Tangle of Vipers - Review


Portrait of François Mauriac

Tangle of Vipers by François Mauriac is a work of the highest literary quality. A critique of people linked to the author by intimate relationships, drawn up in the style of reprimand tending to highlight the negative peculiarities of the character of the people concerned. I have read other similar works written by no less illustrious authors and I am referring to De profundis by Oscar Wilde and Letter to the father by Franz Kafka. De profundis is the one written in the most captivating, perhaps most beautiful way. Letter to the father is certainly the most ferocious, precisely because it is addressed to the parent and contains the harshest criticisms that can be addressed to a father, but both are characterized by an almost total lack of an introspective vision of the writer's soul. They never give weight, or at least very little, to the negative character of those who rail. They are one way, they go one way. Mauriac, on the other hand, did a better job than that of Wilde and Kafka, for the simple reason that his work is two-way, inveighing against the people who are the object of his criticism, whose littleness he wants to highlight, but it is also turned against himself, also highlighting the harshness of his own character, of his own feelings, according to the realistic concept that the truth is never on one side or the other, but always in the middle, and therefore in its pages it makes one swing these negative concepts that sometimes concern the subjects he is interested in and sometimes himself, almost weighing which of the two criticisms, of the two negativities, his own and that of the others, is the strongest, the greatest and which one is the effect and the other the cause. Mauriac never hides that the malice, the wickedness of the people he rebukes, although of a character nature, inevitably derives from his more intense and cruder spiritual angularity, because he is a monster and knowing he is one he paints himself as such. There is nothing courtly about him, he is fully aware of being a bad person, greedy, stingy, calculating, selfish, egocentric, slave and consequently even if he never admits it openly, he implies that everything negative there is. it is in his children, in his wife, in his grandchildren, that he is essentially a sad defense against the brutality that is inherent in his soul. Tangle of vipers in this interpretation, as a literary and anthropological work it is certainly more visceral, more complete and superior in intensity to De profundis and a Letter to the father.

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