Thursday, 29 March 2012

altissimo e confuso

'But the strangest thing, the one that I haven't mentioned before, is this: that I felt fear in her presence. I say "fear" because back then I wasn't able to describe my confusion with another, more truthful, word. Even though I had read books and novels, love stories, I had in reality remained a barbaric little boy. And perhaps my heart, without my knowledge, took advantage of my immaturity and my lack of knowledge? If I think over the whole history of N. from the beginning, I realise that the heart is wise and strange in battling with conscience, fancyful like a costume designer. To create its masks it probably needs just a suggestion of nothing; to change facts it simply replaces one word with another... And conscience takes part in this bizarre game like a stranger at a masquerade under the influence of wine.'

Elsa Morante, L'Isola di Arturo

In describing Arturo's feelings, Morante captures perfectly how utterly strange it is to fall in love: how, if we're not yet experienced and wise with age, our feelings leave us confused and surprised, how we struggle to give a name to them, and how they turn us into helpless, irrational creatures.

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