Beyond love and music
April 6, 2009
I am too scared to write about Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy. When I finally read it, when it grabbed me, I was lost to the world. For a good 1300 pages.
I read all his other books, and particularly loved An Equal Music. A novel, set mainly in London, about music, love, and the loss thereof.
I am no musician, and the characters’ banter about C-minors and second bars was lost on me. I didn’t mind, because what wasn’t lost on me made up for it: the intense, burning, formidable passion for music. Of music. The somehow hegelian movement in which technique and emotion transcend the score.
What fascinates me is how Vikram Seth put words on this. It is often said about music that it is the most overwhelming form of art. That the finest poetry or painting doesn’t speak to the soul like music does, that there is something about music that is beyond words.
But I guess nothing, for Vikram Seth, is beyond words.
Not even the gripping, unbearable sorrow of love, and loss. The main character, Michael, is haunted by a woman he has loved and left ten years ago. His sorrow is unbearable. So was mine. For two days, this book in my hands, I was overcome by grief. I shook and sobbed.
I think it is the genius of this book. What is done out of love occurs beyond good and evil says old Friedrich. Music, and love : one love is difficult enough, but two…Two forms of love blur our moral boundaries. He has lost her, she is losing music.
An Equal Music is a shattering book for a sensitive heart.
But the end, for once, manages to be neither sad nor happy. It is beyond.