Saturday, May 09, 2009
If you ever wanted to bury or burn me with something that would give me comfort in the hereafter, let it be A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. It is the only novel I have ever re-read and it is astonishing to me how something that could be set in a place and time as different as my own could have everything that I would put into my own bildungsroman: my childhood repressions, my school (albeit Protestant), my politics, my love for and rage against family, religion and country, even my most minute and trivial obsessions: 'every Tuesday, as he marched from home to the school, he read his fate in the incidents of the way, pitting himself against some figure ahead of him and quickening his pace to outstrip it before a certain goal was reached or planting his steps scrupulously in the spaces of the patchwork of the pathway and telling himself that he would be first and not first in the weekly essay (81, 1965 Penguin edition). This was me on the way to and from school: if I overtake that man before he reaches the lamp-post, I will beat BM in Maths. Can I go through an entire day without putting my foot outside a tile? As I child, I was obsessive and compulsive and almost never disorderly.
God god god, that was exactly the line that's stuck with me for the last seven years. The tile bit, I mean! Don't think I've ever talked about it to anyone before.
Love this. Of course I too made these little bargains with the cosmos as a kid. I was more frequently disorderly, though.Post a Comment