All posts by myouel

Intense moments mimic paintings

“The firelight flickered on the wall and beyond the window a spectral dusk was gathering upon the river.” (56) A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man James Joyce 1916

“The body which lay in the bath was that of a tall, stout man of about fifty. The hair, which was thick and black and naturally curly, had been cut and parted by a master hand, and exuded a faint violet perfume, perfectly recognizable in the close air of the bathroom. The features were thick, fleshy and strongly marked, with prominent dark eyes, and a long nose curving down to a heavy chin. The clean-shaven lips were full and sensual, and the dropped jaw showed teeth stained with tobacco. On the dead face the handsome pair of gold pince-nez mocked death with grotesque elegance; the fine gold chain curved over the naked breast. The legs lay stiffly stretched out side by side; the arms reposed close to the body; the fingers were flexed naturally.” Whose Body?, Dorothy Sayers (1923)

“In people’s eyes, in the swing, tramp, and trudge; in the bellow and the uproar; the carriages, motor cars, omnibuses, vans, sandwich men shuffling and swinging; brass bands; barrel organs; in the triumph and the jingle and the strange high singing of some aeroplane overhead was what she loved; life; London; this moment of June.” (3) Mrs. Dalloway Virginia Woolf 1925

“They shot the six cabinet members at half-past six in the morning against the wall of the hospital.  There were pools of water in the courtyard. There were wet dead leaves on the paving of the courtyard.  It rained hard.” (51) In Our Time Hemingway 1925.

“Before us the thick dark current runs. It talk up to us in a murmur become ceaseless and myriad, the yellow surface dimpled and monstrously into fading swirls travelling along the surface for an instant, silent, impermanent and profoundly significant, as though just beneath the surface something huge and alive waked for a moment of lazy alertness out of and into light slumber again” (141) As I Lay Dying Faulkner 1930.

Joyce’s Portrait stared everyone off attempting to create a “portrait”-quality work of art with literature.  Joyce mixed his attempt at this into his work, but as other novelists began to focus on the task, new styles emerged.  This culminated in the intense moments in which time slows so objects can be explained in a manner that mimics a painting.

Stream of thought intermediate

“Vernon looks at him. Jewels’s eyes look like pale wood in his high-blooded face. He is a head taller than the rest of us, always was. I told them that’s why am always whipped him and petted him more. Because he was peaking around the house more. That’s why she named him Jewel I told them.” (16)

notes: Faulkner, in my opinion, improves on what Woolfe attempts to do. In Mrs. Dalloway I often found myself lost in her transitions. ThougH Mrs. Dalloway replicates life though the lens of individual minds,  Faulkner shows this doesnt have to be done in a way that’s so purposefully confusing. Additionally, I think Faulkner’s method of changing character perspectives by simply putting the POV as the title of chapters, is better than the more difficult to track changes in Mrs. Dalloway.

The beauty confuses

“Gliding across Piccadily, the car turned down St. James Street. Tall men, men of robobust physique, well dressed men with their tail-coats and their white slips and their hair raked back who, for reasons difficult to discriminate, we’re standing in the bow window of Brook’s with their hands behind the tails of their coats, looking out, percieved instinctively that greatness was passing, and the pale light of the immortal presence fell upon them as it had fallen upon Clarrisa Dalloway.”  (18)

notes: it’s easy to begin to see these men, but what is Brook’s, other than the intriate descriptions of the men, there is no other real description of anything. They float in existence but unsurrouded by any other objects, so they float in the mind of the reader in the same way they float in Clarrissa’s mind.

Extremely descriptive, but not highly informational

“Dick Boulton came from the Indian camp to cut up the logs for Nick’s father.” (pg. 23)


In the old days Horton’s bay was a lumbering town.” (pg. 31)

notes: Hemingway floods his text with description, but then leaves the reader with surprisingly little information. He tells what Dick and Nick’s father are doing but not really where they are or what they are doing there. Then finally tells some history and throws the reader into the middle of a breakup between Marge and Nick, even though the reader doesnt know marge.

The Details of the Moment

“They all laughed again. Stephen trIed to laugh with them. He felt his whole body hot and confused in a moment.” (11)

“To remember that and the white look of the lavatory made him feel cold and the hot.” (9)

Joyce uses temperature and colors to put the reader into the situation. He explains Stephen’s feelings through the tangible effects that emotions cause in people, really allowing people to connect.

no flow

“Jefferson Campbell had often before seen Melanctha Herbert, but he had never liked her very well, and he had never believed she was any good.” (110)


“Dr. Campbell did not like Melanctha’s ways, and he did not think that she would ever come to any good” (112)


Melanctha is full of very similar lines that are repeated over and over. Above is one such example where it is explained that Jefferson Campbell does not think Melanctha is any good. These lines are on back to back pages, and there are more very similar lines. The whole structure of the piece seems as though it assumes that the reader cannot remember what they read two seconds earlier. Through out the piece there are about no pronouns used, just constantly repeating each characters name over and over.  Because of the fact that most every line is redundant and could be left out, the whole piece has very little flow making it difficult to read.

The Physics of Fire

The “event” whatever it may be, is inconsequential.  The existence of the coming event forced John Marcher to retreat into himself.  The absence of confidence surrounding the impending event made him desire to hide it.  These feelings are explained in the following passage:  “He had thought himself, so long as nobody knew, the most disinterested person in the world, carrying his concentrated burden, his perpetual suspense, ever so quietly, holding his tongue about it, giving others no glimpse of it nor of its effect upon his life, asking of them no allowance and only making on his side all those that were asked.”(30).  In trying to cover the messages of his soul, his heart began to calcify until he had become the disinterested man meandering around Weatherend at the onset of the story.  What is great about the relationship between May and John is that it is not selfish on either side.  It is the most healthy type of relationship in which neither party is attempting to consume the other, but rather tending to the fire of each other’s soul, and ensuring that if darkness sets in, the fire is shared to ensure that both souls are once again illuminated.