Saturday, December 05, 2020

65. Le chat du rabbin by Joann Sfar

I am always ready to read anything by Sfar but le Chat du Rabin was always low on the list for me.  My wife bought a copy of the first one in english and it was kicking around the house, so that got me started.  I got the next 7 volumes in french from the library here.  It's hard to pinpoint exactly what this bande-desinnée is about, as it can meander in many different directions. It's more of a cast and characters and a milieu thematically centered on Judaism and the philosophy of religion, with each album taking on a different story or concept and even then not always distinctly.

It takes place mostly in Algiers in the beginning of the 20th century (30s I think?).  The main character is the titular rabbi's cat, though he is more of a commentator, shit-stirrer and court jester.  The rabbi and his friends and family are the characters who tend to have stories and conflicts, while the cat observes or pokes and prods.  He's a real shit-stirrer, this cat, and it is even suggested at times that he may be the devil.  I think these characters may actually be Joann Sfar's ancestors, but I have not confirmed this.  It`s enjoyable reading, though arguments about religious theory are really not my jam and I did skim or glaze over those parts somewhat.  The characters, the milieu and the situations are absorbing and a compelling mix of semi-realistic history and geography and Sfar's slightly fantastical embellishments (such as a cat who can talk).

I have to mention Sfar`s art.  I prefer a hard, solid line, the empiricist that I am.  Sfar`s style is not usually to my liking, but boy does he capture real things in his loose way.  In the third or fourth volume, there is an actual photograph of Bahomet, the real life Sfar family cat that he based the character on and it`s uncanny how he captured the cat.  Likewise, the rabbi's daughter Zbaya just seems super hot to me.  It's almost weird.



1 comment:

meezly said...

It was CM who gave me the first book.