Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Sui generis …

…  “Knight, Poet, Anarchist,” by Eliot Weinberger | Harper's Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Ford Madox Ford had told Read, in 1920, to get out of cultural journalism and become a novelist: “You may not like novel writing but it would be a good thing to stick to it as to avoid turning your soul into a squirrel in a revolving cage.” Though he had often imagined himself as a novelist in the manner of Henry James or his friend Edith Wharton, it was not until the summer of 1934 that he spent six weeks in a tiny, six-by- four-foot wooden hut he had built in his garden, writing his one, short novel.
It was queer how the book wrote itself; I had nothing much to invent — only the local color. The details of the myth were waiting in my mind. And it was only afterwards that I began to see their significance.
It was originally called Inland Far, from Wordsworth’s “Intimations of Immortality” (“Though inland far we be, / Our Souls have sight of that immortal sea / Which brought us hither.”) Luckily this was quickly changed to The Green Child. (The abstraction Read favored in the visual arts often had a way of undermining his own writing, particularly in the poetry.) The surviving manuscript has a mysterious and completely misleading epigraph from Kierkegaard: “Reminiscence” — “Self” is crossed out, then “The power of reflection” is crossed out — “is the condition of all productivity.”

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