I remember reading Sartre’s The Reprieve, greatly appreciating the ways the author described the imminence of the Second World War. At first, people in the west live on, seemingly unaffected by their fellow countrymen. Then a whirlwind – the imminence of war – takes over, influencing everyone throughout Europe. A random flower shop dealer suddenly goes out of business, because nobody buys roses anymore . People join the army and get transported to distant places. The looming war makes the people’s destinies converge. Not only the novel’s characters’ destinies, but also the destinies of everyone in Europe.
Similarly, I find it interesting to hear stories of the financial crisis. How it has affected people all over, binding the people together. It links Latvian teachers on the government payroll to the suddenly impoverished Icelandic middle class. A Spanish engineer decides to be a housewife, all the while the housing prices crumble in Detroit.
The word “to reprieve” means “to delay punishment” or “to relieve for a time”. In Sartre’s novel, the reprieve refers to the big European countries giving the Czech Sudetenland over to the Nazi regime, trying thus to avoid a war in Europe. Everyone knows how that venture ended. It will be interesting to see how all the numerous bailouts will be viewed in the eyes of history. As a quick, swift ad hoc that saved the post-WW2 economical theories? Or as a pitiful attempt to stop a mighty paradigm-shifting whirlwind?
Either way, we are living in interesting times.