Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Return of the Soldier


A long, long time ago: last spring, when I was staying in Italy the first time, Thomas from My Porch, was kind enough to send me books in English.  They are not easy to come by, and my desperate suplication must have pulled some heartstrings because he sent over five books, all of interest to me, and not commonly found in Italian bookstores.  The bad news was once my visa expired, I had to escape into the night disguised as a gypsy, ruturning to United States unscathed, meanwhile the package of books arriving at my old apartment.  Such is life.  Imagine my excitement, though, where upon arriving not only did I get to pick up my old things, I also now had five new books in my possesion!

The first I picked one morning last week was 'The Return of the Soldier' by Rebecca West.  At first glance, I was sceptical.  I normally don't like war stories, and the cover made it look like a story similar to something my dad would read.  But how wrong I was!  Chris, a soldier of the Great War, returns home with no memory of the last 15 years.  Three women wait for him.  His cousin Jenny - the narrator of the story, Kitty, his wife of ten years, and Margaret, the woman he was in love with as a young man.  Imagine being Kitty, the wife of someone who has no memory whatsover of her looking on as her now childlike husband can't help showing affection to his young love.  This brief but incredibly beautiful story shows the struggle of doing what's right despite wanting something else.  Incredibly poignant and gripping - I nearly missed my stop twice whilst reading this.

Here is a quote I loved when Chris first returns home:

He was looking along the corridor and saying, 'This house is different.' If the soul has to stay in its coffin till the lead is struck asunder, in its captivity it speaks with such a voice.

I fell in love with this book, and am curious to read more Rebecca West, have you read any of her others?

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Yesterday, I sneezed in class and one of my students enthusiastically said: CHEESE!  He meant to say 'Cheers' which still wasn't correct.

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Tomorrow I'm going to Venice!  Taking classes, teaching and teaching equals a lot of giving of energy and no recieving.  As a closet introvert, I start to detest anyone who strikes up a conversation with me when this happens, which I hate about myself.  To aid this I'm off for a few days to somewhere I've always wanted to go, especially after reading 'Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell.'  I'm bringing along 'Venice is a Fish,' an excellent book to reread written by a Venetian, 'Wings of the Dove,' by Henry James (I'm not sure this is a good idea-he bores me so) and some comedies by famous Venexiano, Carlo Goldoni!   A prossima settimana!

{Editor's note:  My friend Carrick (CC Blair the Younger) read this post and said it sounds like I'm having a mid-twenties crisis. Ha! Please don't think that...just a brief...moment of refreshment!}

1 comment:

bookssnob said...

Email me your address and I'll send you Rebecca West's The Fountain Overflows - you'll love it!