Recently, I have been analyzing a lot of what exactly gave me the impetus, what exactly motivated me to write my story “I am Becoming a Woman”. The novel “Christine” (1952) by English woman writer Pamela Hansford Johnson is one of those books that, since having been read by me many times in my youth, influenced some part of my life after that – for example, what I was like in my 17-18 years old. Thus, the reasoning and behavior of the Hansford Johnson’s heroine influenced indirectly the heroine of my own novel.
Now, when I decided to re-read this novel in order to find out how much echoes of this text can be found in my own story “I am Becoming a Woman”, I was surprised to see a fragment from the novel “Towards Swann” by Marcel Proust as an epigraph to “Christine”, including such words:
“all this was not only experienced, thought out, kept by me for a long time, but … it was my life and it was me myself.”
Yes, I was really surprised because it was Marcel Proust and his literary style who gave me the idea of writing my autobiographical novel, and thus both names – Marcel Proust and Pamela Hansford Johnson – turned out to be indirectly related and, so to speak, “the circle has beem closed” in a way.
As we recall, critics initially found the style of Proust’s first novel unusually confusing, especially when it comes to the chronology of the events he described. Life events, sometimes rather chaotical and unpredictable, emerged in the memory of the protagonist, serve in Proust’s book only as material on which endless analyzes of “elusive sensations” are built. In his text, Proust gives very little development of the plot in terms of the amount of “action”, but at the same time, a certain impressionable young man with a fine mental organization was chosen as the main character of the novel, who perceives these ordinary and unremarkable things that happens to him in a rather sharpened manner. Therefore, on the pages of the novel, we come across literally “kilograms” of the author’s reasoning on general themes and an analysis of the elusive feelings of this young man. And all this is held together solely based on the unique recognizable author’s style and on this very analysis of the smallest sensations, plus on not too banal – and sometimes, on the contrary, even on a little paradoxical – reasoning on general topics.
As for the literary cycle “The Unbearable Longing of the Flesh”, then as for events retelling, it is built much more linearly, although from time to time I am also quite a bit distracted from the main narration – well, I am doing this like in some play the actor sometimes utters next remark, addressing not to his partner, but turning conspiratorially to the theatrical auditorium.
In my immodest opinion :), the events of my youth were much more exciting than the measured life of the hero of Proust’s novel, and besides in my reasoning I stand on the position of a person familiar with the much later and more sophisticated fruits of intellectual achievements of human civilization than Marcel Proust used in his reasoning.
As for the novel “Christine”, this is a very interesting reading, first of all, for connoisseurs and lovers of the Clapham area and Clapham Common park in London – Pamela Hansford Johnson “dilutes” the diary of her main character Christine with numerous nature descriptions in these places at various times of the year… Besides this novel is interesting as a reflection of that distant era when pneumatic mail was used in London, and electric lighting was installed in houses for the firt time… The era of popularity of Hawaiian guitars, when young people first were eager to dance in clubs of London suburbs, and later were eager to drink cocktails in bars in Mayfair … But, of course, the novel is interesting not only for researchers of the habits of Londoners in the early thirties.
Now, after many years, it was really touching for me to discover unexpectedly in the novel text those passages that I once carefully reread and which have become part of my personality. Of course, I have remembered for the rest of my life the final phrase of the novel “A stranger here, I was free,” it marked how the heroine is pleased to realize that she had long since escaped from the oppression of endless thoughts about her past. The image of Christine in some way reminded me of the very image of a girl that looms in my own cycle “The Unbearable Longing of the Flesh.“ Most likely, I became just what I was because I repeatedly re-read the novel “Christine” in my adolescence.
So, Christine is looking for her love, not knowing yet what kind of the chosen one the fate will send her. Of course, in your youth the idea of the future is imbued with an alluring foreboding of love, since all songs and books say love is something special, and the body is excited by the anticipation of something sweet and forbidden. Love longing is precisely what allows sometimes complete strangers to enter your life and sometimes even become a part of your life.
Pamela Hansford Johnson writes about the sexual side of Christine’s emotions with caution, noting that at that time (late twenties and early thirties) young people were still very innocent, and even in English there was no corresponding expression “to make love”. The author exquisitely compares the excitement of the heroine at the thought of sexual intimacy with “the fluttering of a flower in the close shackles of a bud,” and Christine, inspired by reading some love stories, imagines her wedding night in a dark room on the seashore, full of aromas flowers.
Of course, in my novel, I pay much more attention to the physical component of love than in this novel of the early 50s.:) My first book describes the habits of Russian youth in Moscow in 1987-1989.
The heroine of my novel, like Christine, is always very attentive to what exactly her boyfriend is telling her about his other women.
Following the young Christine, my heroine is sometimes vain and is fascinated by men’s age and status – indeed, what girl does not dream, for example, of an overseas prince who will take her away to the castle in his country? She is waiting with patience when, finally, cavaliers with their own cars will appear in her life. The third part of the cycle, entitled “Flirting over a Cup of Coffee”, describes the love affairs of my heroine with mature, respectable men almost 30 years older than her.
Christine feels being in love and charmed by the male charisma of the boyfriend caring for her, despite her boredom already on the second date with him and realizing that the two of them will have nothing to talk about. Later, Christine tries to convince herself that, probably, there is nothing special in the love and attitude of women towards her husband, and probably everyone has known this for a long time except her.
I will quote here the clever words spoken to the heroine of my story by one of her men about the selection of her future husband:
“Regarding vital precepts оf a wise knowledgeable man, addressed to a girl“ considering her future living ”, he advised me in any case to marry a man with a”lofty”education (he used not”high “but namely”lofty”as a joke), otherwise we would have nothing to talk about in the evenings of our future family life. “
Christine tries not to take to heart the fact that her chosen one is indifferent to literature close to her in spirit, and his ear pathologically does not distinguish melodies, although for Christine herself the power of music and memories of the melodies she has ever heard is of very great influence. For comparison, I will give a quote about the meaning of music for my heroine:
“At that time – however, and now too – my ecstasy from music was so great that as the highest form of interaction with a guy I liked I was dreaming about joint listening to my favorite music. This obsessive desire of mine is somewhat similar to the idea of the Marcel Proust hero, who was eager to admire the Gothic castles together with a beautiful girl, so that her presence would enhance his aesthetic pleasure of the beauties of ancient architecture. “
Inside Christine’s thinking there is some internal struggle all the time, and sometimes she even gets angry with herself because of feelings that go out of her mind control. In building relationships, inexperienced Christine acts intuitively and sometimes makes mistakes, which brings her a lot of problems with her boyfriend. Here’s what I write on this topic in my novel:
“When I still had no experience in dealing with men, then, finding myself in some situation together with them, I acted as some kind of instinct told me. And It seemed that this was exactly what the men expected from me. Most likely, I behaved like this according to some woman in me who existed separately from me and who had lived much longer than me. Maybe she lived by some life of my dreams and wishes or continued her existence in the memory of previous generations – in a word, it was an “archetypal woman” in me. “
Even the very beginning of this text reminded me that elusively attractive atmosphere of Paris and Parisian cafes, which is imbued with the texts of Julio Cortazar – for example, his story “El otro cielo.” or the beginning of the novel “Rayuela”.
And the idea of writing down the names of all visitors to all Parisian cafes in a notebook (the idea of ”intersection points”) or the idea that all missing people have “settled” in furnished rooms where they are not asked for documents, is very similar to the idea of counting the number of people entering and leaving the metro in “Records in a notebook “and games with” the Mondrian tree of the Paris Metro” from the story”A manuscript found in a pocket” by Cortazar.
This short novel is about finding oneself in space (and not just in space, but exactly in the space of Paris) and in time – in one’s memoirs, many of which relate, again, to movement along the streets of Paris.
It is very important for the heroes which zone of Paris they live in, and one guy even creates a theory of “neutral zones“. Wandering around the city, on some streets they are surprised to find themselves, as if not in the capital, but in the provinces, and, fantasizing, they outline for themselves houses where they would like to live and which they, it would seem, have just left in a kind of their parallel life …
The girl carries with her a book with the eloquent title “The Lost Horizon” and seeks to get out of the narrow framework in which her life is enclosed. When life has a perspective – for example, when you want to travel “in the heart of summer – where time has stopped and the hands of the clock always show noon“, then “the horizon line stretches far ahead, there, in infinity.” In an effort to escape from anxiety and a feeling of emptiness, she always looks for a new life, new acquaintances, “refuge”, and at times she briefly manages to find a “heady feeling of lightness“, and she is most happy in the very moment when she flees from somewhere. It all began with a movie theater stimulating the unattainable dreams with the expressive name “Mexico City”, after the sessions in which “Colored neon signs were just like in the movies: emerald green, dark blue, sandy yellow … The colors were too bright, and it seemed that you were on the other side of the screen, or in a dream …”
The guy who is her friend is obessed by the thought of a kind of the Eternal Return – “There are days when you don’t immediately remember what year you live in … Everything repeats itself. Identical days, nights, places, meetings ”, but after years he bitterly realizes: “Now here you will not meet the ghosts of the past – even they died … In this world … I more and more seemed to myself to be an accidental survivor.”
A miraculous story that took place in Venice – the Italian city wearable for legends.
Winter was in decline. Her more fortunate rival – Spring- was approaching, and this was felt both in the gentle gusts of wind, strengthening the smell of the Grand Canal waters; and in the first heat of sunlight; and in the excited cooing of pigeons; and in the slightly lighter clothes and in a slightly more relaxed pace of the walking of the street passers-by.
Merchants occupying Piazza Rialto, rejoiced at clear weather, promising good demand, and discussed the latest things of their households and neighbors. They were looking forward to the imminent arrival of the next boat with foreigners eager for Venetian beauties and trinkets.
The flow of people was moving between the market stalls, throwing out from time to time the next buyer – a connoisseur or a collector, or an idle onlooker, stopping at one or another stand that had goods.
A young girl, dressed safe but tasteful, who could be mistaken for a student in later times, slowed down hesitantly to stop near the stand with carnival masks. The girl started looking at the leather products in confusion, so embarrassed of her interest, as if choosing accessories to emphasize the shape of her female body. The blush of embarrassment made the young Venetian even more beautiful, and the owner of the goods could not help but admire her slender figure, glancing over it with pleasure.
The perky merchant started praising his goods in his usual manner, picking up one mask or another and turning it in different ways before the eyes of the girl. He tapped the mask with his fingers, demonstrating the wonderful properties of the leather treated with a special composition, and telling some special story. Repeating the masks were made in the best workshop of Venice according to the secrets of the old masters, the owner of this excellent product invited the seignorite to try on a particular model.
The girl whose name was Lucia listened to him, smiling absent-mindedly at her thoughts.
Every year, starting from the exciting time of growing up, she waited with special trembling for the beginning of the carnival week. The same thing was repeated this spring, although this particular year had some peculiarities.
It happened that dramatic changes occurred in the life of Lucia over the last year: Lucia found her love. That is why, from now on, everything her glance falls on reminds her of Marco and is connected to him through invisible threads. Everything that Lucia sees before herself should serve for her love for Marco. When meeting with Marco, Lucia tells him all the most interesting things she learned or saw, and his smile and approval serves as a reward for her. Lucia belongs to the kind of women who want to feel on a par with men in everything. Marco is pretty well-educated, and therefore she has to make a lot of efforts to keep him interested. Most in the world Lucia is afraid of boring him. Truth be told, she would like to share every minute of her life with him. She would like him to be always with her, but this is not yet possible. However, that is precisely the kind of changes occurred to Marco recently that make Lucia particularly sad…
At the carnival, Lucia will charm Marco, she only needs to choose the right mask for this. Lucia looked from the graceful feminine masks of Columbine to grotesque masks with hooked noses. And she averted her eyes in a fright from the huge beak on the Plague Doctor mask.
Perhaps she should choose something extravagant since only these kinds of things Marco might like. Wearing such as a mask and costume, Lucia will be emboldened and will forget happily about all the conventions. Lucia thought longingly about those ancient times when the Venetians put on masks whenever they did not want to be recognized.
Suddenly Lucia remembered her friend Bianca’s words. She told she saw masks with special holes in order to ensure possibility for kissing. So maybe Lucia should make love with Marco right in the mask… These thoughts made Lucia blush with shame. She immediately felt the secret longing in her lower abdomen, and this was not surprising since Lucia was extremely sensual, that was unmistakably felt by some men, making her even more embarrassed.
“Hey, Senorita! Are you going to buy anything? ” Although it was nice for a merchant to stare at a pretty girl, but trade is trade. In addition, he understood that such a girl was too tough for him.
“Thank you, senior. I will definitely buy a mask from you, but I will do it another time”.
“You should hurry up, because soon I will have nothing left! ”
Lucia started walking along the promenade.
Recently, Marco has become distant, cut himself off from Lucia. In earlier times, he had always met her with joyful excitement, but now it seemed to her that her visits only annoyed him. He had acquired the habit of locking himself for a long time in his cabinet, where she was not allowed to enter. Lucia feels strange smells coming from the cabinet, and uneducated people would call theese strange smells devilish. Sometimes Lucia finds incomprehensible allegorical drawings in his house, that look most like medieval miniatures. These drawings depict female and male figures in magnificent ancient clothes, standing in unnatural poses with obscure objects in their hands.
Whenever Lucia tells Marco he has changed, he replies he has always been like this, but she just did not want to notice it. Sometimes it occurred to Lucia she had caused only a temporary flash of feelings in Marco, one moment of madness, and now his life is returning to normal, and there is no place for her – Lucia – in his life anymore.
“Do you have another woman?” One day Lucia could not stand it and asked a straight question.
Marco was off his face in response. He throwed an absent-minded sight on her and went into his head. Some conflicting feelings seemed to catch up with him. Lucia already regretted asking this question since she was too afraid to hear the truth. Her temples throbbed anxiously, and the time seemed to stop. The girl wanted to run away, just not to hear the insulting truth.
After all, if the word is spoken, it means that there is no return back to ignorance.
Having hardly found the strength to look up at Marco, Lucia was amazed: he was twisting into convulsions of laughter now.
“Oh, yes … I really have a woman. This is such a special woman … “
Lucia was supposed to be upset, but Marco laughed so contagiously that she barely kept from smiling. Therefore, the girl only frowned dramatically, getting the severe look on her face – in her opinion, that was the proper way to listen to such a confession. – “Lucia, don”t be jealous … I assure you she is terribly old…”
The smile disappeared from Marco’s face, and watching him, Lucia even went cold with fear – strong passions appeared on his face too sharply. It turns out that she does not know him – her lover – at all! Marco stood up abruptly from his chair and began pacing around the room, with his hands in the pockets of his silk robe.
“Do you know what they usually say about her? She has deceived and deprived the strength and life of all those who were fascinated by her. And she has left nothing in return, although she was given everything.”
Lucia got angry. Yet he can tell her about some promiscuous woman. Which, moreover, is much older than him. Of course, she – young and inexperienced Lucia – cannot compete with such a rival. Not for nothing that Bianca told her that men are used to chase after frivolous women being not squeamish about middle-aged harlots.
And then Lucia had a sudden shock of recognition. “Tell me one thing: is she rich?”
Her thoughts were mixed up. She almost asked: is she the one who givies you expensive old manuscripts?
Marco, who was drinking wine from a glass at that time, started coughing, as if having choked on something.
“You guessed it: she really can make me incredibly rich. And even more…she really can do my life gold”, and Marco laughed a strange laugh, again turning into a cough.
Overwhelmed by strong feelings, Marco looked at Lucia, and his passion changed direction: he wanted to take possession of the girl. But Lucia, too excited about everything that happened, did not find anything better than to run out of the apartment…
At first, Lucia could not understand why her eyes rested on an unremarkable market stall. The table was littered with various books in covers with big names. A good half of the books were devoted to Casanova”s adventures, and the second – to the description of incredible stories that happened to Marco Polo. When looking at the word “Marco” repeated on the covers of books, Lucia experienced a mixture of sweet pain and delight – this was another thread invisibly connecting her with her lover.
Of course, it was no wonder to meet such a name in the city, which is patronized by St. Mark. However, Lucia did not look at the book cover about the Venetian traveler. Instead, she looked at the colored miniature that she had previously seen at Marco’s house: two horsemen were fighting each other hiding behind shields. A knight with a sun instead of a head sat on a white lion, and his rival was a naked woman with a head in the form of a moon disk.
“Сan I get you anything?” the unpleasant croaking voice of the old merchant came on. and Lucia looked up at him.
Later she tried to remember what she felt at that moment. An incredible force coming from the merchant was so palpable that there was no way to resist it. Lucia recalled that gypsies have a similar strength of attraction. Mindful of the stories about this kind of people, she got scared. She was afraid she would be forced to buy something irrelevant or might have lost the contents of her wallet.
Meanwhile, leaning towards her, the merchant whispered in her ear, “I know what you need: you were interested in this funny picture, and you could not pass by”.
In response, Lucia could not bring herself to say anything.
In the meantime, the old man continued, “You come with me, and I will show you a lot of the stuff like this”.
Having appeared like that out of the ground, an enigmatic tall man in a leather vest came up near them.
“Thanks for replacing me, Giacomo. Now I’m already back”, he said addressing the old man, casually glancing at the girl and coming to the stand with books. “I see you are not wasting your time here”, he grinned good-naturedly and then added something else in foreign tongue that was unfamiliar to Lucia. The two men laughed.
If Lucia were not affected by a kind of Giacomo magnetism, then she would immediately blush, and perhaps she even would have tried to run away. But a certain magnetic force held her near Giacomo. She had no reason to fear him; and at the same time, the old man could shed some light on Marco’s strange passions, she reasoned.
“Let’s go soon to my place, otherwise the my liquid gold will wear off and you will change your mind,” Giacomo muttered with anxiety.
Lucia was amazed and decided to remember the unusual phrase.
After taking a few steps, the old man stopped near a column crowned with a bronze statue of a winged lion.
“You should look here, and then your beautiful legs will not get tired of the long journey”, he pointed to the statue of a strong animal, resting on an open book with his paw … Looking at the sculpture, Lucia felt that her legs gave way. And the next second, she was already looking at a completely different lion – this time it was a wooden lion covered in cracked paint. This lion adorned one of the huge gondolas that was standing by the pier.
The girl looked around and gasped: they turned out to be near the Arsenal on the very edge of the city. Giacomo led her straight to an abandoned house.
Upon hearing the noise, a sleepy owner of the house in a nightcap walked out to them.
“You are hanging around again, as you always do”, he grumbled and wandered back to one of the unlit rooms. One could hear him flopping onto the bed and sniffling right away.
“One day I tried my liquid gold on him in a hurry. Most likely, I made a mistake in the proportions. As a result the poor man doesn’t know the difference between night and day, but he no longer requires me to pay for housing”, Giacomo explained smugly as they climbed up the stairs eaten of worms.
They ended up in the cabinet. Lucia seemed to find herself in a time a few centuries ago. The cabinet was filled with utensils for chemical reactions, scales, globes, hourglass, littered with ancient books.
On the wall, Lucia saw portraits of pundits against still the same globes, compasses and books. Lucia imagined their faces looked a lot like Giacomo’s face.
In one of the paintings, three figures were depicted. Dressed in clothes of the last century, these gentlemen heated chemical vessels on fire, carefully observing the result. Lucia knew the artist’s brush – it was her beloved Pietro Longa.
“Why am I here?” Lucia thought in a flash from time to time. “I came here for Marco’s benefit”, she answered herself.
Giacomo sat the girl down in an easy chair and brought her a cup filled with some kind of liquid. Forged out of the precautions, hungry and extremely excited, Lucia immediately tasted the drink. She immediately felt calm.
Meanwhile, Giacomo took off his raincoat, put on a bathrobe and sat opposite the girl in such a way as to be able to sneak a look at her. He filled the tube with some kind of powder and took a puff. Lucia felt a pinching in her eyes due to acrid smoke.
“One more girl who was traded away for such a picture,” the old man breathed a sigh sadly, nodding at a miniature with a picture of a snake devouring its own tail.
“How is that possible? What do you mean?” Lucia almost got violent. Most of all she was offended by the words that she was not the only one girl who found herself in such a situation.
“Be patient, and I’ll explain everything to you,” said Giacomo, blowing smoke puffs. “By the way, here you are, if you want, they are almost as old as me, but over time they do not dry up, but only become tastier. And the local worm doesn”t eat them”, he picked up a plate of pine nuts from somewhere off the floor and put it on the table in front of Lucia.
“I have been living in the world for a long time – usually people don”t live for such a long time. Therefore, I am reasoning about high matters rational and cynically. In addition, liquid gold also helps me in this – it gives clarity to the mind and… hardness to my members, – with these last words Giacomo grinned and moved a little closer to Lucia.
“Tell me, finally, about all these pictures and about liquid gold”, Lucia asked almost plaintively. It was high time for her to think about whether it was too late already and how she would get home, but at first she certainly wanted to know about the mysterious life of her lover.
Soon her curiosity was rewarded. She learned, for example, that the figures she had seen in miniature in Marco”s apartment meant mercury and sulfur – masculine and feminine. These substances are entering into marriage, while creating a cherished alchemical elixir.
Giacomo brought Lucia towards the retort and explained that the healing of metals occurs there and as a result, the metals are cured of spoilage and turning into gold.
Lucia seemed to doze off, and when she woke up, she found herself lying in bed.
” I’ve covered you with a rug because you were trembling”, she heard Giacomo’s voice from the next room.
From that day on, Lucia’s life changed. Now, coming to Marco, she was knowledgeably interested in his successes in alchemy. Marco was surprised by the awareness of his passionate girlfriend in an enjoyable way. They had a pretty heated discussion about his last steps in mixing and evaporating substances. Usually after these alchemical conversations, Marco became so excited that the lovers ended up in bed. Lucia was overjoyed about this.
But at the same time, Lucia could not do without Giacomo: she needed to come up with some new topics for conversations with Marco. She has already realized her lover appreciates her precisely for her deep knowledge in alchemy.
Each time she wanted to visit old Giacomo, she stopped near one of the city”s many winged lions, narrowed her eyes and soon she found herself near the abandoned house.
Lucia was so full of love these days that she was ready to caress even the old Giacomo. And he invariably poured some sort of drink for her and told her his tales about red and green lions and the black dragon. After drinking, Lucia forgot herself, and then she found herself under a rug in a warm bed.
Having learned a little to disassemble the alchemical allegories in engravings and miniatures, Lucia experienced disappointment and emptiness. The alchemical structure of the world could not be understood with the help of conventional logic. These pictures with an abundance of characters, colored by the perverted imagination of artists, frightened the girl. For that matter, she was much more attracted to grimaces and elaborate mask poses in the carnival crowd.
On the first day of the carnival, Lucia went to a coffee shop to have a chat with Bianca.
“So did you managed to persuade Marco to go with you to the carnival?” Bianca asked her.
Lucia did not know what to answer. In truth, Marco flatly refused to leave the house, especially on such an insignificant occasion as the carnival.
“I hope he will come … He is so extravagant and loves to surprise me”, Lucia said with a slightly fake intonation. ” Perhaps he will come to make a surprise for me.”
In response, Bianca just shook her head thoughtfully.
At that very moment, the girls heard the sounds of a passing carnival procession and ran out into the street. Wearing masks of colombines, they merged with the crowd in the dance of spring and love. Soon Lucia was carried away by a gentleman dressed as a Harlequin.He was about the size of Marco, and Lucia perked up.
Having heard the cry of Bianca, Lucia turned around and immediately lost sight of her Harlequin. “Where is he now and with whom?” – she thought longingly. Her mood darkened so much that she barely got out of the crowd and wandered house.
The day came when Lucia realized a kind of new life was growing inside her.
This day began unusually since the carrier pigeon came in through the window of her room.
Lucia immediately remembered the paper dove Colombine,that has been launched from the bell tower every year at the beginning of the carnival. All the previous years, Lucia always was standing in the main square of the city. in a crowd of onlookers and was watching passionately the rain of confetti scattering. But this year she missed the show. After thinking about it, she got upset.
On the foot of the carrier pigeon, Lucia found a note from Giacomo. He asked her to come earlier today, as he would be very busy in the evening and would not be able to tell her about alchemy.
Having cleaned herself up and having breakfast, Lucia was magically transported to Giacomo in the usual manner.
She found him standing facing the window. Without even turning to her, he said, “Today you will know important news. Very important news … The divine spirit has generated the novel substance”.
He put on his hat and left the room without even glancing at Lucia.
In amazement, Lucia remained standing in the middle of the cabinet, frozen. When she came to her senses, she looked around and took mechanically several sheets of paper from Giacomo’s table, intending to show it to Marco.
However, it was still too early to go to Marco since he did not like her bothering him during the day time, therefore Lucia wandered the streets of the city, thinking about the matter common to every woman. She wondered if it was time for her period to come. The number of days while her underwear was spotless suddenly seemed incredibly large to her. She counted again, but there could be no mistake. The girl immediately recalled with concern all the cases of her recent feeling sick, and realized a new life was born inside her.
Lucia could not understand whether to laugh or cry. She was overwhelmed with сomplex feelings. Of course, it had to happen sooner or later since although Marco was an amazing lover in her inexperienced view, and he always took responsibility for preservation, but sometimes he could be misfiring.
At the same time, she could not imagine what would happen to her next and how her life would change. Her heart was sinking anxiously at the thought of this uncertainty.
This important conversation with Marco Lucia decided to start obliquely. To begin with, she handed him coquettishly the sheets of paper from Giacomo’s desk. Marco grabbed them greedily, but soon, to her surprise, he became furious: “What are you giving me? What is it? ”
“But do you not see? These are formulas and notes”, Lucia answered in confusion. –
“Thank God, I know German and I can always tell it’s great Paracelsus by the manner he writes. And here, on this lousy little piece of paper, the words of Paracelsus are copied. By the way, I have already read them once before. He writes about growing homunculus. You should read this: he suggests placing sperm in horse dung… Rest assured, I can find a better application for my semen”, he said between gritted teeth.
Lucia tried to approach him, but he seemed not to notice this, continuing his speeches.
“Why do I need a homunculus? If you must know, I do not share these crazy ideas. I only need to learn how to get gold. I have a very mundane nature, as you might understand”.
“But listen to me, it’s not my fault… I don”t even know what this homunculus is”, Lucia babbled helplessly.
“This is a being born in a test tube … Think about it: why would I need him? What can I do with him? Unless I can sell him to the carnival jesters … ”
“But a new life is something so amazing anyway! ”
“Remember: I only need gold. And… you know what … Don”t come to me anymore”, Marco said , trying not to look at her.
The cabinet door was shut.
Lucia wanted to share her pain only with Giacomo. Bianca was not fit to be a listener, since having being talking to Bianca, Lucia was always eager to show Marco is loving her madly. Therefore, now she did not want to look like a loser in the eyes of her friend.
Finding herself in front of Giacomo”s house, she first took notice on the door sign. It said “Giacomo Girolamo Casanova”. “That’s amazing”, – she had an idea, as she was sure this door sign was not there before.
Lucia knocked for a long time for someone to open the door. Finally the sleepy owner of the house appeared.
“The gentleman from upstairs has left and will never return,” he mumbled and bolted the door.
Being stunned, Lucia thought about the vicissitudes of fate.
Now a child lives inside her. Lucia did not know for sure whose child this was.
Giacomo loved her as she was. And Marco loved only alchemy. Therefore, his child could only be a homunculus – an artificial being from a test tube.
On reflection, Lucia decided that the baby might be from Giacomo.
“Only carnival voluptuousness is able to cure melancholy”, Lucia thought.
Having thrown off fatigue, she ran toward the carnival crowd. Lucia was sure
Harlequin would appear near her very soon. Harlequin, indeed, was not slow to come. This time, Lucia saw her companion was not like Marco at all.
He took Lucia’s hand ceremoniously and began to drag her somewhere through the crowd. Everyone stepped aside to let them pass. They ended up in a space with seats – Lucia did not even think earlier that such seats were provided for someone at the carnival. Lucia was seated in the most central box, and Harlequin sat next to her. All the eyes were fixed on them. Everyone Lucia saw now looked not like the diverse crowd of carnival, but like people in the court suite clothes.
Wonderful music sounded, and Lucia realized it is here and now that the most important event in the entire history of the world is taking place. A whole procession, moving slowly in a trance, brought a huge picture depicting a golden baby to the stage. All those present except Harlequin servilely prostrated themselves, muttering phrases in an incomprehensible language.
Taking his bows, a man in a page robe approached Lucia and handed the precious crown to her servilely, lying on the velvet pillow. Lucia acted on a hunch. Under the encouraging smile of Harlequin, she put on this unusual headdress. The pair crown was handed to Harlequin.
Harlequin again took Lucia’s hand with respectful trepidation, and they went to the center of the platform. The solemn music started, and Lucia was amazed to see a certain glow around her and Harlequin.
Several perky artists, having made their way to the stage with the help of elbows, hastily painted everything they saw to sell such drawings for big money after that. The images depicted in these drawings looked exactly like the Alchemical wedding. Lucia realized she had become the Queen and Harlequin had become the King.
… However, Lucia could not say for sure whether it all really happened or all these pictures just flashed before her mind when she stumbled during a carnival dance and lost consciousness for a while.
I was walking along the streets and felt the breath of the city. I was grasping the hasty unconscious movements with which people maximized the transparent revolving doors, opened umbrellas anxiously and pressed the telephone handsets to their ears. The noise of rushing cars, snatches of laughter and telephone conversations, polyphony of tunes escaping from music stalls – all this was knit together into a single continuous background – the live voice of the street.
The wind was ruffling the umbrellas of street cafes. Visitors, intending to buy a few happy moments, clung to plastic chairs and clutched their plastic glasses tightly.
I was walking along a busy avenue. Here and there the cylinders of buildings dotted with advertising signs rose into the sky.
I had not to worry about money – I had plenty of it.
Lunchtime was near. In the first bistro I saw I ordered coffee and laid the newspaper out on the table. I had little interest in the news, but the cup of coffee next to the newspaper looked particularly good. I was imagining myself as an artist from Montmantre.
… Sometimes we have a kind of hunch that something is about to happen. I experienced something similar at that moment. I felt a sudden need to see who, ironically, ended up in a bistro next to me now… For example, I’ve always thought that destiny brings passengers together into the subway at an odd hour not coincidentally, and that if you dig a little then it will be possible to discover some kind of connection between all these people… In other words, I instinctively started examining the bistro visitors.
The girl and the guy in love, with lowered eyes, were sitting unhappily at a table against each other, not moving, as if they were about to be separated forever. Two guys, anticipating the pleasure of the meal, were putting all sorts of things from a salad bar to their plates, demonstrating their remarkable appetite …
Suddenly, some female face appeared to be vaguely familiar to me. I seemed to have already seen these facial features, and moreover, I even seemed to have been carefully examining them once, trying to capture them in my memory. I remembered this face expression – an imaginary disappointment and a dreamy grin.
Our eyes met. . She looked away immediately, as the girl was supposed to react in such cases … But we both knew: by the immutable law of fate, we would be together. I would have not be surprised if she admitted to me she had already seen my face somewhere.
We got acquainted. Soon I realized she was looking for intimacy with me.
She worked as a laboratory assistant in one of the companies nearby. Her firm was engaged in the development of plastic manufacturing technologies.
Later, I found out that employees of firms whose offices were located in the nearby high-rises used to come to dinner at the bistro. And therefore, if I were planning to meet with one of the local clerks, it would be simple to do it just here, at the bistro, during the lunch break.
And then … I entirely blended in with the city: for hours I was sitting on the windowsill, smoking and looking at the people flickering along the avenue. When evening came, I used to go to meet her.
All this time it never occurred to me to call or write to someone from my previous life.
Sometimes the name ‘Juan’ popped up in my brain, as if flashing rhythmically on the screen. Juan is my old friend and colleague. I remembered our regular sit-downs together with him in some bar, perhaps in a completely different part of the globe. It was there that I had a place, that looked like two drops of water similar to this hotel room, but called “home”.
I recalled our friendly outpourings over a beer, telling each other stories from our lives mixed with the stories read, watched or heard somewhere … Or rather, stories that were so incredible that they could only happen in life.
I enjoyed spending hours in front of the TV in a hotel room, wondering at the intricacies of the plots and going to retell it all to Juan one day. Before, I never had enough time for this.
When she asked my name, I couldn’t think of anything better than to mumble in reply: “Juan.” Later, I had a inexplicable pleasure hearing the melody of this name from her. A secret, unknown even to myself, was encrypted in it in some misterios way.
At first, she was asking anxiously what I was doing all the day, before the hour we saw each other in the evenings. I could not admit to her I was doing nothing. The explanation I had enough money to live for some time in the city might have seemed improbable to her. Therefore, I used to tell her I was looking for a job constantly and unsuccessfully.
She was devoted to her lab fanatically. As a result, she developed an almost painful tendency to look for plastic products all around herself.
She admired sincerely the obedient curves of plastic. And if suddenly upon closer inspection some product turned out to be not plastic, she became irritable immeditely. She was disappointed both with her own mistake and with the shortsightedness of manufacturers who chose not the most advantageous technological solution.
She was proud the plastics her lab produced were not “dangerous polymers” and were not carcinogenic.
From head to foot, she was eager to get into plastic clothes: plastic hairpins flaunted in her hair while sunglasses occupied firmly a spot on the back of her head. A strict office skirt was held by a plastic strap instead of the usual leather one. The buckles on her blunt-ended shoes were plastic, too.
The history of the invention of plastics was studied by her thoroughly. We always laughed at a clearly fictional episode: supposedly manufacturers of billiard balls called on chemists to develop a new material in order to replace ivory. No doubt, this impressive detail was invented much later just to interest apathetic students of chemical colleges.
We even came up with a special “plastic game” with her: we had to name various items made of plastic in turn. Later we changed the game rules a bit and decided also to use in the game the names of objects that would be worth making from polymers, but for some reason humanity has not thought of this before.
She agreed not to use condoms with pleasure. She was prejudiced by latex rubber, considering this material unreasonably more popular than, for example, the transparent polyethylene she loved so much.
She was in the habit of running her hand over the smooth surface of some plastic accessory as if by chance. While doing this she used to squint her eyes dreamily. She was doing all this involuntarily and became very shy, noticing her instinctive movement had not escaped some prying eyes.
Thinking later about this feature of her, I decided she subconsciously considered plastic to be a very erotic material. Really, no wonder, singing the woman of his dreams, the man often mentions lustfully the smooth skin of his chosen lady. Smooth-skin reached its apogee in inflatable dolls, as I thought at first with a grin, and then with irritation.
Once in a minute of frankness she told me about her amorous affairs. At that moment she was sitting on a double bed, covered with a blanket, in my hotel room, and playing with the stem of a wine glass. Her hair seemed red in the setting sun rays.
I can”t retell reliably the essence of her story… Probably she seemed to have some kind of guy and she had a hard time after breaking up with him… Or perhaps, on the contrary, she avoided carefully any attachments and always tried to break them off at the highest point in the relationship development… In general, in any case she told me some kind of a very frank story, touching for both of us and indicating how much she trusted me.
Even earlier, before this conversation about her fear of attachments, I often observed an expression of extreme boredom on her face, that caused her incredible embarrassment and that she tried to hide. In my presence, boredom devoured her, making it impossible for her to enjoy life. The only exceptions were the minutes of our intimacy, which she greatly appreciated. In general, it was much more comfortable for her to be alone than to spend time with me. Each time I was saying goodbye to her, I used to have noticed a kind of secret delight in her caused by my leaving.
However she was determined to defeat circumstances and declared war on boredom. Our dates were scheduled in the most unusual places: on rails waiting for a train, in museum rooms under cover of night and in other textbook places of risky sex from a handbook for lovers. Sometimes the experimentation of her imagination regarding the geography of our meetings even made me doubt that the next time I would be at my best as a lover; but fortunately then it turned out that I really love the variety of surroundings during making love, too.
Once I mentioned jokingly in her presence an article on a plastic topic that caught my eye in a newspaper column. “Soon, it will be possible to use not oil as a raw material for plastic production … but, for example, oranges”, I said, following her expression carefully. This extravagant idea made her laugh without causing much emotion.
And yet our relationship did not stand still.
I was seized by the feeling of some kind of anxiety more and more often. I never dared to admit to myself my everlasting serenity was passing into some new quality. As if I had to do something and then to leave the city.
And then at last the day came when I felt some kind of power was forcing me to get out of the city. Like an ocean wave, this power imperiously was pushing me beyond the megapolis boundaries.
I suppose I wanted to take her with me to my … Orange Republic . But that seemed impracticable.
The words ‘Orange Republic’ appeared in my memory by chance, even though there was something vaguely familiar in them. I repeated theese words to myself, as if tasting them. Therefore, when at the airport I saw this name in the list of possible destinations, I experienced real delight. As if I’ve got an answer to some important question and then realized I was going the right way.
The Apocalyptic tones sounded nearby from a video screen. The audience was once again convinced that the world was being falling apart and would never be the same, while my heart was sinking in anticipation of changes and the development of a new space. Here and there I caught the contour of the plane out of the corner of my eye – the logo of the famous airline, and my being was filled with contentment.
The city flashed by toy houses goodbye on a topographic map in the porthole.
I thought of my abandoned sweetheart.
Of course, she did not oppose our dates. And she would certainly be upset if I suddenly disappeared from her life. But at the same time, I could never take her thoughts. Sometimes it seemed to me that in the rhythmic moments of our intimacy, plastic production schemes were flashing in the form of slides before her eyes.
On the other hand, sometimes I still dared hope she intentionally downplayed the strength of her attraction to me, because this is an ordinary female trick in order to win a man’s affections.
She used to tell me she felt lonely. But I did not hear her words, or maybe I did not believe them or did not want to believe. She loved only plastic, I kept telling myself.
“Why am I here on an airplane?” I asked myself. “Am I really jealous of plastic? And that is why I thought it was better to retreat?”
Leaning back in my chair, I closed my eyelids. Having made incoherent and absurd movements in time and space, quite illogical from the point of view of an awake person, I found myself at a bar table opposite Juan. Of course, everything was happening in the Orange Republic.
“Would you like me to tell you how it all happened that very night?” Juan said with a crafty twinkle in his insolent eyes… Juan was always trying to look like the cinema heroes. All the time he was not busy on in secret missions, he devoted himself to watching films. He was especially interested in films about agents behind enemy lines.
I was confused. Juan turned out to know about me much more than I did. Although I should got used to it already. Sometimes it seemed to me that Juan was some part of myself. And perhaps this my hypostasis was too cynical and completely devoid of romantic illusions.
Juan intended to bring me back to some point from the past.
“Take a look at this”, he took out a container in the shape of a test tube from a baggy shirt pocket and put it on a table.
“What is it?” I was going to touch the subject, but my hand went through it.
It came back to me that the test tube contained a catalyst for plastic decay. For plastic, such a contraption is equivalent to a deadly virus.
I was sure that after using I had recycled the similar test tube according to the instructions. Therefore, now I was looking at just a hologram.
I was still sitting in the cabin. The image on the monitor mounted in the seat in front of me wavered, then smoothed out again.
“Look at the monitor! ” Juan commanded from somewhere in my brain.
The man at the speaker desk excitedly treated the audience with a portion of gloomy omens … God knows, I was always far from politics – I preferred the fictional reality of films.
The announcer’s story was replaced by a video sequence with the inscription ‘no comment’. Plastic items exploded on the streets, in offices, in shops, and this was accompanied by a female screech and panic.
…It came back to me as if she was sitting in front of me on the table. As always, they switch to the power saving mode at night. A faint light grabs the outline of her body from the darkness, and I am drawing the missing lines with the help of my touches. My heart is racing fast …
“Do you know where we are right now?” she whispers.
Like a forgotten dream, I recall how we were making our way here through the underground sewers a few minutes ago. As it always happened in our evening routes, she took on the role of a guide … All this remained somewhere far away since at this very moment only she exists for me …
“We are in the very place where I work”, I feel her smiling coquettishly in the dark. “In the daytime I wear a white coat and a white hat here, and look like a kitchen boy”.
At this words of her the previously unused portion of my brain is being activated … We have already visited many points on the city map together with her, but only now we have penetrated the laboratory of the ‘Empire of Plastics’ – this is the name of her company. It is the cradle of the plastics industry and the inner sanctum of the plastic world.
I know the floor plan of this building thoroughly. If you wake me in the middle of the night, I will draw it with my eyes closed, without violating the proportions between the objects.
Plastics injection machines are located nearby. I was given the task of injecting a decay catalyst from a container into one of them. According to the calculations of our scientists, in a plastic medium, the molecules of this substance will start replicating themselves, decomposing plastic simultaneously. Thus, the destructive effect for the world of petroleum plastic will be maximum.
In the Orange Republic, oil was never mined, but there were enough orange trees there.
The death of the “Empire of Plastics” meant a symbolic victory of oranges over oil, since “orange plastic” is invulnerable to a decay catalyst. Thus plastic made from oranges will replace petroleum plastic.
Now, in the cabin, these thoughts did not bring me a single drop of joy or satisfaction. After all, I have never been an ideological opponent of synthetic non-recyclable plastics … I felt rather upset and tried in vain to sort out the feelings that had rushed over me.
The old-fashioned screen was melting before my eyes, flowing in black mass onto the carpeting. I realized the deadly virus was already there. It must have gotten on board the plane somehow.
The passengers gasped in unison: plastic cups with hot drinks burst on folding tables at once. Brown drops sprinkled both on ironed clothes and on joyful expectations.
I went lurching towards the smoking room. The plane was shaking more than usual. I tried to grab ahold of the handrails, but they seemed to melt under my gaze because I was too fascinated with the idea of plastic disappearing. Instead of a lighter, I felt a viscous sticky clot in my pocket.
Most likely, my thoughts were controlling reality.
The power of my emotions made the space vibrate. The plane started losing altitude drastically.
This couldn’t have happened in reality. Otherwise, the words of the crew commander, typical for such occasions, would have long been heard: the plane is experiencing minor technical problems, but in general the situation is under control.
And then… I suddenly imagined all the plastic details in the flight deck.
How many more plastic was still in the body of the plane, I wondered.
… We are dancing in the plastic world. I am leading my dance partner surprisingly cleverly – we are scattering in different directions, our arms extended; then our hands are twisted, and she presses her back to me for a moment.
I always invited her to go dancing somewhere, although I never knew how to do it. She always refused, apparently wondering what was it for.
And now I saw quite clearly: we were dancing with her against the background of a living advertisement of plastic products, which suddenly became voluminous.
I give you hand and call to join the journey To go along the searching path together.
This story will begin one charming morning When the whole world will be the same as ever And any resident of Istanbul could lead His wife in evening to the theatre called "Konak" - In ancient city where the West meets East And where the sun hangs over sea like orange.
These narrow winding streets may match Damascus Where you were wandering to find your love for years. Do not forget to wear your old black glasses, You may believe you are bashaw or someone else.
You'll lose your way in maze of city streets Where you may feel some presence of, it seems, A person seeking you and soon you'll meet... No, it's just people rush for their things.
And if perspective is at least a little changed In this case you will see no symbols any more.
Remembering Ruya means remembering games Of your idyllic past in the ancestral home. The man is always woven from his past And wandering around his life museum, enchanted, Observes exhibits in a layer of silky dust.
Until you realize your wife has dumped you You'll joyfully discover secret hints Of hidden world where Ruya still exists, And only after this you'll start through tears To look at her abandoned empty seat.
A loving man sees everywhere reminders Of his sweetheart with whom he's separated. She's gone to man from her imaginary garden. . She'll stop to dream of someone when she's grey-haired.
Yet her indifference's deep as silent pit Which you may see from window of old flat. And scary thoughts that you want to get rid, All memories that you need to forget, Her stuff that's hard for you to look at still -
All things you burry deep into subconscious - You need to put in former pit that's filled With earth and turned in gap between the houses.
Then everything will happen like a dream And as surreal as forgotten book With you or with a man you'd like to seem Whose photos and news clippings you've just looked.
You'll look at scary shots in video reports Which seem you've already seen somewhere. The clock in house'll be forever stopped. Life'll be divided in "before" and "after".
Let's leave Galip with his unending woe Imagining the map of streets with souks And hearing the city sounds through window - We're just devoted readers of "Black book".
Galip felt love for Ruyya first while reading The ancient book together with his friend - In our thrilling trip sometimes we snuggled in Each other, getting closer in the end.
The heroes disappear, leaving stage. We hold back our tears, feeling sad. And now we may close the last page, Still thinking of the mystery just read.
I often see The Black Book is not so highly appreciated – perhaps this is due to some unevenness or blurred text, but, in any case, there is a certain captured drive in it.
From the very first line of his novel, Pamuk sets a certain tone for the entire narrative, immersing the reader into the unique Universe of this book – Universe that is at the same time touching and family one and Universe that is full of voluminous meanings. Into the Universe of the life of Galip, who is in love with his wife, which is always eluding him. And into the Universe of the history of Turkey of the 20th century, geographically located between the West and the East and trying to digest these diverse influences in its everyday life at the end of the 20th century, and here it is no wonder to stumble upon a description of the flawed dystopian reality of Soviet reality which is so familiar to us.
Pamuk seeks to add depth to the novel, prompting the reader to identify his characters with archetypes from Eastern culture. The theme of searching and wandering through the maze of streets is layered in the novel on the Eastern tradition of storytelling, sometimes taking a slightly more modern form – reading newspaper articles on a variety of topics, from Trying to be yourself to Rulers playing in dressing-up. And the path of the hero’s quest will miraculously repeat the path of the “cult” author of the Poem on the Hidden Meaning. And therefore, leafing through this book, one can feel both the diverse breath of the ancient city and the echo of bygone centuries, as well as the despair and insights of one particular person.
Book 1 from “The Unbearable Longing of the Flesh” cycle
In our youth the idea of the future is imbued with an alluring foreboding of love, since all songs and books say love is something special, and the body is excited by the anticipation of something sweet and forbidden. Love longing is precisely what allows sometimes complete strangers to enter your life and sometimes even become a part of your life. What do we expect from love and do we then get exactly what we expect?
In this exquisitely written romantic book the author analyzes the experience of her youth in search of love. She recalls the time when the iron curtain separating Russia from the Western world was destroyed, the country stopped building socializm and tried to adopt the so-called “Western values”.
At the beginning of the 2000s, the novel “The Pianist” thundered thanks to the film of the same name by Michael Haneke (it was released almost simultaneously with the film “The Pianist” by Roman Polanski), and when retelling its plot, of course, the viewers paid attention primarily to the most scandalous moments. In those days, the following conversation was quite likely: – Have you watched “The Pianist”? – “The Pianist”? Do you mean “The Pianist” by Roman Polanski? – No, “The Pianist” by Michael Haneke. – Hm … It seems not. – Can you imagine, there is the main character … well … she is a masochist and she likes to hurt herself with a razor THERE …
But let’s return o the book. The author not only skillfully describes reality – no, she also analyzes and systematizes it, and does it as bitingly and harshly as possible, using complex phrases that are deep in meaning and structure. The author not only describes reality skillfully – no, she also analyzes and systematizes it, and does it as bitingly and harshly as possible, using complex phrases that are deep in meaning and structure. This innovative prose, refined on the verge of paradox and sophisticated on the verge of understanding, is rethinking sarcastically the very stereotypes of usual human behavior.
Sometimes, somewhere at the very top, on the final round of the next metaphor, there are such bold analogies that seem not entirely justified and obvious – somewhat reminiscent, if you use the appropriate musical terminology, false notes, which causes something like annoyance in the reader’s soul – however, perhaps these comparisons, on the contrary, are as fresh as possible and give the narrative the necessary volume, and therefore it is better not to think about their irrelevance, but, on the contrary, to admire their originality.
SHE is a tired dolphin, indifferently preparing for the final trick, wearily fixing with her gaze a funny multi-colored ball, which the animal picks up on its nose with its usual movement.
The world of children’s constructors is opening up before her. .. She thinks hard and slowly. A dead lead weight hangs on it. Brake shoe. She is a weapon turned against herself that will never fire. She is a vice made of tin.
Erica soars on the wings of art in the high air corridors, rising almost to the ether .. Her mother looks around in search of a brake rope for her daughter, for this kite. Just don’t let it go, just don’t let go of the rope!
A cold, icy wind blew out, and she runs into the ice fields, dressed in a short dress, like a skater, white boots with skates on her feet … The endless blue ribbon of her skirt begins to sway, carefully fold into frills.
Jelinek’s reasoning moves along a trajectory that is not always easily traceable, temperamentally illustrated by impressive metaphors and accompanied by unexpectedly bold pictures written out with all the details – here we see visitors to an ice cream parlor or families with children relaxing in the Prater Park, here on the ice a skater in a skirt with a blue edging is performing, and here is an almost ready-made guidance to the arrangement of school washrooms … Over time, the number of such deviations from any linear narrative so much exceeds the critical mass that, in general, one involuntarily has to recall those times of his adolescence, when with greedy eyes you look out for “racy” details in the text, by default considering everything else as something terribly boring and insipid.
As for the “racy” details, they are very specific here – it is not for nothing that this novel attracted the attention of Michael Haneke himself. And, besides, they are somewhat instructive.
It seems that Erica is the obedient daughter of her mother, after the next chamber concert dreaming to quickly return to her sweet nest and sit in her favorite chair in front of the TV … “There is the only one source of light lit in Erika’s head, from which it is as bright as day all around and which illuminates the sign with the inscription ‘Exit’. A comfortable chair in front of the TV pulls his hands towards her, the soft callsigns of the news program are heard, the announcer busily straightens his tie. On the side table there are vases with delicacies that amaze the imagination with their abundance and colors, and both ladies, alternately or simultaneously, resort to their services.”
But no! It turns out that over and over again something persistently forces Erica to rush around the city like a meteor in the most strange places such as peep shows, showing films of light porn or remote forest clearings for copulating couples in an attempt to see something that remained incomprehensible to her in the very core of the female body and in the mechanism of the interlacing of two bodies … “A man, Erika thinks, should often have the feeling that a woman is hiding something important from him in this jumble of internal organs. It is it, the most intimate, that spurs Erika, pushes to consider everything new, deeper, more forbidden. “ Probably, the writer herself is interested in looking for such emotional zest against the background of measured philistine life in a respectable prosperous European city – the capital of music.
And when a man appeared in the life of the main character Erica, she thought about how she could use “his services” in the most effective way. Erica had already managed to study herself a little in this matter, and her imagination generated some fantasies in which her desire to obey to the partner and her interest in experiencing pain would be realized. The heroine, not too experienced in love relationships, did not come up with anything better than to tell her potential lover naively and straightforward about her fantasies …
After all, Erica is generally a rather uncompromising woman – this is the way, in a moment of emotional experience, she plays her instrument, which her fingers have long become a continuation of: “She gathers with all her strength, strains her wings and rushes forward, right at the keys, which are rushing swiftly towards her, like the earth flies towards a plane in disaster.”
…You may wonder – and what about him, her lover? Will there be a happy end and a “kiss on the diaphragm” in this story?
Let us feel the excitement of the heart when reading the denouement of this uncommon love story.
I’ve just made video concerning my new novel Operation Paracelsus in the genre of ironic sci-fi and post-apocalypse https://youtu.be/0OFvx1crMPg . It is something like booktrailer but maybe rather variations on the theme.
Expressive songs in Russian are used as soundtrack so I made several explanatory inscriptions -not too many:)
The first chapter in English is here. http://samlib.ru/editors/r/rebekka_p/paracelxs.shtml
Sometimes it happens so that a book comes to you at such a moment that it extremely resonates with the strings of your own soul, and then every barely noticeable hint in the text evokes a storm of emotions and tears are about to splash … It is exactly like “Upon a fiction, heavy tears I’ll weep “, as Alexander Puhkin said in his poem “Elegy” (1830)…
Reading this largely autobiographical novel by Cronin, I involuntarily recalled many other works of world literature about childhood. In general, it is always especially interesting for me to read the diary notes of a generation, refracted in the writer’s mind, telling about the youth that took place at the beginning of the 20th century … For example, the study by two friends of the fauna of the Wynton Hills, described by Cronin, reminded me of Marcel Pagnol’s childhood trilogy.
In his presentation of events, the author tries to be objective and to place accents accurately, at the same time striving both with a grain of irony to imagine how the hero looked from the outside, and not to miss the whole stream of thoughts and emotions that rushed through his head, while he was answering to his interlocutors with his meager restrained remarks.
Perhaps I will make this review rather personal since I’d like to describe my amazement when I was captured by emotions about the episode in which the “grandmother”, with the best intentions, sews a school suit for Robert instead of the worn one, using the fabric of the green lining of her skirt, and all the troubles that awaited the main character after that. And when a caring “mother” suggested that he put on his aunt’s women’s sharp-toed shoes in case his own ones would suddenly break off at the moment of perhaps the most responsible exam in his life … “The poor are not given the right to choose, my boy,” says his “dad” with some hypocrisy, the main feature of which was stinginess … In this book, stinginess is perhaps brought to the point of absurdity, but perhaps this is somehow familiar to many readers in some form, and this is especially true of the older generation in our country – Russia, accustomed to try to save extremely – even if sometimes they could well afford something more.
There is, of course, a national flavor in the book, and it is described especially vividly due to the fact that the main character was born in Dublin into a Catholic family, but then he was forced to live in a small Scottish town inhabited by Protestants – by the way, through the prism of the perception of the little hero we we learn a lot about the way of life and manners of this very town.
Summing up, I will note that we have an example of such kind of book, in which, perhaps, there are no such action events as in a thriller or in an action movie, but, nevertheless, thanks to the correctly placed accents and interesting cognitive aspect of the text, the level of the reader’s response to which far surpasses many books of sharp genres.
“There will always be someone whose view is wide enough,” it is said mysteriously at the very beginning of the novel -really, it is not yet too clear what this is about – oh, this will become obvious only closer to the end of the novel.
And after that, paragraph by paragraph, the picture unfolds before the reader of a hero’s acquisition of his memories, for the time being, buried somewhere. Acquisitions bit by bit, with the help of some stable verbal turnovers being recalled, with the help of not too recognized yet person images who for the time being do not have their own name that are poping up from memory.
He identifies Russia by seeing himself in the church, and outside the window – a snow-covered country. And I think this very combination is extremely “Russian”!
“The church is a great joy, especially in childhood. Small, that means, I hold onto my mother’s skirt … And so I soar in church, float over the priest, waving a censer, through the fragrant smoke. Above the choir – through his chants (slow waves of the choir and his own grimaces on high notes). Above the old woman candlestick and the people who filled the temple (flowing around the pillars), along the windows, behind which there is a snowy country. Russia?”
Then he finds his memories even more accurately in space – this time with the help of recalling of the images of spire and the river. I can’t help but quote this metaphorical description of the tramway movement:
“I am recalling. Tram rails on the frozen river. An electric tram making its way from one bank to another, benches along the windows … The car driver is concentrated, he is the last one to lose hope. The conductor is also strong in spirit, but does not forget to cheer himself up with sips from a flask, for the frost and moonlit landscape will discourage anyone, the conductor must remain vigorous. Sells tickets for five kopecks, rips them off with icy fingers. There are ten fathoms of water under it, a blizzard on the sides, but its fragile ark, a yellow light on the ice, strives to its goal – a huge spire lost in the darkness. I recognize this spire and this river. Now I know what city I lived in. “
And gradually this one who is recalling finds himself, feels himself, – first in space, then – in time. And most importantly – bit by bit he restores pictures of idyllic Russian life, forever lost and preserved only in the memories of those who, like him, are still alive, or … captured on paper by those who did manage to write it down.
“I try to approach the past in different ways in order to understand what it is. Something separate from me, or something I still live through?”
Honestly, keeping in mind the title of the novel – Aviator, I was afraid that it would turn out to be a text about the everyday life of some outstanding plane designer like Sergei Korolev, but my fears were not confirmed. In general, when the reader tries to understand why the book is named in one way or another, then an amazing kind of scanning of the text occurs in his mind … Of course, the theme of the aviator (really fashionable and sometimes tragic occupation for the 1910s) echoes the poem of the same name by Alexander Blok (1912). But, closer to the end of the text, we may find a quote about a wide view of the picture seen, shedding light on the mysterious phrase about the width of the view at the very beginning and, besides, on the title of the novel:
“Once in Siverskaya I saw an airplane take off from a poorly mowed field. Taking a take off, the aviator went around potholes, jumped on bumps and suddenly – oh, joy! – was in the air. Looking at the car convulsively moving across the field, no one was flying, frankly speaking, he did not expect. And the aviator took off. And there was no more hummocky field, no laughing spectators for him – the sky appeared in the clouds scattering over it and the motley, like patchwork, earth under the wings. “
The hero of the novel identifies himself with Robinson Crusoe, the hero of his beloved childhood novel … By the way, the very book that his grandmother read to him when he was ill, listening to it through the sur of his fever, it is difficult to imagine something more idyllic. That’s right: he is now Robinson Crusoe, because he was left completely alone, he was cut off from the world of which he was a part, and he was deprived of the opportunity to build a boat to get on it to the “Big Earth”.
So, all that remains is to remember and try to write down as many of your memories as possible.
“There is no point in writing about any major events … Descriptions should concern something that does not take place in history, but remains in the heart forever.”