Tuesday, February 25, 2014

persuade me

I was putting off Persuasion because even rough and barely finished, it's the last Austen novel, and -- it's not exactly that I'm having trouble getting into it, altho I stumble in first volumes of Austen more often than not, but it just seems so very sad. She was dying, and it's all about lost chances, and wasted youth -- and she keeps ratcheting up the tension considerably. It's the opposite of P&P, where you know they must get together but can't see how. This is more the question of, but how did that not happen? How could that wrong decision have been made, how could so much have been completely lost? It's like the lesson of Gatsby -- the past can't be recovered, not even its feelings recaptured. Surely one of the poems poor Anne is thinking of on that awful walk was Shakespeare's sonnet:

That time of year thou mayst in me behold 
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang 
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold, 
Bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang....

I probably won't be able to appreciate this as a book until rereading it sometime in the future.  Right now it just seems like one of those works that is not only posthumous but seems to embody being posthumous, like The Crack-Up or Ariel -- the life of the author is simultaneously draining away but powering the writing. It's very unsettling.

This living hand, now warm and capable
Of earnest grasping, would, if it were cold  
And in the icy silence of the tomb,  
So haunt thy days and chill thy dreaming nights  
That thou wouldst wish thine own heart dry of blood  
So in my veins red life might stream again,  
And thou be conscience-calmed—see, here it is I hold it towards you.
....have also noticed during this reading project that my style of literary analysis remains completely "This book! It is like this other book! and also these other books, let me tell you about them," heh.