The Prime of Life

The Prime of Life

The Prime of Life

The Prime of Life

Excerpt

When I undertook to write about myself I found that I had embarked upon a somewhat rash adventure, easier begun than left off. I had long wanted to set down the story of my first twenty years; nor did I ever forget the distress signals which my adolescent self sent out to the older woman who was afterward to absorb me, body and soul. Nothing, I feared, would survive of that girl, not so much as a pinch of ashes. I begged her successor to recall my youthful ghost, one day, from the limbo to which it had been consigned. Perhaps the only reason for writing my books was to make the fulfillment of this long-standing prayer possible. When I was fifty, it seemed to me that the time had come. I took that child and that adolescent girl, both so long given up for lost in the depths of the unrecalled past, and endowed them with my adult awareness. I gave them a new existence--in black and white, on sheets of paper.

I had no plans for taking this project any further. Adult status brought disenchantment with the future. When I had completed my Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter no voice spoke to me out of my past, urging me to continue the story. I made up my mind to turn to some other task; but in the event I found myself unable to do so. Beneath the final line of that book an invisible question mark was inscribed, and I could not get my mind off it. Freedom I had--but freedom to do what? What new direction would the course of my life take as a result of all this fuss and commotion, the pitched battle that had culminated in victorious release? My first instinct was to bury myself behind my books; but they provided no solution. Indeed, their own validity was being challenged. I had chosen to be a writer, and had in fact written various works. But why? Why those particular books, only those and none other? Had I overshot my ambition, or fallen short of it? There could be no common ground between the boundless, infinite hopes I entertained at twenty and the actual achievement which followed. I had got at the same time both much more and much less than I wanted. Little by little I became convinced that, from my own point of view, the first volume of my Memoirs required a sequel. There was no point in hav-

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