Synopsis of Tobit

Ştefan Agopian | March 01, 2009
Translated by: Jean Harris

 

Inverting the religious tenor of the non-canonical Book of Tobit (in which Tobit père sends Tobit fils to marry Sara), Ştefan Agopian creates a novel about the story of a son, Tobit, sent by his father (aka Tobit) in quest of a wife, Sara. In Agopian’s tale, the dutiful search transforms into an anti-patriarchal episode. The Biblical action is transported to the fallen world. The Archangel Rafael appears as Rafail, a fallen angel in the form of a small, weak monk who accompanies young Tobit on this quest that has itself been transformed into a demythologizing historical novel that makes room for “symbolic” magic realist elements. Afflicted by the sense that “all of this” has been written before, Tobit sets out as per his father’s instruction.  The action takes place between 1716 and 1718 when the Romanian region of Oltenia is occupied by the Hapsburgs. While Tobit-the-Younger dreams of Sara, whom he never actually sees, the plot turns to real estate. On the road, Tobit discovers that he owns a mansion. Determined to recover it from the occupying Austrians, Tobit is at first imprisoned and loses an eye to his Austrian captors, but in this picaresque the man with one eye is later befriended by the Austrian general Haan. In the context of this friendship, the protagonist regains his lost property, but not for long. Trickery abounds. The Austrians depart. Tobit loses his house, and all is as it was before. What counts here is what Tobit sees—with his one, remaining eye. What he actually sees is half the story. The other half belongs to Sara, who sees things from her own point of view in (Sara) a novel of her own.

 

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