As Promised…Other People’s Words

“Rodolphe tires of Emma’s passionate protestations: ” Because lips libertine and venal had murmered such words to him, he believed but little in the candour of hers; he thought that exaggerated speeches hiding mediocre affections much be discounted;  — as if the fullness of the soul did not sometimes overflow into the emptiest metaphors, since no one can ever give the exact measure of his needs, nor of his conceptions, nor of his sorrows; for human speech is like a cracked kettle, on which we hammer out tunes to make bears dance when we long to touch the stars to tears.” (I hear Flaubert complaining about the difficulties of composition.)”

– Nabokov, in Lectures in Literature, quoting and commenting (quite bluntly here) on Flaubert’s Madame Bovary. 

This somehow feels appropriate - like being unable to find the right word to express important things, a brief sense of dizziness from the awareness of the great nothing below.


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Filed under consolations of reading, Theory

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