The real voyage of discovery, wrote Proust, is not to seek new landscapes but to find new eyes. Okay, it’s a cliche, a business-class motto that seems eroded by emigration and voyages of necessity. But can you still travel to lose yourself, find yourself, or at least to see things differently?
Such questions entered my head the other week while watching a Swedish icon of American film in an Irish play given a Polish production. I also wondered, in pleasant bewilderment, why Greta Garbo had a sex change.
The play was Frank McGuinness’s fictionalised account of a real visit made by the “great gloomy Swede” to an Irish Big House in the late 1960s. On the page, Greta Garbo Came to Donegal is a fluent illustration of tangled national and sexual identities in textbook naturalistic style.