By the Waters of Babylon – Stephen Vincent Benet

Sjanger: Novelle (dystopi)
Originalspråk: Amerikansk
Først utgitt: 1937
Forlag: Perfection Learning Corporation
ISBN:9780895986900
Sider: 38

Dette er historien om en ung prestesønns rituelle reise i søken etter kunnskap. Han bryter stammelovene for å kunne følge ånden sin, og oppnår til gjengjeld stor kunnskap gjennom sin dannelsesreise.

Da jeg kjøpte boka, visste jeg hvor kort den var (selv om den egentlig bare er 26 sider lang. Resten er oppgaver og lignende til teksten). Men jeg var ikke helt klar over hvor enkel den er. Den føles som om den er rettet mot barn, selv om historien egentlig hadde gjort seg med et mer voksent språk. Dessuten hadde den gjort seg med noen ekstra sider. Jeg må innrømme at jeg ikke skjønte en tøddel av hva som foregikk før de to siste sidene. Da gikk lyset opp for meg – og det tror jeg også var forfatterens hensikt.

Det legges til rette for at det en gang skjedde en mystisk katastrofe som gikk hardt utover menneskeheten. Ord som The Great Burning og The Destruction blir nevnt, og det er prestenes oppgave å gjennomsøke Dead Places for å finne metall (vet ikke helt hva de skal med metallet). Rundt omkring i disse Dead Places finnes levninger etter mennesker, og det er en stor synd å ta på dem. I tillegg nevnes et skogsfolk, som jeg ikke kan annet enn å anta er en annen form for stamme eller sivilisasjon.

Prestesønnen bryter reglene og beveger seg østover mot The Place of the Gods. Dette ryktes å være et magisk sted, og man skal holde seg unna gudenes boliger. Dette velger altså prestesønnen å overse. Men det skal vise seg at stedet slett ikke er slik mytene skal ha det til, og en rystende sannhet ligger skjult i det hellige stedet.

It was close and dry and dusty in their house of the gods. I have said the magic was gone but that is not true – it had gone from the magic things but it had not gone from the place. I felt the spirits about me, weighing upon me. Nor had I ever slept in a Dead Place before – and yet, tonight, I must sleep there. When I thought of it, my tongue felt dry in my throat, in spite of my wish for knowledge. Almost I would have gone down again and faced the dogs, but I did not.

Jeg vil vel ikke gå så langt som å anbefale den, selv om jeg ble positivt overrasket over slutten. Jeg synes i grunn ikke den er verdt å betale for, men legger ikke under en stol at den kanskje heller kler å ligge et eller annet sted på nettet, eller trykkes i et eller annet blad. Som en selvstendig bok ble den meget mager. Kanskje den hadde gjort seg i en novelle-samling med lignende historier.

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