terça-feira, novembro 20, 2007

James Wood, James Wood, James Wood

Tolstoy is the great novelist of physical involuntariness. The body helplessly confesses itself, and the novelist seems merely to run and catch its spilled emotion.(...) Tolstoy can seem almost childlike in his simplicity, because he is not embarrassed to do the kind of thing beloved of children’s and fairy-tale writers when they read the emotions on the face of a cat or a donkey. When Prince Andrei’s wife dies in childbirth, her dead face appears to say to the living, “Ah, what have you done to me?” The old prince’s valet can “read” his master’s body; he knows that if the prince is “stepping full on his heels” something is up. At a ball in St. Petersburg, the sixteen-year-old Natasha Rostov has just finished a dance and, intoxicated with happiness, would like to rest. But someone asks her to dance again, and she agrees, flashing a smile at the man she will eventually become engaged to, Prince Andrei, who has been watching her. Tolstoy explains the smile:

That smile said: “I’d be glad to rest and sit with you; I’m tired; but you see, I’ve been asked to dance, and I’m glad of it, and I’m happy, and I love everybody, and you and I understand all that,” and much, much more

Readers always feel that Tolstoy is both an intrusive narrator—breaking in to explain things, telling us what to think, writing essays and sermons—and a miraculously absent one, who simply lets his world narrate itself. As Isaac Babel put it, “If the world could write by itself, it would write like Tolstoy.” There is a sense in which Tolstoy is saying to us—to dare a Tolstoyan reading of Tolstoy, for a minute—“I will gladly help you read Natasha’s or Pierre’s or the little princess’s face, but, really, anyone could do it. You don’t need me. For these are the largest, most universal, most natural emotions, not the precious little sweets of the stylish novelist.”

(Não sei como é que isto escapou às malhas do Dennis Dutton, mas toma lá)

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