“It is in a house that one is alone. Not outside it, but inside. Outside, in the garden, there are birds and cats. […] One does not find solitude, one creates it. Solitude is created alone. I have created it. Because I decided that here was where I should be alone, that I would be alone to write books. It happened this way. I was alone in this house. I shut myself in — of course, I was afraid. And then I began to love it. This house became the house of writing. My books come from this house. From this light as well, and from the garden. From the light reflecting off the pond. It has taken me twenty years to write what I just said.”
Marguerite Duras, Writing
Still thinking about these words, which I first read a few weeks ago in a car full of sleeping children. Yes, we create our own solitude. Or — and how to stop doing this? — we prevent our own solitude. Of course, I was afraid, writes Duras. There are so many temptations to fill the emptiness of solitude. Alone with an empty page & there is the fear, and there is the lure of an internet browser a click away. Solitude, true solitude, is perhaps something we have to work harder than ever to create.
I read Duras’s The Lover while we were in Cornwall too. Set in 1930s Saigon, it’s a slender, disquieting book about a young French girl’s affair with an older, and far wealthier, Chinese man. Duras works in very intense short sections, often just a paragraph long. Time is non-linear, arresting images recur — the girl on the ferry where she first meets her lover; the madness of her mother, years later, in a house on the Loire. Tenses shift: sometimes the girl is ‘me/I’, sometimes ‘the girl’. And through it is an honesty and an intense nostalgia bestowed by the perspective of old age. ‘Very early in my life it was too late.’
There’s a honey cake cooling on the rack in preparation for the Pip-Pop’s second birthday this weekend. We’re taking him on a protest march…and to see the new Paddington movie, which has had T re-reading all the Paddington books in preparation. (Yes, two is a bit young to go to the cinema. The Moose is four and he’s never been before. T, seven, has only been once…what are we doing? Such is the popularity of ‘Paddy’ bear in this family that no-one wanted to miss out. I’ll report back.)