«El ladrón de tiempo», de John Boyne – Fuensanta Niñirola

«El ladrón de tiempo», de John Boyne – Fuensanta Niñirola

El ladrón de tiempo, de John Boyne

 

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John Boyne, (Dublín, 1971), es un autor irlandés, educado en el Trinity College de su ciudad natal. Ésta es su primera novela, pero la que le hizo más famoso fue El niño del pijama a rayas (2006), ganadora de dos Irish Book Awards y finalista del British Book Award. Parece que su mirada proporciona un enfoque distinto de temas ya muy conocidos. En este caso, el tema de la inmortalidad, que hasta ahora había sido siempre atribuido –en literatura- a los vampiros, a Faustos y Virgilios, a los héroes clásicos, o a los dioses…lo atribuye el autor a un humano normal y corriente, que sin causa aparente alguna, para su reloj vital en su cincuentena.

Se vale el autor de un ardid para hacer un recorrido por distintas épocas históricas con el mismo personaje: como en el caso de los vampiros –pero si necesidad de probar sangre humana- Matthieu Zéla descubre que, por alguna razón desconocida, a partir de un determinado momento, -que viene a coincidir con la Revolución Francesa- el reloj de su cuerpo deja de avanzar, y por tanto de envejecer, manteniéndose tal cual a través de los siglos. Como él mismo dice en algún momento de la novela, vivir tantos años en sus condiciones, a saber: razonablemente rico, saludable y de buena apariencia física, con el bagaje de experiencia centenaria que le reportan sus muchas vivencias, todo ello no es nada desagradable y, una vez aceptado ese frenazo del tiempo en su vida, no resulta tan malo. Incluso le parece una experiencia altamente interesante, y disfruta aprovechando cada momento.
La vida de este personaje nacido en París a mediados del siglo XVIII parte de hechos dramáticos: la pérdida de sus padres, actores de teatro ambos. Con su pequeño hermanastro Thomas se desplaza a Inglaterra, tratando de ganarse –o robar- el pan en otro país y olvidar las pesadillas vividas en su infancia. No son fáciles los comienzos, pero poco a poco van saliendo adelante. Y a lo largo de los años –y los siglos- viaja de un país a otro, casándose y quedándose soltero o viudo, aunque siempre sin descendencia: la longevidad y aparente inmortalidad parece dársele a cambio de la ausencia de hijos. Pero no así su hermanastro, que va dejando un árbol genealógico de hijos legítimos e ilegítimos, todos del mismo nombre, Thomas (Tom, Tommy…) DuMarqué, a los que su centenario tío ayuda y protege -inútilmente, porque todos tienen una incorregible tendencia a meterse en líos y a morir demasiado jóvenes-, aunque siempre aportando un hijo para continuar la tradición familiar. Así, Matthieu y sus múltiples sobrinos a través de los siglos nos van contando algunos de los hechos importantes de la historia desde el XVIII al comienzo del XXI.

La estructura de la obra hace que alternemos los últimos años del siglo XX con diversas épocas pasadas, pero contadas por el protagonista desde el presente, a punto de finalizar el siglo: desde mediados del dieciocho, con la adolescencia y primeras aventuras de nuestro héroe, para luego ir saltando: los años del Terror en el París de 1794, la Roma de Pío IX, la Exposición Universal en Londres, los primeros Juegos Olímpicos de Atenas, los comienzos del cine mudo en Hollywood, el crack bursátil del 29 en Nueva York, el comienzo de la guerra en el Pacífico, la caza de brujas de McCarthy, …Y todos esos saltos alternan con el relato -a mi juicio- principal, que es el contemporáneo, en el que Matthieu es el principal accionista de una cadena televisiva y el sobrino Tommy es el protagonista de una serie famosísima de TV. Lo cierto es que en la relación con este último de sus sobrinos se produce un giro radical a las habituales relaciones históricas. Por varias razones, que no desvelaré, hacen que se rompa la cadena de enloquecidos y atolondrados Tommys, ¡y de qué modo! así como también que empiecen a aparecer ciertos signos de que el reloj del tiempo, tras doscientos cincuenta y pico años parado, vuelve a mover sus manecillas en el cuerpo de Matthieu, al que le basta una mirada en el espejo para darse cuenta que ahora sí que sus días están contados.

Hay varias ideas interesantes en este juego que nos propone Boyne: por lo pronto, la elección de la Revolución Francesa como momento en el que el tiempo se detiene en el cuerpo de Matthieu. A partir de esta turbulenta época, en la que las ideas de Modernidad e Ilustración inician su reinado, el protagonista, como una especie de Daimon o Razón Universal observa el devenir cotidiano de los pueblos, y su aparente pérdida de sentido común, las continuas luchas, matanzas y guerras, que, al igual que sus múltiples y sucesivos sobrinos, mueren jóvenes y no aprenden de sus antecesores, no progresan intelectualmente, dominados por las pasiones, en contradicción flagrante con las ideas ilustradas. Por otra parte, los últimos siglos, dominados por el sexo fuerte, han dado un giro copernicano: esta fortaleza masculina ha ido en decadencia y finalmente Boyne apuesta por un cambio de orientación para el futuro. O al menos, deja en el aire la sugerencia.

La trascendencia de nuestras vidas es otra de las ideas que sobrevuelan a lo largo del texto: el centenario cincuentón, tras siglos de transitar por el mundo e intentarlo con infinidad de féminas, no consigue reproducirse ni perpetuarse, como si su impasible longevidad le fuera suficiente, colocándole por encima del devenir del común de los mortales, o sea, de sus sucesivos sobrinos, que simbolizan la harto difícil transmisión de los logros de cada generación y la inevitable repetición de los errores de la anterior, dígase lo que se diga del Progreso y la Civilización.

En suma, una historia muy entretenida y amena, contada con humor y con un lenguaje muy directo y en la que los distintos momentos históricos están muy bien engarzados, aunque sin entrar en demasiados detalles de ambientación, ni digresiones pesadas o lentas que nos alejen del tema, que no es lo que le interesa al autor, más atento a la acción y a la parábola del tiempo y el círculo que ha de cerrar en la trayectoria vital.

 

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Fuensanta Niñirola

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Nota

  1. John Boyne. El ladrón de tiempo. Salamandra Ediciones, Madrid, 2011. ISBN: 978-84-9838-359-1.
Autor

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