College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Liberal Arts Matters

Because Ideas Matter...

The faculty and staff of Butler University's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences presents

Recommended Readings

The-Shadow-of-Wind The Shadow of the Wind

by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (translated by Lucia Graves), Penguin Books, 2001

Reviewed by Richard McGowan

Hats off to Carlos Ruiz Zafon's The Shadow of the Wind, a paean to books in an e-world of images, twits, and blogs.

Zafon tells the story of Daniel, whose father, a bookseller, takes him to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books in post WWII Barcelona. There, Daniel can choose a book on the condition that the book be protected as long as Daniel lives. Daniel chooses The Shadow of the Wind, by Julian Carax, and thus his life changes.

Daniel's life unfolds as the life of Carax unfolds, with sultry experience, intrigue, and violence.

The translation, by the daughter of the poet, Robert Graves, retains the sparkle and surprise of Zafon's original Spanish. The characters are drawn in excess and at times the coincidences astound. However, the book is a genuine treat for such lines as these:

"The legend surrounding the place [Santa Lucia hospice] made it sound like a cross between purgatory and a morgue, with sanitary conditions worse than in either."

"Destiny is usually just around the corner. Like a thief, a hooker, or a lottery vendor: its three most common personifications." "Never trust girls who let themselves be touched right away. But even less those who need a priest for approval."

I found myself reading slowly, not so much to absorb and understand the plot, but to delight in the use of language and enjoy the metaphors Zafon provides. Booklovers cannot go wrong to read a story about loving books. For that matter, nor can non-booklovers.

- Richard McGowan is Instructor of business ethics at Butler University.