The New York Times–bestselling author of Find Me and Call Me by Your Name returns to the essay form with his collection of thoughts on time, the creative mind, and great lives and works
Irrealis moods are the set of verbal moods that indicate that something is not actually the case or a certain situation or action is not known to have happened . . .
André Aciman returns to the essay form in Homo Irrealis to explore what the present tense means to artists who cannot grasp the here and now. Irrealis is not about the present, or the past, or the future, but about what might have been but never was—but could in theory still happen.
From meditations on subway poetry and the temporal resonances of an empty Italian street, to considerations of the lives and work of Sigmund Freud, Constantine Cavafy, W. G. Sebald, John Sloan, Éric Rohmer, Marcel Proust, and Fernando Pessoa, and portraits of cities such as Alexandria and St. Petersburg, Homo Irrealis is a deep reflection of the imagination’s power to shape our memories under time’s seemingly intractable hold.
Four sentences that I wrote years ago keep coming back to me. I am still not certain that I understand these sentences. Part of me wants to nail them down, while another fears that by doing so I will snuff out a meaning that...