Cynthia Ozick


From "The Messiah of Stockholm" "At three in the afternoon—the hour when, all over the world, the Literary stewpot boils over, when gossip in the book-reviewing departments of newspapers is most untamed and swarming, and when the autumn sky over Stockholm begins to draw down a translucent dusk (an eggshell shielding a blue-black yolk) across the spired and watery town—at this lachrymose yet exalted hour, Lars Andemening could be found in bed, napping."

When he woke at seven into full blackness of night, he felt oddly fat - he was sated with his idea, he understood what he thought. He sat down immediately to his review. He wrote it straight off, a furnace burning fat. It was as if his pen, sputtering along the line of rapid letters it ignited, flung out haloes of hot grease. The air brightened, then charred. He was very quick now, he was encyclopedic, he was in a crisis of inundation. He drove through all the caged hypotheses of his author - some were over and paced behind bars, others were camouflaged, dappled; he was a dervish, he penetrated everything. When he was within sight of conquest he began to fuzz over with vertigo; he was a little frightened of all he knew. A greased beak tore him off his accustomed ledge and brought him to a high place beyond his control. Something happened in him while he slept. It was not the sleep of refreshment or restoration. He had no dreams. Afterward his lids clicked open like a marionette's and he saw: what he saw, before he had formulated even a word of it, was his finished work. He saw it as a kind of vessel, curved, polished, hollowed out. In its cup lay an alabaster egg with a single glittering spot; no, not an egg; a globe, marvelously round. An eye. A human eye: his own; and then not his own. His father's murdered eye."

"Thus the stewpot in the early winter dark. Cigarette smoke like torn nets hanging. All over the world the great ladle was stirring, stirring.The poets, dreamers, thinkers, hacks. The ambitious and the meditative. The opportunists and the provocateurs. The cabalists and the seducers. This stewpot—these hot tides—Lars under a quilt a short walk away had shut out, week after week: for the sake of catching his father’s eye."


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