the short story project

Gottfried Heinrich’s Dream

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Gottfried Heinrich’s Dream by Jaume Cabré

Jaume Cabré is among the foremost contemporary writers in Catalan literature. The story before us was first published in his collection of short stories from 2000, “Winter Journey.” Cabré’s writing often deals with the Jewish fate, as in another story in this collection, and in his monumental novel, “Confessions,” which was published in 2011. It seems that he takes on the subject of Judaism in this story as well, if from a different angle, as it is difficult to read this beautiful story about the son of the great composer, without thinking about a different Jewish folklore story, which has received numerous adaptations, the most renowned among them being the story by I. L. Peretz about the innocent simpleton whose whistle in the synagogue opened the gates of heaven. The music in this story is the prayer, and God is the artist, whose power it is to determine what art is—the expression that comes from the heart. Are these the hallucinations of a dying man, or perhaps, as with Tolstoy’s Ivan Ilyich, a final moment of realization? The ruling is destroyed by the obedient servant, and with the death of the artist it as if calls out to the reader—you shall determine, what is that thing that can be called music, now that there is no longer a God.