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Niagara on the Lake, Ontario, Canada
My virtue is that I say what I think, my vice that what I think doesn't amount to much.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Aurora's Motive

Aurora's Motive is a short (115 page) novel based on a true story that took place in Spain in the early part of the 20th century. It was translated from the German work by Erich Hackl. The story begins with Aurora Rodriguez killing her daughter, Hildegart, and goes on to explain the events leading to the murder. Aurora's father raised her as an intellectual equal. This was very unusual in the patriarchal Spain of that era and left her ill equipped to deal with that bourgeois society after his death. She determined to have a daughter and to raise her eugenically to be a socialist, a feminist and a world leader. She placed an ad for a sperm donor in the newspaper, conceived a child with the help of a sailor/priest and gave birth to her daughter, Hildegart. Aurora's childrearing techniques were unorthodox and criticized by many but produced a prodigy of enormous intellect. Hildegart attended law school at the age of 13 and by the age of 17 was famous for her socialist activism and her campaign for sexual freedom and equality. She then met H.G. Wells and decided, after some hesitation, to join him in England where she would study with Havelock Ellis, a sexologist. When Aurora became aware of her diminishing influence on Hildegart, through whom she lived vicariously, she tried in vain to make her see the error of her ways and change her mind. She bought a gun and shot her daughter as she slept. Hildegart never realized her mother's singleminded political vision. Aurora was charged with the crime, convicted and jailed. She was later transferred to a psychiatric institution it is believed that she lived on until 1955.
The author packs a lot into a slim volume and the novel proceeds at a breakneck pace towards the foregone conclusion. It's a powerful indictment of political fanaticism.

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