'This is how I will live'

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"The living room he took me into was neat, cozy, and plain: a large circular rug, some slipcovered easy chairs, a worn sofa, a long wall of books, a piano, a phonograph, an oak library table systematically stacked with journals and magazines. Above the white wainscoting, the pale-yellow walls were bare but for half a dozen amateur watercolors of the old farmhouse in different seasons. Beyond the cushioned windowseats and the colorless cotton curtains tied primly back I could see the bare limbs of big dark maple trees and fields of driven snow. Purity. Serenity. Simplicity. Seclusion. All one’s concentration and flamboyance and originality reserved for the grueling, exalted, transcendent calling. I looked around and I thought, This is how I will live.

--  Novelist Philip Roth, from The Ghost Writer. He has long lived in an 18th Century house in rural Warren, Conn.

  Warren, Conn., around the turn of the 18th Century.

Warren, Conn., around the turn of the 18th Century.