Metaphor of a Catharsis

This expression condenses the whole experience of a trip that the reader, by way of the author, is can relive in its every single moment. From an early restlessness along the walk (seemingly provoked by the end of a love affair, but evidently already latent in a man feeling the need for change), through the physical fatigue, the wonderful scenery of the Spanish landscape, the flavour of the the soups in the rifugios, the energy of a night of love, to the arrival in Santiago.

Hearing, touch, taste, smell, sight: we find ourselves involved through all five senses (to the point of squinting our eyes at the sunsets in the hills of the Pyrenees and feeling the pain of foot sores!) with this pilgrimage of one who is not a pilgrim. It is not faith that leads to the trip, but something deeply intimate, almost visceral: "To live or to die, either I find a reason, or there is only death". A secular impetus, always combined with the most profound respect for faith and the sacredness of the places, to find answers to an existential need.

Transformation, regeneration: it is through the continuous passage between truth and imagination that the magic of purification is accomplished, thanks to the presence of real and surreal characters, mostly female, who bring the presence of eros alive and who share the camino and assist (and interfere) with the experience of a man, a real man who has the courage to cry.

From traditional tales to the iconography of saints and symbols of the walk, to daily gestures (such how to care for foot sores and the affixing of a sella onto a credencial) and the warm environments of the rifugi, Marco, the protagonist, communicates his feelings so vividly that the reader feels he is experiencing them in the first person. We feel the weight of the stone, a symbol of pain and suffering, but also of expiation and sharing because of its final destination in Santiago, where it will be added to those left by other pilgrims; we understand the support of the hiking staff, inseparable companion of the pilgrim and comfort in the darkest and most difficult moments of boredom and fatigue.

And it is precisely towards the end, in the last stage of the walk, that the emotion, which reaches its apex in the public square of the Obradoiro, prompts a reflection, as if to close the circle of this adventure and quest: "Now I understand the camino, it is above all a metaphor for life, it is a passage, through risks, uncertainties, a desire for truth, a quest for the divine".

From apathy to true life. And, having read the last page, a single desire: let's go, let's go, let's go.  Buen camino!

Maddalena Torelli