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  • Atonement / Ian McEwan

    It was not generally realized that what children mostly wanted was to be left alone.

    My darling one, you are young and lovely, But inexperienced, and though you think The world is at your feet, It can rise up and tread on you.

    Was everyone else really as alive as she was? For example, did her sister really matter to herself, was she as valuable to herself as Briony was? Was being Cecilia just as vivid an affair as being Briony? Did her sister also have a real self concealed behind a breaking wave, and did she spend time thinking about it, with a finger held up to her face?

    a story was a form of telepathy. By means of inking symbols onto a page, she was able to send thoughts and feelings from her mind to her reader’s. It was a magical process, so commonplace that no one stopped to wonder at it.

    Cecilia wondered, as she sometimes did when she met a man for the first time, if this was the one she was going to marry, and whether it was this particular moment she would remember for the rest of her life—with gratitude, or profound and particular regret. (…)  Cecilia felt a pleasant sinking sensation in her stomach as she contemplated how deliciously self-destructive it would be, almost erotic, to be married to a man so nearly handsome, so hugely rich, so unfathomably stupid. He would fill her with his big-faced children, all of them loud, boneheaded boys with a passion for guns and football and aeroplanes.

    Cambridge, much as he enjoyed it, was the choice of his ambitious headmaster. Even his subject was effectively chosen for him by a charismatic teacher. Now, finally, with the exercise of will, his adult life had begun. There was a story he was plotting with himself as the hero, and already its opening had caused a little shock among his friends.

    Might there be for him another thirty years beyond that time, to be lived out at some more thoughtful pace? He thought of himself in 1962, at fifty, when he would be old, but not quite old enough to be useless, and of the weathered, knowing doctor he would be by then, with the secret stories, the tragedies and successes stacked behind him.

    For this was the point, surely: he would be a better doctor for having read literature. What deep readings his modified sensibility might make of human suffering, of the self-destructive folly or sheer bad luck that drive men toward ill health!

    His excitement was close to pain and sharpened by the pressure of contradictions: she was familiar like a sister, she was exotic like a lover; he had always known her, he knew nothing about her; she was plain, she was beautiful; she was capable—how easily she protected herself against her brother.

    But that was what wretched Malvolio thought, whose part he had played once on the college lawn—“Nothing that can be can come between me and the full prospect of my hopes.”

    He had told her that it was the visual impression of an even deeper darkness beyond the light that drew them in. Even though they might be eaten, they had to obey the instinct that made them seek out the darkest place, on the far side of the light—and in this case it was an illusion. It sounded to her like sophistry, or an explanation for its own sake. How could anyone presume to know the world through the eyes of an insect?

    She had lolled about for three years at Girton with the kind of books she could equally have read at home—Jane Austen, Dickens, Conrad, all in the library downstairs, in complete sets. How had that pursuit, reading the novels that others took as their leisure, let her think she was superior to anyone else? Even a chemist had his uses.

    Briony’s immediate feeling was one of relief that the boys were safe. But as she looked at Robbie waiting calmly, she experienced a flash of outrage. Did he believe he could conceal his crime behind an apparent kindness, behind this show of being the good shepherd? This was surely a cynical attempt to win forgiveness for what could never be forgiven.

    Voices and images were ranged around her bedside, agitated, nagging presences, jostling and merging, resisting her attempts to set them in order. Were they all really bounded by a single day, by one period of unbroken wakefulness, from the innocent rehearsals of her play to the emergence of the giant from the mist?

    All those books, those happy or tragic couples they had never met to discuss! Tristan and Isolde, the Duke Orsino and Olivia (and Malvolio too), Troilus and Criseyde, Mr. Knightley and Emma, Venus and Adonis. Turner and Tallis.

    Was she disappointed? He had lost weight. He had shrunk in every sense. Prison made him despise himself, while she looked as adorable as he remembered her, especially in a nurse’s uniform. But she was miserably nervous too, incapable of stepping around the inanities.

    Today their teasing needled him and seemed to betray the comradeship of the night before. In fact, he felt hostile to everyone around him.

    They looked like the rump of a boarding school, like the one he had taught at near Lille in the summer before he went up to Cambridge. It seemed another man’s life to him now. A dead civilization. First his own life ruined, then everybody else’s. He strode on angrily, knowing it was a pace he could not maintain for long.

    The Bergues-Furnes canal was marked in thick bright blue on his map. Turner’s impatience to reach it had become inseparable from his thirst. He would put his face in that blue and drink deeply. This thought put him in mind of childhood fevers, their wild and frightening logic, the search for the cool corner of the pillow, and his mother’s hand upon his brow.

    She was a quiet, intense little girl, rather prim in her way, and this outpouring was unusual. He was happy to listen. These were exciting times for him too. He was nineteen, exams were almost over and he thought he’d done well. Soon he would cease to be a schoolboy. He had interviewed well at Cambridge and in two weeks he was leaving for France where he was to teach English at a religious school.

    When the wounded were screaming, you dreamed of sharing a little house somewhere, of an ordinary life, a family line, connection. All around him men were walking silently with their thoughts, reforming their lives, making resolutions. If I ever get out of this lot … They could never be counted, the dreamed-up children, mentally conceived on the walk into Dunkirk, and later made flesh. He would find Cecilia. Her address was on the letter in his pocket, next to the poem. In the deserts of the heart / Let the healing fountain start.

    The pig equaled success. As a child, Turner had once tried to persuade himself that preventing his mother’s sudden death by avoiding the pavement cracks outside his school playground was a nonsense. But he had never trodden on them and she had not died.

    From this new and intimate perspective, she learned a simple, obvious thing she had always known, and everyone knew: that a person is, among all else, a material thing, easily torn, not easily mended.

    She could still hear his voice, the way he said Tallis, turning it into a girl’s name. She imagined the unavailable future—the boulangerie in a narrow shady street swarming with skinny cats, piano music from an upstairs window, her giggling sisters-in-law teasing her about her accent, and Luc Cornet loving her in his eager way.

    She spoke slowly. “I’m very very sorry. I’ve caused you such terrible distress.” They continued to stare at her, and she repeated herself. “I’m very sorry.” It sounded so foolish and inadequate, as though she had knocked over a favorite houseplant, or forgotten a birthday.

    It has often been remarked upon, how much good he did in the world. Perhaps he’s spent a lifetime making amends. Or perhaps he just swept onward without a thought, to live the life that was always his.

    처음으로 킨들로 읽은 책. Highlight 기능이 마음에 들어서 조금이라도 마음에 드는 문장만 나오면 다 밑줄을 쳐대서 다른 책들보다도 유달리 밑줄그은 문장이 많았다.

    영화도 나쁘지 않다고 생각했는데 지금 보면 소설에 비해서는 긴장감이나 심리묘사가 한참 뒤처진다는 생각이 든다. 영화에선 어찌 보면 이것들 뭐지?? 갑자기??? 싶던 세실리아와 로비 간의 긴장감도 더 섬세하게 표현되었고, 특히나 열두 살의 브라이오니의 행동들은 소설에서는 훨씬 설득력이 있다. 영화판에서는 그냥 얄미운 꼬마같지만 소설에선 그래도 자기 나름대로 언니를 지키려던 의도가 비뚤어진 행동으로 표출된 것으로 묘사된다. (그렇다고 이놈의 잘못이 결코 합리화되는 건 아니지만...) 게다가 소설은 로비나 세실리아가 잘못되었을 거란 의심의 여지를 전혀 주지 않는다. 세실리아는 세실리아대로 꿋꿋하게 잘 살아가는 듯했고 로비도 살아남겠단 의지가 너무 강해 보였기 때문에.. 영화가 나오기 전 소설을 접했던 독자들은 브라이오니가 이들을 다시 재회했을 때 너희들 결국 살림 차렸구나ㅠㅠ라며 감동했다가 에필로그에서 주인공들의 최후를 조연 하나 퇴장시키는 것마냥 덤덤하게 서술하는 걸 보고 멘붕을 먹었을 것이다.