Once in awhile the literaturist comes across a phrase that crosses the usual boundaries (genre, venue) and has to wonder if the more recent author had the older in mind. I came across an example in the most recent issue of The Economist (Dec. 17th), in an article about a group of frog researchers in India:
“For most of the drive your correspondent was jammed between the senior researcher, Rachunliu Kamei, and the gearstick. Leeches dropped into the jeep from the overhanging vegetation, so she and Ms Kamei spent much of the trip plucking them off each other. Such intimacy makes conversation easy.”
I couldn’t help but think of the beginning of Miller’s Tropic of Cancer:
“Last night, Boris discovered that he was lousy. I had to shave his armpits and even then the itching did not stop. How can one get lousy in a beautiful place like this? But no matter. We might never have gotten to know each other so intimately, Boris and I, had it not been for the lice.”
Aside from any questions of literary style or merit, it tickles me thinking how Miller’s indefagitable optimism should echo in the writing of an early twenty-first century journalist working for a magazine known more for it’s staunchy rationalism than its embrace of bohemiam lifestyles or anything else related to the avant garde. Tally one for the English majors, though few might recognize that we’re playing a game at all.
The Economist, Dec. 17th, 2011, vol 401. n. 8764, pg. 34.
Miller, Henry. Tropic of Cancer, Grove Press, New York, 1961, pg. 1.