“suddenly illuminated by a flash of lightning”

from Chapter XII, Third Part, of The Counterfeiters by Andre Gide, from the journal of the central character, who is a writer of a novel called The Counterfeiters:

“As soon as I got home, set to work on The Counterfeiters. My exaltation is calm and lucid. My joy is such as I have never known before. Wrote thirty pages without hesitation, without a single erasure. The whole drama, like a nocturnal landscape suddenly illuminated by a flash of lightning, emerges out of the darkness, very different from what I had been trying to invent. The books I had hitherto written seem to me like the ornamental pools in public gardens — their contours are defined — perfect perhaps, but the water they contain is captive and lifeless.”

This captures pretty well the experience I have had since mid-December with the writing of Ouroboros and now Omphalos. They are unlike anything I have written before, both in subject matter and in experience. I’m not going to resort to a naturalistic metaphor, but it does seem with these two works that everything I had written hitherto (may I use that word?) was merely preparation for what I’m working on now. I may eat these words later, but for now, I’m in a good place.

Gide’s novel has been a chore, and the characters are hard to relate to, and the setting (Paris, now nearly 100 years ago) is hard to grasp, but passages like the above are a nice payoff. (Melville’s stuff works the same way for me sometimes.) I think I’ll read more Gide after all.

Explore posts in the same categories: Ramblings Off Topic, Rants and ruminations, Reviews and Responses

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