The Whispering Gallery: Autobiography I

The Whispering Gallery: Autobiography I

The Whispering Gallery: Autobiography I

The Whispering Gallery: Autobiography I

Excerpt

There are many reasons why one should wish to tell the story of one's life even at a time when one hopes that there is still a long stretch of it to come. Most of us have known people, of both sexes, who have been inspired to make a kind of manifesto for those who followed them out of a frank avowal of a path they have trod, in the manner of Rousseau; but I am certain I do not belong to their company. Others, defeated or maligned or suffering from one of the many forms of persecution mania, may feel the need to justify themselves in the face of their critics, real or imagined; being of a fairly sanguine temperament, I do not. Not that I 'lack gall to make oppression bitter'; rather, that I have never allowed myself to feel oppressed for very long, believing that one's life is full of unexpected twists and turns and that a new opportunity--as good as any one has met before--may be just round the next corner.

When I decided to write this book, I think my purpose was mixed from several quite different motives. I wanted, first of all, to tell a story I believed to be interesting to others besides myself, before the traces of it should be even more difficult to recover than they are already. I wanted, in that story, to recreate as far as possible the living forms of lovable and remarkable people I have known, who are now dead; and to give my own account of certain happenings and endeavours in which I was intimately involved, and which seem to me likely to be a matter of curiosity in the future--even if only for the studious explorers of the byways of literary history. Above all, I had come to the point where I wanted to understand myself by analysing my past, and perhaps in so doing help others who have followed the same bents to understand their own selves. In this age of accelerating hurry (nobody knows quite to what end) and distraction (for nobody knows quite what good), a sane man must surely want to possess his own past, pausing for a short while on the side of the track to reflect . . .

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