I hate feeling guilty for rereading. There are a number of perfectly good reasons why I shouldn’t feel guilty and yet I frequently – always that is! – am. Whenever a wish to read something anew overwhelms me I have to remind myself that I am (as much as I can be, of course) the master of my own time, as well as to reassure myself of the rightness of the desire by going through those perfectly good reasons.
However, I am not to whine, but to make a record of a particularly joyful moment.
One of the favorite parts of the novel is its first sentence (or paragraph). When it is an especially appealing one it stays (unlike, unfortunately, many other well-written ones) in my memory for good. And such is the sentence Parade’s End begins with: The two young men—they were of the English public official class—sat in the perfectly appointed railway carriage. Beautiful! On to: The leather straps to the windows were of virgin newness; the mirrors beneath the new luggage racks immaculate as if they had reflected very little; the bulging upholstery in its luxuriant, regulated curves was scarlet and yellow in an intricate, minute dragon pattern, the design of a geometrician in Cologne. The compartment smelt faintly, hygienically of admirable varnish; the train ran as smoothly—Tietjens remembered thinking— What!? Wait here! Stop!! Have I noticed this before, when I was reading it for the first time? I don’t recall it but it cannot be the case for I wouldn’t be thus surprised and thrilled and excited! Ford has subtly sneaked me inside the Tietjens’ mind and I have been unaware of it until he wrote “Tietjens remembered” – this alerted me and glancing through the previous sentences, I recognized it’s Tietjens who is looking at the straps and mirrors seeing them as of virgin newness and immaculate. And of course, HE, with his encyclopedic knowledge, knew the pattern on the upholstery to be the design of a geometrician in Cologne! And the trail leads back to the first sentence, to the perfectly appointed railway carriage! Perfect.
I felt such a rush of happiness and read this paragraph over and over again trying to prolong the experience of the precious finding and, since I was immediately in a doubt about the conclusion, to check its validity.
It is possible that I’m still blinded by the excitement, but the conclusion still seems a valid one.