Recitiri

Julian Barnes: I was wrong about EM Forster

If reading is one of the pleasures – and necessities – of youth, rereading is one of the pleasures – and necessities – of age. You know more, you understand both life and literature better, and you have the additional interest of checking your younger self against your older self. Occasionally I will reread a book in exactly the same copy as I first did decades previously: and there, in, say, a student text of a Flaubert novel, I will find all those annotations which now, initially, embarrass. Key passages underlined, exclamations in the margin of “Irony!” or “Metaphor!” or “Repeated image!” and so on. And yet often, naive and excited as they seem, these comments are pretty much ones I might be making – if not so explicitly – several decades on. That younger reader wasn’t wrong: it was ironic, it was metaphorical, it was a repeated image. I don’t think you are a more intelligent reader at 65 than at 25; just a more subtle one, and better able to make comparisons with other books and other writers.

Sometimes you change your mind about a writer. Perhaps, when you first read them you were only pretending to admire what you’d been told to admire. But also your tastes change. For instance, at 25 I was more open to writers telling me how to live and how to think; by 65 I had come to dislike didacticism. I don’t want to be told how to think and how to live by, say, Bernard Shaw, or D H Lawrence or the later Tolstoy. I don’t like art – especially theatrical art – whose function seems to be to reassure us that we are on the right side. Sitting there complacently agreeing with a playwright that war is bad, that capitalism is bad, that bad people are bad. “You don’t make art out of good intentions,” is one of Flaubert’s wiser pronouncements.

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Despre Claudiu Degeratu
Expert in securitate nationala, internationala, NATO, UE, aparare si studii strategice

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