Glint of brightness on a barely there chain. Patch of sunlight on a yellow wall. The loneliness that separates every living creature from every other living creature. Sorrow inseparable from joy.
Because – what if that particular goldfinch (and it is very particular) had never been captured or born into captivity, displayed in some household where the painter Fabritius was able to see it? It can never have understood why it was forced to live in such misery: bewildered by noise (as I imagine), distressed by smoke, barking dogs, cooking smells, teased by drunkards and children, tethered to fly on the shortest of chains. Yet even a child can see its dignity: thimble of bravery, all fluff and brittle bone. Not timid, not even hopeless, but steady and holding its place. Refusing to pull back from the world.
– Donna Tartt, The Goldfinch
This weeks post was inspired by both: The Goldfinch, a novel by Donna Taart and the trompe-l’œil painting, “The Goldfinch” painted in oil by Carel Fabritius in 1654.
Tartt’s long-awaited third novel, The Goldfinch, was published in 2013. The plot centers on a young boy in New York City whose mother is killed in an accident. Alone and determined to avoid being taken in by the city as an orphan, Theo scrambles between nights in friends’ apartments and on the city streets. He becomes enthralled by a small, mysteriously captivating painting of a goldfinch, which reminds him of his mother…and which soon draws him into the art underworld. – From Wikipedia
There have been some mixed reviews about this Pulitzer Prize winning book but I loved it. Be warned though, it is melancholy, full of philosophizing and angst and is very long (864 pages long). Even though it’s sad and made me cry, The Goldfinch is beautiful, well worth reading, a book to lose yourself in. You’ll find yourself wanting to underline sentences and then commit them to memory like the words of a much loved poem.
I don’t know what happened to me, I used to read a lot. Nowadays though, I find myself mostly reading online tutorials and books on photography, hardly any fiction at all. In fact I was pretty shocked when I realised that the last worthwhile book I read was Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels and that was ages ago, so imagine my delight when my long time school chum and dear friend Tess, parceled up and posted me her copy of the Goldfinch, all the way from Devon.
Good times. Lovely Tess and Mr T at a restaurant in Knysna during her recent visit to Custard Cottage in June this year.
Here are some images of the brave little winged ones that visit my garden and deck…
Female Cape Weaver, part of the finch family, taken at sunset on the deck at Custard Cottage
Mr Fiscal Shrike / Lone Ranger wearing his dashing mask
I know, I know! More Forktail Drongo images, I adore these birds, so full of chutzpah and personality
Their ruby coloured eyes are mesmerizing and how about that dramatic pose?
Another cheese scoffing Drongo munchkin image, I’m loving the golden sunset tones in the background of this image
After a fresh bout of rain, the Lone Ranger watches the Drongos and Weavers hoping to steal a little block of cheese for himself as soon as he gets a chance…
The male Cape weaver, munching cheese and seeds on the deck – my very own little gold coloured finch.
Refuse to pull back from the world and keep searching for beauty in this life, it’s all around us – you’re bound to find it, if you’ll only keep on looking.
P.S. For photographers: all images except the one of Tess and Mr T were taken with a Canon 85mm f/1.8 lens @ f/2.8, the image of Tess and Mr T was taken with a Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens @ f/2.8, all iso readings were 400 and below.