Friday, December 30, 2016

furious attempts, by drum and trumpets

We are a handsome couple – pleasant to be with – because we are courteous and polite toward one another.

(Thérèse Kuoh-Moukoury, Essential Encounters, 1969, tr. Cheryl Toman)

Afterwards he told me that his situation internally was always this: it seemed to him as if on some distant road he heard a dull tramping sound, and that he knew it, by a misgiving, to be the sound of some man, or party of men, continually advancing slowly, continually threatening or continually accusing him; that all the various artifices which he practised for cheating himself into comfort or beguiling his sad forebodings, were, in fact, but like so many furious attempts, by drum and trumpets, or even by artillery, to drown the distant noise of his enemies; that, every now and then, mere curiosity or rather breathless anxiety, caused him to hush the artificial din, and to put himself into the attitude of listening again; when, again and again, and so he was sure it would still be, he caught the sullen and accursed sound, trampling and the voices of men, or whatever it were, still steadily advancing, though still perhaps at a great distance.

(Thomas de Quincey, Society of the Lakes: Charles Lloyd, from The Collected Writing of Thomas de Quincey, Vol. II, 1896, ed. David Masson)


  1. So many ways to go with this pairing. First I imagine Kuoh-Moukoury's couple, smiling and displaying courtesy while their heads are filled with furious din; next I imagine de Quincey's acquaintance smiling despite the inner mania; immediately after I remember Skylark's declaration, "I wasn't happy, I was cheerful!" If I wasn't cranky with a cold, I might see this all differently, I imagine. But I am amused despite the bleakness, like this post is an excerpt from "Under Milk Wood".

  2. I can imagine that; the Under Milk Wood idea. (A lot of the sentences in the Kuoh-Moukoury book are so bald they're like non sequiturs, but whether that's due to the author or the translator I'm not sure. The narrator falls in love with Joel. "Joel is very punctual.")