Sunday, July 22, 2007

Reading Rose Macaulay

A few years ago my sister-in-law sent me a copy of Dame Rose Macaulay's book, Personal Pleasures. I was delighted with it, and it inspired a search for more of her books.

Not an easy task, - the Okanagan Regional Library carries only the Towers of Trebizond. I immediately ordered it and read it with great satisfaction.

Having nothing new to read the other night I reintroduced myself to Rose Macaulay, where her Personal Pleasures was tucked into the shelf on the nightstand, along side other books that it gives me great pleasure to re-read.

"Chattery, chittery..lean as a rake. wispy; and frittered" was Virginia Woolf's comment about Rose, but I have read elsewhere that Virginia's comment was perhaps tinged with jealousy and cattiness.

In any event, Rose Macaulay was very much a part of the London literary circle in the first part of the last century and although her first books were inclined to be light, comic pieces, her later work had a haunting quality, - most especially her post-war novel "The World my Wilderness" which I am longing to read.

One of the excerpts from Towers of Trebizond reflects my own thinking as I ponder the real, honest to goodness meaning of TRUTH.

"Nothing in the world, for instance, could be as true as some Anglicans and Calvinists and Moslems think their Churches are, having the faith once for all delivered to the saints. I suppose this must be comfortable and reassuring. But most of us know that nothing is as true as all that, and that no faith can be delivered once for all without change, for new things are being discovered all the time, and old things dropped, like the whole Bible being true, and we have to grope our way through a mist that keeps being lit by shafts of light, so that exploration tends to be patchy, and we can never sit back and say, we have the Truth, this is it, for discovering the truth, if it is ever discovered, means a long journey through a difficult jungle, with clearings every now and then, and paths that have to be hacked out as one walks, and dark lanterns swinging from the trees, and these lanterns are the light that has lighted every man, which can only come through the dark lanterns of our minds."

That appeals to me.

As does her quotation "At the worst, a house unkept cannot be so distressing as a life unlived."

She had a lovely and imaginative way with words.

A random quotation from a small essay on the Pleasures of Bathing:

"The sea's warm edge sways lisping on hot sand, curling
into tiny ripples, hissing, creaming, running delicately back. Wade in, take five steps in water as warm as a tepid bath, and the sharply shelving beach fails beneath your feet and leaves you swimming. Lapping in the clear, thin stuff, so blue, so buoyant, so serene, you can conceive no reason for ever leaving it."

I am off now to read to Husband (who has difficulty becoming somnalent) her delightful pages on the pleasures of Bed.

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