Thursday, February 04, 2010
Vents and exits 6.
Today I finished reading Romain Gary's autobiographical account of his youth and early manhood. Half way through he describes how a girlfriend descends on him and his mother to demand that he marry her. Her reason?
'"He made me read Proust, Tolstoy and Dostoievsky," declared the unfortunate girl, with a look to break your heart. "What will become of me?
'She was right. I had made her swallow the whole of Proust, blow by blow,and for her that was as if she had already made her wedding dress. God forgive me. I had even made her learn by heart passages from Thus Spake Zarathustra. She was not properly speaking pregnant, but I had, all the same, put her in an interesting condition."
Outside Hall's bookshop I pick up a book called Austerlitz. I want to see if it is a copy of the novel of that name by W. Sebald, or a history of the the Battle of Austerlitz. I note that it is the latter and replace the book where I found it, horizontally on top of a row of books displayed upright on the open shelves. I half notice ,though,as I put it back, that the title is facing in the wrong direction. "Good afternoon," says the lady on today's rota in the shop. She has popped out for a smoke. "I respond with a comment on the improved weather. She laughs as though I am being too optimistic. "Well," I say defensively, "It's better than it has been. "I was only laughing", she says because this is the third time today that I have turned this book round the right way".