Friday, August 08, 2008

Music, Art, & Literature that touch your soul

Lately I've been re-exploring my love of and interest in early twentieth century American authors. A few years back I read Theodore Dreiser's An American Tragedy and Sister Carrie, Ernest Hemmingway's The Sun Also Rises (which was far better than For Whom the Bell Tolls which I'd been forced to read in high school), and Sinclair Lewis's Main Street. A few months ago I read F. Scott Fitzgerald's This Side of Paradise and currently I'm reading Fitzgerald's The Beautiful and Damned.

The thing is, reading these novels through an early 21st century lens is not that enjoyable. So as I read these books I put myself in the mindset of the age in which they were written and in so doing my appreciation for these works increases substantially. Take for example the following passages from The Beautiful and Damned:

He was wondering at the unreality of ideas, at the fading radiance of existence, and at the little absorptions that were creeping avidly into his life, like rats into a ruined house. He was sorry for no one now-- on Monday morning there would be his business, and later there would be a girl of another class whose life he was; these were the things nearest his heart . In the strangeness of the brightening day it seemed presumptuous that with this feeble broken instrument of his mind he had ever tried to think. (page 237, 238 Enriched Classic edition)

Her bosom is still a pavement that she offers to the hoofs of many passing stallions, hoping that their iron shoes may strike even a spark of romance in the darkness...
(page 247 Enriched Classic edition)

There's a penetrating and timeless loneliness and emptiness in both those passages that Fitzgerald captured with brilliance conveying a tremendous depth of emotion. Being a bit of a solitary person myself, it's often passages like this, the artwork of Edward Hopper, the lyrics of Harry Chapin that really strike a chord with me, that speak to not just on an intellectual level but on an emotional level as well. I feel the intensity of emotion in the words and it strikes me clear to my very soul.

So what writers, painters, musicians push your buttons? Which writers make you not just read and appreciate their words, but make you feel their words? With which artists do you FEEL their works? Which musicians strum the chords of your soul?

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