The Yellow Notebook
[The yellow notebook continued:]
* 1 A Short Story
A woman, starved for love, meets a man rather younger than herself, younger perhaps in emotional experience than in years; or perhaps in the depth of his emotional experience. She deludes herself about the nature of the man; for him, another love affair merely.
* 2 A Short Story
A man uses grown-up language, the language of emotionally grown people, to gain a woman. She slowly understands that this language comes from an idea in his head, it has nothing to do with his emotions; in fact he is an adolescent boy emotionally. Yet, knowing this, she cannot prevent herself being moved and won by the language.
* 3 A Short Story
Saw in the review of a book recently: ‘One of those unfortunate affairs — women, even the nicest of them, tend to fall in love with men quite unworthy of them.’ This review, of course, written by a man. The truth is that when ‘nice women’ fall in love with ‘unworthy men’ it is always either because these men have ‘named’ them, or because they have an ambiguous uncreated quality impossible to the ‘good’ or ‘nice’ men. The normal, the good men, are finished and completed and without potentialities. The story to be about my friend Annie in Central Africa, a ‘nice woman’ married to a ‘nice man’. He was a civil servant, solid, responsible, and he wrote bad poetry in secret. She fell in love with a hard-drinking womanizing miner. Not an organized miner, the manager, or clerk, or owner. He moved from small mine to small mine that were always precarious, on the point of making a fortune or of failing. He left a mine when it failed or was sold to a big combine. I was with the two of them one evening. He was just in from some mine in the bush three hundred miles off. There she was, rather fat, flushed, a pretty girl buried in a matron. He looked over at her and said: ‘Annie, you were born to be the wife of a pirate.’ I remember how we laughed, because it was ludicrous, pirates in that suburban little room in the city; pirates and the nice kind husband and Annie, the good wife, so guilty because of this affair, more of the imagination than the flesh, with the roving miner. Yet I remember when he said it, how gratefully she looked at him. He drank himself to death, years later. I got a letter from her, after years of silence: ‘You remember X? He died. You’ll understand me — the meaning of my life has gone.’ This story, translated into English terms, should be the nice suburban wife in love with a hopeless coffee-bar bum, who says he is going to write, and perhaps does, one day, but that isn’t the point. This story to be written from the point of view of the entirely responsible and decent husband, unable to understand the attraction of this bum.