Sometimes after you have finished reading a book, as you put it down while the last few words are floating through your mind another thought bursts forth and every other thought gets extinguished. ‘All that needs to be said has been said’. A strange mix of ecstasy and melancholy grips the heart. And you wonder how and why do people still go on writing. Dream of being poets and authors, think they have anything new or fresh to add to the countless reams published and read ever since humans started giving words to their thoughts.
I recently experienced this emotion after finishing Orlando. Actually after the first 20 odd pages itself I was stuck by the abovementioned thought. Only to immediately be stuck by another that this experience was neither unusual nor unprecedented. I myself have felt so innumerable times. After reading Steinbeck’s words, “Cannery Row in Monterey in California is a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream.” Or Calvino’s, “Memory’s images, once they are fixed in words, are erased,” Polo said. “Perhaps I am afraid of losing Venice all at once, if I speak of it. Or perhaps, speaking of other cities, I have already lost it, little by little.” Or Saint-Exupery’s, “Transport of the mails, transport of the human voice, transport of flickering pictures — in this century, as in others, our highest accomplishments still have the single aim of bringing men together.”
Not to belabour the point I stop at just three random examples. Even as another thought crosses my mind for someone having nothing new to add already 276 words have been expended. Not to mention these.
(Afterthoughts on books: part 4)