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Notes for a biography

Alison Glenny

 

Invited to describe her childhood, she confessed to being haunted by the images of a dead bird and a mandolin.

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The object of the game, which they played over a succession of evenings, was to open the casket without the aid of any borrowed impressions.

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As she grew older she became jealous, mostly of language.

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The winter he struggled to evoke the night sky without using the words constellation, star, corset or throat.

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Her first scraped knee. Bitter and luminous sobbing.

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Thirteen lines emphasised the emptiness of the room, which preceded its transformation into a vast, starlit universe. The afternoon she ran round and round the garden until she was dizzy, and threw up in the flowerbed.

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The painted fan on which he had compared the ideal beloved to a non-existent perfume. Also an early reference to the shipwreck.

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The years during which he wrote only elegies. A sense of hope was conveyed by a description of the torch being stifled rather than extinguished.

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Childhood games. A scattering of ornaments; lightening enveloping the ballerinas.

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A memory of her sixth birthday party, when her parents hired a conjurer. ‘The imperious velvet, cutting the shadows with a fold.’

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She likened it to an expedition into uncharted polar regions. After reading the first few lines the reader was engulfed in a soft mist.

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The object, evoked by its absence, was compared to a room. A vase and a vast sea. Lace rustled against the window.

 

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