friend of all frillies
It may have been a matter of poor timing that put me out of sympathy with the book. At another time I might have found it a diverting collection of essays and fragments, droll, witty, amusing, with a certain neurasthenic charm – as one would expect to find after looking at more nuanced review. Unfortunately, I started reading Miklós Szentkuthy’s Towards the One & Only Metaphor on the day the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, and this made a book in which the female body is always a thing – a flower, a building, an instrument, a collection of buttons and pleats to be ogled, a puppet, a character in a play (but still no more a human female than Lady Macbeth) – not precisely anathema, but certainly unwelcome. The louche leers of self-loathing lechers lost, for the moment, their already limited ability to amuse.
I also happened to be rereading Kierkegaard’s Repetition at the time, and the experience was in a sense similar – that of encountering the thoughts of a clever man who has never met a woman and truly thought of her as a person rather than an object or a character.1
- It is pose, certainly, on the part of the narrator and not necessarily the author’s own stance and yet… In any case, it is easier to pardon a fault in someone familiar than in someone unknown. It took me nearly half a year to recover my temper. [↩]