LeClézio: rebeldía en la medida posible

la-cuarentenaEn estos tiempos desleídos en que el posmodernismo ha configurado un  zeitgeist (espíritu de la época) que describe una actualidad sin creencias ni estándares fijos, ávida de relajación, hedonismo e individualismo y que rechaza el respeto por la tradición, aquí o allá circula  La cuarentena,  novela que el escritor Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio publicó en 1995.

A pesar del zeitgeist (o tal vez porque existe como tal), La cuarentena se confirma como una  novela de la “memoria ancestral” –la “memoria inscripta en la sangre”–; un libro biográfico y casi etnográfico que examina (y admira) la variedad de culturas y sus tradiciones; una amplia exposición que denuncia los excesos de siglos, cometidos por los colonizadores ingleses en sus remotos dominios de La India y las islas del océano índico, cuidando que la producción de opio incrementara bajo ese inmaculado régimen británico.

De modo que luego de la muerte de sus padres, en 1891, los hermanos Léon y Jacques Archambau, acompañados de la espléndida esposa de este último, Suzanne Morel, se embarcan en el Ava desde París con rumbo a la isla Mauricio, su tierra natal. El viaje es casi necesario para Léon, quien a sus 20 años tiene un deseo obsesivo por indagar en sus orígenes. Cuando están a punto de llegar a su destino, son declarados dos casos de cólera abordo, y los pasajeros –turistas europeos e inmigrantes contratados para la recolección de caña– son obligados a cumplir una cuarentena en la isla Plate, muy cercana a Mauricio. Y ello cambiará sus vidas para siempre.

Con el paso de los días (exactamente cuarenta, según consta en el diario de Léon, que a su vez constituye la estructura del libro) la cuarentena se torna inaguantable (un “infierno”, dicen algunos) a causa de la multiplicación de los contagios y de la sencilla mortalidad del hombre. A pesar de todo, en Léon comienza a nacer una sensación de familiaridad hacia Plate, donde ya se ha enamorado de la india Suryavati.

En ciertos momentos, cuando se adentra en la isla y mira trabajar a los coolies, Léon tiene la sensación de recordar “cada  roca, cada grieta, cada mata de espino. Como si hubiera caminado durante años y años, sin detenerme jamás, por este paisaje”, relata en los primeros días. Pareciera un déjà vu, un conocimiento anterior a la experiencia, eso que Kant llamó a priori o lo que Rusell llamó recuerdos ilusorios. Tal vez realmente es la memoria de la sangre.

Se dice que durante el segundo periodo en que puede dividirse la obra literaria del escritor franco-mauriciano –que consta de más de 50 libros–, éste se ha inclinado por temas como la adolescencia, el multiculturalismo y las historias de éxodos y de “aventuras”. Así, la suerte de trilogía conformada por las novelas Le chercheur d’or (1985), Voyage à Rodrigues (1986) y La cuarentena (1995), es como una extensa narración biográfica sobre la familia Le Clézio y la isla Mauricio, adonde los primeros miembros del clan emigraron a fines del siglo XVIII y donde Jean-Marie Gustave pasó sus primeros años.

Aparte del solemne diario de Léon, la compleja estructura de La cuarentena se completa con la narración del último descendiente de los Archambau, quien casi un siglo después emprende la misma búsqueda insistente del origen aferrado a la historia de su abuelo Léon; tan obstinado con él y equiparándolo con el poeta Arthur Rimbaud, porque éste de alguna manera vivió su propia cuarentena infernal cargando con el dolor de una pierna monstruosa.

Aunque se diga que el libro de Le Clézio es como un cuaderno de “viajes y aventuras” de carácter “poético”, lo cierto es que la historia –en su forma de diario bien escrito– no está narrada en el tono excitado, verosímil, del forastero que explora una región desconocida y se asombra de la contemplación de sus lindezas y horrores.

Esta solemnidad en La cuarentena, su prosa sin sobresaltos como en la lectura de algún texto sagrado, puede obedecer a una de dos razones: armoniza con la intención general de que Léon recuerde los pormenores de la isla Plate y, por tanto, refiera sus experiencias como en una cotidiana numeración (lo cual no resta nada a sus insuperables metáforas); o es muestra del estilo “correcto”, “demasiado propio” y “formal” que los críticos señalan –como una amonestación– en su obra (de hecho, el poeta Ricardo Solís lo critica por tener “prosa que, a pesar de su cuidado, no deja de carecer –siempre– de algo”).

Con todo, es justo destacar la voluntad que tiene el escritor de denunciar los vejámenes que han sufrido algunos grupos humanos, lo que le valió, en 2008, el Premio Nobel de Literatura. La virtud es innegable: aun cuando la documentación sobre los coolies es muy escasa, La cuarentena prioriza en la memoria de esos trabajadores indios que, a lo largo del XIX, recién abolida la esclavitud a principios de siglo, tripularon barcos negreros británicos para trabajar las tierras de la Corona en condiciones miserables, y así formar parte de “todos [a quienes] la compañía más cruel que jamás haya existido engañaba y abandonaba en las islas lejanas”, escribe el propio J. M. G. Le Clézio.

El escritor indio Amitav Ghosh sostiene que un relato que describe cómo los coolies se reinventaron y convivieron en absoluta igualdad pese a las adversidades, “es maravilloso en un mundo donde la mayoría de la vida de las personas pasa por la incomprensión; por las complicaciones que implican los idiomas o por el individualismo”. Pero también resulta “arriesgado” en un mundo donde el zeitgeist posmoderno motiva precisamente al individualismo, la novedad en oposición a la tradición, el goce momentáneo, la nostalgia y la inconsecuencia.

Lejos de su prosa “demasiado formal”, lo que probablemente no beneficia la lectura de La cuarentena es el eje de la memoria y el excepcional énfasis en el valor multicultural de las sociedades tradicionales.

AM

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