January 19, 2021

"Evil has not changed anything in 200 years" | Culture

"Evil has not changed anything in 200 years" | Culture


"Evil has not changed anything in 200 years. These paintings, this scenario, are the best hell where you can install a plot of crime novel today, "says Berna González Harbour (Santander, 1965) while entering accompanied by a group of journalists in the room of the black paintings of Goya, in the Prado Museum, where he presented on Wednesday The dream of reason (Destination) Gonzalez Harbor confesses that, at the beginning, fourth novel starring the curator María Ruiz it did not have a defined structure, only two paintings, both of the Aragonese master: The prairie of San Isidro (1788) and The pilgrimage of San Isidro (1823), two paintings separated by 35 years that reflect two Spains at an infinite distance, which tries to embrace Europe and the Enlightenment and the dark and violent country of the club. "This is the true protagonist of my novel," says the author, pointing to a man with a devilish look, crushed by the drunken, mad crowd that devastates the meadow.

Goya does, as nobody else, the journey from love to hatred, from creation to destruction

In The dream of reason a young art student intern is found dead in a dam on the Manzanares River, a situation that leads the author to take her curator Ruiz – who is no longer a curator, who is alone, without a weapon, without a team – for a world of lights and shadows, from Goya to the underground tunnels of a little known Madrid, and yet sometimes also luminous. The key to the crime will be in the paintings, in how we look at them and in how their characters interpellate us.

This is the darkest novel by González Harbor, a journalist from EL PAÍS. "Life is going dark. The book reflects a very personal and very personal mood of Spain today. We are very capable of hating and reaching the worst. Also wonderful things, "he explains. As in all police history, in this there is a bad guy, obsessed with the painter from Zaragoza, who approaches art not to create but to destroy. "Goya does, as nobody else, the journey from love to hatred, from creation to destruction," says González Harbor with a didactic spirit.

'La pradera de San Isidro', by Goya.
'La pradera de San Isidro', by Goya.

The novel reflects a different Madrid, "the one of the people who have been left out of the system, the squatters, the misery of the university, where there is no worthwhile meritocracy". It also portrays a city that looks back to the Manzanares, "that river that represents the love and can not of Madrid, which is not Paris or London but that can be a great city", summarizes the author of The tears of Claire Jones.

The future of María Ruiz is marked by disaffection. She, like her creator, has loyalty as the maximum value and is prepared to continue without those who have played her, outside the police, searching for the truth on her own. "Maria does not fight for power. For her, the most important thing is to have her values ​​safe ", she explains, confusing herself with her character.

"Imagine getting up every day, living surrounded by this negritude, as Goya did in the Quinta del Sordo", reflects González Harbor in front of Half-sunken dog, another painting that has its role in the novel. Such fascination by the painter also has its dangers. The writer and journalist of EL PAÍS came to fear that the reader would escape, to lose him in that immersion in such a particular world. He is also aware that for a time he became obsessed with the artist, until it was said, like María Ruiz, "returns to the earth". "He was a very enigmatic character, who left almost nothing written and on which there are many theories. That can catch you, "he confesses already in the museum cafeteria, resisting to abandon that dual world so inserted in the work of Goya, in Spain, in life and in the black novel.

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