This has stayed with me for a very long time.
It seems, as one becomes older, That the past has another pattern, and ceases to be a mere sequence— Or even development: the latter a partial fallacy Encouraged by superficial notions of evolution, Which becomes, in the popular mind, a means of disowning the past. The moments of happiness—not the sense of well-being, Fruition, fulfilment, security or affection, Or even a very good dinner, but the sudden illumination— We had the experience but missed the meaning, And approach to the meaning restores the experience In a different form, beyond any meaning We can assign to happiness. I have said before That the past experience revived in the meaning Is not the experience of one life only But of many generations—not forgetting Something that is probably quite ineffable: The backward look behind the assurance Of recorded history, the backward half-look Over the shoulder, towards the primitive terror.
Today works by James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, Henri Bergson and James Frazer all enter the public domain. All eminent modernists or people whose work influenced High Modernism a great deal.
I am perusing The Dalkey Archive Press - that great publisher and re-issuer of modernist works (among other things) - whilst pondering what to pick up. I have pledged to read a modest twenty books this year - a modest amount as I want to read better books, not more books. I have begun by finally reading Lionel Shriver's We Need To Talk About Kevinwhich is hopefully a step in the right direction? I am 150 pages into it and it reads like, well, a coiled-up snake waiting to strike (what an unsuccessful simile!). I have several books lined up: The Picture of Dorian Gray(in a beautiful edition given to me by D.), Jamaica Inn, and James Robertson's And the Land Lay Stillare the first three.
2012 is off to a quiet, thoughtful start. This is good.