Saturday, February 17, 2018
Aciman and gay predators
Call me by NO name at all
ANDRÉ ACIMAN – CALL ME BY YOUR NAME – 2007
Do not believe you can know the meaning of the book, of the story before you reach the very last page. How mistaken you would be! How misled you would be! The author leads you on a mental leash from beginning to end. And he never was seventeen in 1986 or later since he was born in 1951. Of course, he will tell me that all novels are autobiographical, positive or negative, or plain experienced as a witness, etc. But it is a technique in a novel like that, that traps the reader into believing he is being told a real story, a real life, which is not the case and cannot be, even if the setting definitely is real.
Aciman leads us on an autobiographical leash, at times a chain that is so frustrating, so irritating and so mind meddling. A character Elio is telling the story from his only and sole point of view. He is a very speculative mind and he constantly reconstructs what he thinks the motivations of other people he is dealing with may be.
This Elio is about seventeen at the beginning with short allusions to a time when he was fifteen, and he is thirty-seven at the end of the book. It thus covers essentially twenty years of his life with an occasional but marginal two-year extension in the past.
This Elio is the only son of a university professor in Italy who lives in a mansion in the south of Italy, not far from Naples. Elio lives with his mother and father and three servants? Most of the story and action, three parts out of four, eighty percent, takes place during a summer we understand is some twenty years before publication, hence in the mid-80s. The family is Jewish and this Jewish element is very important though not really structural. It is a side element, nearly collateral, and yet mentally crucial for Elio. This element is definitely autobiographical since the four most important characters are Jews, proud of it, and yet not projecting it onto everyone as some kind of test for empathy. Elio and The one I am going to introduce now wear their Jewishness on their chest skin in the form of a golden David’s Star and Elio will allude to circumcision a couple of times. [. . .]