Prologue as Greek Chorus
It’s true that when the author asked me to write an introduction to his book, The Classical World, I was dumbstruck, not so much by the request itself as by his suggestion that he write it for me, and then for me to put my name upon it. I, of course, refused and Mr. Fuller and Idid not speak for some time, until the book was completed and I read it yet again, then agreeing to write the prologue the author and I both thought necessary. Consider these remarks then as a sort of Greek Chorus in which the author and I speak as one while wearing different masks. For I admire this book greatly.
Thomas Fuller’s a sensational travel writer, a writer who takes the notes out of his pocket’s as he’s traveling, as much to consult what’s already been written as to write something new. Mr. Fuller truly believes that questions orient the traveler, and that a little disorientation is essential to any trip work taking. Who to compare him to? Kipling, perhaps? Samuel Beckett? (there’s a travel writer if there ever was one). Fuller’s not so much a failed poet, as so many novelists are, but a failed novelist who sticks with poetry because it’s so difficult to write. “Poetry’s not writing per se,” he’s said to me on more than one occasion, “which is precisely poetry’s charm.” But wherever Fuller goes—Rome, Naples, Sicily, Calabria, San Francisco—he’s seeking the poetry in it.
The Classical World is a lark; no, it’s a blackbird with a human face. The question is: is it a song the blackbird sings? Or a screech filled with questions that have no answers? How the book ever got written is one thing—a miracle perhaps, since it’s obvious Fuller had so much fun writing it—and whoever gets in the spirit of it will surely feel among the most fortunate people alive.
Think of the notes Thomas Fuller’s stuffed in his pockets—written on the backs of bus tickets, hotel stationary, matchbook covers, whatever paper he had on hand at the time—as maps to a world he’s hoping will come alive again, a shimmering landscape of questions that have no answers. Also know that Mr. Fuller wanted to subtitle his book, A Novel of a Film, but was persuaded by his editor not to do so.