"Only nature knows neither memory nor history. But man - let me offer you a definition - is the story-telling animal." - Graham Swift, pp. 85
I recently finished Waterland by Graham Swift. I had never read anything by this author before, but I think I might have to go see what else he's written, after this one.
There is this idea of fate not as a natural thing, but as a construct, a story that we humans are telling ourselves; stories run their courses as surely as the river finds the sea. But, centrally to Waterland, those courses can be changed, can be forced and shaped and re-carved by humans. Fate, or the lack thereof, is still the story we are telling ourselves.
Waterland is one of those books that makes me want to go up to the fens and turn time back right past the Romans and then sit and watch humanity unspool itself across the landscape. There's been such a deep-seated change to the fens, the draining and the re-directing and I think...it speaks to fate. There's this idea that we can change the landscape, can change the inevitability of the river's course, through our efforts and our genius.
But the river overflows its banks, anyway.
There's a metaphor spun into a motif here, I'm just struggling to put it into words succinct enough.
"For a little while - it didn't start so long ago, only a few generations ago - the world went through its revolutionary, progressive phase; and the world believed it would never end, it would go on getting better. But then the end of the world came back again, not as an idea or a belief but as something the world had fashioned for itself all the time it was growing up." - Graham Swift, pp. 460