How do we explain a metaphor?
|John Martino @ Cerise Press/|
Geoffrey Heptonstall reflects on writers, readers, and how imagination helps us see @ Cerise Press.There are two kinds of people in the world: those fortunate enough to have read Anne Fadiman’s Ex Libris, and those who dwell in dark places. It is a book of the author’s responses to books and authors. But it is not simply another book about books. Literature is not an adjunctive commentary on life for Fadiman, but the genetic imprint of this curious condition of being human. When asked if she would help found Civilization (the Library of Congress journal) she agreed, amused and intrigued by the challenging title.At Large and At Small followed, relating writing to life also, but in a different way. Ex Libris had books in mind. This later volume is concerned with the complex relations between writers, their lives when writing, and when not writing. The stumbling block for Fadiman (and for most of us) is that “great literature can be written by bad people.”
She cites Ezra Pound’s fascism, and Byron’s incest. It may be argued that Pound’s nature disqualified him from political activity in an age of extreme conflict. An intemperate man of fixed opinions, he was a great, if bullying, editor of Eliot and Yeats. Pound could yeild his red pen without thought of the hurt a writer may feel about the discarded words. Human beings are not words on the page. As for Lord Byron, he wrote of dark, romantic deeds, then he lived them. It is well to remember the Prince of Darkness was a gentleman. Incestuous and licentious, Byron was rash even when he was heroic. It was brave to take up the cause of Greek independence from Turkish — and to die for it — but it was not kindly.read more