Las benévolas, a un lustro de distancia

littel_las benevolasHe aquí esta novela que hace cinco años ya retumbó por toda Francia, igual idolatrada que despreciada, comentada por todos los que la leyeron y cuchicheada por los que todavía no. Jorge Semprún, escritor español, la llamó “el acontecimiento del siglo”. Mario Vargas Llosa y periódicos como Le Monde, Lire y Le Figaro le recetaron bendiciones casi papales. Al final, la novela ganó el Premio Goncourt y el Premio de la Academia Francesa. De repente, era el best seller francés del año, siendo la ópera prima de ficción de su autor, Jonathan Littell, de 39 años.

Ahora, quitando la bomba mediática y el fervor del momento, ¿qué queda? Afortunada y extrañamente, lo mismo. Las benévolas es una excelente novela, de lo mejor que quedará de este arranque de siglo, de esas de las que se piensa que si en tiempos digitales todavía alguien puede escribir así, es que algo se habrá salvado.

En el texto está todo el soplo de las novelas totales del siglo XIX. Todo un desfile de personajes, una paleta amplia de escenarios europeos que van desde Georgia hasta Hungría, París, Berlín, Stalingrado, Ucrania o Armenia, líneas argumentales extensas que se cruzan con situaciones fugaces, un verdadero fresco histórico de la estirpe de La Guerra y La Paz. Y perdonen los puristas la comparación.

Littell escribe en 980 páginas las memorias de un oficial nazi inexistente, Maximilian Aue, de las SS. En el prólogo, en la actualidad, Aue es un empresario exitoso de textiles que de pronto se ha decidido a exorcizar una época de su vida escribiéndola: su participación como oficial de alto rango en los años 30 y 40 al servicio del Tercer Reich.

¿Otra novela más sobre el holocausto y las campañas militares? ¿Más recuentos novelescos del trauma de la guerra? Pues no. Europa central en guerra y el poderío nazi se han vuelto aquí escenarios casuales para explorar a fondo y a golpes las atmósferas más crudas en la conciencia humana. ¿Somos de verdad tan diferentes a un oficial nazi? ¿De estar en un contexto igual a ese, en las mismas situaciones, condiciones, en ese ambiente, actuaríamos distinto? De frente al espejo, da miedo la respuesta.

Se ha discutido con escándalo si Las benévolas es o no un alegato semifascista que pretende humanizar a un genocida.  Eso tendrá que decidirlo el lector. Pero la lectura de muchas de sus páginas orilla a meterse en el uniforme y en la mente de un personaje que dramáticamente es un portento: un militar diplomático dividido entre su lealtad inquebrantable hacia el pangermanismo y el malestar agrio constante de que algo anda mal con la “solución judía”. Un hombre de buen vivir, vaya, hasta estimable, que reprime a convulsiones el deseo homosexual y la obsesión carnal hacia su hermana.

Además, la novela se admira tiro por página por una documentación técnica e histórica impresionante. Dicen que Littell tardó unos cuatro años en terminar la redacción, pero a decir verdad, sería muy poco tiempo. El bagaje del contexto, la terminología, la potencia en las descripciones y la avalancha de datos geográficos y teóricos hacen muy difícil creer que el que escribe esas páginas no estuvo en el ojo del huracán en ese momento. Rara vez una novela histórica funciona al mismo tiempo como historia novelada, pero aquí está una ganadora.

Lo último que queda por recomendar de Las benévolas es, por otra parte, lo que resuena con más ecos cuando se ha terminado de leer: una prosa endemoniada que a veces parece gozar de la crueldad seca de sus planteamientos, de la brutalidad con la que algunos pasajes truenan de repente.El interrogatorio frente a frente de Max Aue con un prisionero soviético y el primer encuentro con las bodegas de cadáveres casi obligan al lector a cerrar el libro y salir a tomar aire.

Ahora que circula por librerías Chechenia Año III  –el amplio reportaje de Littel en torno al sangriento conflicto ruso/eslavo-,  la oportunidad obliga a regresar a Las Benévolas y reemprender el camino de ficción de su autor como simulacro del horror del mundo palpable.

Las benévolas (Les bienveillantes), de Jonathan Littell;  Francia, 2006. Traducción de RBA, 2008.

AM

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