I’ve been trying to find the essay by Charles Lamb (I think) that describes the author’s almost parental doting on his own self as a little boy. Slippery slope. Now I want to re-read The Two Races of Men and A Bachelor’s Complaint of the Behavior of Married People, but I have work to do.
I’d never seen a picture of Charles Lamb before. He looks young, handsome, and very kind. Sort of a hottie, actually. I always assume that people who wrote 200 years ago were old and wise when they were writing (except for Keats and Shelley). I have the same trouble with The Economist—have to remind myself that most of it is written by spotty 23-year-old Oxbridge types.
I cringed through last night’s reading of my friend Max’s new novel, The Artist’s Wife. I’ve actually owned the novel for over two months now, but I still haven’t read it. This is very embarrassing. I’ve seen him regularly, he got a rave review in The New York Times, and I thoroughly enjoyed his last book. So I have no excuse but sheer lack of moral fibre. In fact, when I finally did start it, hungover this morning from his party wine and Benedictine, I managed to miss my subway stop.
I passed the time at the reading by a) fretting that he would think I’d read it and didn’t like it and b) thinking about what I had liked so much about his first novel, Snakebite Sonnet. Max writes about being a child better than any writer I’ve read recently except Roddy Doyle. Other writers seem to sentimentalize too much, to invest too much purity in their child creations. (This is what made me think of the Lamb essay.)
I suppose JK Rowling does a good job of a child character with Harry Potter, but third-person voice doesn’t call for the same ventriloquism. I’ve been procrastinating on seeing the movie, and have just realized it’s because the posters of the Harry actor irritate me. He looks like a miniature BBC executive. Ugh.
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Granted that you’re using age in the conventional sense of accumulated days, months, and years, but it’s always struck me, in particular with regard to Shelley, Keats and Wordsworth, that the latter, a sage, was younger than the two former poets mentioned.
Those who accumulate years do so through a processs which is entirely natural and keeping with an essentially basic and boring aspect of our lives. Those who demonstrate age through other means, in the sense that older age has some significance as to being scholarly, etc., do so through other special powers.
No, am not confusing “wisdom” or some special gift or way of seeing, but want to get out of the rut of attributing anything remarkable or especial to age….at all. There’s nothing special about it. Some who have it may have special aspects to their nature because they’ve used their time especially wisely, but most don’t. Including poets. And most especially politicians. 😉 LOL
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