Monday, August 28, 2006

Turning H.G. Wells' spine to the wall

She was beginning to feel quite cheerful. The man at the other table, right across the other side of the room, was staring at her. She stared back and he dropped his eyes. That done, she decided to have a little read of her book. She was reading a novel by Virginia Woolf--The Years. One had to be so careful what one read on journeys, because the book would forever bear the mark of the journey, so she always tried to read something not too important but not too trivial either. She remembered reading a volume of short stories by Wells--why, she couldn't remember--while waiting for Karel to arrive at some incredibly elaborate and doubtful assignation, and the book had been ruined forever: she had to turn its spine to the wall nowadays so she couldn't read its lettering. And while one of the children had been having his appendix out, she had read Iris Murdoch. On a train, when she had just left her husband forever, she had read Mr. Norris Changes Trains. Crying, turning the pages, gazing out of the window, crying again, reading a few more pages. Just like now, in fact. The soup plate and the filling were removed by the proprietor's sulky daughter, the omelette arrived.

--Margaret Drabble, The Realms of Gold

3 comments:

Stefanie said...

pwgtnxExcellent passage! Do you know if she wrote it after her affair with Wells?

sfp said...

I would love to know which collection of stories Drabble has her character read. Wells evidently wrote a couple of novels with a character based closely on West, and his relationship with her, or so Gordon Ray claims.

Stefanie said...

That was Drabble? Obviously I was not paying attention to the attribution, too blinded was I by the Woolf/Wells connection :)