Frank Kermode

Retirement, like other less pleasant conditions, is something one never seriously expects to suffer. After a lifetime of compliance with constraints which, however gentle, were not of one’s own choosing, one experiences for the first time a dreadful liberty to do as one likes. In principle, anyway. For example, in principle I can now live anywhere I want. The other day I had a letter from a distinguished colleague, postmarked ‘Verona’, which described the almost terminal happiness of living there and ended: ‘I don’t mean to die in Cambridge.’ Of course not: but where? Supposing for a moment that there were no considerations at all except the immediate satisfaction of my own desire, I think I might choose Jerusalem.

The full text of this diary is only available to subscribers of the London Review of Books.

You are not logged in