I'm so fast that last night I turned off the light switch in my hotel room and was in bed before the room was dark.
We make a mistake forsaking England and moving out into the periphery of life. After all, Taormina, Ceylon, Africa, America -- as far as we go, they are only the negation of what we ourselves stand for and are: and we're rather like Jonahs running away from the place we belong.
Men are free when they are in a living homeland, not when they are straying and breaking away. Men are free when they are obeying some deep, inward voice of religious belief. Obeying from within. Men are free when they belong to a living, organic, believing community, active in fulfilling some unfulfilled, perhaps unrealized purpose. Not when they are escaping to some wild west. The most unfree souls go west, and shout of freedom. Men are freest when they are most unconscious of freedom. The shout is a rattling of chains, always was.
America is neither free nor brave, but a land of tight, iron-clanking little wills, everybody trying to put it over everybody else, and a land of men absolutely devoid of the real courage of trust, trust in life's sacred spontaneity. They can't trust life until they can control it.
I cannot be a materialist -- but Oh, how is it possible that a God who speaks to all hearts can let Belgravia go laughing to a vicious luxury, and Whitechapel cursing to a filthy debauchery -- such suffering, such dreadful suffering -- and shall the short years of Christ's mission atone for it all?
Why has mankind had such a craving to be imposed upon? Why this lust after imposing creeds, imposing deeds, imposing buildings, imposing language, imposing works of art? The thing becomes an imposition and a weariness at last. Give us things that are alive and flexible, which won't last too long and become an obstruction and a weariness. Even Michelangelo becomes at last a lump and a burden and a bore. It is so hard to see past him.
We only seem to learn from Life that Life doesn't matter so much as it seemed to do -- it's not so burningly important, after all, what happens. We crawl, like blinking sea-creatures, out of the Ocean onto a spur of rock, we creep over the promontory bewildered and dazzled and hurting ourselves, then we drop in the ocean on the other side: and the little transit doesn't matter so much.
Literary criticism can be no more than a reasoned account of the feeling produced upon the critic by the book he is criticizing. Criticism can never be a science: it is, in the first place, much too personal, and in the second, it is concerned with values that science ignores. The touchstone is emotion, not reason. We judge a work of art by its effect on our sincere and vital emotion, and nothing else. All the critical twiddle-twaddle about style and form, all this pseudoscientific classifying and analyzing of books in an imitation-botanical fashion, is mere impertinence and mostly dull jargon.