Saturday, 5 March 2011

From a William Trevor interview in Paris Review

I don’t like the Church of England. I feel much more drawn towards Catholicism when I’m in England—not that I’d do anything about it. I always feel that Protestantism in England is strangely connected with the military. All the cathedrals here are full of military honors. It’s part of an establishment with the armed forces; tombs, rolls of honor, that sort of thing. 

Personally the last person I want to know about is myself.

It’s a dry quality that you get with English eccentricity at its best; Irish eccentricity is much more outlandish. Crazier. English eccentricity is something you hardly notice until all of a sudden you realize that you’re in the presence of an eccentric mind. It’s not like that at all with an Irish eccentric; you know about it all very easily and quickly. English eccentricity has a suburban quality—it’s like a very neatly trimmed garden in which you suddenly realize that the flower beds aren’t what they seem to be. There’s a kind of well-turned-out quality about English eccentricity, whereas the Irish equivalent is higgledy-piggledy, and sometimes even noisy. The marvel of the English version is that it’s almost secretive. I’ve never quite believed in the obvious English eccentric, the man who comes into the pub every night and is known to be a dear old eccentric. I always suspect that that is probably self-invention. What I do believe in is the person who scarcely knows he’s eccentric at all. Then he says something so extraordinary and you realize he perhaps lives in a world that is untouched by the world you share with him.

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