Last weekend on a trip to Bath visiting family there was a chance to pop into the Oxfam bookshop and pick up some books. Because of the recent Jean-Paul Sartre I picked up some French authors including Andre Gide. My intention was to follow The Tin Drum with Simone de Beauvoir’s The Blood of Others but I couldn’t find it this morning on the bookshelf so took Fruits of the Earth instead.
This might change but so far it is a book that promises more than it delivers. The blurb on the dust jacket describes it as an address to the reader to enjoy life before it is taken from them and was written when the author after he almost died of tuberculosis. It sort of does that but there is no narrative linking it together and a series of anecdotes emphasise the things to enjoy along with some of the things to avoid. But in between clarity there is poetry, often unconnected, and a character Menalcas, which according to the dust jacket is meant to be Oscar Wilde. Confusing – it does filter through to the text.
Bullet points between pages 1 – 72
* In a book that has an incredibly honest foreword from the author, where he admits in the first decade of its publication “barely 500 copies were sold” and then there is a letter to Nathaniel urging him to learn from the teaching on fervour which is about to follow
* One easily identifiable activity that it is being recommended to enjoy is food and drink with Nathaniel being advised to drink and eat when he is hungry and eat to his fill and enjoy the delicacies that are put before him
* Then there are some warnings about wasting time with books and people that are not constructive (there is a great poem about books I will post tomorrow) and then Nathaniel is encouraged to embrace the joys of travel
* The sights and people that can be seen by travelling are an experience that should be taken advantage of not just because it breaks the monotony of normal life but is a joyful experience that all the time helps understand the mysteries of the world
* God takes a central role as the source of the good experiences and love, which equals God to some degree, is also to be encouraged and enjoyed