Fiction of Empire 2016

The Last September, Chapters 5-8

Oh no, I wasn’t,’ said Lois by reflex action, and wished all the other things to which she was always replying, ‘Oh, no I didn’t’ or ‘Oh, no I’m not’ were half as true”

(Bowen 65)

Fiction of Empire 2016

Stephen: The Prodigal Son

(Joyce 204)

This really struck me because, if you think about it, in a lot of ways Stephen is the Prodigal Son.

Fiction of Empire 2016

Joyce Dictionary: Entry 1

Sin – an offense against religious or moral law*


But for Stephen, it’s extreme.  His sins consume him:

“This was the work of devils, to scatter his thoughts and overcloud his conscience, assailing him at the gates of the cowardly and sincorrupted flesh:  and, praying God timidly to forgive him his weakness, he crawled up on to the bed, and wrapping the blankets closely about him, covered his face again with his hands.  He had sinned.  He had sinned so deeply before heaven and against God that he was not worthy to be called God’s child.”

(Joyce 148)

Stephen eventually decides to repent and go to confession.  But even his repentance is extreme:

“Each of his sense was brought under a rigorous discipline.  In order to mortify the sense of sight he made it his rule to walk in the street with downcast eyes, glancing neither to right nor left and never behind him … “

(Joyce 162-63)

I understand that Stephen is sorry for his sins and he wants to do better, but is it really necessary for him to discipline himself so much?

*Definition provided by Merriam-Webster


Fiction of Empire 2016

Portrait, Chapter 1

I don’t quite know what to make of this book yet.  There doesn’t seem to be any sort of plot; all of the events are random, and they could probably stand independently.  As for the writing style, most of the sentences are choppy; they don’t flow very well, or they don’t flow at all.  At first, I didn’t think the dialogue would be a problem without the quotation marks because Joyce identified who was talking.  But some parts of the dialogue made it really hard to figure out what was going on and figure out who was talking to who.

Academic Writing Fiction of Empire 2016

Kim, Chapters 10-12

So much happened in this section that I can’t even keep track of it all.  But this stuck out to me:

“Then you think I had better go?” said Hurree Babu, half rising.  “They are of course, dematerialised phenomena.  Spencer says -“

(Kipling 221)

The footnote here says Herbert Spencer (1820-1903), author of The Principles of Psychology (1855) and The Principles of Sociology (1876-96), among many other works.  He represents a rationalism far removed from Hurree’s reluctant belief in the paranormal.  My question is this: How can the Babu quote the epitome of rationality and still believe in paranormal stuff?  You either believe or you don’t.

Fiction of Empire 2016

Kim, Chapters 3-6

There were lots of things in this section that interested me.  I will focus on two of them.

“The Gods, who sent it for a plague, alone know.  A madness ate into all the Army, and they turned against their officers.  That was the first evil, but not past remedy if they had then held their hands.  But they chose to kill the Sahibs’ wives and children.  Then came the Sahibs from over the sea and called them to the most strict account.”

(Kipling 102)

I found this passage similar to the story of Moses in the Bible.  The most striking parallel between the two is the killing of the families.  Except in the Bible, families lost their first born sons.  I’m not sure if Kipling intended any religious references, but it certainly seems like a summarized, twentieth century version of the same story.

“But I know a River of great healing.”

“I have drank Gunga water to the edge of dropsy.  All she gave me was a flux, and no sort of strength.”

“It is not Gunga.  The River that I know washes from all taint of sin.”

(Kipling 104-105)

There were two things that struck me about this exchange between the lama and the soldier:  1) We know that the lama is a buddhist.  But I’m not so sure that buddhists believe in sin.  2)  How does the lama know what he is looking for all of a sudden?  Earlier, it seemed that he was looking for a river as part of his pilgrimmage, but he didn’t know where it was or why he was going there.  Unless I missed that part …