Hans Thomas was out with the father in search of his mother who went to Greece to find her self. While travelling down to Athens where all the great philosophers and so philosophies were, he came across a small man (midget) who gave him a magnifying glass. He could not have understood the significance of this gift till an old baker in Dorf handed him four sticky buns, in which the biggest bun contained a little book, and in turn disclosed the destiny of the whole family.
The solitaire is about playing a game all by yourself, the same applies to one’s life. The theme of the novel in my opinion is about making sense of the meaning of life. The author is seeking this meaning himself and has transferred his desire for such knowledge into that of the characters in this plot. The characters have different messages to convey and point to the different roles we may be playing in real life. Thus, to fully understand this novel, we will have to examine these characters carefully. I would suggest understanding them in terms of an inner circle and an outer circle relationship. The inner circle indicates the self, the outer circle as the external world.
The inner circle comprises of three main characters, Hans Thomas, the father and the mother. Hans Thomas is the little child in the author’s body. There is something he calls the soul which lives and is alive till it grows into an “adult”. In order to know and feel one’s existence, one needs to be a child who is forever interested in his surroundings, ever wonders about the world and its inhabitants. The father is a student of philosophy who is mesmerized by the ancient Greek thoughts. He is often drunk, yet constantly philosophizes, so much so that his son thought he could jolly well be the state philosopher. However, his philosophical rationality could not get him further than to appreciate the “imagination” of his son, he has then stopped asking the question of “who we are (self)” and “where do we come from (world)”. Then there is also the runaway wife, Anita who is said to have got herself lost in the Fashion Fairy tale. And it is so arranged that the father has to go after his wife who is in search of her identity or perhaps, her own existence. It may be more appropriate to view the father-son relationship as one of self-reflection or self-examination. As Socrates proclaimed, “an unexamined life is not worth living”, the author is reminded of staying alive, both physically and spiritually. thus we may conclude that the son is leading the father to the journey of life-seeking, while the wife highlights that of the self.
Besides this inner circle, we have the outer circle which includes roles like the joker and the remainders in the pack of cards. The joker is the sober being as compared to the other fifty-two midgets. His bells are a reminder of his own existence. He cannot be as ignorant for the jingle will always warn him of his spiritual death. He is a creation, created only to destroy his creator. Perhaps he is a symbolism of how one may create something, some thoughts, leading to self-destruction. It is paradoxically, a symbolism of death and life. To live is to feel the world, but to die to what one has created to become the creator himself. Furthermore, there is the fifty-two cards which came into life, not knowing that they are but dead. They continue to drink the rainbow-soda which numbed their senses. The soda is a lovely drink that makes one experience all that life has to offer, at the same time, anesthetizes one (ability to think). This wonderfully depicts the many temptations one faces in life, philosophizes the thought of the Taoist-that beauty is ugliness and ugliness is beauty. On the whole, we are reminded that a life of aimless ploughing is as good as that of the midgets.
The relationship of these two circles is that they interwine to create an impact almost unimaginable. One could not help but to face the line between reality and fantasy. This is one zone that is usually encounters by us all. We often got lost in the world of reality and inturn, jumped directly into the world of fantasy. Is the world of fantasy always wonderful and the world of reality a dreadful fact? I believe the author has some diverse views on this issue.
After reading the novel, one feels the warmth experienced by a sober soul. The witty riddles add spices to this brilliant piece of work. Regardless of the fatalistic ideas implied in destiny and family curse, the novel is intriguing with its excellent plot which gradually unfolds a mystery about life. In fact, life is a mystery only to those who got themselves lost…