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The Narrow Waters by Julien Gracq

The Narrow Waters

by Julien Gracq

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our knowledge is historical, flowing, and flown.
--Elizabeth Bishop, 'At the Fishhouses' I've never been a good swimmer, but I could take this short pamphlet of a book, I thought. Submerge within its allusions, recollections, and metaphors as Gracq quietly whispers, never above the register of the water itself, serpentine river-like sentences in my ear.

"It tickles" I complain.

"Shhhhh..." Gracq says, grazing at my neck with his soft lips, covering my mouth with his whole hand. His hand smells like rosemary and fir. Up above, the glassy surface of the river remains unbroken. I can see the world as if contained in a ziplock bag, clear as preserved fruits and syrupy sweet.

"None of this is true, is it?" I say.

"There, there..." Gracq says, and starts quoting Poe, Bachelard, and Nerval. I succumb to the forces of literary history, of Gracq's own meticulously reconstructed childhood. I even forget to breathe. Somewhere, a little Gracq is still suspended on those still waters, like a photograph being developed. ( )
  JimmyChanga | Sep 11, 2013 |
The Narrow Waters is a wonderful memoir - evocative of the splendors of the luxury of solitude in youth spent near nature which Gracq beautifully and elegantly presents as an entry into some vast mysterium - giving the air of a sangraal mystery (as in Chateau d'Argol), of a cruise into the Domain of Arnheim (a tale mentioned in the book, along with Le Grand Meaulnes - which it also resembles). ( )
3 vote benwaugh | Sep 11, 2008 |
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Why did the feeling anchor itself in me at an early age that if traveling - traveling without any thought of returning - can open doors and truly change one's life, then that most singular of all forays, an excursion with neither adventure nor unforseen events that after a few hours finds us home again, right before the gate of our parents' house, has a more secret magic, like the handling of a divining rod?
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