Saturday, June 8, 2013

the last book I ever read (The Accursed by Joyce Carol Oates, excerpt four)

from The Accursed by Joyce Carol Oates:

It was a bourgeois social institution: the family, and at its heart the couple. Yet, Upton considered it with much wistfulness.

His own marriage, his own dear wife Meta—ah! how troubled, and how precarious, lately; Upton had walked into town, rather than borrow a horse and buggy from his neighboring landlord-farmer, to escape the confines of his writing-cabin and the confines of his brain, lately obsessed with this marital dilemma to the detriment of his creative energies.

For Upton dearly loved his wife: yet, he knew that such love is hobbling, and enervating; and not worthy of the Socialist ideal. And he knew that such love can be precarious, based upon a bedrock of sheer emotion, and not the intellectual rigor of Marx, Engels, and other Revolutionary thinkers.

In the open air, that was just slightly over-warm, and distinctly humid, Upton brooded upon his wife: her unhappiness, her desperation, her mysterious change of personality, in the past several weeks. How was he, in his mid-twenties, untutored in the skills of marriage and parenthood, to contend with such an alteration? Just the previous night after a botched dinner she had prepared in the ill-equipped farmhouse kitchen Meta had been weeping angrily, and then weeping hopelessly; declaring that she “could not go on, but prayed for the strength to be delivered from her misery”; to the horror of her husband, Meta had dared to press the barrel of a revolver against her forehead, and could not be persuaded to surrender the weapon to Upton for at least ten agonized minutes.

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