4 thoughts on “Under The Garden – Graham Greene

  1. PART ONE

    “Gusts of wind barely warmed by July drove the rain aslant…”

    Barely July today, by the skin of my teeth, as I learn about this mid 20th century man called Wilditch, (called WW in an old school article like Jacobs?) diagnosed barely terminal, diagnosed by well-characterised doctors, all in a prose beautifully stylish, but it is potentially or vaguely bad news that WW takes stoically, and he goes to make a rare visit to his old boyhood house near Colchester (the town, the oldest recorded one in England, where I myself was born), a house his brother now lives in, WW now having memories of his mother who was against ‘silly fancies’, and his writing ventures as a boy, of exploring the island in the house’s lake – a bit inspired by Treasure Island – and what he once found under the garden. That’s where I will leave you to other people’s spoilers, spoilers that I hope to avoid heretofore.
    But is WW really dying? A fey story, if not a fairy one? One about a dream as well as real life? And a dream, it is contended, is an experience as much as any part of life.
    And I was rather shocked by the word ‘well’ being added to this statement…
    “…he had never learnt how to drive a car well.”

  2. Beware Spoilers and Rogues

    PART TWO

    1 – 4

    “Scrawled with the simplicity of ancient man upon the left-hand wall of the passage – done with a sharp tool like a chisel – was the outline of a gigantic fish.”

    Is it a Tench?
    These chapters remind me strongly of John Cowper Powys as we follow WW (one moit (a word used in the text) himself as a child dreaming and the other moit himself now older, in terminal illness, remembering real events as a child under the garden), a mix of Long John Silver and Robinson Crusoe, and finding first this fish and a newspaper (Colchester Guardian) from fifty years before smelling of fish, and an oldish man sitting on a decorative lavatory seat (except there is a pit underneath) and his quacking wife. Make sense? IT DOES IN THE BOOK. The man reminds me of Trump tweeting from his throne and his daughter (Ivanka?) anachronistically being a beauty queen her father fancies in a magazine. WW is given a golden po to piss in, meanwhile, there are many wise saws and homilies in this work. A major discovery for me. It means more than it means. It’s about life – and death. Can’t yet imagine where it might be going….
    A stench, then, not a Tench.

  3. PART TWO
    5 – 7
    PART THREE

    “The gold of dreams is not the diluted gold of even the best goldsmith, there are no diamonds in dreams made of paste — what seems is. ‘Who seems most kingly is the king.'”

    There is so much oblique wisdom in this book, more powerful than standard wisdom; the curiosity of Carroll now explicitly becomes curiouser here : the ‘curiosity growing inside him like cancer.’ The gold po now found in older life with flaky yellow paint. And past life something that needs re-interpreting, a quest for Miss Ramsgate (that beauty queen from that magazine of Javitt the old man on his loo-pan, not to mention Javitt’s kwahking ‘wife’ Maria). But equally such obliquity gives hope to those of us at the ends of our lives. A miracle of literature. Only madness will suffice. The sort of madness that seems and thus is. The stuff, not the paste, that dreams are mad on.

    “‘Do you like black skin, Master William?’
    ‘I suppose at one time or another I’ve been fond of black skin.’
    ‘I wouldn’t have thought they’d win a beauty prize,’ Ernest said.
    ‘Do you know Ramsgate, Ernest?'”

    end

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