Viktor Car con Pietà in Flames: a travel to the end of decay (English Edition)
Pietà in Flames is a novel largely built on autobiographical (and auto-fictional) elements. The main character gets entangled into a world of corporate scheming, sinking ever deeper into Faustian deals. Nadia is his long lost love, Croatia his lost homeland; Paris a symbolic junction of expired youth and failed expectations. The novel takes place mainly in France; but also in many other cities around the world. The finale takes place in Las Vegas.
When his assignment with an American corporation draws to end his French cousin offers to the main character to write outlines for reality shows. This leads him inside the decadent milieu of TV producers and further involvement with American ‘Uncles’ and ‘Parents’ - groups of companies with globally controlling interests. He meets Fred, an American representing ‘Parents’, a colourful character that incessantly cites lines from ‘Life of Brian’, collects Nazi memorabilia and organizes very particular safaris at his ranch.
The main character tries to understand his own duality through analogies in physics, mathematics and history. He looks for solutions for his confused sense of self in symmetries and group theory and the duality within repeatedly emerges – a patriot is also a traitor; a humanist is acting inhumanely. As his life in France continues in isolation he sinks into alcoholism and becomes delusional. He believes he belongs to the ‘Brotherhood of Writers.’ His literary reflexes gradually become a self-delusional application of literary constructivism to self. He still sees Nadia in passing women of Paris and he continues to romantically dream about his homeland, as if Croatia hadn’t already metamorphosed into ruthless society of obsessive consumerism.
Unable to pull out of his entanglements, the main character accepts invitation to visit Fred at his ranch close to Las Vegas. He also receives a gift of appreciation for services rendered, from Uncle Pure (a ‘major Uncle’), and a list of upcoming challenges that Americans would like to use him for. These projects include disposal of nuclear waste, collection of embryos for cosmetic applications and traffic in women and organs.
The finale takes place in the capital of fakery, Las Vegas, where his own delusional constructions finally fall apart. He realizes he has been a voluntary actor in the satanic parody that spreads globally like a plague.
In a final scene, in his hotel room in Las Vegas, he has visions of Nadia, of the town where he grew up turned to ashes, of Croatia cut to ‘juicy morsels’ and ‘devoured by a full variety of local criminals and European whores.’ At one moment he sees glowing neon of Las Vegas as flames burning over Michelangelo’s Pietà, at the other as snakes protruding from his head, turning it into a head of Medusa.
The underlying theme remains continued attraction to own land, omnipresent dehumanization, detachment of elites, globally prevailing culture of manipulation and fakery, gradual destruction of the local and authentic, pointlessness of obsessive materialism. The Faustian theme of duality within connects with loss of values (love, family, land). Ensuing inner dehumanization leads to self-destruction, reflecting the global principle of the same.