While sailing last week, I was constantly reminded of one of my very favorite novels (and for a proud bookworm (ahem, nerd) naming a favorite book is a bold statement):
Chita: A Memory of Last Island by Lafcadio Hearn.
This novel doesn’t seem to be well known, I only happened to encounter it in a New Orleans Lit class in college, but it’s truly one of the most beautiful pieces of writing I have ever come across. The story centers around the islands south of New Orleans, in the Gulf. Much of the language is therefore ocean-inspired, and it reads like poetry: vivid, expressive, rhythmic.
Take this passage in which Hearn is describing the view from an ocean vessel:
-all day long had the cloudless sky revealed through all its exquisite transparency that inexpressible tenderness which no painter and no poet can ever re-image- that unutterable sweetness which no art of man may ever shadow forth, and which none may ever comprehend,- though we feel it to be in some strange way akin to the luminous and unspeakable charm that makes us wonder at the eyes of a woman when she loves.
or this one:
The sea lived: it could crawl backward and forward; it could speak!- it only feigned deafness and sightlessness for some malevolent end. Thenceforward she feared to fnd herself alone with it. Was it not at her that it strove to rush, muttering, and showing its white teeth,… just because it knew that she was all by herself?… Si quieres aprender a orar, entra en el mar!
Writing like this just makes me feel good.
Do you have a favorite book or passage?