A Dilettante’s Challenge

Again from The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge,

For centuries women have accomplished the totality of love, they have always played the whole dialog, both roles. For the man has only repeated after them, and badly. And made their learning difficult with his distractedness, his negligence, his jealousy that was also a kind of negligence. But women persevered day and night, and grew in love and misery.

And,

Old women who had become hard, with a precious kernel inside them that they concealed. Shapeless women who had become stout, who, grown stout from exhaustion, let themselves become like their husbands and yet were differeent inside, there where their love had been working, in the darkness.

And to end,

But now, when so much is changing, is it not up to us to change ourselves? Could we not try to develop ourselves a little, and slowly, gradually, take upon ourselves our share of the work in love? We have been spared all its hardship, and so it has slipped among our distractions, as a piece of genuine lace falls into a child’s box of toys, and delights and no longer delights and finally lies there among the broken and disassembled things in worse state than everything else. Like all dilettantes we have been spoiled by easy enjoyment, and are reputed to be masters. But what if we despised our successes, what if we were to begin from the very beginning to learn the work of love that has always been done for us? What if we went off and became beginners, now that so much is changing.

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