Authors as Our Guides

Hypothetically speaking, if you ever had the chance to meet one of your favorite authors, and then go on a long trip with him (or her), who would it be and where would you go? Seriously, who would you have on your side of the court if shit ever got real and you needed to find a guide in the middle of a life crisis?  Dante, for example, chose Virgil to lead him through Hell and in doing so, start him on his path to Heaven. 

When I asked myself this question (and I assure you, it’s not the strangest I’ve asked myself), there was a moment of complete blankness. At first, I justified it by telling myself “you can’t come up with anything because you just love too many writers to choose one.” Of course, this was bullshit since there was a name underlining that blankness, smushed down where it was barely a tickle in the deepest regions of my mind. So I asked myself again, this time tearing down that white bridge and “lo and behold” a name appeared: Poe. 

For many years now I have loved Edgar Allan Poe. Honestly, I can’t tell you about the precise moment I fell in love with his work, or with his enigmatic presence in the literary world. Perhaps it was the pain his words give off, the melancholy and utter darkness that they present. And of course, there are hundred and thousands of people out there who still love him now, maybe even more than I do. (Well done old man.) That said, why would I be so ashamed to admit that he would be my guide through Hell? Well, because his darkness might be just what traps me there, debilitates me and leads me to become one of those trees in the 7th circle. (Ironically, I was born on the 7th of September.) But, I like to think that he would be there with me, not as a poison, but as a lesson. By watching him in his near-nihilism, I like to think that I will be smart enough to do the exact opposite, draw strength from it instead and move forward through the entire journey. Move on and rekindle meaning in my life. 

From childhood’s hour I have not been
As others were—I have not seen
As others saw—I could not bring
My passions from a common spring—
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow—I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone—
And all I lov’d—I lov’d alone—
. . . .
E. A. Poe “Alone,” 1829
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2 thoughts on “Authors as Our Guides”

  1. I think this is a hard one to answer because so many authors were / are introverts and were hard to get to know. Or they just kept their greatness to themselves.
    My favourite authors include JM Barrie and Leigh Hunt. I think I’d have to choose Leigh Hunt because he sounds like he had a more outgoing personality than Barrie, who apparently could be difficult to relate to.
    However, if it was a long and difficult journey, you’d probably get to know whoever you were travelling with pretty well anyway. It’s like the desert island question. Who would you choose to bring with you if you had to spend the rest of your life cut off from civilisation?

    1. Thanks for the reply! I must sadly admit thY I am not familiar with either Barrie or Hunt, but I will be looking their work up. And yes, it is very much like that island question. 🙂

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