Growing by Leonard Woolf

 

My Don Quixote inspired inability to settle and complete a book is over. I am nostalgic for my own far eastern childhood and for a Ceylon that no longer exists, in ways for which we can be thankful and saddened. This absorption is inspired by completing Leonard Woolf’s rather wonderful Growing, a memoir of his seven years as a Civil Servant in Ceylon.

Woolf’s style is unsentimental, except when talking of his love for animals, and probing. Over the seven years of the memoir Woolf developed in maturity and responsibility; he leaves Ceylon profoundly disquieted about imperialism. It is in describing the local culture and people that the richness of the writing becomes strongest; Woolf was clearly a curious observer.

I shall resist the urge to pick up the first or next volume of Woolf’s memoirs. Calling to me is Nabokov’s Despair.

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