«Patrimonio: Una historia verdadera», de Philip Roth – Fuensanta Niñirola

«Patrimonio: Una historia verdadera», de Philip Roth – Fuensanta Niñirola

Patrimonio: Una historia verdadera [1], de Philip Roth

 

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Philip Roth (Newark, New Jersey, 19 de Marzo de 1933 – New York, 22 de Mayo de 2018), autor norteamericano de origen judío, prolífico en sus publicaciones literarias, el más premiado de su generación, creador del personaje Zuckermann, su alter ego, y muy aficionado a reproducirse en sus personajes, o a reproducir parte de sus vivencias o experiencias personales en sus novelas. También, como casi todos los autores judíos, la reflexión sobre el mundo judaico es inevitable y siempre gravita sobre cada una de sus novelas.

Patrimonio, obra con la que obtuvo el National Book Critics Circle Award en 1991, es por excelencia, una novela autobiográfica, cuyo eje radica en la biografía de su padre. Efectivamente, como reza el subtítulo, es una historia verdadera. Pero lo que más le interesa a Roth no es tanto la contarnos la vida de un personaje real, su padre, como su propia relación con él en sus últimos años, y sus reflexiones sobre la vida y la muerte, el dolor y la enfermedad, cómo afrontar la vejez, en suma. La narración sigue su estilo habitual, de saltos temporales, yendo y viniendo al pasado para contarnos los recuerdos de su padre y los suyos propios, y volviendo al presente, para reflexionar en voz alta. Comienza a los ochenta y seis años de su padre, Herman, agente de seguros jubilado, tras el descubrimiento de un tumor cerebral, que le ha producido una parálisis facial. Las mujeres de su vida: el recuerdo de su esposa mientras vivió, y su amiga actual, entran y salen en la narración, para ilustrarnos sobre el carácter sus relaciones y su posición en la vida. Philip es su hijo menor, escritor, sin hijos tras varias uniones desafortunadas, y se ocupa de investigar qué posibilidades tiene. Sandy, el hijo mayor, casado y con dos hijos, es informado a distancia de los pasos.

Con su humor habitual, Roth consigue que incluso lleguemos a la carcajada ante sus descripciones de la vida rutinaria de su padre en una especie de residencia de apartamentos para jubilados, donde cada uno conserva su independencia pero se reúnen para picnics, fiestas, actividades lúdicas, etc. Describe lo terrorífico de la vejez de tal modo que hasta nos arranca la sonrisa. Por supuesto, la moneda tiene dos caras, y en otros momentos podríamos llorar ante lo que nos hace leer. Un pequeño concierto entre los miembros de la residencia otoñal nos es descrito así: La interpretación era tan alarmante como heroica, igual que si aquellos cuatro ancianos estuvieran tratando de desatascar un automóvil del barro, empujando con todas sus fuerzas; y la música no siempre sonaba, desde luego, a cuarteto de cuerda de Haydn, pero al final del primer movimiento todo el mundo aplaudió entusiasmado,(…) y el público se levantó, con intención de trasladarse a la mesa con los refrigerios.

 

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A pesar de las peculiaridades norteamericanas, la cultura judía, las costumbres, etc. lo que nos cuenta Roth es universal. Llegados a la cincuentena, casi todos tenemos más o menos que bregar con los mismos problemas con los padres, la enfermedad y la vejez. Y nos vemos ante las mismas terribles decisiones a adoptar frente a similares o idénticas situaciones, debatiéndonos entre nuestro papel de hijos y un nuevo papel de padres de nuestros padres, convertidos en hijos de nuevo. Ahora,- nos dice el autor- en lugar de sentirme hijo de agente de seguros, me sentía yo agente de seguros, como si acabara de venderle una póliza a un cliente que sólo muriéndose podía salir ganando. Ante la actitud decaída de su padre, Philip le propone pasear y él, como un niño enfadado, se niega. Entonces le dije una frase que nunca en mi vida le había dicho: “Haz lo que te estoy diciendo: ponte un jersey y los zapatos de andar”. Y la frase funcionó. Yo tengo cincuenta y cinco años y él casi ochenta y siete, y estamos en 1988. “Haz lo que te estoy diciendo”, le digo, y lo hace. Es el fin de una era, y el comienzo de otra.

Por otra parte, reflexiona ante el tema de los recuerdos familiares, ésos que cuando éramos jóvenes hemos desechado como trastos viejos, y que de mayores aceptamos como el vínculo con el pasado: recordamos a nuestros familiares perdidos por los objetos que nos quedan de ellos, los que ellos usaron; la obsesión de Roth por el cuenco de afeitar de su abuelo, que su padre guarda como recuerdo en casa y que finalmente le regala; la obsesión del padre de ir traspasando objetos a los hijos antes de morir, como casi todos nuestros padres y abuelos, que nos han llenado la casa de piezas cuasi arqueológicas como una manera de seguir viviendo con nosotros.

Es una novela que puede resultar muy penosa si no se le sabe encontrar el tono, que lo tiene, en un difícil equilibrio entre el drama y el humor. Conmovedor y corrosivo, Roth nos llega al alma. No es la única novela de Roth en la que el humor juega una partida con la muerte, o con la enfermedad. Es un tema recurrente en su literatura, pero en este caso es más fuerte el contraste porque sabemos que está hablando de su padre y la emoción que pone en ello.

 

Fuensanta Niñirola

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Nota

  1. Philip Roth. Patrimonio: Una historia verdadera. Editorial Debolsillo [Colección Contemporánea], Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial, Barcelona, 2011. ISBN: 978-8483463949.

 

 

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