He starts with a prologue about why we should read at all. (I can´t make quotations, since my copy is in Swedish.) In short, he thinks we should read without preconcieved ideas, without the filter of some ideology or other. We should not read for others, but for ourselves. We should read for enlightenment. Then he goes into some detail about irony, but I didn´t really get that. He clearly thinks we should not waste our time on inferior literature. And I suppose he has a point. Personally, I always thought reading was taking part in the greatest conversation on Earth, with the cleverest people who ever lived, one that is unrestricted by time and place (in some sense, anyway). I understand fully why the great Controllers (at all levels in society, you know, them) are hostile to literature and to readers. Serious readers are open people. They allow themselves to change, to be formed, to change their minds. To be improved. They do not consider themselves as "having arrived" in life. I like that, I think reading slows aging more than any miracle cream, diet or excercise can do.
|A little can suggest a lot. (Can´t remember the artist.)|
To me, he is clearly a man in a classic 40´s crisis. It´s not so much this woman, it´s that he is ready to go on now. She becomes the container of all his hope for a more meaningful life. It´s all about the timing. I got stuck on this:
"He had two lives: one, open, seen and known by all who cared to know, full of relative truth and relative falsehood, exactly like the lives of his friends and acquaintances; and another life running its course in secret. And [...] everything that was essential, of interest and of value to him, everything in which he was sincere and did not decieve himself, everything that made the kernel of his life, was hidden from other people; and all that was false in him, the sheath in which he hid himself to conceal the truth [...] all that was open. And he judged of others by himself, not believing in what he saw, and always believing that every man had his real, most interesting life under the cover of secrecy and under the cover of night. All personal life rested on secrecy, and possibly it was partly on that account that civilised man was so nervously anxious that personal privacy should be respected."
I like that. Chekhov had that published in 1899 and I wonder what he would have written in the age of Facebook. Bloom thinks the man is a parody of Chekhov himself, and that the story is all about the banality of life, even when we think it holds profound truth and importance. Perhaps. I think most people can handle a certain amount of role playing, of mask wearing, and then it becomes unbearable and they bolt. Tension builds up and all it takes is a trigger. Banal it might be, but so are most proverbs. It does not make them less true. We all long for deliverance.