“The land is effortless: a lie. He hasn’t captured time: how long a walk might take; how long a piece of work might take; how long the seasons or the nights might last. No man has ever seen this view. But it is beautiful, nevertheless.”
And Thirsk’s voice is important, and necessary to the success of the book. Because Thirsk is also poised quite perfectly in between the two stories that the book tells (as here, when he is excused from working the fields due to injury, and instead assigned by his master to assist the surveyor plotting the enclosure of his village): the crumpling and dissolution of village life under the pressure of fear and xenophobia and prejudice, and the impending destruction of an entire way of life in the countryside through enclosure. Caught in the middle of it, belonging entirely to neither story, neither the village nor the gentry, Thirsk is able to perceive both halves, mourning the folly and the faults of his neighbors’ troubles while understanding that their way of life was never in their control, never going to survive the winter.
April 23, 2013, 11:00am Comments