Introduction to An Unwritten Novel

… and if Adrian had wished, his whole manner of life might have changed from one day to the next on the costly scale of that gem, adorned with which only the four walls of the Abbot chamber ever saw him. He knew it as well as I did. I need not say that he ever for a moment seriously considered it. Differently constituted from me, for whom some intoxication had always lain in the thought of vast wealth lying at his feet, which he need only grasp to secure himself a princely existence, he had certainly never actually come to grips with such an idea.

Thomas Man, Doctor Faustus (Chapter XXXVI)


Does one’s name confine the person to his or her nationality, is a question I have asked myself whole my life. Schopenhauer’s wise parents called him Arthur, bearing in mind the future profession they desired for their own son, that of a businessman. This profession is, if the language barriers are surpassed, beyond borders. Every Protestant and a child of modernity knows that. Being in an intimate relation to one’s own soil, language and religion may recall a romantic-nationalist and Catholic disposition. Writing in the foreign tongue, giving myself a foreign surname does not mean to go beyond borders. It means to put take a decisive step outside of my identity, to willingly erase the very meaning of borders, home soil and nationality. This is no less true bearing in mind that my grandmother, whose life story is intimately connected to the one which will be presented on these pages, was named Mühlberg for 20 years of her life. Even more strangely, choosing the first name of Abel, blurs the connections, observable on these pages, to my national identity. Aside from being raised a Catholic, and not a complete stranger to the Jewish religion, I do not have any connections to Jewish roots. The name Abel, nonetheless, is of particular significance to myself. Abel was the first poet of the Judeo-Christian civilization, the one who sacrificed his meat to the lord. Giving a significant portion of oneself to God is a poetic act in itself. Being murdered for it, means the entanglement of one’s own flesh with the soil, resulting in a union with the Divine. Do I dream of a mystical union with the Divine and soil from which the man was made? Do I, by the nature of the act of this self-naming and identifying with the civilization’s first poet, long for the return to the origins of life? These questions are not this story’s concerns.

Abel Mühlberg

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