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.