My rating: 3 stars
The structure chosen by an author to tell a specific story can be either beneficial or a hindrance. While reading For Two Thousand Years, I wished more than once that the Romanian author Mihail Sebastian hadn’t decided to write this novella as if it were a notebook, since many of the events and relationships presented were only briefly mentioned, despite them being interesting enough to be further delved into. My reading experience ended up being saved by the social and historical themes touched on, including anti-Semitism and Zionism.
The entirety of the book consists of journal entries written by a Jewish man, who at first is attending university in Bucharest. During the time between the two world wars, he starts to be ostracised because of his religion and ethnicity and seems to feel lost, being unsure about what he should be studying. As other students don’t want Jews to attend classes, there is fighting at the university. For that reason, the narrator decides to give up on some classes, while considering others worth the punches. However, he wonders if he is fighting back as much as the other Jews.
Almost all notebook entries feel like scraps of information taken from a bigger story. Overall, they are not fully connected in order to create a coherent and gripping plot. That seems to have been done on purpose, though, to mimic a real notebook. But it didn’t make for a great reading experience in my opinion. The narrator himself admits that his notebook lacks parts of his life, mainly when it comes to his involvement with Marga Stern. It’s a shame that his relationships with friends and colleagues are not further delved into throughout the book, because he appears to be a really good reader of people. Continue reading