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Nostalgia

Paper type: Essay
Pages: 8 (1771 words)
Downloads: 6
Views: 1

The term ‘Nostalgia’ is derived from two Greek words: nostos, which means return home, and algos, which means pain, grief, distress and longingness. The term ‘Nostalgia’ was coined by Johannes Hofer from the University of Basel. Nostalgia is the sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past. In literature, nostalgia is employed to discuss a general interest in the past or the personalities of the past and subsequent feelings of pleasure or pain. Nostalgia helps one to feel a connection to the past and to the fellow human beings.

Khaled Hosseini includes some autobiographical elements in the novel And the Mountains Echoed based on nostalgic feelings. When Khaled Hosseini was a child, he moved from Kabul to France then United States. After his displacement, he longs for his homeland. Like Khaled Hosseini, Pari, sister of Abdullah from the novel And the Mountains echoed longs for her homeland after she moves from Kabul to Paris.

Anita Brookner’s Hotel du Lac explores the nostalgic feelings in the female protagonist as well as in the lives of the other characters.

The feeling of nostalgia occurs due to fascination for the past love affair, pining for displacement, homesickness, life in exile, lack of male company in this novel. Edith Hope, the protagonist of the novel retires to a small off-season resort in Switzerland for some time. Her displacement triggers the nostalgic feeling in her. The opening of the novel Hotel du Lac describes the hotel and its surroundings presented through the eyes of the protagonist. Edith Hope’s homesickness is revealed in the appropriate words of Anita Brookner who writes, ‘ And no doubt after a curative stay in this grey solitude, I shall be allowed back to resume my peaceable existence, and to revert to what I was’ (2).

Edith Hope seems homesick in the alien atmosphere, but she actually longs for David. In the letter to David she writes ‘I think about you all the time. I try to work out where you are… But tomorrow is Friday, and when it begins to get dark, I shall be able to imagine you getting in a car and driving to a cottage. And them, of course, the weekend about which I try not to think’ (4). The unfamiliar atmosphere brings in sadness and her longing for her past is evidently focused.

In William Wordsworth’s poem The Daffodils, the concluding stanza brings out nostalgia. The poet, having seen beautiful daffodils somewhere, often sits alone on his couch and recalling for the same scene, which brings him pleasure. This is an apt example for pleasure in nostalgia, because the poet experienced tranquility and peace of mind in the company of the flowers, and he still feels the same afterward, when he is alone at home. The nostalgic mood of the poet is revealed in the following lines:

For oft, when on my couch I lie

In vacant or in pensive mood

They flash upon that inward eye

Which is the bliss of solitude;

And then my hearts with pleasure fills

And dances with the daffodils. (19-24)

Remembering about the past sometimes threatens and destroys love. The characters in the novel endure enormous pain and tragedy in, and if they did not have the power to forget, they would have had no way of healing and moving on with their lives. The memories of Pari haunt Abdullah the most. When Abdullah walks on the vast open field, ‘he would think of the falcon feather Pari had found in the desert… It would strike him with wonder, then, and hope too, that such things happened’ (56). Abdullah spends most of his life remembering his beloved younger sister—he even names his child after her. While Pari’s memories are less clear (she was only four years old when they were separated), she remembers him decades later. The siblings’ love for one another is so powerful.

Edith Hope seems homesick in the alien atmosphere, but she actually longs for David. In the letter to David she writes ‘I think about you all the time. I try to work out where you are… But tomorrow is Friday, and when it begins to get dark, I shall be able to imagine you getting in a car and driving to a cottage. And them, of course, the weekend about which I try not to think’ (4).

The unfamiliar atmosphere brings in sadness and Edith Hope’s longing for her past is evidently focused. While unpacking the bag, she leaves a bulk of the clothes at the bottom of the bag. And it is, ‘signifying to herself that she could be off in a few minutes if the chance arose’ (4). Her hesitation in unpacking the bag highlights her uncomfortable state which makes her think of the chances to escape to London. Her unwillingness to stay in the hotel points to a kind of depression associated to strange atmosphere.

The longing of Anita Brookner and Edith Hope to have children is reflected in the following words: ‘She felt a pang of wistfulness too for the daughter, so confident, so at ease with what was provided for her’ (8).

In a sense And the Mountains Echoed is a novel about the conflict between love and forgetfulness. Although there are many different characters and stories in the book, the central story is based on the sibling love of Abdullah and her sister Pari. Khaled Hosseini gives each character a depth, and one can relate the protagonist’s heartbreaks, failures and desire for atonement. Afghanistan plays the central role in the hearts of all the characters. To be human is to make decisions—some of which are extremely difficult. The power to forget is thus one of humanity’s most powerful survival mechanisms. If one does not have the power to slowly forget the actions over time, one should spend their entire lives full of grief and self-hatred. And yet, as the story of Baba Ayub indicates, forgetting is not always totally effective: everyone will remember bits and pieces of the past, particularly about the people they love most.

Saboor is a hardworking labourer and later he is forced to give away one of his children. Abdullah and his sister Pari are the siblings who have an inseparable bond between them. For the sake of his family Saboor sells Pari to a wealthy couple lives in Kabul. The novel then recounts the repercussions of this separation and how it intertwines with, and affects the lives of future generations across the globe.After the separation of the siblings Abdullah and Pari, Abdullah feels very lonely because ‘Pari was the only person in the world who would never, could ever, hurt him’ (27).

After returning to his home with his father, Abdullah thinks about the story narrated by his father the night before the trip to Kabul; ‘Abdullah would find himself on a spot where Pari had once stood, her absence like a smell pushing up from the earth beneath his feet, and his legs would buckle, and his heart would collapse in on itself, and he would long for a swig of the magic potion the div had given so he too could forget’ (55). Because of the haunting past, Abdullah wants to forget those events.

The consequences of the separation radiate outward through a series of overlapping, perspective-shifting narratives that span six decades—bringing together unexpectedly linked characters and jumping from Afghanistan to San Francisco, Paris, and the Greek Isle of Tinos. While it hits all the Hosseini sweet spots—nostalgia, devastating details, triumph over the odds—And the Mountains Echoed covers more ground both geographically and emotionally, than his previous works.

Nabi, uncle of Abdullah and Pari has written a letter to Dr. Markos Varvaris, the Plastic Surgeon, which reveals the nostalgic feelings of Nabi. Because of his guilty conscious, Nabi has written the letter. He feels very guilty about the separation of Abdullah and Pari. Nabi is the only instrument for the sale of Pari. Nabi works as a chauffeur and servant for Suleiman Wahdati. After the marriage of Suleiman and Nila Wahdati, Nabi observes there is a detachment between the couple. They become childless. To bring happiness into the family of Wahdatis, he gives an idea about adopting a child from Saboor. According to the suggestion of Nabi, the Wahdatis adopts Pari as their child. Nabi realizes that he has done a big mistake of separating a child from her beloved brother. After the death of Suleiman, Nabi is haunted by the past actions towards the siblings. To escape from the haunting past, Nabi wants to unite Pari and Abdullah with the help of Dr. Markos Varvaris.

After the migration of Nila Wahdati and Pari, Nabi longs for Nila Wahdati. Nabi thinks himself that,

I would find my thoughts drifting to Nila, who was an entire continent away from me now. I would picture the soft sheen of her hair, the way she bounced her foot, the sandal slapping her heel to the crackle of a burning cigarette…I longed to be near her again…to feel the old familiar flutter of the heart when she touched my hand. She had promised to write me, and though years had passed and in all likelihood she had forgotten me, I cannot lie now…still feel an upsurge of anticipation each time we received correspondence at the house. (134)

In the interview of Nila Wahdati, she tells about her past life with her father as well as her husband Suleiman Wahdati. She feels that, ‘false modesty is not her suit and therefore can assume only that this is her honest assessment of these early writings. If so, it is a brutally unforgiving one’ (238).

Nila Wahdati’s poems reveals her sufferings in her young age, ‘her poems from this period are stunning in fact, even in translation, especially considering her young age when she wrote them… they are moving, rich with imagery, emotion, insight, and telling grace’ (238). It also speaks beautifully about her loneliness and uncontainable sorrow which chronicle her disappointments and troughs of young love in all its radiance and promises and trappings.

Thalia, a young woman who has attacked by a dog as a young girl and sustains a horrible facial injury for most of her life, experiences bullying and cruelty for most of her adolescence. And yet as she grows up, she manages to move beyond this cruelty, even befriending some of the people who once bullied her. Although time does not permit Thalia to forget her past entirely, it does allow her to forget some of the intensity of her pain, and gives her an opportunity to grow into a mature and happy adult.

 

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