the long road
From time to time out of the text there emerged little black figures which postured on the white paper beside it, achieved a group which was magical, an incantation to death, and ran back again into the text, which carried on its story of the main and legitimate historical process.
—Rebecca West (Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, p. 1103)
I’m not quite sure what to say. It’s been two and a half years that I’ve been reading – actively reading – Black Lamb and Grey Falcon and I’ve finally finished it. I don’t think I’ve ever taken quite so long to read a book and still felt, through the duration, that I’ve been reading it. I think I may have to begin and read it again, to take in the embroidery, the historical excursus, the lamentations over the ill-mannered Gerda. It is vast and sprawling and it could have been four or five books – indeed, it is four or five books all jumbled together. One wishes that more travel writing were like it – while remaining thankful that this is not the case.