Friday, June 11, 2010

A Bellow from the past

Today is the birthday of Saul Bellow, the American writer and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature. He died in 2005 at the age of 89.

In Humboldt's Gift, written in 1973, Bellow's protagonist, Charlie Citrine, believes that he may be "imperfectly reborn" -- that his forgetting of the perfect soul-life may be "imperfect, defective, incomplete."

"...from an early age," Citrine recalls, "I was taken aback to see eyes move in faces, nose breathe, skins sweat, hairs grow, and the like, finding it comical. This was sometimes offensive to people born with full oblivion of their immortality."

This is something that Sully broods about in The Misforgotten -- do some of us fail to entirely forget our previous lives?.

Surely we’ve all lived before, else why are we so unhappy? We long for what was, for what we were. All of our discontent was simply grieving for what we’d lost. -- Chapter 43, The Misforgotten.

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