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Some rather rambling thoughts...Here are the first couple of paragraphs which, more than anything I could say here, set out both the strengths and the problems with JCPs style. In particular, at least for me, the first sentence is a wonderfully complex and concise observation of nature, the second moves rapidly towards JCPs own unique, eccentric, concept of the Universe (and his granting of a certain kind of consciousness to things that do not warrant it), which I personally find instantly irritating: The Sea lost nothing of the swallowing identity of its great outer mass of waters in the emphatic, individual character of each particular wave. Each wave, as it rolled in upon the high-pebbled beach, was an epitome of the whole body of the sea, and carried with it all the vast mysterious quality of the earths ancient antagonist. Such at any rate was the impression that Magnus Muir — tutor in Latin to backward boys — received from the waves on Weymouth Beach as in the early twilight of a dark January afternoon, having dismissed his last pupil for the day and hurriedly crossed the road and the esplanade, he stood on the wet pebbles and surveyed the turbulent expanse of water. Lean, bony and rugged, with hollow cheeks and high cheekbones, the consciousness that looked out from his grey eyes assumed an expression that would have been very difficult for the cleverest onlooker to analyze or define. It was certainly to no easy, relaxed enjoyment of those darkening waves that Magnus was now yielding himself in his release from his days labour. His face was wrought up rather than relaxed, strained rather than casual, grim rather than complacent; and if he had been a priest, occupied with the rendering of some complicated fragment of ancient liturgy, he could not have appeared more gravely concentrated. His skill with character description, which I love, is nicely on display here. In particular the rhythm of the final sentence is just fantastic. One can also certainly hear echoes of both Hardy and James in the sentence structure. While his essentialism (i.e. Woman does/is X) grates, he can certainly not be accused of misogyny - …as if by the mere hugging of her knees between her arms she could return to that unconscious state in which twenty-six years ago she lay, an embryo-mite, before she was born into a world like this; a world in which for a woman not to be beautiful, not to be seductive and appealing, means after all a series of futile desperations, of shifts and make-shifts, of pitiful and sorrowful turnings to the wall. for example. His focus is on a certain kind of solitude, which is not the same as being deliberately isolated or selfish, that allows one to reveal the connection, the continuity, between that which is self and that which is non-self - a kind of ecstatic transcendence - is appealing, to a certain extent, but the use of terms like soul and consciousness with a rather wild abandon, often leads to confusion and pseudo -mysticism. Here are a couple of quotes to give you an idea of those parts of his writing most likely to put you off - of course it is entirely unfair to put them here out of context, but hopefully their length will do much to mitigate that: “And the obliviousness of Rodney and Daisy to that crying of the gulls above Spy Croft added a new burden, a new weight, a new quota of insensibility to the age-old indifference of so many human souls of the two Boroughs to the objects and to the sounds that had become the tutelary background of the place. To a mind not grown quite callous to what Mr. Gaul would have called the representative potentiality of inanimate identities it might be easily conceived that between St. Albans Head, the White Nose, the Nothe, Chesil Beach, the Breakwater, the Town Bridge, the White Horse, Hardys Monument, King Georges Statue, St. Johns Spire, the Jubilee Clock, and this perpetual crying of sea-gulls and advancing and retreating of sea-tides, there might have arisen, in their long confederacy, a brooding patience, resembling that of an organic Being; a patience that approached, if it never could quite attain, the faint, dim embryonic half-consciousness that brooded in the sea-weeds, the sea-shells, the sea-anemones, the star-fish and jelly-fish, that lay submerged along those beaches and among those rock-pools.”***********He doesnt play like a musician, she thought. I know he is making mistakes. But she had hardly thought, He is making mistakes. He is playing badly than she felt compelled to shut her eyes. An immense flood of happiness lifted her up and carried her away. Her irritation with this man of many masks dropped from her and sank as if into deep water. Her revulsion against Lucinda fell away, too, sinking down like a pebble-stone. Her loneliness, her anxiety, her pessimism, all were submerged. She was herself, and yet not herself! She became a disembodied spirit that floated in, and over, this quivering flood. Across these waves she skimmed, light as a seamew; and, as the man went on playing, it was as if every moment in her past life, when she had been happy, darted up from its hiding-place, an arrowy jet of gleaming luminosity, and diffused itself through the whole air on which she floated; till she felt as if she were drifting through the liquid ether of a substance that resembled mother-of-pearl. But when all that had ever thrilled her, whether of taste, or touch, or sight, or smell, was transformed into a super-ether, this ether itself melted into that sound-sea, that rolled and rippled and towered and toppled and carried her along. Everything became sound. Thought had no reality. Things had no substance. Memory had no meaning, hope no shape. Sound was life. Sound was death. Sound was fate. Sound was the pouring forth, out of the abyss, of something beyond all reason and all knowledge! She herself, the Perdita she lived with, became a sound among other sounds, a sound that was nothing but the rising and falling of darkness and light. Past and future were lost in each other. Nor did any present that could be called a present take their place. This conscious sound, that had been Perditas soul, was a thing that had neither inward nor outward, neither subject nor object. It was an Absolute, self-existent, self-generated, self-complete. Only it kept breaking up into innumerable waves of darkness and light, that fell and rose, rose and fell, till they were an eternal oneness in their manifold, and an eternal manifold in their oneness . . .” There is enough hesitancy in these passages (note the might in the first passage for example) for me to be more forgiving, though I would expect others may not agree. It is not that I think he is wrong in, for example, his description of Perditas experience (and what would it mean to say someone was wrong when describing such a thing?) and I accept that he is attempting to render a certain phenomenon in prose that it may not be possible to render in language, but there is something about those exclamation marks in particular that annoys me. However, JCP is also the only writer I know who could write something like this: Jerry had indeed something in him that went beyond Rabelaisianism, in that he not only could get an ecstasy of curious satisfaction from the most drab, ordinary, homely, realistic aspects of what might be called the excremental under-tides of existence but he could slough off his loathing for humanity in this contemplation and grow gay, child-like, guileless. Which I would be hard-pressed to find fault with. I dont know. He is certainly on of the great writers, not least for his uniqueness and his willingness to commit completely to an expression of his world-view, reader-be-damned. I certainly intend to read all his books. But I also dont think he is for everyone, nor is he someone I would be quick to recommend. However, one thing I would say is that it is important to allow him a certain amount of time, say 100 pages or so, to get under your skin before you dismiss him. I find that it always takes me a while to submit and cease my resistance, and I am glad when I do. Regardless, we you to be interested in reading him, I would not suggest starting here. Judging by the reviews it seems Wolf Solent is a good starting place.

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نوشته شده در : سه شنبه 21 آذر 1396  توسط : Ricky Thorpe.    نظرات() .

 
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