By grand central station i sat and wept
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
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.
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. The characters and their stories have stayed to walk through life with me. I first read this extraordinary prose poem when I was 19, doubly curious about the book for its delicious title and because it was written by my father's ex-wife. It was like drowning in an extraordinary dream - I could not believe that grown ups could love with such abandon.
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