In a corner of our country not far removed from two of its great cities, there is a low range of mountains, the hoary evidences of ancient volcanic action. Countless years have elapsed since the great tide of molten lava rolled over the region. Years fewer, but still countless, have passed during which the shattered and tilted remnants of the lava sheets have watched over the land.
If duende, the source of inspiration that Lorca sets out to champion in his essay at the expense of the Muse, is “in sum, the spirit of the earth”, a force linking body and soil through a struggle akin to death, then the Muse is a force that speaks to the head and inspires art that is, in the words’ most negative senses, cerebral and high-minded.
I’ve been writing a more or less monthly memoir of my life in the sixties and seventies when I lived with Doris Lessing, and my continuing relationship with her until her death last year at 94. It is also an ongoing portrait of my incurable cancer.