Saturday, June 30, 2012

I fell to thinking

Going up a mountain track, I fell to thinking.

How can you resist a novel that begins this way?

Natsume Soseki's (1867-1916) The Three-Cornered World (or in Japanese, Kusa Makura, or 'The Grass Pillow') is a novel about a traveller, an artist. It is gentle, meandering, philosophical ... everything I like a novel to be. There is a woman in it who is possibly mad, and an artist who wants to paint her. It ends at the point where he thinks he may be able to.

Thank heaven for all those who in devious ways by their art, bring tranquility to the world, and enrich men's hearts.

Amen, says I.

And then there's this delicious bit:

... and because I am an artist I find any passage of a novel interesting even when it is out of context. I find it interesting talking to you - so much so in fact that I'd like to talk with you every day while I'm here. I'll even fall in love with you if you like; that would be particularly interesting. But however deeply I were to fall in love with you it would not mean that we would have to get married. If you think that marriage is the logical conclusion to falling in love, then it becomes necessary to read novels through from beginning to end.

So here's to not reading novels through from beginning to end. Here's to novels with little incident and rich with imagery that allow you to reflect and enjoy without rushing or reaching towards a conclusion. 


  1. I see now where I've been going wrong all my life (as a devoted read novels through from beginning to end type....)

  2. And it is so, So wrong, jongleuse. I don't even write novels from beginning to end (and maybe this is where I've been going wrong all my life ...)