“I hope reading this book will turn its readers into inquisitive explorers ready to open doors and windows to the world of writing other than their own beloved English” Subash Jaireth.
Subhash Jaireth’s work Spinoza’s Overcoat is an absolute marvel in the use of language, of words; their rise and fall, rhythm and tempo reaching out to tell the story of a poet, an author, who through the wonder of words, has sketched a story which went on to influence the lives of readers, whom over the many years since the works upon which the essays are based were written, have been many.
Spinoza’s Overcoat is a collection of twelve essays, each based on a work read by Jaireth over his lifetime, works that have remained with him, enticing, tempting him to go one step further, to create his own work based around these few, or many, words.
Ottla, Kafka’s Favourite Sister begins with the words, ‘It starts to rain as I step out of my hotel.’ Simple words, but somehow the magic of what is to come has already begun to be woven. By the end of the page, it is impossible not to continue further and further into the amazingly intricate and unsettling life of Franz Kafka, his beloved younger sister Ottla and the tragedy bought about by War. Deeply disturbing, the story is told in the first person, in current times with the end piece providing answers but leaving, hanging in the ether, more questions.
Another slightly disturbing essay is Spinoza’s Overcoat, which looks at the issues of mental health via the vehicle of Baruch Spinoza, a man considered to be ‘one of the most important philosophers—and certainly the most radical—of the early modern period’ and his overcoat. Paul Celen, himself a poet, is convinced Rembrandt painted Spinoza in one of his many portraits. He decides to go to Amsterdam to visit the House where Spinoza lived and finally died from silicosis at the age of 44 years. Celen is also 44 years but certainly not yet ready for death.
Jaireth speaks across many languages and cultures with this intense, fascinating and eloquent work which could, in some instances, be considered as almost a biography of the poem or piece of literature which provoked the essay.
The real beauty of such a work is writers such as Mayakovskii, a Russian poet, considered a genius by his peers, polarised his readers; the fascinating story of poet and writer Ito Hiromi – Killing Kanoko – a story filled with hope and challenge, are introduced or in some instances re-introduced, into the everyday world of literature, dusted down and presented to a new generation of readers, who once again will be enchanted with their writing and poetry.
As an essay in word craft, presented mostly in First Person, the blend of fact and fiction creates rich emotion, crafted by a teller of stories in love with and holding a true fascination for the written word, which lingers long after the final essay is read.