Posts Tagged ‘Rereading’

I am reading a book called ‘Changing My Mind’ by Zadie Smith. It is a collection of essays. Zadie Smith’s prose is so beautiful that I am reading it slowly and enjoying every page 🙂 Here is one of the interesting passages that I encountered in the book (from the essay ‘Rereading Barthes and Nabokov’).

The novels we know best have an architecture. Not only a door going in and another leading out, but rooms, hallways, stairs, little gardens front and back, trapdoors, hidden passageways, et cetera. It’s a fortunate rereader who knows half a dozen novels this way in their lifetime. I know one, Pnin, having read it half a dozen times. When you enter a beloved novel many times, you can come to feel that you possess it, that nobody else has ever lived there. You try not to notice the party of impatient tourists trooping through the kitchen (Pnin a minor scenic attraction en route to the canyon Lolita), or that shuffling academic army, moving in perfect phalanx, as they stalk a squirrel around the backyard (or a series of squirrels, depending on their methodology). Even the architect’s claim on his creation seems secondary to your wonderful way of living in it.

Though I like reading a book sequentially, I sometimes turn randomly to a page and read a paragraph. This is one of the interesting paragraphs that I encountered during my random browsing (from the essay ‘Speaking in Tongues’). I couldn’t stop smiling at Cary Grant’s comment 🙂

To occupy a dream, to exist in a dreamed space (conjured by both father and mother), is surely a quite different thing from simply inheriting a dream. It’s more interesting. What did Pauline Kael call Cary Grant? “The Man from Dream City”. When Bristolian Archibald Leach became suave Cary Grant, the transformation happened to his voice, which he subjected to a strange, indefinable manipulation, resulting in that heavenly sui generis accent, neither west country nor posh, American nor English. It came from nowhere, he came from nowhere. Grant seemed the product of a collective dream, dreamed up by moviegoers in hard times, as it sometimes feels voters have dreamed up Obama in hard times. Both men have a strange reflective quality, typical of the self-created man – we see in them whatever we want to see. ‘Everyone wants to be Cary Grant,’ said Cary Grant. ‘Even I want to be Cary Grant’. It’s not hard to imagine Obama having the same thought, backstage at Grant Park, hearing his own name chanted by the hopeful multitude. Everyone wants to be Barack Obama. Even I want to be Barack Obama.

I don’t know whether Obama would say this today – with him being immersed in so many issues and problems and challenges which don’t look like going away anytime soon – but I loved Cary Grant’s line 🙂

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