The Unquiet Grave: A Word Cycle by Palinurus

This is a collection of private lamentations during the war and while recovering from a devastating breakup. It is interspersed with nuggets of wisdom from the great minds of history, choice aphorisms to live by. It is highly digestible, but the reader should be aware that Connolly makes no concessions to us non-French speakers, freely quoting Pascal, Baudelaire, etc. in the original French.

The secret of happiness (and therefore of success) is to be in harmony with existence, to be always calm, always lucid, always willing, ‘to be joined to the universe without being more conscious of it than an idiot’, to let each wave of life wash us a little farther up the shore.

O sacred solitary empty mornings, tranquil meditation – fruit of book-case and clock-tick, of note-book and arm-chair; golden and rewarding silence, influence of sun-dappled plane-trees, far-off noises of birds and horses, possessions beyond price of a few cubic feet of air and an hour of leisure! This vacuum of peace is the state from which art should proceed, for art is made by the alone for the alone…

In that dream of approaching forty I felt that I was about to die and became aware that I was no longer myself, but a creature inhabited entirely by parasites, a caterpillar infested by grubs of the ichneumon fly. Gin, whisky, sloth, fear, guilt, tobacco, had been appointed my inquilines; alcohol sloshed about within, while tendrils of melon and vine spread out from ear and nostril. My mind was a worn gramophone record, my true self was such a shadow as to seem non-existent and all this had taken place in the last three years.