Sunday, March 8, 2009

As I Further Reread Gilead

As you may remember, after reading Marilynne Robinson's beautifully written novel, Home, I decided to reread her earlier novel, Gilead. The two quotes below once again illustrate her wonderful writing, which sometimes makes me cry at the sheer beauty of the way the words follow one upon another.

The Reverend Ames writes to his young son:

When people come to speak to me, whatever they say, I am struck by a kind of incandescence in them, the "I" whose predicate can be "love" or "fear" or "want," and whose object can be "something" or "nothing" and it really won't matter, because the loveliness is just in that presence shaped around "I" like a flame on a wick, emanating itself in grief and guilt and joy and whatever else. But quick and avid and resourceful. To see this aspect of life is a privilege of the ministry which is seldom mentioned. p. 44

The Reverend has a bad heart.

So I decided a little waltzing would be very good, and it was. I plan to do all my waltzing here in the study. I have thought I might have a book ready at hand to clutch if I began to experience unusual pain, so that it would have an especial recommendation from being found in my hands. That seemed theatrical, on consideration, and it might have the perverse effect of burdening the book with unpleasant associations. The ones I considered, buy the way, were Donne and Herbert and Barth's "Epistle to the Romans" and Volume II of Calvin's "Institutes". Which is by no means to slight Volume I. p. 115

O my! You might as well read the book before I quote the whole thing here at Wounded Bird.


Göran Koch-Swahne said...


motheramelia said...

The writing really is wonderful. A deacon I worked with in California, who is originally from Shreveport, recommended it to me some years back. Makes me want to re-read it, but there's so much new reading to do.

Grandmère Mimi said...

MotherAmelia, if you have not read Home by the same author, you may want to give it a look.

I love Ames' description of the incandescent "I" of the people who seek his counseling.

motheramelia said...

I'll go see if the bookstore is open today. This time of year the hours are iffy. It's going to start snowing hard in a few hours so no time like the present.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Reading Home is a fine way to spend your time while it's snowing.

susan s. said...

I will read this and "Home."

I have been trying to read Flannery O'Connor(yes I know she is a completely different sort) and it has made me depressed. Is it supposed to? I don't like to read things that I cannot figure out the 'tone' of.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Susan, O'Connor is a wonderful writer, but I find her books depressing, too. The book of hers that I liked the most was the collection of her letters, because they were not depressing.