“Yes the past now had attained a curious nervous density, a weight which was not composed (as one might suspect) of multiple nostalgias. It was full and rich, plump as an autumn fruit. It had been so fully lived that there was nothing about it one could dare to regret. The feeling of familiarity, loneliness and so on, were constituents of the present.”
I will, fate permitting, be in Avignon a few weeks from tonight, so I’m reading a book about the Avignon papacy, and also Lawrence Durrell’s Avignon Quartet, from whence this quotation.
It blew me away, i read it hours ago and found myself compelled to go back and search the book for it. “…so fully lived that there was nothing about it one could dare to regret”…O bear me into oblivion on a wave, a tide, such as that!
Isn’t the site of Henry V’s St Crispin’s Day speech?
Oh sorry Hyp. Thanks for correcting.
I loved French language and history beginning in 8th grade. I studied it through high school and two years of college, including numerous electives. For some reason I remember the Babylonian Captivity and the bridge half way across the Rhone (I have long been fascinated with that river, too, since its origin created the Rhone valley, which I have visited many times, in Switzerland and Lake Geneva - Lac Léman - on which I lived in Lausanne in 1969 - 70). In other words, lucky you!
Lucky indeed….so far!
I read Durrell’s “Monsieur” decades ago. Tumbling into his universe again i realize what a huge, maybe disproportionate, effect it had on my then fairly virgin mind. A lifelong fascination with the Templars and with Gnosticism, f’rinstance. Aching nostalgia for the lost city of Alexandria (no, I know there is a big honkin’ city there now, but it’s not the city of “Justine”) . And, there’s probably nit much left of his crumbling ancient Avignon either. But I will see it , like someone puzzling out the first layer of a palimpsest.