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“To crave and to have are as like as a thing and its shadow.”

So I wasn’t crazy about the opening paragraph in Housekeeping, as I explained recently.

But as I mentioned in that same post, Marilynne Robinson’s writing style is much less choppy, much more poetic, throughout the rest of the book.

Almost all the characters in Housekeeping have a great sense of loneliness and longing. It’s a melancholy novel.

Here’s one of the more beautifully written, poetic passages from the novel:

“To crave and to have are as like as a thing and its shadow. For when does a berry break upon the tongue as sweetly as when one longs to taste it, and when is the taste refracted into so many hues and savors of ripeness and earth, and when do our senses know any thing so utterly as when we lack it? And here again is a foreshadowing — the world will be made whole. For to wish for a hand on one’s hair is all but to feel it. So whatever we may lose, very craving gives it back to us again.”

Passages like that are the reason I keep reading Housekeeping.

If I’m honest, I feel like it’s a slightly dull novel. But I can appreciate Marilynne Robinson’s natural gift with words.

More to come on Housekeeping, and I’ll be reviewing the novel (hopefully) next week.

 

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4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Brandon #

    Honestly, that passage is a bit purple for my taste. Also, I disagree with her premise:

    “For when does a berry break upon the tongue as sweetly as when one longs to taste it, and when is the taste refracted into so many hues and savors of ripeness and earth, and when do our senses know any thing so utterly as when we lack it?”

    Uhhh when we actually literally taste it?

    Going without definitely foils an experience, and deprivation can heighten appreciation, but it’s the fulfillment of desire that’s the capstone of experience.

    Maybe I’ve had more mind-blowing experiences than her. Maybe I just lack her imaginative capacity. I dunno. It’s a pretty passage but I think this book sounds like one I’d pass on.

    Liked by 1 person

    February 24, 2015
  2. Stephen McDaniel #

    Reminds me of a review I read recently of a literary novel that topped the NY Times Bestseller list. The reviewer was almost incoherent with the beauty of the book, and suspected it was probably the literary masterpiece of all time. I got hold of an extract of the book. It was like the passage above, but for 800! pages. Completely unreadable – to me – and almost impossible to find a story or plot. I can appreciate the verbal gymnastics (but not much), but if I have to read something three times trying to figure out what’s being said, it ain’t good. But some people (example: English Lit professors and James Joyce) love this stuff. More power to’em.

    Like

    February 24, 2015
    • I’m usually not fond of this style, I’ll admit. But that one jumped out at me. Not sure what it was about it, but I just love that passage and others like it in this book. Might have just hit me at the right time.

      Like

      February 24, 2015
  3. Reblogged this on Fonte da arte.

    Like

    February 24, 2015

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