Archive for October, 2010


This review is decent. The first few paragraphs attempt the literary tone and fail completely. The rest just reads like an older fellow imparting some kind of wisdom on one, like it or not. Thomas Hardy though, is an excellent author and what Jacobson is reviewing is not from the best available output so one must take that into account when reading his decent review.

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MAN’s life is well compared to a feast,

Furnished with choice of all variety:

To it comes Time; and as a bidden guest

He sits him down, in pomp and majesty:

The threefold age of Man the waiters be.

Then with an earthen voider, made of clay,

Comes Death, and takes the table clean away.

Richard Barnfield, 1598.

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In this novel of love and desperation in Colonial Africa Graham Greene gives the reader a few classic tidbits of the holy lowdown…

“Despair is the price one pays for setting oneself an impossible aim. It is,  one is told, the unforgivable sin, but it is a sin the corrupt or evil man never practises. He always has hope. He never reaches the freezing-point of knowing absolute failure. Only the man of goodwill carries always in his heart this capacity for damnation.”

Who but a Catholic writer, an eponym that infuriated Greene, could write so convincingly about the choices one makes in life?

“Outside the rest-house he stopped again. The lights inside would have given an extraordinary impression of peace if one hadn’t known, just as the stars on this clear night gave also an impression of remoteness, security, freedom. If one knew, he wondered, the facts, would one have to feel pity even for the planets? if one reached what they called the heart of the matter?”

Classic Greene…

“He thought sadly, as lust won the day, what a lot of trouble it was; the sadness of the after-taste fell upon his spirits beforehand.”

Now Greene is always sad or at least melancholy. Was that his lot? Yes his straw was long on observation and short on joy.

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