Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin

Darwin's famous book was published in November of 1859. At the time it was written, Darwin would have liked to continue gathering data and so calls his work an "abstract" and many times during the work, admits that more data would be needed to prove certain of his points. In June 1858, however, he had received a letter from Alfred Russel Wallace, who had come to similar conclusions and so Darwin felt that it was time to finalize his work.

Darwin wrote for a mass readership and not only did the book sell out the day that it was published, but it also went through six successive editions.

Variation under domestication: This chapter discusses how domestic animals and plants have greater variation than in nature because of selection by man, breeding variations that are most useful for his purposes. This selection, according to Darwin, might be "methodical" or "unconscious." Darwin argues against the traditional view that there are a lot of different aboriginal varieties.

Variation under nature: On the difficulty of defining what is “variety” and what is “species” in nature, ultimately Darwin says that “there can be no certain criterion.” Varieties might be “incipient species.” He also notes that the most flourishing, dominant species produces the most varieties.

Struggle for Existence: Darwin defines this in a larger sense as struggle, amongst organisms, either with each other or with things like climate and other physical conditions. This struggle for existence includes struggling against checks to increase in nature like a limited food supply, predation, and epidemics. Darwin alludes to Malthusian principles, explaining that in nature there are no “artificial” restraints to reproduction like marriage, or “artificial increases in food” to support larger populations; thus, such checks are necessary for population control.

Natural Selection: Darwin's centerpiece, the theory of natural selection, is derived analogically from the concept of man selecting variations which are more useful for his ends. Similarly, nature selects for characteristics that will either improve the individual organism's chances for survival under given conditions, or in the case of social animals, natural selection will adapt structures for the benefit of the whole community. Sexual selection is a specialized kind of struggle between individuals of the same sex (generally males) to mate with the other sex (where the result is not death but few or no offspring). Intercrossing leads to greater “vigour and fertility.” Hand in hand with natural selection is the concept of extinction--as favored forms increase, less favored forms decrease and may become extinct. Natural selection is slow and irregular, even if it tends towards “greater organisation.” To help illustrate this conception, Darwin asks his readers to envision a tree of life, in which the development of branches tends to be irregular.

Laws of Variation: The laws of variation, largely unknown, are based on the nature of organism or nature of conditions. Darwin mentions habit and the disuse or use of parts as factors, quoting Goethe to illustrate the point that usually when there is some kind of excessive use associated with one part, there will rarely be excessive use in another. Multiple (like vertebrae), rudimentary, and lowly-organized structures tend to be more variable between varieties. Overall, there are fewer differences between varieties of the same species, and more differences between species of the same genus.

Difficulties of theory: As to the question as to why nature is not in all confusion and full of the many intermediate varieties on the way to species differentiation, Darwin pretty much answers that the geological record is severely imperfect. Additionally, intermediate varieties tend to live on the margins and are fewer in number; their likely extinction means that they are less prevalent than might be expected. Darwin admits that organs of great perfection (like the eye) indeed seem difficult to imagine as having been developed through gradual modification, but he sticks to the theory. Natural selection is slow on a temporal scale that is difficult for humans to imagine. Finally, he refutes the theory that things were created for the aesthetic appreciation of man; after all, beautiful things were around before man was there to appreciate them. Darwin sticks to a "utilitarian doctrine," contending that modifications are made according to how useful they are for the organism.

Miscellaneous objections: Darwin spends an additional chapter refuting miscellaneous objections.

Instinct: In a highly controversial chapter, Darwin contends that instincts (which he gives as the mental qualities of animals of the same kind) vary so are also subject to natural selection. Conditions of domestication, for example, show a loss of natural instincts and a gain of other instincts (e.g., a dog's love of man is naturally selected and acquired instinct, chickens no longer fearing dogs is a lost natural instinct). Darwin goes into depth over the instinct of the cuckoo to lay eggs in other birds' nests, of ants' instincts to have slaves and masters, and of bees' instinct to make hives whose shapes perfectly enable them to best "economise" on "labour and wax."

Hybridity: Darwin refutes theory that the sterility of hybrid species is to prevent their confusion. Sterility of hybrids is a result of differences in reproductive systems of the parent. Darwin isn't sure exactly why this is the case, but believes that it sterility isn't related to natural selection.

Imperfect geological record: Darwin spends a whole chapter considering the imperfection of the geological record. These imperfections, Darwin believes, are why geologists think that species are aboriginally formed. In addition to the record being imperfect, species are intermittently formed, and so it is difficult to predict where, as far as geological layers go, to find fossils. Furthermore, it is difficult to get geological records from the ocean floor. Darwin credits Lyell for being one of the first geologists to accept natural selection as a possibility.

On the geological succession of organic beings: New species come into being slowly, and species of different classes change at different rates. Once old forms are extinguished, they never reappear again.   Dominant forms spread widely to larger areas and tend to yield more varieties.

Geographical distribution: Individuals of the same species likely descended from single centers of creation, and then became geographically distributed through factors like migration. Barriers and climate changes affect geographical distribution of species.

Classification: Classification of species is based on a "deeper bond" than "adaptive or analogical characters." Naturalists unconsciously classify according to "true affinities" which are based on descent: "community of descent is the hidden bond which naturalists have been unconsciously seeking," Darwin writes. Arrangement of groups based on these genealogical relationships does not necessarily mean, however, that varieties won't seem very different from one another. Darwin briefly discusses morphology and theories of common ancestors. Embryos and rudimentary or disused organs are key in discovering these inheritance based relationships.

Conclusion: Interestingly, this is only one of the places the word "evolution" shows up. In the end, Darwin doesn't go so far as to say that all animals and humans are descended from a single prototype, but he seems to suggest that this might be true.

Darwin's writing is hardly what one might expect from a scientific text, even if from the Victorian era. His prose and ideas are clearly informed by multiple lines of inquiry and thought from social science to literature and religion.

Social science: Darwin read Malthus in 1838, and it is at least partially owed to Malthus that Darwin manages to find a way to articulate his ideas on natural life as being subject to "struggles for existence."

Literary (metaphor): Darwin's text often uses metaphor to try to explain theory. For example, one of the most obvious examples I mention above, where he uses the image of a tree to describe the workings of natural selection. Another striking metaphor is when he compares the production of the eye through years and years of modification via natural selection to the production of the telescope through modification by human engineering. Darwin concedes, however, that this kind of creation is ultimately impossible for humans to truly comprehend, as it is the result of the slow accumulation of millions of years of improvements. The eye is thus something more perfect than man can ever make. Indeed, finding analogical parallels between the activity of nature and man is at the heart of Darwin's theory (and perhaps, what makes it such a compelling read and concept): the term "selection" is borrowed from what happens in the breeding of domesticated animals, and "struggle" from conditions of human war.

Religion: Darwin's work contains plenty of religious undertones, and he seems downright dismissive when faced with opposition that holds that his theory goes against God. Sometimes these undertones are subtle, as when he talks about how conceptualizing the struggle of existence might be a way of facing up to our fears of death: “when we reflect on this struggle, we may console ourselves with the full belief, that the war of nature is not incessant, that no fear is felt, that death is generally prompt, and that the vigorous, the healthy, and the happy survive and multiply.” This kind of optimism that these processes--natural selection and struggle for existence--will turn out the best of our kind and that extinction is part of the plan seems distinctly spiritually if not religiously consoling.

In the conclusion, Darwin is more direct about his religious views: in brief, he doesn't think that people ought to be shocked. Quoting Charles Kingsley as a religious man who has come around to his theories, Darwin writes that Kingsley has seen that "it is just as noble a conception of Deity to believe that He created a few original forms capable of self-development into other and needful forms, as to believe that He required a fresh act of creation to supply voids caused by the actions of His laws." Darwin is deeply dismissive of those who "hide [their] ignorance under such expressions of "plan of creation," or "unity of design" as these are mere phrases that neither contradict his theory nor explain an alternative one. After all, as evident from the Kingsley quote, Darwin feels that the laws of natural selection might be set by a Creator, and even that such design might be even more ennobling: "When I view all beings not as special creations, but as the lineal descendants of some few beings which lived long before the first bed of the Cambrian system was deposited, they seem to me to become ennobled." Darwin's account ends optimistically, and triumphantly: "There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one." He harbors a great optimism that beings, humans included, will continuously evolve into something better and more wonderful, the final words of the work ("endless forms...are being evolved") signaling this ever-continuing process.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Tono-Bungay by H.G. Wells

H.G. Wells's Tono-Bungay was serialized in The English Review (under the editorship of Ford Madox Ford) in four installments from December 1908 to March 1909. In the serialization, Tono-Bungay was subtitled "A Romance of Commerce." According to Bernard Bergonzi, it was H.G. Wells's attempt at a "large-scale novel, of Victorian capaciousness, that could incorporate the various strands of his literary and intellectual interests: science fiction, realism, comedy, sociological analysis." Indeed, Wells, already famed for his prolific writings  ranging from scientific romance to sociological essays, wished to write what the public would consider a more "serious" novel. As his 1914 essay, "The Contemporary Novel" bears out, Wells saw the novel as a serious form which ought to be discursively rich and which brought forth discussion of contemporary problems.  

Both Ford and D.H. Lawrence would recognize Wells's grand endeavor, though the preface to the 1925 Atlantic edition gives that though "the writer is disposed to regard it as the finest and most finished novel upon the accepted lines that he has written or is ever likely to write," "[i]t's reception disappointed him." Wells felt that his magnum opus had only received "moderate success on both sides of the Atlantic."

Tono-Bungay is told through a first-person narrator, George Penderevo, who tells the story of his uncle's and his own rise and fall from commercial success. From the start, George confesses that he is no trained novelist, and that his account is to be irregular -- simply,  he says that he has "an unusual series of impressions that I want very urgently to tell." Indeed the work contains temporal disjunctions (non-chronological, retrospective jumps in narration), and the narrative threads (as promised), seem to be taken up in fits and starts,as it occurs to the narrator. The work is divided into four books centering on the product, Tono-Bungay, which first led to Uncle Penderevo's rise in economic fortunes: "The Days Before Tono-Bungay Was Invented," "The Rise of Tono-Bungay," "The Great Days of Tono-Bungay," and "The Aftermath of Tono-Bungay."

Book One:
The narrative begins with George's panorama of Bladeshover, the countryside place where he grew up.  Bladesover is tightly ordered socially, with clear hierarchies. As the son of a housekeeper, one of the foremost episodes of his childhood was an incident with one of a higher class, Beatrice, with whom he falls in love as a child. Beatrice's snooty half brother Archie fights with George after taunting him for his lower class, and the result is that George's mother sends him away to live with his Uncle Frapp, a poor baker in Chatham. The squalid conditions at Chatham leads George to run away, and return to Bladesover. His mom then sends him to Wimblehurst to be apprenticed to Uncle Penderovo, a chemist who has many half-baked schemes for money-making and greatness. George's placement with his uncle and aunt becomes permanent when his mother dies soon afterwards. Uncle Penderovo's speculations in the stock market lead to his momentary downfall, and he and his wife, George's aunt, must leave for London, leaving George behind with the chemist's shop and its new owner. Eventually, George visits the in London, planning to matriculate in a university. His first impressions of London, however, are of its dinginess and seeming chaos. It is during this visit that he first hears his uncle remark something about "Tono-Bungay."

Book Two:
George's later impressions of London indicate his sense that the traditions of Bladesover in fact existed there, though in more hidden ways. Once he lives there, George catches up with childhood fellow Ewart (an artist) who teaches him, among other things, about how not to think in conventional or commonplace ways, and of movements like socialism. Under such an expansion of his mind, he becomes idealistic and feels that he must make an impact on the world. In London, George also falls in love with Marion, with whom he eventually has a failed marriage. Meanwhile, George gets restless with his studies, and despite his reservations about his uncle's work, decides to accept an offer of 300 pounds a year to work with him on his new product, Tono-Bungay. His moral qualms about the product and selling a quack item for higher than it is worth are cast aside when Marion agrees to marry him if he gets 500 pounds a year. George and his uncle work together to make the product "hum," and their clever advertising leads to some real commercial successes. Ewart analogizes modern commerce to poetry in its creation of values by means of words--in advertising, saying that something is valuable makes it so. After George marries Marion, and soon they are miserable; George claims that they differ in their aesthetic sensibilities, George imagining himself a person with much greater depth than Marion. Eventually, George cheats on Marion with a typist named Effie, precipitating their separation and finally, divorce. In the midst of this failure in marriage, George feels increasingly restless about the business and takes up aeronautics on the side.

Book Three:
This section is an account of how he and his uncle became "big people" through buying shares of other companies and fully taking over others. A product mined from West Africa called "quap" becomes particularly interesting to them because unbeknownst to their business partner, quap contains a chemical needed for making a recently patented product known as the "ideal filament." There is a sense, all the while, that the bubble of his uncle's astronomic rise will burst. Here, the narrative breaks and retrospectively tells of the social ascendancy of George's uncle and aunt: they go from a house in Beckenham to buying up an old mansion known as Lady Grove, and then finally settling on building a new, modern place at Crest Hill. Their social progression from Lady Grove to Crest Hill is the story of their embrace and imitation of old money style, to their rejection of old money style and attempt to discover something more modern for themselves. Filled with a new confidence, George's uncle imagines himself as a kind of Napoleon, and influenced by this image, has an affair with a journalist. George's aunt refuses to play the victim and puts him in his place. As all of this is happening, George treats his aeronautical experiments more and more seriously, as something scientific and more "real" than business and advertising. He fortuitously reconnects with Beatrice, who has come to Lady Grove. When George is injured in a crash, Beatrice nurses him back to health and he asks her to marry him. She refuses but doesn't say why, although she admits that she loves him. George's budding romance with Beatrice is interrupted when he must go off to West Africa to fetch quap in order to save his uncle's plummeting finances: apparently, he is close to bankruptcy. In a short episode of commercial imperialism, George murders a man, fetches the quap, and then on his way back, his ship sinks because the radioactivity of quap has rotted away the ship. George and his men are rescued by a liner, and upon George's return, he discovers through reading the newspapers that his uncle has met financial ruin and may be arrested for forgery charges.

Book Four:
In order to get his uncle away from England, George flies his uncle to France, where he dies pathetically. The press is after him, meanwhile. George has a brief period of making love to Beatrice when he returns, but she tells him she's with a Lord Carnaby and that they should just enjoy the moment, and that she has been "spoiled" by wealth and that they could never make the everyday work, with him a "ruined man" and herself "spoiled." Tono-Bungay ends with a rather poetic chapter in which George describes how he floats down the Thames with a destroyer known as X2 which he has built.

David Lodge has influentially labeled Tono-Bungay a "Condition of England" novel, a term coined to describe later Victorian novels concerned with social issues and reform in their scope. According to Lodge, Tono-Bungay draws more unity than might be revealed from a first reading from a number of patterns and metaphors (rather than the more "usual" unity of plot or narrative chronology). Lodge picks up on the notion of "panorama" which begins and ends the novel to suggest that the novel as a whole is meant as a kind of panoramic social landscape of England.

Bergonzi acknowledges this same sense of purpose in Wells's novels, but critiques the story for concentrating too much on the public, social, historic landscape at the expense of developing individual characters. The rather flat individuals seem not to really fit into the rich social landscape which Wells has sought to paint. It seems that contemporary Henry James had a similar reaction, crediting Wells with rich inventiveness but at the expense of aesthetic discipline.  

I think that the first-person narrator poses an interesting problem to reading Tono-Bungay as arising from the "Condition of England" tradition. What happens when the social landscape is self-consciously painted by a self-proclaimed, limited first-person narrator rather than the more familiarly omniscient narrator of the Victorian realist novel? One of the first considerations ought to be, it seems, to what extent irony might be detected in the gap between Wells and the narrator, George. Many critics don't credit Wells with irony, citing autobiographical features as evidence of reading George as collapsed into Wells. While I tend to agree that there is not enough irony for George to not be sympathetic to the reader, there is necessarily some ironic distance created by George's incredibly self-conscious attempt to write a "Condition of England" panorama, claiming a sort of specialized status, having inhabited various different levels of social status.

This inevitable ironic distance created by Wells styling such an obviously unreliable first-person narrator gives the impression of Tono-Bungay as some kind of experimental genre, which seems deeply tentative about its own success. The original subtitle attached to the serial, "A Romance of Commerce," seems to substantiate the reading of Tono-Bungay as an attempt to adapt an older form to new, modern conditions as Lodge suggests; ironic distance, however, would seem to signal that Wells's attempt is an self-consciously tentative and experimental one, a much more open and hence intentionally "undisciplined" one. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Aspects of the Novel by E.M. Forster

Forster's Aspects of the Novel was written for a series of lectures given at Trinity College in 1927, in connection with honoring William George Clark, a former fellow of the college. Forster praises Clark for his "integrity" in his academic career and strives to maintain a similar integrity in his lectures on the novel. These lectures were delivered after Forster himself was done with writing novels. The lectures were well-received, with some notable exceptions: F.R. Leavis is known to have considered them "intellectually null." Forster's lectures, however, were meant not as an academic treatise but more as literary reflection. (SOURCE: Childs, Literary Encyclopedia)

SUMMARY (with a few of my own comments, designated by **):
Introduction: Forster opens with a discussion of what he calls the "pseudo-scholar," who commits the crime of "class[ing] books before he has understood or read them" in order to delineate that his own goals will eschew classification by traditional categories of chronology (periodization) or even theme. In a word, he says we must think of novelists all in one room writing together, thus exempting them from the names, dates, places, and contexts that are "furniture of the method we are discarding." Forster envisions a kind of purist, formalist engagement or "struggle" with the texts that authors leave us with.

Story: The "story" is a kind of lowest common denominator in defining a novel. It involves little more than the notion of "what happens next" and suspense. Forster says that Sir Walter Scott tells a good story (but that there is nothing much more than the thrill of "what happens next" in his novels).

People: Forster explains that the major difference between "people in daily life" versus "people in books" (playfully, homo sapiens and homo fictus), is that "people in a novel can be understood completely by the reader...their inner as well as their outer life can be exposed." In daily life, we may only observe the actions and words of those around us, and there is no possibility of true access to their "secret" mental interiors. It is delightful to access these "secret interiorities"--in particular, Forster gives the example of Moll Flanders as one such character. Forster goes on to explain that the main facts of life are birth, food, sleep, love, and death, but that love becomes the most prevalent subject of novels because 1) it is important in the author's own mind 2) it seems like something that will be permanent (and that humans yearn for permanence).

Additionally, people in novels are either flat or round characters. Flat characters are "constructed round a single idea or quality," in other words, they are caricatures. Their advantages are that they are easily recognized, and that their lack of development makes them easily remembered. Again, the yearning for permanence makes flat characters pleasurable. Nevertheless, this isn't to say that flat characters can't sometimes have a certain force which makes you feel there is depth (for example, Forster suggests that characters in Dickens "borrow" a certain vitality from the author). Also, there are round characters that may be kind of flattish; Forster cites Austen's Lady Bertram. Round characters, in contrast, are "capable of surprising in a convincing way." (Interestingly, Forster's discussion of round characters is much shorter). Forster ends this section on people talking about shifting points of view as characteristic of novels (in other words, narration reveals "intermittent knowledge" of characters). If this kind of shifting is too intentionally done then the work becomes too much about the mind of the author. Forster also think that when the author directly takes the reader into confidence about a character, it's rather too much like "bar-parlour" chattiness or gossip. It is, however, okay to zoom out to talk about human condition more broadly, as in the case of Hardy or Conrad.

Fantasy: **The last few sections become markedly more qualitative and less technical. Oftentimes, it seems that what Forster tries to describe (and he himself admits this) in these sections is "beyond words."** Forster's definition of "fantasy" in some novels is that it "asks us to pay something extra." In other words, in addition to accepting that the book is not real, readers must accept the implication of the supernatural (that it is the "implication" of the supernatural is important because he includes works which have a fantastical element that don't explicitly, say, have ghosts or aliens). Forster also talks about parody and adaptation in this section, saying that these forms have a great advantage to novelists who "do not...take easily to creating characters." Joyce's Ulysses is his example. According to Forster, "it is of course more than a fantasy--it is an inverted Victorianism, an attempt to make crossness and dirt succeed where sweetness and light failed, a simplification of the human character in the interests of hell."

Prophecy: By "prophecy," Forster does not mean psychic foretelling, but "an accent in the novelist's voice," a "tone of voice" which may "imply any of the faiths that have haunted humanity...or the mere raising of human love and hatred to such a power that their normal receptacles no longer contain them." In order to recognize this tone, readers must be humble and to suspend their sense of humor. Prophecy is deeply serious, and moreover, it is different from "preaching" which he gives George Eliot as doing. Dostoevsky and Lawrence are prophets. Moby Dick has prophetic qualities, as does the relationship between Catherine and Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights. There is something imprecise, unconscious, and inspirational in this prophet tone which Forster describes; Forster says that to have too clear or intentionalized a philosophy in writing as with Hardy and Conrad is too reflexive. "A prophet does not reflect."
Pattern and Rhythm: Forster's final lecture is on pattern and rhythm. Both appeal to a reader's aesthetic sense, while things like the plot appeal to a reader's intelligence. He describes the overall symmetry of plots in books like in Henry James's The Ambassadors in which Strether ahd Chad change places, implying a kind of "hourglass" shape (this is of course metaphorical rather than literal). However, patterns are deliberately made, and so while aesthetically pleasing, tend to take away from a certain richness. Rhythm, however, stitches a work together "internally" and thus might allow for both beauty and richness. Rhythm seems to be a kind of echo, "almost an actor, but not quite" that moves throughout the book. A "little phrase" (which happens to be musical) circulates throughout Proust's Remembrance and that is Forster's example. It isn't exactly a symbol, because a symbol is too present and durable.

Conclusion: Forster reflects on how novels are not likely to truly change because while history moves, "art stands still." Premising that since it seems impossible for humans to ultimately be completely self-reflexive, they must continue to imagine novelistically. Optimistically, perhaps if novels register any development in human consciousness towards greater reflexivity or some other novel way of seeing ourselves, it is a "crablike movement" that we can't really see everyday. Nonetheless, this makes thinking about the development of the novel a wondrous task for Forster, since it might actually mean the development of human consciousness.

**This kind of humanistic, almost spiritual optimism that novels might tell us something about about human progress seems both alien and refreshing to a deconstructed, post-everything world, though our own critical frameworks seem to be shifting again towards something more "productive" in affect or systems theory. Though I'm not sure these shifts have the same optimism and definitely don't seem to bear any analogously wide appeal outside of elite institutions.**


Saturday, January 8, 2011

Kim by Rudyard Kipling

Edition: Kim (Classic, 20th-Century, Penguin)

Kim was published serially in American magazine McClure's from December 1900 to October 1901, and then in the British Cassell's from January to November 1901. Kipling's work aimed at a broad base for an audience; both McClure's and Cassell's were known as late-century publications which incorporated techniques of the "new journalism" like muckracking, as well as sensationalism and "pulp" in stories to attract larger audiences. Both magazines published the work digestibly as one chapter at a time.

Contemporary reception of Kim on both sides of the Atlantic were favorable. Many reviews, including one in the New York Times, indicate that Kipling's novel was not your typical colonialist novel of the time. Unlike, for example, Haggard's King Solomon's Mines, Kipling's Kim is no imperialist adventure story in which the white colonial adventurer's understanding is always up to the challenge of puzziling out and subduing native lands and populations. Kipling's India is one which produces an impact on the Western subjectivity in the character of Kim.

Set after the second Afghan war (1880) but before the third, the novel reflects a growing "orientalist" movement in India, the notion in the West that one must know in order to rule, and that perhaps, it might then be better for Indians to rule India.

Kim is a young Irish orphan who grew up in the multi-cultural and colorful Lahore. At ease with his surroundings in a way that only someone who grew up in Lahore could be, acquaintances of Kim refer to him affectionately as Friend of All the World. At the beginning of the story, Kim makes the acquaintance of a Tibetan lama who has come to India to find a holy river which, according to Buddhist beliefs, promised enlightenment. Kim observes the rather naive seeming lama, and decides to become his new servant, or chela. When Kim tells Mahbub Ali, a horse-trader and one of the adults who has contributed to Kim's upbringing, that he will accompany the lama on his quest, Mahbub asks Kim if he will carry some documents to an Englishman in Umballa. Kim readily agrees. Later in the night, Kim sees two strange men rifling through Ali's belongings and on a hunch, Kim decides to leave with the lama earlier, feeling his errand to be a sensitive one.

Kim proves a necessary guide to the lama, seeing as how he does not know basic necessities of getting around, including getting a ticket and taking the train (the te-rain). Upon reaching Umballa, Kim seeks out the Englishman. The Englishman turns out to be Colonel Creighton, who speaks with his peers about an upcoming war which as it turns out, the documents make reference to. In Umballa, the lama and Kim search for the river and accidentally trespass in a farmer's garden. The farmer is angry with them, but Kim manages to turn everything around, pointing out to the farmer that he has insulted a holy man. The lama is uncomfortable with Kim's scolding, but they are received kindly by the farmer subsequently. Kim is an instant favorite amongst the residents of this village outside of Umballa, and in the midst of entertaining everyone, Kim pretends that he is a prophet who knows that there will be a great war on the northern border, having overheard information from the colonel.

Accompanied by an old soldier, Kim and the lama set off the next day along the Grand Trunk Road (constructed by the East India Company connecting Calcutta, East Bengal, and Agra), which differs from the train in that class hierarchies are much more evident (whereas in the train, everyone mixes together in the railway cars). On their way to the road, the lama preaches to the soldier about detachment from worldly materialisms and emotions, but the soldier is skeptical when he sees the lama entertaining a small child with a song. On the Grand Trunk Road, Kim is fascinated and delighted by the spectacle of the many different travelers. Kim makes the acquaintance of the widow Kulu, who is traveling to her daughter in the south. Kim's charm gets her to agree to care for them in exchange for the lama's prayers which would bring her future grandsons. Again, Kipling's narrative makes the point that it is Kim's useful knowledge of human nature and the ways of the world that keeps the lama alive.

In another adventure along the road, Kim meets an English army regiment distinguished by a green flag with a red bull. Kim had heard before that this symbol related to his father, and that this symbol would be his "salvation." Kim sneaks into the camp to find out more and is unfortunately apprehended. His apprehenders discover the documents that Kim carries with him in an amulet which indicate that he is the son of Kimball O'Hara, who was a former member of the regiment. The soldiers believe that he should not continue with the lama, and Kim is detained. The lama takes his leave after hearing of this news, believing Kim to be in good hands and thinking that he must continue his search for the river. Later, the lama sends a letter saying that he will pay for Kim's education at a Catholic school called St. Xavier for Sahibs (white men). Kim is devastated, and secretly sends a letter to Mahbub Ali telling him where he was.

Sadly for Kim, Mahbub Ali arrives and also tells him that he should go to school in order to take his place as a Sahib. The Colonel (Creighton) whom Kim met in Umballa also arrives and seems more sympathetic to Kim; he goes with Kim to St. Xavier in Lucknow and determines on their journey that Kim would make a good spy. At St. Xavier, Kim is rather miserable, but in the summer, he decides to go to on the road again, disguising himself and meeting up again with Mahbub Ali. Kim and Mahbub Ali converse and they demonstrate an implied understanding between them that Mahbub Ali is a spy for the British Army in what is called the Great Game, a historical term for the system of British espionage aiming to protect against invasions from Russia in British India. Mahbub Ali allows Kim to be his assistant and Kim soon proves useful, overhearing a plot against Mahbub's life and warning him.

In this next part of the novel, Kim, through Colonel Creighton, comes under the directive of Lurgan Sahin, a dealer in antiques and jewels and also a spy. He prepares Kim through games designed to train his powers of observation. Kim also makes the acquaintance of Babu (Hurree Chunder Mookerjee), a "chain man" in the Great Game (the position which Kim is also being trained for) who comically (and pedantically) overuses/misuses a number of English idioms. Meanwhile, Kim finishes another year of school at St. Xaviers, and trains during his vacations with Lurgan Sahib and Mahbub Ali. After this year, these two men convince Creighton that he is ready. Disguised as a young Buddhist priest, Kim receives also a secret code, "Son of the Charm," which enables chaim-men to recognize each other. At this point, Kim famously has a kind of identity crisis, repeating to himself, "Who is Kim--Kim--Kim?

Kim meets up with the lama again, and along the way, encounters a Punjabi farmer who begs help for his sick child. Kim manages to cure him with medicines from a kit Babu has given him. The lama shows Kim that he has been preoccupied with drawing up a Wheel of Life, which illustrates how life is a cycle which traps the soul. Meantime, Kim meets someone by the name of E23 no the train who is also a chain man who is being pursued by enemies. Kim disguises the man, and the lama becomes afraid that Kim has learned magic spells and charms, warning him that he should not do anything unless it be to "acquire merit" on the way to enlightenment. Kim rather dismissively tells the lama that a Sahib needs to act.

When the lama and Kim encounter again the old woman whom the lama has blessed with granchildren, Kim meets up with Babu, who tells Kim about a mission to intercept Russian spies at the northern border. Kim agrees to help Babu and convinces the lama that they must travel north. Upon their arrival in the north, Babu tells the spies, actually a Frenchman and a Russian, that he will be a guide for them through the difficult terrain of the north. In an exciting turn of events, Kim manages to obtain the luggage of the spies and intercept the documents. One of the spies asks the lama to sell him his Wheel of Life and when the lama refuses, he takes it from him and the spy punches the lama in the face. Kim is incensed and fights with the Russian spy and the servants of the spies run away with the French spy, themselves Buddhist and appalled that the Russian spy has hit the lama. Kim manages to convince the servants that the luggage is cursed and he takes the luggage.

Kim and the lama rest at shelter provided by the woman of Shamlegh, whose seductive advances Kim resists. The lama feels like he is further from enlightenment because he was angry at and shaken up by the spies and wishes to return to the lowlands of India to search for the river. The lama falls ill, and later Kim also falls ill as they reach shelter with the widow of Kulu. Meanwhile, Babu takes the documents off of Kim as he is nursed back to health, delivering them to the Colonel. As Kim gets better, he has his second identity crisis, saying to himself, "I am Kim. What is Kim?" He feels like a "cog wheel unconnected with any machinery" but all of a sudden, he finds that he is crying and that things seemed to be moving once again. Kim is rather unaware of what is happening, but that somehow, everything seemed in his place, and he felt very much a part of the world, of its roads, houses, cattle, fields, people--"They were all real and true." In contrast, the lama says that he has attained enlightenment, but has decided to return in order to help save his chela. The narrative ends on an ambiguous note as far as the different understandings that Kim and his lama have come to.

Criticism on Kim might be described as somewhat "schizophrenic"--Rushdie acknowledges that he read it with both "anger and delight"--in accounting both for what by modern standards constitutes racist representation and for the work's aesthetic merits. Edward Said's criticism, like Rushdie's, allows both to stand in tension. Others, like Abdul Jan Mohammed, have pointed out that amongst other novels of its time, Kim was much less racist in its stereotypes and ought to receive credit as such. Mohammed suggests reading Kim as a sort of Manichean allegory, in which the East mediates the Western experience, allowing the West to become more reflexive.

Generically, Kim poses problems as well: is it a utopian fiction? a travelogue? picaresque? a bildungsroman? a spy thriller? Indeed all of these genres seem to fit in different ways--the novel is remarkably plural. It's pluralism seems to be, however, at the center of what Kipling seeks. Just as the plurality of the Grand Trunk Road delights Kim, the heteroglossic, linguistic plurality of Kipling's narrative paints a colorful diversity (not just with respect to the inclusion of native words, but also with respect to different modes of narrative point of view--e.g., direct addresses to the reader, "transcendental" languages like the lama's, spy codes, varied punctuation, and so forth). I read the open ending--in which Kim's seeming embrace of "the world" and the lama's enlightenment--as occupying the same kind of openness which defines the plurality of the work.

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad

Conrad began writing The Secret Agent in 1906, quickly finishing it by the fall and published it serially in the American magazine Ridgway's: A Militant Weekly for God and Country. Subsequently, he expanded the work before its publication in book form in 1907. The immediate historical backdrop which inspired Conrad's work was a particular incident on February 15, 1894, when a Frenchman by the name of Martial Bourdin blew himself up while walking towards the Greenwich Observatory. Three days earlier, an Anarchist named Emile Henry bombed a crowded cafe, injuring twenty and killing one. The incidents drew much of the public's attention, though many questions as to whether or not Bourdin was carrying his bomb to London, or if he meant to blow up the Greenwich Observatory, or if the two incidents were related at all, were never answered. More generally, the 1890s to the first decade of the twentieth-century was a time of fear with respect to anarchist violence--revolutionaries in both America and Europe were experimenting with bombings and assassinations to awaken people's sensibilities to the vulnerability of the modern state.

Conrad's work is explicit about the big role that journalism played in constructing fears of anarchist violence. For example, Blackwood's Magazine (for which Conrad frequently wrote) included a number of serious consideratins on the topic of the rise of anarchistic behavior. Conrad's own engagement of Anarchism was complex (even sometimes to the point of seeming contradiction: he was at once outspoken against Socialist politics, yet friends with many political radicals). Through a literary form shot through with irony (rather than journalistic form) Conrad was perhaps able to articulate some of these views more accurately.

The first two chapters introduce the Verlocs: Mr. Verloc is a long time secret agent with a stationary shop as a front business. In general, he is an indolent character, who has complacently adjusted to the uneventfulness of his role in recent years. He lives with his wife Winnie, her idiot brother Stevie and Winnie's mother. Verloc is called to the (Russian) embassy, and there he receives instructions to bomb the Greenwich Observatory by one Mr. Vladimir. The revolutionarily minded Vladimir claims that the "fetish of the middle classes" is now science, and thus a symbol of scientific endeavor needed to be destroyed in order to  shock them out of their complacency.

Soon after this encounter with Vladimir, Verloc has his old associates over to his place: Michaelis, an ex-convict who philosophizes on how everything comes about because of economic forces, Karl Yundt, an unpleasant "old terrorist," and Comrade Ossipon, an ex-medical student. Verloc feels they are not up to the task. That night, in bed, Winnie speaks to Verloc of her annoyance that the men's talk had upset Stevie.

The narrative then skips to after an explosion near the Greenwich observatory has happened. The newspapers report that a bomb has gone off and that one person was killed. Curious, Ossipon talks to a man known as "the Professor" who makes bombs and detonators and who identifies himself as a total anarchist who would like to do away with any and all conventions and institutions. He carries with him dynamite and an India rubber ball detonator so that he can detonate at any point. He imagines this to be some kind of irrevocable power. The Professor tells Ossipon it is Verloc, since Verloc came to him for the bomb. In the street after his encounter with Ossipon, the Professor encounters the paragon of institutional success and achievement, Chief Inspector Heat. Heat has examined the remains of the bomber; he and the Professor have an unpleasant exchange in which it is revealed that the Professor feels the sting of being rejected by society. Later, Heat talks to the Assistant Comissioner, implying from what he has found out that Michaelis was involved because he had recently moved to a cottage near a railway station where the two men involved with the bombing had gotten off. Heat wants to pin it on Michaelis and be done with the case.

It turns out, however, that the Assistant Commissioner wants to protect Michaelis because Michaelis's "lady patroness" is a friend of his wife's. The narrative breaks here and tells of the Assistant Commissioner's past: he had worked in the colonies, but returned to a boring administrative job because his wife refused to live abroad. Heat speaks to the Assistant Commissioner about his private agreements with Verloc and how he doesn't want to get Verloc involved, despite having found Verloc's address on the coat belonging to the dead bomber. Because of their disagreements, relations are strained between Heat and the Assistant Commissioner. The latter goes to talk to the Private Secretary to secure permission to investigate the case himself. Having obtained this permission, the Assistant Commissioner goes to Verloc's house.

Here, the narrative breaks again and tells retrospectively of what has been occuring in the Verloc household prior to the bombing. Winnie's mother decides to move out and live in an almshouse, thinking that her absence might compel Winnie to take sole responsibility for Stevie and that this gradual absence might make the eventuality of her death to be easier on both Stevie and the Verlocs. When Stevie accompanies his mother to the almshouse, an incident with their cab driver reveals that Stevie feels compassionately for the poor and for the horses. His compassion leads to him being violently upset when he realizes that he can do nothing about it.

Mr. Verloc makes a brief trip to the Continent, and upon his return, Winnie sends Stevie out with Verloc on his errands, arranging one time for Verloc to bring Stevie to Michaelis's cottage. It was Winnie's hope that these walks would calm Stevie and besides, improve the relationship between Verloc and Stevie. On the day of the bombing, the Assistant Commissioner visits Verloc after he has returned home; it is assumed that Stevie was safe at Michaelis. At this point however, it is clear to the reader that it is Stevie who has been blown to bits. Offstage, Verloc confesses what has happened to the Assistant Commissioner. Meanwhile, Mrs. Verloc gets a visit from Heat, who shows her the piece of fabric from Stevie's coat which contains their address. Mrs. Verloc explains that the address was sewn in so that Stevie would not get lost.  Heat doesn't reveal to her what has happened for the time being, but when Verloc returns and talks to Heat behind closed doors, Winnie overhears and learns the truth. Meanwhile, the Assistant Commissioner tells the Private Secretary about Verloc's confession and goes to his wife at the lady patroness's house. There, he sees Vladimir, and they have an exchange in the street. Smugly, the Assistant Commissioner tells Vladimir that the English police have got everything under control.

Verloc tries to justify his life and actions to Winnie, but she doesn't hear because all she has lived for has been Stevie. Winnie's past is revealed: she had giving up her lover for Stevie, marrying Verloc for his money. Pushed to the limits, Winnie takes a carving knife and kills Verloc. In a trance, Winnie goes out and resolves to jump off of a bridge, but meets Ossipon on her way. Ossipon says he loves her, thinking Verloc dead from the blast. He finds out soon that she has killed him and the full truth, and then he becomes terrified of her. He sends her on a train to Paris, and later ditches her. It is revealed finally through a newspaper that Winnie has committed suicide. The journalistic phrase which describes her suicide ("an impenetrable mystery will hang for ever over this act") continues to haunt Ossipon to the end. The narrative ends with the Professor walking the streets of London.

I want to consider The Secret Agent in light of its being shot throughout with references to journalistic text and more specifically, newspapers. Peter Mallios offers the following reading, as summarized in the following paragraph:

The increasing power of the press in the 1890s was related to some important historical changes. The lowering or repeal of a number of duties pertaining to the economics of print in the mid to late nineteenth centuries led to a boom in newspapers geared more towards the lower classes; hence, the establishment began to fear the increasing numbers of labor-identified papers and more generally, the threat of anarchism which the new voices of the working class brought. The response of the establishment was in part to develop a new aesthetics of informational reporting which positioned newspapers as simply reporting neutral "fact"; the logic was that none could challenge a "regime of 'information'." Mallios argues that The Secret Agent resists the totalizing control of the late-nineteenth-century press which, under such the guise of information, was actually increasingly good at "simulation" as defined by Baudrillard as "a generation of models of a real without origin or reality." In Mallios's paraphrase, "the elements of representation and of a differentiated, autonomous reality drop out entirely, the world instead being scripted, constituted, supplanted by the media." This, Mallios contends, is the extraordinarily generative power of the press beginning in the 1890s, the power to "make facts" through the simple act of declaring items to be news (a symptom of this generative power, Mallios suggests, are new forms like the "celebrity interview" in journalism, which is essentially an event made in order to be reported).  

Mallios's consideration of The Secret Agent as a novel which critiques the mechanical acceptance, by nearly every character in the story, of what newspapers produce as fact and lived reality oddly links it to Doyle's The Lost World. My own reading of Edward Malone's function is that he is a new kind of journalist who manages to "shock" (through the final revelation of the pterodactyl) his audiences out of the blunted sensibilities created by the (drab) stylistics of information reporting by importing stylistics of fiction writing into his journalism. Mr. Vladimir in The Secret Agent wants to manufacture an event, the Greenwich bombing, which will similarly "shock" audiences out of their drab, bourgeois existence manufactured by their everyday newspaper reading. Unlike Malone's "shock," Vladimir's is botched: as Mallios points out, the public does not experience an imaginative revival and the whole incident is easily absorbed into the blunted indifference of everyday reporting. Indeed, no one in Conrad's novel (with the exception of the Professor, perhaps), escapes the control that the newspapers have on their subjectivities: Stevie gets red in the face reading stories in newspapers, Winnie is "free" for a moment before realizing, through accounts from newspapers, the gallows, Heat wants to pin the crime on Michaelis in order to produce an orderly account in the papers, Ossipon is haunted at the end by a journalistic phrase. Yet the Professor, the true anarchist who rejects all institutions and conventions of thought is hardly a hero. Conrad's narrative makes clear that he is in a position to reject because society has rejected him first. As the final lines of the novel give, "He walked frail, insignificant, shabby, miserable--and therrible in the simplicity of his idea calling madness and despair to the regeneration of the world." It is because he is "miserable" and "insignificant" that he reaches a sense of radical freedom. But this freedom, perhaps akin to Winnie's momentary freedom before killing Verloc and after learning of Stevie's death, seems rather undesirable. It's very far from the imaginative freedom which Malone in The Lost World shocks his audience into, rather it's a radical, terroristic freedom which in its (limited) achievement actually becomes deeply undesirable. Conrad's vision thus seems presents an unresolved problem: it reveals the "unreality" of newspaperly ways of seeing the world, yet rejects the radical freedom which might dismantle such unreality. 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle

Click here for publication history and summary. 
Click here for my conference length paper on The Lost World. 

The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man enjoys the status of being a "prototypical" modernist novel (fragmented, episodic, concerned with consciousness less than with plot). However, the writing of Portrait had its start not in novelistic form. In 1904, Joyce wrote an essay called "A Portrait of the Artist" for the short-lived Irish magazine, Dana, which rejected it. The essay contains some of the themes of Portrait, but it wasn't classifiable as either fiction or prose philosophy--rather, it was a mixture of both. The subject matter was the artistic development of a young man.  

Afterwards, Joyce then decided to present the ideas in this essay in an extended novel called Stephen Hero. Stephen Hero, whose title character was Stephen Daedalus (later shortened to "Dedalus" in Portrait), traced the development of an artist in a conventionally naturalistic mode, sequentially showing the different stages of the young artist. Joyce was to abort this project by June 1905, perhaps feeling that the focus on artistic stages felt a bit too rigid for his subject matter. Eventually, he came back to the novel and wrote the now-considered "modernist" Portrait.

Portrait was finally published from 1914-1915 serially in The Egoist, a London magazine known for its publication of seminar modernist texts from 1914-1919. The book form of Portrait first appeared in America through the publisher B.W. Huebsch in New York, and the first English edition did not appear until 1917.  

The first chapter is primarily focalized through Stephen's perceptions as a child growing up at home and at his first school, Clongowes. His childlike perception is frequently marked by sensory comforts and discomforts: Stephen perceives the retreat of getting warm under the sheets, the sting of his hands being pandied by Father Dolan, a school authority. Another key feature of this section is Stephen's learning about language, its usages, and different levels of signification. For example, when older boys taunt him when he answers truthfully that he kisses his mom at night, Stephen switches his answer, and then cannot understand why the boys continue to laugh at him. This shows Stephen's understanding only of language at the literal level, and not at the level of the joke. Other situations are less threatening, as when he learns a riddle which puns "Athy" (the name of his friend) with "a thigh." As a child, Stephen also begins to have a rudimentary understanding of "politics" as having one side and an another side and a whole lot of talk--at Christmas dinner, he witnesses an explosive contest between his father and one Mr. Casey against Dante, the pious governess. The former believe in the separation of church and state and are deeply upset by the death of nationalist leader Parnell, and the latter believes in the role of the Catholic church in regulating politcal morality and hence its role in the condemnation of Parnell. The chapter ends with a memorable episode in which Stephen begins to learn about justice: in the classroom, Father Dolan comes in and pandies him unjustly, accusing Stephen of shirking from his lessons when in fact he needed new glasses. Stephen, borne up by his schoolfellows' agreement that such punishment was "unjust and cruel," goes timidly to the rector to tell on Father Dolan, after which he celebrates his triumph on the playground.

In the second chapter, the tone becomes markedly more bleak, as Stephen's father experiences financial burdens that will mean Stephen cannot return to Clongowes after the summer.  The family moves to a suburb called Blackrock, returning later to Dublin, where Stephen luckily gets a scholarship to go to the Belvedere school. At Belvedere, Stephen becomes a model student and does very well. Meanwhile, he begins to experience his first pangs of love and lust; he feels tortured by an incident with a girl who rides the tram with him on a step below his, her apparent approach towards him, and his own refrain from making a move. Before his performance in the Whitsuntide play, a schoolfellow, Vincent Heron, makes fun of him because his girl is in the audience. Meanwhile, his father's financial situation worsens, and Stephen accompanies his father to Cork to sell their property there. As his father reminisces about old times spent in Cork with his old buddies, Stephen finds that he feels no sympathy for him and begins to view himself as more of an adult than his father. When Stephen wins an essay contest, he spends this money on his family and friends and finds that it doesn't really go that far. At the end of the chapter, Stephen gives in to his lust and has an encounter with a prostitute.

The third chapter tells of Stephen's continuing "state of sin"--once he has given into his lust, it seems easier and easier to do so again as well as to sin in other ways. However, sermons heard in school enter Stephen's consciousness, he feels fear and then shame. A preacher preaches on the nature of hell, and Stephen thinks about confessing (but doesn't want to do so at the college). The preacher also preaches on the spiritual torments of hell: the pain of loss, extension, and eternity. After hearing about hell, back in his own room before bed, Stephen sees his own vision of hell consisting of thistles, nettles, excrement, and goatish creatures. Unable to stand his "state of sin" any longer, Stephen goes out into the night to a chapel and confesses his sins. For the moment, he feels deeply absolved and unburdened.

In the fourth chapter, Stephen continues to subject himself to extreme religious devotion. This devotion borders on the comic at times, such as when Stephen goes out of his way to seek out unpleasant smells. His devotion seems to pay off, however, when the rector asks him if he feels his vocation is to be a priest. He has, meanwhile, some doubts about the authority of those such as the rector (and thinking back, his instructors at Clongowes). Stephen thus rejects the vocation of priesthood, feeling the office to be chill, cold, and lifeless. He decides instead to go to university. He reaches a new kind of understanding when he hears a group of peers call him "Dedalus"--he suddenly feels a kinship with Daedalus, the Greek artifice. Feeling his new calling to be art, he turns and sees a girl wading in the water, who through the "sufferance of his gaze" communicates the thrill of aesthetic appreciation without the shame of religious devotion.

At the university, Stephen has become rather arrogant; though seemingly well-liked, he generally wishes to stand apart from many of his classmates. He refuses to sign a petition on "universal peace" which his classmates circulate. When his friend of humble backgrounds, Davin, joins the nationalist cause, Stephen rejects this as well. The one thing which he holds on to is his developing aesthetic theory-didactically, he instructs his friend Lynch on aesthetics (via Aristotle and Aquinas) and the value of the "static" over "kinetic" in art because the static ideal eschews emotion. It is clear, nevertheless, that Stephen is not at ease: he continues to feel jealousy about his girl, Emma, whom he thinks is flirting with a priest. Plagued by conflicting feelings about Emma, Stephen finds refuge in writing a villanelle. The fifth chapter closes with a final rejection of belonging to the Catholic faith. His friend Cranly questions him about his faith and tries to win him back even if he has doubts, but even when Cranly tries to get Stephen to stay on behalf of his mother, Stephen says that he wants to be clear of nothing except his artistic vocation.  The work ends with Stephen's fragmented diary entires citing dreams and snippets of encounters, and his hope to leave Ireland for Paris. Optimistically, Stephen says: "I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forget in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race."

Recent criticism on Joyce has veered away from the notion of Joyce as a disengaged aesthete and generally acknowledges his potential political engagements. As Mark Wollaeger writes, "over the last decade, criticism has accordingly provided new portraits of Joyce the Irishman, the anarchist, the subaltern, and the postcolonial." One of the concerns that Wollaeger presents, however, is the potential to go too far in the other direction, whereby exaggerating Joyce's political stances. Especially in Portrait, where Stephen's progress is marked by successive rejections (of home, school, nationality, and religion), everything seems leveled in the sense that all of the pillars that traditionally define an individual are done away with. Thus, it doesn't seem that any one of them, political or otherwise, ought to enjoy any more legitimacy than the others.

Given these successive rejections, I read Stephen's exuberant embrace of the artistic vocation at the end to be equally fraught. As critics have pointed out, Stephen's final "epiphany" in identifying Daedalus as his father identifies him in the position of Icarus, who flew too close to the heavens. It's hard, therefore, to positively identify Joyce as finally privileging the artist at the end of this work, just as it is difficult to identify him by his political commitments. Some middle ground in which Stephen's successive changes do not signify unproblematical advance seems the best. In particular, I think the scenes with Davin and Cranly poignantly signal the problems with Stephen's rejection of nation and faith while also pointing out the limits of committing oneself, as his classmates have, to these institutions. Stephen's consciousness patronizes the young peasant nationalist, yet he recognizes a sort of natural, Irish mystic reality beyond the political institution of the nation when he imagines the peasant woman in Davin's story as "a type of her race and his own, a batlike soul waking to the consciousness of itself in darkness and secrecy and loneliness." Despite Stephen's imagined position of intellectual superiority, he is made to feel that there is something substantial to Davin's life philosophy that he must ignore if he is to stick with this position of intellectual superiority. Similarly, with Cranly, we are made to feel the sting of Stephen's rejection of his offer for intimacy; in short, Stephen seems just plain mean here. Equally stinging is Stephen's hotheaded, "I will not serve" in response to keeping his faith for his mother's sake; interestingly, while he is "hot," Cranly speaks "calmly," telling Stephen that he's "an excitable bloody man." When Stephen allows himself to laugh with Cranly about himself ("I daresay I am"), for a moment, "Their minds...seemed suddenly to have been drawn closer" despite their recent "estrangement." This potential for intimacy is dashed, finally, by Stephen's arrogance when Cranly asks if Stephen could truly "not have any one person...who would be more than a friend, more even than the noblest and truest friend a man ever had." Stephen walks away by flippantly replying, "Of whom are you speaking?" but not before Cranly's words "seemed to have struck some deep chord in his own nature." Just as Stephen was struck by the realization of something shared with the dark, mystical Irishness of Davin's peasant woman, here he is struck by the realization of rejecting an intimacy through faith with Cranly, which he does in fact desire.