Summary At the foot of the Tower of Babel

Summary At the foot of the Tower of Babel

Sigurd Hel
At the foot of the Tower of Babel
Norway, 50’s. Ten years have passed since the end of the Second World War, abruptly changed the fate of many Norwegians. Heroes of the novel – economist Ergen Bremer, painter Andreas Dühring, journalist Jens Tofte and translator Klaus Tangen – participated in the Resistance movement, “fought for something great and noble”, risked their lives, matured and tempered in the fight against fascism. The war ended and four comrades, young and full of faith in their own strength, began to implement their cherished plans.
It seemed that they, the winners, who had passed through the harsh school of the underground, now can do everything on their shoulder. Why now, ten years later, they are so restless in

their souls, where did the feeling of dissatisfaction come from, where did the former optimism disappear, are they really a new “lost generation”? Klaus Tangen is sure that their fate is even more hopeless than that of the previous generation – those who returned after the First World War could leave a trace in their culture and history, they suffered, but acted and knew how to make themselves listen.
“And we?” Klaus exclaims desperately. “Who of us believes that we could play the slightest role, even if we are geniuses and achieve universal recognition with our talents? We know in advance that no one will give the slightest sign that we will say, no one will even bother to turn his head to look at what we, according to our assertion, see. In advance and finally out of the game – that’s what we are, that’s what today’s intellectual. ”
Life brutally intervened in the plans of four friends, forcing them to give up, change their purpose, compromise.
Andreas Dühring is a talented artist, but his first exhibition, on which the most cherished paintings were collected, did not bring recognition to the artist. But the audience quickly appreciated his sharp look of the portraitist: he was easily given external similarity, and the ability of the young artist to
slightly embellish the model to flatter the vanity of the rich customer, provided Dühring invariable success with influential moneybags, especially among their wives. Successful career of a fashionable portraitist does not bring, however, happiness to Andreas Dühring, he realizes that he is selling his talent, changing the vocation.
Even more stern was the fate of Klaus Tangen. Starting with an apprentice at a mason, he successfully graduated from the institute after the war, but left his career as an engineer and decided to become a writer, since he believed that art would give him greater freedom for creativity and self-expression. Klaus dreamed of writing a realistic novel from the life of Norwegian workers – a theme close and understandable to him, but instead, fascinated by modern trends, he created a modernist book about fear, which was not understood by critics and readers. Of the entire print run, only one copy was sold. Unsuccessful debut makes Klaus Tangen forget about his writing career and take on translations of other people’s novels. Klaus, like Andreas, also sells his talent, but does it less successfully: the translations hardly allow him to make ends meet. Klaus feels himself stymied,
The fate of Jens Tofta is apparently more favorable: having met and fell in love with the pretty student of Ellu’s theater studio, he seems to find happiness and peace. And let him have to abandon the academy and abandon the artist’s career – after all, he does it for love’s sake! Jens managed to convince himself that he had not enough talent, and earnings in the newspaper allow him to support his wife, and, in principle, he likes his work. Jens Toft did not change his convictions, he remained faithful to his friends and wife. But it was treacherously treacherous: Ella, who had never been married to her virtues, finally decided on the final break. Loyalty of Jens Toft in fact was a betrayal of himself, he, like his friends, is also in a dead end.
The most successful is the fate of the eldest of four friends, Ergen Bremer. During the occupation, he led their underground group, was arrested, passed through the torture of the Gestapo, but did not betray anyone. After the war, Ergen Bremer became a prominent economist, defended his thesis. He has a beautiful apartment, a beautiful wife, experienced in all the subtleties of social life, a four-year-old daughter.
To Ergen, as a well-known supporter of the planned economy, ministers, directors and other cones are constantly asking for advice and consultations. They readily support the plan developed by Bremer for the reorganization of the footwear industry in Norway – in fact, it promises huge economic benefits and, therefore, contributes to the growth of their prestige. And now the plan of Bremer is officially called the “Sulberg plan” on behalf of the minister who supports him, who, however, does not understand anything about him. The implementation of the plan promises Ergen Bremer a new start in his career. Why, then, is he so restless in his soul? Why does he suddenly decide to part with his wife, giving her complete freedom? Friends notice with alarm that Ergen, despite his success, has not changed for the better: if during the difficult years of the war he never lost his presence of spirit, now, “finding recognition,” he “could not boast of even just a good mood.” What is the burden of his soul so that he even decides to seek help from a psychoanalyst?
Progressive economic reform, conceived by Ergen Bremer, has a flaw – it does not take into account the interests of people. Fascinated by economic benefits, Ergen Bremer considers himself entitled to intervene in the lives of workers to organize their lives “on the basis of order and profitability.” The inhumanity of the reform arouses the indignation of Ergen’s friends. “… What your torturers did to you during the war, and what you and your committee are going to do with these workers, is basically the same thing,” Andreas Dühring said. But Ergen does not seem to hear, for him people have become only a part of the animal world, something like a flock of herrings, which only the chosen leaders need to Care for.
But even though Ergen Bremer tries to put his conscience to sleep, assuring himself and others that “nothing matters,” he still understands: the circle has closed, he changed himself, not yielding to torture, he now surrendered voluntarily, having, in fact, Fascist ideology, against which he fought in his youth. Ergen Bremer had the courage to assess the danger of his own invention. He himself makes a death sentence.
The death of a friend made friends think about their own destiny. Andreas Dühring persuades Jens Tofte to undergo a course of psychoanalysis. And let first Andreas is motivated by a desire to take revenge on Juhan Ottesen – the doctor, whom he blames for the death of Ergen Bremer, the sessions in the clinic allow friends to understand themselves. Even the fact that Andreas, in the hope of playing a malicious joke on the doctor, makes Jensa give out other people’s dreams for his own, leads to unexpected results: Ottesen advises Jens Toft to start painting again, because, having abandoned the artist’s career, Jens took the first step along the wrong path.
Gradually the doctor and Andreas Dühring brings to the idea that the return to folk roots, which feeds genuine art, will help to find the lost individuality. Andreas is not only a talented painter, he has really golden hands, he likes to make crafts, carpentry, turning craft into art.
There are changes in the life of Klaus Tangen. Claus’s wife, Anna, gradually tells her husband the way to achieve the cherished goal: the creation of a novel in the Gorky traditions. Klaus decides to give up translations and return to the mason’s craft, providing good earnings – this will allow him to save money, then to proceed to his favorite work.
In a moment of despair, an unknown woman comes to help Andreas Dühring. This meeting changes everything in his destiny. Diluted cynic, he suddenly discovers the ability and the need to love, to sacrifice, to live. Helga’s husband Erik Faye is also a member of the Resistance, but the war robbed him of the hope of happiness: torture in the Gestapo torture chambers turned him into a cripple. Eric is doomed and knows this, he is hard at experiencing his compelled loneliness, but staunchly endures suffering. Fate took his hope for the future from him, but he managed to remain faithful to the ideals of his youth, to preserve what his more successful comrades-in-arms nearly lost. As a testament, his dying words sound: “The truly great in human life is always simple.” To see and accomplish it, only strength, courage and willingness to sacrifice oneself are needed. “
It is these qualities that the heroes of the book need to continue to build the “Tower of Babel” – a symbol of creative work of people.


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Summary At the foot of the Tower of Babel