Anne reveled in the world of color about her. “Oh, Marilla,” she exclaimed, “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. It would be terrible if we just skipped from September to November, wouldn’t it?”
Poe isn’t for everyone. He’s too heady a draught for that. He may not be for you. But there are secrets to appreciating Poe, and I shall let you in on one of the most important ones: read him aloud.
Read the poems aloud. Read the stories aloud. Feel the way the words work in your mouth, the way the syllables bounce and roll and drive and repeat, or almost repeat. Poe’s poems would be beautiful if you spoke no English (indeed, a poem like “Ulalume” remains opaque even if you do understand English — it implies a host of meanings, but does not provide any solutions). Lines which, when read on paper, seem overwrought or needlessly repetitive or even mawkish, when spoken aloud reshape and reconfigure.
(You may feel peculiar, or embarrassed, reading aloud; if you would rather read aloud in solitude I suggest you find a secret place; or if you would like an audience, find someone who likes to be read to, and read to him or to her.)
"I grew up reading a generation of American and English people like [Saul] Bellow, [John] Updike or [Martin] Amis. Everybody’s neutral unless they’re black — then you hear about it: the black man, the black woman, the black person. Of course, if you happen to be black the world doesn’t look that way to you. I just wanted to try and create perhaps a sense of alienation and otherness in this person, the white reader, to remind them that they are not neutral to other people."
Zadie Smith, discussing how she never mentions the race of any of the characters in her new novel, NW, unless they are white. (via theraconteurasaurus)
Oh good. That was what I did in my novel Anansi Boys. (I took some flak for it — and even found myself accused of various bad things by people who hadn’t noticed that most of the characters were African/African-American/Caribbean/Anglo-Caribbean/Of Very Mixed Race, and who felt somehow tricked or confused. But it felt very right. Still does.) —Neil Gaiman
"Ross Island is abutted to the south by the Ross Ice Shelf, an area roughly the size of France. It is a remarkable experience to stand on Ross Island and look over the desolate flatness of the ice shelf. It gives real meaning to the term deafening silence. A blank canvas with no features, it still holds deep within its ice Scott, Wilson, Bowers and Oates who, with the exception of Oates, died at their last camp just 18 kilometers (11 miles) from One Ton depot. Known in the heroic age simply as ‘the Barrier’, the Ross Ice Shelf is immense."
"The cardinal’s scarlet clothes now lie folded and empty. They cannot be wasted. They will be cut up and become other garments. Who knows where they will get to over the years? Your eye will be taken by a crimson cushion or a patch of red on a banner or ensign. You will see a glimpse of them in a man’s inner sleeve or in the flash of a whore’s petticoat.
Another man would go to Leicester to see where he died and talk to the abbot. Another man would have trouble imagining it, but he has no trouble. The red of a carpet’s ground, the flush of the robin’s breast or the chaffinch, the red of a wax seal or the heart of the rose: implanted in his landscape, cered in his inner eye, and caught in the glint of a ruby, in the color of blood, the cardinal is alive and speaking. Look at my face: I am not afraid of any man alive."
"He thinks, if you were born in Putney, you saw the river every day, and imagined it widening out to the sea. Even if you had never seen the ocean you had a picture of it in your head from what you had been told by foreign people who sometimes came upriver. You knew that one day you would go out into a world of marble pavements and peacocks, of hillsides buzzing with heat, the fragrance of crushed herbs rising around you as you walked. You planned for what your journeys would bring you: the touch of warm terra-cotta, the night sky of another climate, alien flowers, the stone-eyed gaze of other people’s saints. But if you were born in Aslockton, in flat fields under a wide sky, you might just be able to imagine Cambridge: no farther."
Wolsey sits with his elbows on his desk, his fingers dabbing his closed lids. He takes a great breath, and begins to talk: he begins to talk about England.
You can’t know Albion, he says, unless you can go back before Albion was thought of. You must go back before Caesar’s legions, to the days when the bones of giant animals and men lay on the ground where one day London would be built. You must go back to the New Troy, the New Jerusalem, and the sins and crimes of the kings who rode under the tattered banners of Arthur and who married women who came out of the sea or hatched out of eggs, women with scales and fins and feathers; beside which, he says, the match with Anne looks less unusual. These are old stories, he says, but some people, let us remember, do believe them.