Thursday, April 29, 2010

E.M. Forster's Arctic Summer

'. . . my new era is to have no dawn. It is to be a kind of Arctic Summer, in which there will be time to get something really great done.' (Venetia murmured, 'Arctic Summer.') 'Dawn implies twilight, and we have decided to abolish them both. . . '


And they chattered on in the strain that pleased all three, maintaining their opinions with sincerity and yet without inconvenience, brandishing as it were the little knives that had been given to each man to defend his soul, but never proving their metal. An outsider would have thought that they were quarrelling, an intelligent foreigner that they were making conversation. Both would have been wrong.


. . . and though he doubted a purpose behind the Universe, he never ceased to act as if there was a purpose. Of course he had his difficulties and temptations; for instance he nearly became a bad citizen. When beauty flowered, the wonder of life so dazzled him that he saw nothing else, and the world appeared as a gymnasium in which fine fellows develop their muscles and swing about from rope to rope. But he had an Englishman's capacity for correcting his faults, and a Quaker's capacity for perceiving them, and he took himself sternly in hand.


For that was the wonder of the picture--that he was here to see it. He might have been at the Basle hospital--or nowhere; he might have been clicked out of life. But he was here: a fellow creature had saved him.


Beauty may sink into the decorative too--she moves between two abysses--and this Italian tour gave him the sense of stage scenery which borrows all its value from the events that take place in front of it. No events did take place--here was the defect. The jar inside him was spiritual as well as aesthetic: he was rushing day after day through a world that did not belong to him.


He had never felt the rough winds that still blow about the world. He imagined them abolished--as if by some international agreement! Well, the least breath from them, the merest puff, had touched him this evening, and he had run away.

--E.M. Forster, Arctic Summer

Book 13 in the Girl Detective's 15/15/15 project was Forster's segment of an unfinished novel, which I enjoyed despite its lack of anithesis.

Two more to go!

1 comment:

  1. E.M. Forster is one of my MRE authors but I've only read half of his books so far and was puzzled by the mention of this last one in his bibliography; it's nice to know a little about what to expect therein.


"I don't believe in ghosts, but I see them all the time."

Sherman Alexie cancels book tour for memoir about his mother.