dimanche 30 octobre 2011

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

Rauch had said the title didn’t sound incandescent. Well, the book, if it was ever written, wouldn’t be incandescent either. Vance was more and more conscious of some deep-seated difference that cut him off from the circumambient literary “brightness,” or rather left him unsatisfied by it. Perhaps he could have written like those other clever fellows whose novels and stories he devoured as they appeared. He was quick at picking up tricks of language and technique; and his reading had taught him what Frenside had meant by saying he was at the sedulous age. Ape these fellows — yes, he knew he could! He’d tried his hand at it, not always quite consciously; but though he was sometimes rather pleased with the result he always ended by feeling that it wasn’t his natural way of representing things. These brilliant verbal gymnastics — or the staccato enumeration of a series of physical aspects and sensations — they all left him with the sense of an immense emptiness underneath, just where, in his own vision of the world, the deep forces stirred and wove men’s fate. If he couldn’t express that in his books he’d rather chuck it, and try real estate or reporting. . . . Some of the novels people talked about most excitedly — Price of Meat, say, already in its seventieth thousand, or Egg Omelette, which had owed its start to pulpit denunciations and the quarrel of a Prize Committee over its exact degree of indecency — well, he had begun both books with enthusiasm, as their authors appeared to have; and then, at a certain point, had felt the hollowness underfoot, and said to himself: “No, life’s not like that, people are not like that. The real stuff is way down, not on the surface.” When he got hold of Faust at the Willows, and came to the part about the mysterious Mothers, moving in subterranean depths among the primal forms of life, he shouted out: “That’s it — the fellows that write those books are all Motherless!” And Laura Lou, hurrying down duster in hand, rushed in exclaiming: “Oh, Vanny, I thought there were burglars!”
(p. 320-321)

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