Great stories begin with a journey

It's amazing how many stories come out of a journey. Real or imagined, I can think of the Titanic, the Aubrey/Maturin books of Patrick O'Brian, Scott of the Antarctic, Dickens adventures such as Pickwick or Nicolas Nickleby, On The Road, and then there is the woman on the donkey, on her way to be part of the greatest story ever told, propelled by the prosaic plot device of a local government census. I am sure you can think of many more.

The journey can of course be an internal, spiritual or intellectual one. I seem to remember Hermann Hesse did a lot of that, though I last read his books over thirty years ago and memory fades. Nordic literature is full of stories that are not only narratives of a physical journey, but a spiritual one. A favourite Norwegian author is Knut Hamsun. His protagonists are wanderers, seekers, sojourners.

And so I have started another journey; this time it is Kristin Lavransdatter, Sigrid Undset's trilogy of the life and journeys of the eponymous heroine, written 80 or so years ago but set in the middle ages.

You can live in a book; take on the scenery, the characters, the magic that fires the imagination and yet, sooner or later the fire and remains as a fond but melancholy memory as the last words leave your mind and the book goes back on the shelf, leaving you, if you are lucky, with the glowing embers of sweet bereavement.

1 comment:

Ayrdale said...

Nicely put.

I grew up in a house filled with books, and Nevil Shute's novels captivated me; in particular The Chequer Board, and Most Secret. Nothing quite comes close to that magic as to be totally enthralled in a good book.