The Silver Eel

"A gape-jawed serpentine shape of pale metal crested with soot hung high for a sign."

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Another use of literacy:

I keep thinking of Anna Akhmatova, outside the prison in Leningrad where her son was being held by Stalin. She wrote:

In the terrible years of the Yeshov [head of the NKVD] terror, I spent seventeen months in the prison lines of Leningrad. Once, someone recognized me. Then a woman with bluish lips standing behind me...woke up from the stupor to which everyone had succumbed and whispered in my ear (everyone spoke in whispers there):

“Can you describe this?”

And I answered: “Yes, I can.”

Then something that looked like a smile passed over what had once been her face.

From the excellent fifth and final chapter of Writing in an Age of Silence by Sara Paretsky, which I've just read for the second time within a few weeks.


There's quite a lot of useful learning in it, not least this snippet: apparently in the 19th century in America, schemes for the establishment of public libraries and schools were regularly denounced as socialist/communist. And this, in a section addressing the reduction in the number of publishers and news orgnaisations to a handful of conglomerate-owned companies:
Forces of silence can come more subtly from the market than from the edicts of a totalitarian state.
Which Roth and Klima also noted.

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