents newly discovered in his home during a renovation. Enlisting the help of Aaron Levy, an American graduate student as impatient as he is charming, and in a race with another fast-moving team of historians, Helen embarks on one last project: to determine the identity of the documents' scribe, the elusive "Aleph." 

Electrifying and ambitious, sweeping in scope and intimate in tone, The Weight of Ink is a sophisticated work of historical fiction about women separated by centuries, and the choices and sacrifices they must make in order reconcile the life of the heart and mind.  [cf. hier en hier]

"Spinoza’s heresy over the nature of God—and what it meant for the Jewish community, then and now—is the symbolic core of The Weight of Ink," aldus Josephine Livingstone in haar review in New Republic May 31, 2017.
Why Spinoza, now? He is a strange figure to pick from history, precisely because he barely seems to represent his times. Spinoza’s thought was so radical and his life so strange that he feels anomalous. When a novelist embraces history in a creative way, but picks somebody as “ahistorical” as Spinoza, what are they saying about the relationship between the past and the present? At least in Kadish and Padura’s case, they seem to use Spinoza to say: All that matters is the individual, all that matters is the life, all that matters is the story. 

“Kadish’s characters are memorable, and we’re treated to a host of them: pious rabbis and ribald actors, socialites and troubled young men, Mossad agents and rule-worshipping archivists. From Shakespeare’s Dark Lady to Spinoza’s philosophical heresies, Kadish leaves no stone unturned in this moving historical epic.” [in  kirkusreviews, zie ook ]

Rachel Kadish [via haar twitterpaginaHier citaat van haar over haar boek.