How long it takes from the birth of a novel until it becomes a classic, an enduring creation due to its ability to portray, predict, and seal its validity is one of the most inscrutable mysteries that haunt literature. I write this while the leaders we have elected face in Congress from parallel realities, many through aggression, and I think about how by listening to them each citizen can fit into one of those realities while watching the other with dread, or directly feel expelled from both by not fitting into any. And I wonder what novel will portray this time of disaffection and collective failure with the vigor of a classic.
It is not a necessary condition that both things – creation and reality – are simultaneous. Not even that creation is later. In fact, the novel that probably best portrays the present of America and the triumph of Trumpism is The conspiracy against America, published by Philip Roth in 2004. As is known, the author fictionalized the rise to the White House of pilot Charles Lindbergh as a fresh and popular force that, under the guise of renewal, begins to tear down the pillars of coexistence and encourage persecution. of the Jews according to their good relationship with Hitler. Most of Lindbergh do not believe that this is going to dirty democracy, but it soon turns out that this is a much more vulnerable membrane than we thought. There is no strength in the rules if the leaders play to shake them.
With Obama’s victory, we believed that America was left behind, that equality was possible, but it was a mirage. The America that Harper Lee portrayed in Kill a Mockingbird, so exquisitely filmed by Robert Mulligan, or that we can see in The human pack (1966), by Arthur Penn, is what is still valid, and not exactly what Obama supposed. And it is this capacity of works to swallow reality to return it to us in the form of subjugating territories that makes literature or cinema great. Greater than the power of Trump himself. We will never see South Africa in a way separate from Disgrace, Coetzee’s great novel, as we will never see Spain in a way other than The holy innocents Delibes, for example, or the cinema of Buñuel, Berlanga or Gutiérrez Aragón. Classics are classics.
We can move forward as a society. And we move forward, without a doubt. But every time we peek into a parliamentary session we see the Cudgel duel of Goya and every time we look at a new Trump episode we see Marlon Brando in the role of sheriff powerless in The human pack, or Gregory Peck in Atticus Finch’s in Kill a Mockingbird facing the collective unreason capable of taking a lethal weight. We have one consolation left: the literary conspiracy against human misery, against racism, classism and against the power of Trump.