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.

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