Mona's eyes: Thomas Schlesser

Mona's eyes

Mona's eyes

Mona's eyes -or Les Yeux de Mona, by its original French title, is a moving novel written by Parisian art historian Thomas Schlesser. The work was published for the first time on January 31, 2024 by the Albin Michel publishing house. Needless to say, its success was resounding, which is why it was translated into twenty-six languages, including Catalan and Spanish, which it reached on March 7.

Upon release, The volume became a literary phenomenon, reaching the top positions in sales rankings. internationally in the fiction category. The story, brought into Spanish by the Lumen publishing house, has several levels and subplots that range from Philosophy to illness, death, love and art.

Synopsis of Mona's eyes

All the beauty in the world can be contained in a single work

The novel tells the story of Mona, a ten-year-old girl who, due to a delicate illness, she is in danger of going blind. So that she can observe the beauty before this happens, her grandfather takes her to various museums for a year. Each week, both focus on visiting, discovering, exploring and explaining a particular painting in order to delve into its background.

Together, They attend the Louvre, the Musée d'Orsay and the Center Pompidou, looking for those works of art that changed the conception of form, beauty and humanity. The novel develops three major tropes: that of Mona in the hospital, that of Mona in the family and that of art. Broadly speaking, it could be said that Schlesser's title is a hymn to all these paintings and the artists who painted them.

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An ode to the history of art, a tribute to humanity

It is a secret to no one that art is a fundamentally human resource. Perhaps this is why paintings made with artificial intelligence seem so strange and uncomfortable to us. Despite the apparent perfection of many pieces exhibited in museums, they have small defects. which show that they have been made by a human mind and hands.

This is precisely what makes them so exquisite: the vulnerability of imperfection in everything made by man. It is that overwhelming feeling of failure that people tend to identify with most easily. In this sense, Mona's eyes recounts the history of art and the way in which it shows how man has changed over the years.

A novel that aspires to be total

In an interview, Thomas Schlesser stated that his novel “aspires to be total,” in response to whether or not his work was too ambitious.. To clarify, the author refers to the three stories that his book tells, which are Mona's at school, in the medical field, and in the family environment. Above these are her relationship with her grandfather and then, through what he tells her, that of art and the world.

Although, saying “world” is a bit big, since most of the paintings and anecdotes are focused on the West. In addition, Topics such as the birth of philosophy and the most basic concepts of this philosophy are covered.Therefore Mona's eyes It could be a good introductory book to this area of ​​knowledge. In fact, the title has been compared to Sofia's world.

Do art and culture have healing properties?

Given this, the author remains humble, and says that he takes pain and illness too seriously to think that art is capable of healing. However, he believes that something he can do is console, which is already a lot in the most severe contexts. The same way, the writer assures that art can reveal that the weaknessesIf you learn from them, They are the true strength.

Thus, Art remains a wonderful instrument with the purpose of strengthening the spirit and achieve transcendence. Likewise, Thomas Schlesser suggests that all this artistic sensitivity comes from his poetry reading, which has always inspired him to imagine more subtle worlds. However, there is also a lot of melancholy and unease in his story, elements that are not devoid of beauty.

Best quotes from Thomas Schlesser

  • “In poetry I found the simple idea that freedom of language allows freedom to be created in the mind”;
  • “Evidently parents are very important to their children and vice versa, but there is mutual pressure. With grandparents everything is more open, more free”:
  • “Living is not learning to win, but learning to lose, and the first loss is childhood”;
  • “Euthanasia allows an immense debate about pain to be put at the center of society.”
  • “There is a universality of the strength of the bond between the generation of the youngest and the oldest, above the parents”;
  • “If there were not the repeated experience of saying goodbye to life, things would not have the extraordinary intensity that they have. Since you constantly lose everything, life is wonderful. Otherwise, it would be boring. “There wouldn’t be that urgency to live.”

About the Author

Thomas Schlesser was born in Paris, France, in 1977. He graduated in History of art, and specialized in this area until becoming the director of the Hartung Bergman Foundation. According to the author, when he was twelve years old he was a very bad, turbulent student. Still, he was hungry for emotion and sensitivity. It was thanks to this need that he began to read Guillaume Apollinaire.

Schleser He recognizes that in poetry he found a consolation that he could not find anywhere else., as well as unprecedented freedom. These are words that have been key both in his career in the art world and in his beginnings in literature and the background of his first novel. At the same time, she has adopted elements such as old age and loss as a metaphor for life itself and her role in it.


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