Monday, March 14, 2011

Complex Pleasures

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.


Anonymous said...

I think you enjoyed meeting with other readers to speak of Stendhal's book.It's a famous novel.I learned it at the "lycée" a long time ago and I saw the film with G. Philipe
some years after;
I saw in your list that you read "l'élégance du hérisson".This book had a great fame here,but I didn't appreciate it so much.
Is it difficult for you to read the novel writed in french?

John said...

Lire les recits francais, ce n'est pas trop difficile si je me donne le temps.

Ur-spo said...

I recall TRATB was a depressive read; I should reread it and see if it is 'better' now I am older.