domingo, dezembro 10, 2006
What did she write about? Acocella says "the great subject of early 20th-century literature, the gulf between the mind and the world". This is perceptive. Cather wrote about the subject of Ecclesiastes, the rising and setting of the sun, the brevity of life, the relation between dailiness and the rupture of dailiness, the moment when "desire shall fail". One of the virtues of her writing that I notice all the time, and find hard to describe, is the distance at which she stands from her text. Part of what I mean by this is contained in the fact that more than any other novelist she see her people's lives as whole and finished - they feel stress and passion, they discover and lose, but they are bounded by birth and death, by nothing and nothing, and they move between the two, adjusting their consciousnesses as they go. The writer always sees the people's lives whole and complete, wherever the story is along their line.
"... true enough, I had named a weakness. But the land has no sculptured lines or features. The soil is soft, light, fluent, black, for the grass of the plains creates this type of soil as it decays. This influences the mind and memory of the author and so the composition of the story."
"I had all my life wanted to do something in the style of legend, which is absolutely the reverse of dramatic treatment. Since I first saw the Puvis de Chavannes frescoes of the life of St Genevieve in my student days, I have wished that I could try something like that in prose; something without accent, with none of the artificial elements of composition. In The Golden Legend the martyrdoms of the saints are no more dwelt on than are the trivial incidents of their lives; it is as though all human experiences, measured against one supreme spiritual experience, were of about the same importance. The essence of such writing is not to hold the note - not to use an incident for all there is in it - but to touch and pass on."
Van Gogh said that Puvis de Chavannes's work represented a "strange and providential meeting of very far- off antiquities and crude modernity". Cather's classicism, her fresco-like structures, and her violence, represent the same collision.
For thee a house was built
Ere thou wast born;
For thee a mould was made
Ere thou of woman camest.
He is reminded by his sagging sofa of "the sham upholstery that is put in coffins".
"Just the equivocal American way of dealing with serious facts, he reflected. Why pretend that it is possible to soften that last hard bed." He thinks he would rather be alone in the grave than with his wife - whom he loves. "He thought of eternal solitude with gratefulness, as a release from every obligation, from every form of effort. It was the Truth."
posted by Luís Miguel Dias domingo, dezembro 10, 2006