Monday, November 06, 2006

The Sportswriter

Proust and sports?? Can there be a connection? Let me explain.

I completed the first section of "In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower" some weeks ago and planned to write a piece about the humour and character found there...but I got sidetracked by a visit to London of Richard Ford. I collect signed copies of books and managed to get a copy of the third part of his Frank Bascombe books. As you may all appreciate this encourasged me to re-read the first two volumes again...and what did I discover at the beginning of Chapter 2 of "The Sportswriter"?

All we really want is to get to the point where the past can explain nothing about us and we can get on with our life............. Most pasts, let's face it, aren't very dramatic subjects, and should be just uninteresting enough to release you the instant you're ready (though it's true that when we get to that moment we are often scared to death, feel naked as snakes and have nothing to say ).

My own history I think of as a postcard with changing scenes on one side but no particular or memorable messages on the back........ The stamp of our parents on us and of the past in general is, to my mind, overworked, since at some point we are whole and by ourselves upon the earth, and there is nothing that can change that for better or worse, and so we might as well think about something more promising.

What then happens is that Frank Boscombe spends the rest of the book revisiting his recent past!!! Ford also, to my mind, uses some of the rambling techniques of Proust to get into the mind of his main character and to explore his past.

It is interesdting to note that while Proust was never a sportsman he did enjoy fast cars, he did complete a number of route marches during his military service and his father wrote one of the first physical exercise books.


Blogger Stefanie said...

This is wonderful! Goes to show how Proust influences just about everybody. Do you think Bascombe and Ford have read the master? Seems like they must have.

8:14 PM  

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