Friday, 30 May 2014

A shadow of love

"That morning in my bunk I had read Wordsworth's great Ode in Palgrave's Golden Treasury.  Palgrave like Scott carried signs of my father's reading in the form of dog-eared pages and knowing so little about him I had followed every clue and so learned enjoy what he enjoyed.  Thus when I first entered the bank as junior clerk I had thought of it in Wordsworth's terms as a 'prison-house' -- what  was it my father had found a prison, so that he double-marked the passage?  Perhaps our home, and my stepmother and I had been the warders.

One's life is more formed, I sometimes think, by books than by human beings: it is out of books one learns about love and pain at second hand.  Even if we have the happy chance to fall in love, it is because we have been conditioned by what we have read, and if I had never known love at all, perhaps it was because my father's library had not contained the right books.  (I don't think there was much passionate love in Marion Crawford, and only a shadow of it in Walter Scott.)"

Travels With My Aunt  Grahame Greene

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