Social Outcasts

A Writer’s Destiny


People’s preferences regarding literature never come as surprising, as they are, most often than not, based on their own personalities, hobbies, perceptions and desires. It is amazing, though, how the choice of a new book, totally accidental, aligns to your own situation and its implications at the moment. This is where I find myself now. 

In retrospective of the year vanishing, hours away only, I am surprised at the meaningfulness of my choices related to literature. It is not coincidental, maybe, how, as a reply to all networking-related feedbacks from the people I interact with daily, I chose to spend my time in the company of people alike me: social outcasts, aka writers. This year’s library was honored by the presence of two distinctive characters, a novelist and a philosopher: Paulo Coelho and Simone de Beauvoir, both excellent autobiographers. It is rather an affront from me trying to squeeze my appreciation for their work in just a few words on a post. But less is always better than nothing.

Although they are obvious opposites in so many ways, you could easily find the similarities that bond each other through their work. While one is a convinced Christian, the other is a declared atheist. The first is looking for the spiritual, the latter for the significance of the sign. The man is giving meaning to his life, whereas the woman is searching for it. But, they are both travellers through life, one back in time, the other towards the future. They both want to discover themselves, to outrun their destiny. And by that they have been labeled social outcasts: imprisoned in a mental institution or banned from the marriage perspective. Because they chose to be different, to comply with their rules only.

Coelho’s stories (e.g. Aleph) have a way to send you in another universe, to surround you by your own bubble, in which you feel the master of your own time. Together with him, you live his stories and feel it with the same intensity you would, if the character were you. In those moments, the present absorbs both, the past and the future. You feel as if you’ve redeemed your past life and changed for the better the future one. You read, it means you live. On the other hand, de Beauvoir sticks with you, long after you’ve discovered her. Her writings (e.g. Mémoires d’une jeune fille rangée) feed your thoughts with so many new ideas, it makes you want to understand life as a whole, but you may never be able to fully comprehend it. She is a role model through her ambition of trying to overcome her condition, despite a woman’s mediocre destiny at that time. She proved to the world and her successors, that, as a man can melt a woman with a smile, so a woman can seduce a man with brilliant intellectualism.

For me, this year Coelho has been my mentor on the way to self-discovery, meditation and change. He was the silent trigger behind my actions and decisions in life. The coming year, however, I plan to devote to Beauvoir, as the guide on my way to reaching my lifelong ambition.

If I were to recommend a starter, I’d say: go for Coelho first, because irrespective of his seducing stories, you’ll never want to try something else after you’ve come across de Beauvoir.

Happy Snowy New Year! 🙂

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