Association of Personal Historians member John Hawkins posted recently the members’ listserv about The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, which his bookclub is reading. “This paragraph leaped off the page for me as an APH member,” John wrote, “since it speaks so directly to the value of what we do. I highly recommend the book, too.”
The excerpt that got John’s attention was this:
“People disappear when they die. Their voice, their laughter, the warmth of their breath. Their flesh. Eventually their bones. All living memory of them ceases. This is both dreadful and natural. Yet for some there is an exception to this annihilation. For in the books they write they continue to exist. We can rediscover them. Their humor, their tone of voice, their moods. Through the written word they can anger you or make you happy. They can comfort you. They can perplex you. They can alter you. All this, even though they are dead. Like flies in amber, like corpses frozen in ice, that which according to the laws of nature should pass away is, by the miracle of ink on paper, preserved. It is a kind of magic.”
–Diane Setterfield, writing in The Thirteenth Tale, Atria Books, 2006
Like John, I was captivated by Setterfield’s description of the magical immortality conferred on authors by their books.
Will your words outlive you? If you write them down, they will!