Tag Archives: william maxwell

14 May 2009: Fatal Flaw

“I have two luxuries to brood over in my walks, your Loveliness and the hour of my death. O that I could have possession of them both in the same minute. I hate the world: it batters too much the wings of my self-will, and would I could take a sweet poison from your lips to send me out of it.”

John Keats, letter to Fanny Brawne, July 1819

All day the sky has been threatening rain and there is a faint unfulfilled excitement in it. I feel heavy, unhealthy. Yesterday in the Radcliffe Camera, reading Keats’ late letters to Fanny Brawne (‘think of nothing but me’ etc–pathetic).  The entire day’s dwindled to this familiar six o’clock feeling. Everything so slow-going, so half-formed. Reading Maxwell’s stories which are so fresh and beautiful and effortless-seeming. How jealousy-inspiring (rather than simply ‘inspiring’–that’s what’s wrong with me).

“There was a fatal flaw in his character. Nobody was ever as real to him as he was to himself. If people only knew how little he cared whether they lived or died, they wouldn’t want to have anything to do with him.”

William Maxwell, “Over by the River”

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