Saturday, May 16, 2009

A Bit from Barnes

She also knew that it had been this very gentleness, this lack of ego – which had been one of his attractions. She had thought … what, exactly? She thought (now) that she had thought (then) that here was someone who wouldn’t seek to impose himself on her (well, true), who would let her be herself. Had she indeed thought that, or was this a later version? Either way, it was false. ‘Be herself’ – that’s what people said, but they didn’t mean it. They meant – she mean – ‘become herself,’ whatever that was, and however that might be attained. The truth was, Martha – wasn’t it – that you were expecting Paul’s mere presence to act as a growth hormone to the heart? Just sit over there on the sofa, Paul, and beam your love at me; then I’ll turn into the mature, ripened person I’ve always wanted to be. Could you get more egotistical, and more naïve? Or, for that matter, more passive? Who said human beings became ripe anyway? Maybe they just became old.

Barnes, Julian. England, England. New York: Vintage, 1998. 210-211.

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