Crying over fiction

I just finished reading my old professor’s text on his memories revoked by re-reading The Bridge on the Drina. He was a ten-year-old boy when he first read The Bridge and wept over pages describing Christian boys taken to Istanbul where they would be trained for janissary forces. “Andrić is a brutal, ruthless writer,” he says. “It shattered me, aroused me and poisoned me like no other since.”

I was trying to think if I’ve ever had such a deeply disturbing experience and I remembered reading Sienkiewicz’s Quo Vadis?. That was, by far, the most emotional and gravest reading I had ever engaged in. By the end of it, my eyes were blood red, a handkerchief completely drenched and I suffered from a severe headache the rest of the day… I wasn’t crying because I empathized with people, though. What provoked the stressful waterfall was the fact that a man is willing (for no reason or for whatever reason – none is excusable) to cause such an amount of pain, to be a monster and to justify that monstrosity with deluded logic. I cried because of the lack of reason…

Then a passage from Nancy Mitford’s The Pursuit of Love also came to my mind:

Black Beauty, Owd Bob, The Story of a Red Deer, and all the Seton Thompson books were on the nursery index because of Linda, who, at one time or another, had been prostrated by them. They had to be hidden away, as, if they were left lying about, she could not be trusted not to indulge in an orgy of self-torture.

It certainly casts a different kind of light on crying over literature pieces… I never decided whether this young girl was simply being masochistic or she craved to read those stories she loved so much, over and again that pain, however strong, was almost irrelevant..

Crying over books is one of the greatest felicities I’ve experienced during my sixty-nine year long stay on Earth.

Marko Vešović


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