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Painter of Silence

by Georgina Harding

Gorgeous images lift this elegiac tale of alienation and loss. A deaf-mute boy and an aristocratic girl see their world destroyed in the war and its aftermath. I was deeply moved by the boy’s attempt to grasp life through drawing. His life, always lived in the present, suddenly changes when he discovers the need to communicate.

Extract

She feels that she is about to cry. He does not see because he is looking into the kaleidoscope. He looks at each pattern for a long time, as if he is bent on understanding it, breaking it up and seeing where it begins to repeat, reflect. Perhaps his mind can do that, divide and fix the shapes. Is he aware even that she is speaking? Is all the sympathy that people imagine in him no more than his passivity? And yet she goes on talking as if he understands. She wants to yell to make him hear her. Then he shifts the pattern again and she is calmed.

Parallels

The Book of Silence by Sara Maitland
James Castle: a retrospective by Anne Percy
 

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