Separation

For discussion of John Ajvide Lindqvist's novel Människohamn
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gattoparde59
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Separation

Post by gattoparde59 » Tue Oct 26, 2010 8:28 pm

Parting is all we know of heaven
And all we need of hell

Emily Dickenson

This may not explain all of the novel, but I thought I would give it a shot.

So what is Harbour all about? After reading Harbour, I feel that this story is about the pain that comes from separation. Harbour is a story about the ways that people who love each other become separated from each other. The break up of a marriage is the most common use of the term separation. The most complete separation from a loved one comes with death.

At the very beginning Maja is taken from her parents and is kept separate from them by the supernatural. What follows are the more realistic forms of separation that we are all familiar with. Anders falls into depression and alcoholism and separates from Celia, his childhood sweet heart. That they are separated is only underlined by Anders’ drunken phone calls to Celia at 3 AM. Anders is very much lost in the hopelessness that comes with separation. Like a sailor lost in the sea, he clings desperately to the emotional wreckage of his past life. The world-down-the-stairs at the end is really a nightmare vision of separation. The people in this world are lost in their dreams. Anders speaks to people, but he is not heard. He approaches people and they turn away from him. He is a ghost in this ghost-world and even Maja can’t see or hear him.

If this story is about separation, it is also about the opposite of separation. This is not the “communication” taught by marriage counselors. In Harbour different characters experience an actual communion between two people. Think about when Eli kisses Oskar in Let the Right One In and you have the right idea. You do not simply “know” the other person, you become that other person. The medium for this communion is the same thing that has caused so much separation in Harbour: the sea. Through the sea, the spirits of those lost in the sea return to the living and become part of them. So Anders becomes Maja’s människohamn, and actually becomes Maja. As Anders tells Celia near the end, “It doesn’t end. Everything is still here.”

The sea in Harbour is this mystical force, both separating and uniting the past and the present, reality and dreams and the living and the dead.

I'll break open the story and tell you what is there. Then, like the others that have fallen out onto the sand, I will finish with it, and the wind will take it away.

Nisa

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lombano
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Re: Separation

Post by lombano » Mon Nov 15, 2010 5:34 am

gattoparde59 wrote:The medium for this communion is the same thing that has caused so much separation in Harbour: the sea. Through the sea, the spirits of those lost in the sea return to the living and become part of them.
To me it felt like the sea(or rather, the thing in the sea) was unambiguously evil, and that communication was only possible because it had become weakened and hence escape was sort of possible. The sea is an ancient evil that demands sacrifice, but the sacrifice isn't just or even mainly flesh, it's also bonds that it consumes.
Bli mig lite.

waggy05
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Re: Separation

Post by waggy05 » Sat Jan 22, 2011 3:13 am

The sea in Harbour is this mystical force, both separating and uniting the past and the present, reality and dreams and the living and the dead.
Well said indeed. I just finished reading Människohamn, and I was captivated during the entire thing. Separation is a huge concept in this story, and the ways in which it is portrayed are done remarkably IMO.
This was my third read from JAL, and I found it to be just as hard to put down as the the first two. So much detail was put into the setting and characters, and I found myself going back and re-reading descriptions and scenes quite a few times.
Everything involved with the sea in this story made for an outstanding tale, so many ideas about this earth's mighty ocean put in to play...

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Re: Separation

Post by a_contemplative_life » Sat Apr 09, 2011 6:11 pm

Seurat's paintings came to mind when I read the part where Anders enters the alternate universe where people are held captive by the Sea. Indistinct shapes of people standing on a seashore or bluff with their backs turned to the viewer.

I liked how Anders was never able to get around in front of anyone.
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