By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept by Elizabeth SmartFirst published in 1945, Elizabeth Smarts By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept is an enigmatic and nearly indescribable book, a small classic of poetic prose whose author has been compared with Anaïs Nin and Djuna Barnes. In lushly evocative language, Smart recounts her love affair with the poet George Barker with an operatic grandeur that takes in the tragedy of her passion; the suffering of Barkers wife;the children the lovers conceived. Accompanied in this edition by The Assumption of the Rogues and Rascals, a short novel that may be read as its sequel, By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept has been hailed by critics worldwide as a work of sheer genius.
By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept
None of the main characters are ever named. She foresees the despair their love will cause his wife. The bed is cold and jealousy is cruel as the grave. She finds everything charged with operatic grandeur. In the s, Elizabeth Smart, a diffident, talented, and young writer from a prominent Canadian family, came across a book by poet George Barker in a London shop.
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Brigid Brophy described it as "one of the half-dozen masterpieces of poetic prose in the world". Smart discovered Barker's poetry in the late s in a book store in London, and began writing the story several years before she had even met and started a relationship with Barker. The affair lasted 18 years, and Smart bore four of his 15 children. In the novel, the multiple pregnancies are reduced to one, other details of the affair are omitted entirely, and the narrator's lover is barely described, as she focuses on her own experience and feelings, which was rare for the male-centric literature of that day. In , after becoming pregnant, Smart returned to Canada, settling in Pender Harbour , British Columbia to have their first child, Georgina, while continuing to write the book.
In choosing a book that has shaped and changed my life, I have dithered between classics, none of them contemporary and all of them novels. For me the significant book will always be a novel, although I do have a soft spot for The SAS Survival Guide, and particularly the section on camp craft. But people and their story, whether epic as in War and Peace or up close like Mrs Dalloway, are what grabs me.
craig mclachlan and check 1 2
Chosen by Raffaella Barker
By the Underground River I Sat Down and Wept (Manchester)
I t was in a bookshop that Elizabeth Smart first fell in love with George Barker. Thousands of miles away, Barker was teaching at a university in Japan at the time, but that day in Better Books, on London's Charing Cross Road, Smart came across his poem Daedalus and was instantly smitten. Although they had yet to meet, although he was still only words on a page, she declared him the love of her life. What followed was by any standards an extraordinary relationship, a mingling of love and infatuationplayed out across continents, carrying the pair from California to London, from rural Ireland to Essex, taking in breakups, reunions, poverty and the glorious mayhem of the Soho scene along the way. It was also a relationship that Smart would document in her work By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept — a novel that straddled poetry and prose and garnered a cult following. But, for all its furious romance, it was also a relationship that has confused many, riddled as it was with rows, alcoholism, absences and affairs.