Tuesday, April 21, 2009

On keeping things separate

Image via ThomasMoronic.

I had with me a copy of Le Rouge et le noir. He riffled the pages. Do you like this?

Yes. I read it first in Arabic. Now I'm rereading it in French. And I added: Julien's family life is like my own in some ways. One thing in particular is almost identical: Monsieur Sorel bound out his son Julien to the mayor of the town for three hundred francs a year, and my father rented me for thirty pesetas a month to a hashish-smoker who ran a cafe in the quarter of Ain Khabbaz where we lived in Tetuan.

I see your trouble. And you're not the only one. You'll never find beauty in literature that way. You shouldn't read with that sort of thing in mind, with the idea that the life of one or another protagonist has something to do with your own life. You have to keep things separate. Your life is nobody else's life.

-Jean Genet in Tangier by Mohamed Choukri, translated by Paul Bowles (page 7)

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