Penelope Fitzgerald: Retirement is the pinnacle

She is known as the “50 Greatest British Writers after World War II” and “the most unique and elegant voice in English literature”. She began her literary creation in her sixties and debuted immediately after her retirement…

Just as inspiration cannot be patronized at any time, so the peaks and valleys of life cannot be predicted. Those young people who are pursuing the “writer’s dream” made their mark in the literary world, and thus entered the ranks of professional writers, rising to fame or obscurity. Most people who climb the grid are ready to go, and go all out after middle age, and gradually have their own readers in the process of accumulation of works, and those with sharp writing styles are even regarded as classics later. There are also some people who have reached the age of knowing the fate of the fate, and the idea of ​​writing has sprung up. These latecomers with hindsight are no lack of famous artists: Daniel Defoe’s “Robinson Crusoe” written in the form of a diary created the British realist novel First of all, it incorporates “The Diary of the Evil Child” from the personal experience of Agota Christopher, and the first American female writer Anne Plucks who has written the well-known “Brokeback Mountain” and won the Faulkner Prize for Literature.

However, these writers are all under Penelope Fitzgerald, leaving behind the burden of the family. The writer who started writing in his 60s has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize three times. Her third work “Offshore” won the crown, and her novel, “Blue Flower”, was awarded 19 times by the media as “Book of the Year” and won the National Book Critics Award of the United States. In addition, she was elected as “the 50 greatest British writers after World War II”, Julian Barnes, Jonathan Franzen, AS Byatt regarded her as a literary icon.

Family Legend: Alienated Imagination of Doting and Happiness
Perhaps because of the polishing of the years, the vigor that Fitzgerald showed did not lose to the young writers, but instead possessed sophistication and wisdom that they did not possess. The opening chapter of “Innocent” is the bureau she set. The Ridolfie family, which was rich in dwarves in the 16th century, was legendary. In order to maintain their superiority, they hired all dwarves. However, when the famous family also miscalculated, the maid who was with her daughter suddenly grew taller, and everyone was unexpected. She was blinded and chopped off her knees under the prestige, which restrained her imagination of “alienation”. . What was naturally natural was stifled by power. Such cruelty preserved the descendants’ perfect imagination of the innocent and innocent image of the Ridolfie family. On the other hand, the girl who was brutally murdered was an innocent victim.

The fate of the characters is implicated in family history, and in the Ridolfie family, they have reached the same goal. Fitzgerald turned his pen and changed the time of the story to Florence in the mid-1950s. The fallen aristocratic lady Chiara and the civilian doctor Salvator fell in love and killed each other. They were pure and passionate and prepared. Embrace the whole world; one who is deliberately cold and frosty, keeping a distance from politics. Like many lovers, quarrels and misunderstandings are indispensable between them. Qiara’s classmate Banie fell in love with her cousin, the owner of the winery, Sisar, but Sisar secretly fell in love with Qiara. However, how do these two seemingly unremarkable emotional lines connect with family legends? When Ridolfie’s house became a mecca for travel, this obscured history was excavated and re-photographed.

Fitzgerald scattered the ideas in the story, waiting for readers to pick up the trivial plots and piece together a map about the inheritance of family concepts and temperaments. It is all legends at work. For hundreds of years, the Ridolfie family is dying to the west, but they have become accustomed to it, and even eagerly look forward to such a decline. “The welcome decline is because the substitutes are often much more advanced than the originals. This is A huge advantage. Glasses are stronger than eyes, and they can be changed.”

The deformed height has been corrected, but what remains the same is the same family traits, that is, the indelible alienation of love and happiness. From beginning to end, generations of people cannot let go of their parents’ favor, nor can they easily lay down family face and pursue the happiness of their children. On the way, blindly forcing others to make concessions. The maid’s blocked senses have the same effect as Qiara’s thoughts about Salvatore’s detached feelings, and the occasional flashes of cutting off love. They superficially believe that love should lead to happiness, and good intentions will surely lead to a better life. It is precisely because of this that they have made great efforts to build an “ideal” world for future generations, but in the eyes of others, it is Alienated and favored childhood is followed by collapsed youth.

Whether it is a thoughtful and redundant family member, a bystander who is eager to talk, hard-working bystanders, or the person involved, they are all innocent. The marriage of Chiara and Salvatore is the result of innocence and is barely moral. However, it is not close to human feelings, too much emphasis on happiness or even the whole life as a bet, but it will be dragged down by happiness. In fact, the innocent is not guilty. As the story develops, the meaning of “innocent” has evolved from innocence and recklessness to stupid embarrassment. “When everything is said and done, satire becomes a despicable art. The only real theme of the writer is nature. ”

Fitzgerald quietly embedded the theme into the reader’s concept, using the words of the characters to clarify the truth: cutting out the outstanding people, letting his shortcomings be passed on to the sins of others, and subtly spreading from the height scam to the temperament With social deficiencies, turning a blind eye as a shield, allowing imagination to prevail, and the absurdity of doing bad things with good intentions has led to family genetic tragedies, full of ridicule and irony.

Community experience: urban fringe people who settle on a ship
Fitzgerald’s exploration of the human situation is far greater than the plot itself. Compared with the kinship in “Innocent”, “Offshore” further broadens the relationship to “the most familiar stranger”, that is, the neighbors in the community. The construction of the text space is also unique. Artists, losers, and disadvantaged groups at the bottom of society who use boats as their homes support each other and hug each other. The emotional bond that runs through the wanderings has changed their daily communication habits on the shore and the alienation of individuals. Senses converge into their sense of belonging to the community.

The story of Offshore was inspired by her brief experience on the Thames. At the bottom of her life, she lives in a houseboat “neither the river nor the land”, just like the urban fringe in the novel wandering between ideal and reality, longing for a decent life on the shore, but can’t stand the rules of the world; Enjoying the excitement of wandering and uncertainty, but not daring to ride the wind and waves rashly, only to commit to cheap and cramped space, still unable to escape the catastrophe, and from time to time to face the crises and troubles caused by ship leakage and tides.

Penelope Fitzgerald’s literary works “Blue Flower”, “Offshore”, “Bookstore” and film stills adapted from the novel “Bookstore”.

The undercurrent surging, the ship swaying in the wind and rain, implying a turbulent life. Seeing the ship whose destiny is sinking and about to capsize, but can do nothing, just like the displaced people are drifting along with the current, they can only make a desperate move, stubbornly holding on to an unstable life ; Fragmented, full of helplessness and embarrassment in life. “At the most mysterious moment of the river, one layer of darkness dissipates another layer of darkness. One minute there is still a shadow, and the next minute the shadow clearly becomes a house or a moored ship.” Like this gathered by “negative energy” The community, the indecisive single mother Nina, the shrewd gentleman, Richard, whose marriage is on the rocks, the frustrated and witty Morris in the workplace, the retired military officer and the maverick painter Willis, repairing the “Grace” Damage is like repairing their own wounds, waiting for the rain to come, and fate is also caught in the torrent with the sinking of the ship…

The people in the houseboat were in temporary shelters, pacifying each other with isolation, helplessness, fear and anxiety. Nina’s husband and Richard’s wife resisted life on the boat, which directly led to their emotional end, but they also had their own difficulties. Nina tried to save her marriage, but her husband Edward never understood her attitude. He would rather send someone on the shore than make a compromise, or even add malicious words to her. Richard persuaded his wife to move into the houseboat in every possible way, but couldn’t keep her heart. Just because Nina and Richard both wandered between leaving or holding on, this similar experience prompted them to develop a secret relationship. When Edward changed his mind to the houseboat to find Nina, unfortunately he was drowned in the storm with Morris.

The marginalized people of the houseboat are different from the homeless and wandering on the streets. They live in a step-by-step manner just like ordinary people. They just get stranded because of the fact that they are more or less difficult to face directly. They know that their youth is not there. , Has lost the “gap year” that can be squandered, landing on the shore means being trapped by life and bound by troubles. However, the storm forced them to “offshore” one after another. The ideal homeland is not easy to construct. As a temporary safe haven, everyone’s divided life has been rebuilt in the warm and inclusive community of houseboats, but this crumbling home has not become a utopia after all. It has been destroyed by the laws of nature, forcing “amphibians”. “Go ashore and return to the real ups and downs of groundedness.

After experiencing the twists and turns of the houseboat, offshore seems to have gained a kind of life experience: “Everything you learn, every kind of suffering you suffer will play a role at a certain moment in your life.” Fitzgerald There is a kind of implicit and introverted “see through but not through”. She always calmly integrates her insights into happiness, ideals, and the conflicts and contradictions with norms and order into the plot. The novel is for her in her twilight years. The meaning of nostalgia surpasses the writing itself, combing through the long-precipitated personal experience, and expressing the pessimistic dilemma of human beings lightly. This kind of calmness is the gift of God to the late bloomers.