When she thinks about a good friend or someone who´s important in her life, her memories of this person is often connected with some particular places. Usually the places where they used to have a good time together. It could be a cafe, a book shop or a library. That Irish pub – The Dubliner is one of these places.
They used to sit in that corner, discussing literary texts, making notes, and briefly going through the titles of the books on the shelf, in summer afternoons and winter evenings. It was here they started the discussion about the short story “Bartleby, the Scrivener” by the American writer Herman Melville. The story is considered a masterpiece of American short fiction. She was writing a review about Bartleby as part of her assignment on American literature. They explored some of the main themes of the story – the isolation in American life and workplace at that particular period of time, the physical and mental loneliness, Bartleby´s refusal to conform to social norms and his tragic death. He was impressed by her interpretation and deep understanding of the story and then unexpectedly, he said something that somehow touched her heart, he thought of himself as the modern version of Bartleby.
His backpack was always heavy because of the weight of the books. Once he opened it and showed her the content, five or six books it turned out to be. How does he get time to read all these? She wondered. Perhaps it was for the pleasure of having some good stuff ready for a read at any time. His passion for literature wasn’t hard to notice. On that winter evening, they sat on the floor in The Literature House while he was talking about the differences between the narrative mode “Stream of consciousness” and “Internal monologue”. She was drawn in the literary world created by his vivid illustrations, listening to these amazing narrative techniques with great intensity. Her interest for literature must have been aroused at that moment, it was the start of her literary journey.
As a part of her take-home exam in British literature, she was asked to analyse “The balcony scene” in Romeo and Juliet. Unfamiliar with Old English, she was struggling to figure out the meaning of line 10 and 11:
10. What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
11. By any other word would smell as sweet;
So she sent him an email with the question: Is it a kind of metaphore? Does it mean “the type of flower, which we call “rose”, would smell sweet without being called rose?”
A reply was sent back to her shortly:”… A rose by any other name would smell as
sweet…” In this quote Juliet shows her dismay that a name can bring so much hate or so many problems when all it is only a word; a name. When she says “… a rose by any other name would smell as sweet…” she means that the ‘type of flower’ called a rose could instead be called, for example, ‘old socks’, but this would not change the way it smells. Whether the ‘type of flower’ is called ‘old socks’, ‘rubbish bin’ etc. does not change the state that it smells lovely. 🙂
His words (on this occasion, his interpretation of line 10 and 11) calmed her exam nerves, and to a great extent, made her day.
Now she´s here again, alone. She´s not thinking about literature, oh no, she´s drinking her coffee, and attempting to recall those passed moments. Subtle pieces of memory appears in her mind, as if she´s watching a film in which she´s one of the main characters. It´s so faint, she´s struggling to follow the movements, to overhear the words, and to catch that smile. In any case, what she knows for sure is those moments belong to the past and will never come back.