"Immersion in the life of the world, a willingness to be inhabited by and to speak for others, including those beyond the realm of the human, these are the practices not just of the bodhisattva but of the writer." --Jane Hirshfield

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Better a Dead Sparrow than No Birdsong At All

Jeffrey Eugenides on love, love stories and his new collection thereof, at the Guardian.

Here he is on Nabokov's Spring in Fialta:
Not only does the story impart to the reader a profound wistfulness, in which the evanescence of love expands to suggest the fragility of life and time and memory itself, but Nabokov manages, at the same time, to weave into the story secondary and tertiary levels of meaning. There's what's happening with the weather, for instance, the "cloudy and dull" spring of Fialta that, in the background of the narrated events, is slowly transforming, thawing, dripping and brightening, in order to flash out at the end with the story's tragic revelation. Along with this, Nabokov has studded the story with recurring details - of the circus coming to town, of speeding automobiles - all of which will figure in the denouement. The literary craft in all this mirrors the literary imagination (the seeing of patterns, the orchestrating of fate) that the narrator brings to his random meetings with Nina throughout the years, a literary imagination that every lover possesses. "Spring in Fialta" isn't only about a love fated never to be. It reenacts the story-making we inevitably engage in whenever we fall in love.

Here is a link to the Alice Munro story he mentions, The Bear Came Over the Mountain, in which the wife of a serial philanderer has the last laugh, albeit as an Alzheimer's patient. The recent movie, Away From Her, is based on it.

I agree, btw, with the philosophy of the title of this post.

Happy Valentine's Day.

No comments: