dimanche 30 octobre 2011

Edith Wharton, HUDSON RIVER BRACKETED, New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1929, 536 pages.

As the doctor said, there was really very little to do; and after a few days Vance tried to get back to work. As soon as he sat down at his desk he was overwhelmed by an uncontrollable longing to plunge again into his novel. Once before — after seeing his grandfather by the river with Floss Delaney — he had been dragged back to life by the need to work his anguish out in words. Now, at this direr turn of his life, he found himself possessed by the same craving, as if his art must be fed by suffering, like some exquisite insatiable animal. . . . But what did all that matter, when the job before him was not novel-writing but inventing blurbs for “Storecraft”? He had already spent a good part of Hayes’s cheque, and he would need more money soon; his business now was to earn it. He clenched his fists and sat brooding over the model “ads” till it was time to carry in the iced milk to Laura Lou. But he had not measured the strength of the force that propelled him. In his nights of unnatural vigil his imagination had acquired a fierce impetus that would not let him rest. Words sang to him like the sirens of Ulysses; sometimes the remembering of a single phrase was like entering into a mighty temple. He knew, as never before, the rapture of great comet flights of thought across the heaven of human conjecture, and the bracing contact of subjects minutely studied, without so much as a glance beyond their borders. Now and then he would stop writing and let his visions sweep him away; then he would return with renewed fervour to the minute scrutiny of his imaginary characters. There was something supernatural and compulsory in this strange alternation between creating and dreaming. Sometimes the fatigue of his nights would overcome him in full activity, and he would drop into a leaden sleep at his desk; and once, when he roused himself, he found his brain echoing with words read long ago, in his early days of study and starvation: “I was swept around all the elements and back again; I saw the sun shining at midnight in purest radiance; gods of heaven and gods of hell I saw face to face and adored them...” Yes, that was it; gods of heaven and gods of hell . . . and they had mastered him. . . . He got the milk out of the icebox, and carried it in to Laura Lou. . . .
(p. 516-517)

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