Right now I’m reading The Blue Flower, a historical novel by Penelope Fitzgerald which beautifully depicts the life of Novalis, the German romantic poet and philosopher. In the story, young Novalis spends a lot of time thinking (as romantic philosophers tend to do) about small things in big ways (“Gentlemen! Look at the washbasket! Let your thought be the washbasket! Have you thought the washbasket?”) and he also spends a lot of time discussing these thoughts with his fellow scholars.
It’s a funny book (as well as incredibly well researched, thoughtful, and touching) especially because of the way it depicts this dreamy boy romanticizing literally everything.
Then yesterday while we were discussing the book in class I decided I could not be too hard on young Novalis as I found myself being rather romantic, because I love this life I have right now.
Young writers at L’Improbable Cafe.
I’m not a young Novalis, but the book did provoke in me the thought that all amazing thinkers start at about the age that I am right now and the fact that here in Paris I am amongst a group of young people who could very well be the great fiction and poetry writers of the future. And I feel so lucky to be here reading and listening to their very beginning works (all of which are completely amazing in my opinion! Every time I read another workshop piece I am so impressed by the creativity and deep emotion that each person has.)
On Monday we got to hear Jonathan Safran Foer and Lydia Davis read at Shakespeare & Co. Jonathan said he was most nervous to read to his friends who were sitting in the front row (our professors Zadie Smith, Nick Laird, Darren Strauss, etc.)
It struck me that I could be making friends with the next Zadie Smith or Nick Laird and years from now maybe we will all be back in Paris reading to each other like we are now.
Like I said, some very romantic thoughts have been circling my brain lately. But I think Paris inspires a rather positive attitude.
Visiting Monet’s gardens–les nymphéas.
Paris sunsets–it’s a relief for the sun to go down on hot days.
I haven’t been blogging as often as I would like, but that’s because I have been doing so much reading and writing that I hardly have time for much else. If I feel brave enough, at the end of the program I will post some of the work I’ve been doing!
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