Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Moving; this house is going somewhere

Looking for something else, I ran onto my copy of Another Beauty by Adam Zagajewski. This is why I still need to have paper books. Their quantity annoys my family; perhaps (if they dug a big enough hole) they could be buried with me. Although by a poet, this is a book of prose,which dips into and out of memoir, and is seasoned throughout by the witty sardonicism (maybe that's not quite the right word--I might change it later) of someone born right after (1945) what I still call The War into an early life in Russian-dominated Poland. I find it wonderfully readable, as if by someone I had known a long time and was in utter harmony with. Here are two paragraphs (they are all wonderful and quite quotable in bite-sized chunks) about living in different places, and about other things. too.

"My first two trips: my first independent journey took me to Prague. From my first moments there I was bewitched by its foreignness. Prague smelled different from Krakow; the end of September had brought on autumn's chills, and a stove was burning here and there, stoked by brown coal, not black. I came from a country of black coal. Dusk in Prague was different from dusk in Krakow, the shadows gathered differently. The shop windows were different. The streetcars were another species entirely, they were quicker, their bells rang differently. I got to know foreignness, the foreignness of a language that sounded familiar, but not the same. I fell in love with foreignness; I strolled the streets of old Prague where no one knew me. I was foreign to them too, but I also became a little foreign to myself, and thus a little more real, as if made of slightly sturdier stuff.

Two years later I traveled to Lwow and met foreignness there too. The city in the hills was spattered with Soviet ugliness. I found foreignness in my hometown. I found foreignness within me."
                       (from Another Beauty by Adam Zagajewski, page 59)

Where are you now? And where have you been?  Good night, sleep well.
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