Drizzly Friday afternoon in March.
I was walking across a Maine campus that still wore some of this season’s snows. Fog made a milky, Gothic light. The silence of Spring Break was fast descending.
I had come to sit with over 150 other adult readers of a novel first published in France almost two centuries ago. Few people to whom I mentioned the weekend venture had heard of Stendhal’s The Red and the Black. Few knew, I suspect, why I might want to get here.
Was it the lure of the university to which I was responding? Or the prospect of something like alchemists’ secret knowledge?
Maybe I just craved the company of people used to being reminded that mind’s pleasures require effort. Perplexity is not always a problem. One’s own complexity need not frighten or daunt.
Avoiding questions never makes for great literature, does it? Or great lives.