I myself try to demystify the Books of Life despite my fascination for them, but I find them free of mythology. I try to dismantle them but I don't know how. Hand me a copy of the Bible, the Koran or Hesse's Siddhartha and I can take them apart before your very eyes, sentence for sentence!
By Anna Jane Clarke
In contrast to these books, the Books of Life portray a steady parade of guardians of order and their ideological opponents. No idea is simply adopted without a struggle until it has shown itself to be true. Here we see the red thread, a thread of truth that winds through the history of human culture, which has grown frayed against the rough-hewn walls of the Minotaur's labyrinth, but is still recognizable.
By always following this thread, George Grow takes up the synthesis of tradition and modernity and draws it to the post-modern, which seems to me new and yet astonishingly familiar. Power and purity can develop within it, because Grow's characters are not taken in by mere supposition and make a clear distinction between truth and supposition, but without any political, ideological or rationalistic basis and a similar to Ulrich in Robert Musil's novel “The Man Without Qualities“ always carefully retract everything that they are drawn to […] until their words fall onto our ears like great drops of happiness and sorrow“.
I believe that you can prove a thousand times over based on current principles that something is good, true and beautiful, but it will mean nothing to me and I will follow nothing but the signs of whether its proximity causes me to rise or sink, whether I feel awakened to life nor not, if only my tongue talks about it and not my brain or whether a radiant shiver passes through my fingertips. That is how and why the Books of Life keep me enthralled. Because when the author develops the framework of a new society, not a utopia but an “urtopia”, that makes it the kind of literature that moves me beyond all measure: The scenes and figures, their motivations and dialogues seem so lively and real to me that I could recognize myself in them immediately. Even when the story line leads through a sea of contradictions, both the light and dark figures work in what can only be called an Integral way so positively, so graciously, that one cannot help but be deeply moved and taken in by them.
Anna Jane Clarke, literary critic,