The postwar period was a time when everyone believed himself to be a poet and a politician. Everyone thought he could, or rather should, write poetry about any and all subjects since for so many years the world had been silenced and paralyzed, reality being something stuck behind glass–vitreous, crystalline, mute, and immobile. Novelists and poets had been starved of words during the fascist years. So many had been forbidden to use words, and the few who’d been able to use them were forced to choose them very carefully from the slim pickings that remained. During fascism, poets found themselves expressing only an arid, shut-off, cryptic dream world. Now, once more, many words were in circulation and reality appeared to be at everyone’s fingertips. So those who had been starved dedicated themselves to harvesting the words with delight. And the harvest was ubiquitous because everyone wanted to take part in it. The result was a confused mixing up of the languages of poetry and politics. Reality revealed itself to be complex and enigmatic, as indecipherable and obscure as the world of dreams. And it revealed itself to still be behind glass–the illusion that the glass had been broken, ephemeral. Dejected and disheartened, many soon retreated, sank back into a bitter starvation and profound silence. The postwar period, then, was very sad and full of dejection after the joyful harvest of its early days. Many pulled away and isolated themselves again, either within their dream worlds or in whatever random job they’d taken in a hurry in order to earn a living, jobs that seemed insignificant and dreary after so much hullabaloo. In any case, everyone soon forgot that brief, illusory moment of shared existence. Certainly, for many years, no one worked at the job he’d planned on and trained for, everyone believing that they could and must do a thousand jobs all at once. And much time passed before everyone took back upon his shoulders his profession and accepted the burden, the exhaustion, and the loneliness of the daily grind, which is the only way we have of participating in each other’s lives, each of us lost and trapped in our own parallel solitude.

Natalia Ginzburg, from Family Lexicon, trans. Jenny McPhee. I like how this is like a fairytale, or a Biblical story. World weary, though and disappointing. I had hoped for more than the daily grind!