In the beginning was the story

Ten years ago in Mutare, Zimbabwe, I needed something to read, so I walked into a bookshop and wound up with this. The passage here is only the start of the tour-de-force ending of the opening story in the collection.

“Mistake me not,” said the Cardinal, “the literature of which we are speaking—the literature of individuals, if we may call it so—is a noble art, a great, earnest and ambitious human product. But it is a human product. The divine art is the story. In the beginning was the story. At the end we shall be privileged to view, and review, it—and that is what is named the day of judgment.

“But you will remember,” he remarked, as in a parenthesis and with a smile, “that the human characters in the book do come forth on the sixth day only—by that time they were bound to come, for where the story is, the characters will gather!”

from “The Cardinal’s First Tale,” by Isak Dinasen (Karen Blixen), Last Tales, 1957

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