So What Are You Reading?

Reviews of Books.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

The Procedure

The Procedure by Harry Mulisch
The Procedure is about the life of a famous scientist after he has made his ground breaking research, in this case the creation of life from inorganic matter. It starts out with the biblical story of creation, then it moves on to the Jewish esoteric book that deals with how god created life, the Sefer Yetzirah (or Book of Creation), and then to the creation of the golem in the Prague ghetto in the 16th century. It is only after this introductory material that the readers are introduced to the scientist Victor Werker and his research on creating living matter from clay.
However the main body of the novel is about Victor after his famous discovery, and it is a very internal exploration of how his fame and research effect his later life. Struggles with the other scientist in the project, with the mother of their stillborn child, and with his attempts to move on to new areas of study are played out in Victor's thought processes.
The novel delves into the scientific mind as it tries to cope with the emotional and interpersonal realities of life. The translation reads well and the book, while it seemed to get bogged down in details in the middle, was compelling reading for me.

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