The kernel of human kindness

The kernel of human kindness

Having been caught between the colliding tectonic plates of two totalitarian systems, it is easy to see how Grossman saw history not in terms of a matched battle between good and evil, but of a juggernaut trying to mow down seedlings of kindness. Despite – or...
Kindness maketh man

Kindness maketh man

What makes us human?  Simple kindness is a key element according to Grossman.  It depends partly on how you define ‘human’ of course, whether to describe a particular species, or in the sense that is redolent with tenderness, vulnerability, feeling,...
An anatomy of anguish

An anatomy of anguish

This graphic and heart-rending typology of despair makes me conscious of having been mercifully spared much of anything that could be likened to despair.  Count your blessings, indeed. ‘Abarchuk sighed.  ‘You know what, someone ought to write a treatise on...
Love among the rubble

Love among the rubble

This refers to a love affair that burgeons in the grimness of Stalingrad, and I like how Grossman expands the spectrum to show that love can happen in the worst places, full of ‘noise, stench and rubble’.  The photo by Angela Compagnone seemed the perfect...
A voice answering a voice?

A voice answering a voice?

More than just the writing of poetry, isn’t writing in general often ‘a voice answering a voice’? This touching quotation comes towards the end of Orlando and the end of Orlando’s long endeavours to complete her poem.  It is the first and last...
Writing with one’s whole person

Writing with one’s whole person

A lovely view of how writing can feel when you are in the full flow of it, writing from the heart as much as with the pen.  Marvelous moments when time suspends and everything but the words and medium for writing them down are in front of you. ‘For it would seem...
Writing to kick up your heels

Writing to kick up your heels

Having just re-read Virginia Woolf’s Orlando after a third-of-a-century hiatus, I revelled in the liveliness and playfulness of both the author’s voice and that of the eponymous subject of this fictive biography.  The introduction highlights the extent to...
Shorter but longer

Shorter but longer

This pithy summary of the difference between prose and poetry is as much as Orlando gleans from the convoluted accounts of a poet to whom he has opened his home, larder, wine cellar, purse and poetic aspirations, in the hope of some helpful guidance.  Not forthcoming....
Of berries and wine

Of berries and wine

Having a love of ink, the variety of its hues and the names people give them, and the chunky inventive shapes of ink bottles, I was enchanted by this notion of making your own ink from berries and wine.  I imagine blueberries, blackcurrants or elderberries would be...

Pin It on Pinterest