Here is a wonderful excerpt from a book I am reading. The Unpossessed by Tess Slesinger. A celebrated book according to the blurb. I had never heard of it. I bought it second hand sometime ago (the dust from it is probably giving me an allergy) because this is what the blurb says about the book: '... devastating portrait of that uniquely disinherited class, the self-deceiving and disillusioned intellectuals of the Thirties. The Unpossessed, cheated of their ideas and frustrated in their loves, strike tragic and comic poses. Vehement, acerbic and heart-breaking...'.
I found The Unpossessed difficult to read at first. Its a serious novel and not easy reading (don't go by the passage below, I have picked it for its sheer literary and romantic beauty) - the kind of book I usually avoid. But I am glad I have put in the effort - might help me read technical books with more patience.
Ok. Without further ado, here's a passage from The Unpossessed:
Miles and His Wife
It was like bending to lift the customary stones and finding them lighter than air in the hands.It was like peering down the difficult road and seeing it miraculously straighten before him; wide and smooth and simple.
It was like trembling before God and finding God sweet and genial.
It was like a God damned honeymoon, Miles thought.
It took strength to face, to bear, such joy; it took room inside him to receive it. Some golden touch had fallen over everything; his breakfast coffee tasted like no coffee in the world; the sunshine filtering on their wall was a personal, bewildering gift, exclusive decoration for their home; and Margaret deftly sliding toast was a being that caught and held his eyes as though her slightest move were marvelous. She moved with a new vigor; a purpose as though there were some back-bone now to her soft balminess. And then - withdrawing her hands from the toaster and clasping them on the table, her eyes floated into space above his head, beyond his ken, with a curious and complacent languor. What is it, he thought of saying to her, what is it that makes everything one's lover does appear so apt, so perfect, so proper, so fortunate, in the other lover's eyes? Do you ever feel this way about me, he thought of saying to her. Is there anything else in the world that matters, he wanted to say. Can you keep us forever on this light-filled island, he almost cried. Aloud he said, with difficulty, "We'll both be late as hell, my dear. Look out, you'll burn the toast."
She started and smiled; moved her strong fingers about the toaster. "What do we care'" she said. her eyes were luminous above the percolator. "Mr. Pidgeon and Mr. Adolph Worthington - let them wait; let them whistle; let them write their own silly letters."
And let Bruno fall in love with manifestoes; let Jeffrey flirt with Magazines, with meetings, with the whole Left Wing; Miles - his fences down, his shell forgotten - was engaged in a passionate love affair with his wife. "I see by the morning papers," he dutifully began - and stopped; dropped the paper to the floor; took the coffee she held out to him; "hello Margaret," he said weakly; and felft himself smiling like a fool.
"Hello," she said back and smiled. They sipped from their cups and flirted over the rims. "I love mornings!" she cried and stretched her arms and grew like a tree across the table from him.
"And afternoons- don't you love afternoons," he said; "you balmy wench, don't leave out the afternoons, they'll be hurt - and you love evenings, don't you, and rainy days and sunny days and nights with moons and nights without moons..."
"I love everything," she said. "The whole blooming works." She had grown careless about her dress; it was shabby- he remembered it when it was new, fine wine-coloured wool, fiting closely to her shoulders. It was much more beautiful now, faintly worn, slightly darkened under the arms; the collar limp about her neck. It looked like her.
"I love that dress," he said.
"This old rag, " She laughed. "I love it too." her eyes floated again, that absent look shining brightly in their depths. "And no new ones this year, " she said in a ringing voice.
"Maggie, I forget: are you supposed to be a beautiful girl? I can't seem to tell any more. You've got such a great big light where your face used to be."
"Idiot, balmy idiot." she said.
(And it goes on beautifully some more. And later on in the book there is an equally amazing and complementary chapter: Margaret and Her Husband)