Friday, 20 September 2019

Bookish Déjà-Vu: Brother of Sleep by Robert Schneider


Peculiarities that make a person stand out of her or his social circle often result in marginalisation and even exclusion, be it out of disgust or out of awe. In either case, fear of the different and the inexplicable plays an important role in how people behave towards her or him. In former times, many may have concealed – if possible – what singled them out to avoid being accused of dealing with the Devil or exercising witchcraft. Nonetheless, even those with enviable, presumably godly gifts used (and use) to have difficulty in finding their place in society and to develop a sense of belonging. The protagonist of Brother of Sleep by Robert Schneider, which I chose as a bookish déjà-vu, is doubly afflicted: his looks are highly unusual, especially after his tenth birthday, and he is a musical genius among eighteenth-century mountain farmers who only know church hymns and folk dance.
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