Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Edward Gorey’s covers for You Can’t Go Home Again and The Web and the Rock by Thomas Wolfe.

She was always using the word “fancy,” and it was evident that about the worst comment she could make on anyone was to call him “fancy.” Yet, remembering now things she had said to him on the ship, and always with this same straight, open, and utterly convincing look of sincerity—that she thought a play by James Joyce, Exiles, was “the greatest play that had ever been written,” and knowing that this play was nothing but a fancy and obscure little play, and not in any way to be compared with Ulysses; and having heard her talk of D. H. Lawrence almost in the manner of a cult-adept, as if Lawrence had not only given men fine books and moving characters but was himself a second Jesus Christ offering us the way to life and everlasting truth; and having heard her say that she had been “psychoanalyzed,” and speak of psychoanalysis as the greatest truth that men had ever discovered, and the sudden means of healing all the fury, unrest, and madness that had afflicted the souls of men for twenty thousand years—having heard all this, together with her comments on African sculptures, primitive paintings, Charlie Chaplin as a supremely great tragic artist, the modern dance, and all the other identifying paraphernalia with which the lives of sophisticated people were tricked out, and which, beneath its show of liberalness and alertness to new forms of art and life, was really itself nothing but a sterile, monotonous, and lifeless form of dutiful consent for people who had no power to make a new life for themselves, and whose greatest impulse was to keep in the swim—having already seen and observed in her all these disquieting signs of a familiar cult, he now wondered, in the distress and perplexity of his spirit, whether she was really an immensely competent “fancy” person pretending to be simple, or the simple, direct, and honest person that she seemed to be, who hated what was “fancy.”

— Thomas Wolfe, The Web and the Rock, p.373.

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