Wednesday, July 7, 2021

First day back at work went pretty well: I finished a big chunk of the novel I'm editing, and also managed to clean the floors and stock the cupboards. I'm definitely feeling pressed and overbooked, but I'm also seeing the daylight at the end of some of these projects. Given that I've still got the rest of the week to myself, here's hoping I can make use of the time. For the adventure boys are now back in Chicago, with a couple of rest days ahead of them. And then on Friday evening, Paul will return to Portland and the house will resume its noisy ways.

As a respite from editing, I've been rereading Anita Brookner's novel Hotel du Lac, and I came across this passage:

[Mr. Neville said,] "You are wrong to think that you cannot live without love, Edith."

"No, I am not wrong," she said slowly. "I cannot live without it. Oh, I do not mean that I go into a decline, develop odd symptoms, become a caricature. I mean something far more serious than that. I mean that I cannot live well without it. I cannot think or act or speak or write or even dream with any kind of energy in the absence of love. I feel excluded from the living world. I become cold, fish-like, immobile. I implode. My idea of absolute happiness is to sit in a hot garden all day, reading, or writing, utterly safe in the knowledge that the person I love will come home to me in the evening. Every evening."

"You are a romantic, Edith," repeated Mr. Neville, with a smile.

"It is you are are wrong," she replied. "I have been listening to that particular accusation for most of my life. I am not a romantic. I am a domestic animal. I do not sigh and yearn for extravagant displays of passion, for the grand affair, the world well lost for love. I know all that, and know that it leaves you lonely. No, what I crave is the simplicity of routine. An evening walk, arm in arm, in fine weather. A game of cards. Time for idle talk. Preparing a meal together."

"Putting the cat out?" suggested Mr. Neville.

Edith gave him a glance of pure dislike.

Lots to think about here, of course . . . not only about the definition of love but also about the author's management of a conversation that is almost but not quite a monologue and the subtle, snaky influence of Mr. Neville's interjections.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

O, she has it entirely right.