Emigrating can be an experience hard to describe; but, still, Susan Sontag manages to grasp its main points. And moreover, within the pages of her novel she presents torments related to social life, professional life, couple’s existence, aspirations, wishes more or less hidden, and fragments of a woman’s soul.
I hope the fragments below will convince you:
‘Such a humiliating experience to be robbed of the past. No one knows – and even if they did, who would care?! – who my grandfather was. General… what's his name? Maybe they heard of Pulaski, but only because he came to America, or of Chopin, because he lived in France. While in Poland, I used to congratulate myself that my sense of dignity was not due to my name or rank. I was far too different from my family, I had better and more beautiful goals, I had other weaknesses. But I was proud to be Polish. And here, this pride, and being Polish, is no longer relevant, and also an obstacle, for it transforms us into out of fashion people…’
‘Sparks of hope, like some sparks of desire. A new start. I wonder how many things should one give up to in order to have the privilege of ‘the new start’. For more than fifty years, Europeans have told themselves: ‘If things should go bad, we can leave anytime to America.’ Lovers whose connection was not accepted by society, running away from their families’ interdictions, artists incapable of winning a public worthy of their work, revolutionaries oppressed by the futility of their revolutionary effort…. Towards America we go! This America that should repair the absurdity of Europe’s sins or simply make one forget about what one had wanted, and replace one’s wishes with new ones.’
‘One must make one’s goals float a little higher from the ground, to keep others from profaning them. Also, one should free oneself from drawbacks and humiliation so that they won’t root within one and suffocate one’s soul.’