Friday, February 12, 2010

Of Men, Women, And Italian Escapades: Part 1

Of Men and Women:
Battle of the Sexes:

For me, literature and love are similar. One can take the lessons of one and apply it to the other. When I am single, I turn to novels as companions and comforts, often while in bed. (Where is a better place to read, I ask you?) In my Fiction class last Wednesday, my professor was discussing how critics lose their ability to enjoy novels once they make them their occupation. “They forget what it means to become a passionate reader. They lose the sensuality of every word.”

We then compared and contrasted the views of two writers from the same time period: the ever-fresh Virginia Woolf, and Ezra Pound, who I will admit, is one of my favorite literary “manly men.”

Virginia Woolf champions the self, as I am struggling with in Florence. She sees literature as if it were the language of a lover, and instructs readers to take from it what they will, like in any relationship: “The only advice, indeed, that once person can give another…is to take no advice, to follow your own instincts, use your own reason, to come to your own conclusions. …After all, what laws can be laid down? The battle of Waterloo was certainly fought on a certain day; but is Hamlet a better play than Lear? Nobody can say. Each must decide that question for himself. …Everywhere else we may be bound by laws and conventions—there we have none. …An influence is created which tells upon them even if it never finds its way into print.”

Ezra Pound’s monologue could be applied almost word-for-word with men’s thoughts on lovers: “Until the reader knows the first two categories he will never be able ‘to see the wood for the trees’. He may know what he ‘likes’. He may be a complete ‘book-lover’…but he will never be able to sort out what he knows or to estimate the value of one in relation to others, and he will be more confused and even less able to make up his mind about [a new one].”

Pound’s observation in regards to Virginia’s showcases what I think is the classic battle between the sexes: women always assume we’ll know when something is right and real, where as men have to cancel out all their options until they’re left with the last one standing. It doesn’t bode well for romance.


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