Friday, April 30, 2010

Under the Garden

What sets a life in motion? In Under the Garden, a seven year old boy goes through an experience much like Alice's in Wonderland; he crawls under an enormous old tree and encounters two peculiar people, one mute, another who seems like a combination of the White Knight and Humpty Dumpty, handing down prescriptive statements that seem to defy ordinary common sense.

Cláudia has pointed out that the protagonist has a "wild itch" (his last name being Wilditch) to go exploring across the world, an urge implanted in him by Javitt, the emperor of the peculiar underground kingdom. The adult Wilditch has been diagnosed with cancer, an interior mystery - Cláudia suggests that in travelling back to the origins of his story, he is trying to solve a deeper mystery.

The story puts me in mind of these lines from Yeats from The Circus Animals' Desertion, which I have quoted before:

I must lie down where all the ladders start
In the foul rag and bone shop of the heart.

Further thoughts on the story will be in comments, since I know it's only some of my readers who are reading the Greene story. For next time, which will be May 30, let's read Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Story Collection The Incredible and Sad Tale of Innocent Eréndira and her Heartless Grandmother. I am going to keep Titus' suggestions in mind for the time after.

13 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

Although I love this sort of story, I don't personally have the playful sense of humor needed to really pull it off.

ArtSparker said...

The story is a strange mixture - Beliefs that might seem comical to an adult are accepted by the child as truths handed down from an authority.

Shayna Prentice said...

I look very forward to reading it - thank you for the wonderful introduction ... and oh, that Yeats quote!

Jasmine said...

Sounds like a fascinating book. I wish I could get back into reading. I have a pile of delightful books waiting for me to read them. Have a wonderful weekend xJ

Cláudia said...

Your illustration sparked my mind:

Wilditch had a tumor in his chest.
But he wanted to possess nothing but his wound. He knew there was a treasure hidden underneath. A precious mystery.

So, chest, nest, gem, pearl, egg (is there anything more mysterious than an egg?).

But as you said before, "those gems can elude us". The hunt for them is what matters in the end; it's what inspire us to search for beauty and meaning in this life.

Art said...

"foul rag and bone shop of the heart" might be one of my favorite lines ever!

And I love Marquez, so hopefully I will be able to check out that collection

aleph said...

Under the garden, rogues untie words.

Totalfeckineejit said...

interesting foto, Sparkly, and that quote is the rallying call of my favourite poetry magazine in the world The SHOp

ArtSparker said...

TFE– Admit it, secretly you admire Yeats just a little...

Tom said...

i enjoyed the story, and don't want to give away the ending, but it was fitting. Wilditch's rewrite of his childhood tale was an amazing outpouring, and although it is sad that his memories of the garden proved childish, it was good for his soul to revisit, and discover what really drove him to travel the world and live the way he did.

of course i'm no good at reading between the lines, so i'm sure i've missed the point completely.

the first story in the collection is 'may we borrow your husband' and that was very good as well...a little weird, but good.

ArtSparker said...

Glad you liked the story, Tom, thanks for taking the plunge.

yvette said...

I'll be in for Marquez....
yes home!!!!after almost a year revalidation.

lettuce said...

2 to add to the list, thank you

this photo reminds me of a wonderful book I have about weaving with natural materials and objects, I shall sit and look through it later