Images of Truth: Remembrances and Criticism

Images of Truth: Remembrances and Criticism

Images of Truth: Remembrances and Criticism

Images of Truth: Remembrances and Criticism

Excerpt

Grief is a species of idleness .

--SAMUEL JOHNSON

This volume consists of informal portraiture of two or three fellow writers near and dear to me, and of certain blessed elders and betters, with loving commentary on their production of stories and novels.

While happily working away, in marginal relationship to the work, I have been led to try to define and profess my own faith in the narrative art, with particular beliefs about it that have stayed unchanged in my mind for many years, regardless of my personal ability or inability. For which purpose let me take a text, as religious writers and preachers do, but a pre-Christian secular text: the beginning of the eleventh book of the Odyssey. Do you recall the tale it tells?

Odysseus, coming back from Troy to Ithaca, lost his way; and his mistress, Circe, advised him to consult the ghost of Tiresias about it. As you may recall, this ancient soothsayer had been cursed and stricken with hermaphroditism as a result of having come upon a pair of serpents (perhaps the demigod and demigoddess, Cadmus and Harmonia, in their serpent phase) and watched them entwining in intercourse. Long afterward, an argument having arisen between the supreme god and goddess, Zeus and Hera, as to which sex, male or female, enjoyed intercourse more keenly, they asked Tiresias to settle it, and he said female. Whereupon Hera caused him to go blind; but Zeus decreed that he should live seven . . .

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