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"Things real and imagined" : the narrator-reader in Anthony Powell’s A dance to the music of time Beckett, Judith Rosalyn 1985

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"THINGS REAL AND IMAGINED": THE NARRATOR-READER IN ANTHONY POWELL'S A DANCE•TO THE MUSIC OF TIME By ' JUDITH ROSALYN BECKETT B.A., The U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia, 1979 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF" THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS i n THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES Department of E n g l i s h We accept t h i s t h e s i s as conforming t o the r e q u i r e d standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA A p r i l 1935 © J u d i t h Rosalyn Beckett, 19#5 In presenting t h i s thesis i n p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of B r i t i s h Columbia, I agree that the Library s h a l l make i t f r e e l y available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of t h i s thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. I t i s understood that copying or publication of t h i s thesis for f i n a n c i a l gain s h a l l not be allowed without my written permission. Department of E n g l i s h The University of B r i t i s h Columbia 1956 Main Mall Vancouver, Canada V6T 1Y3 Date A p r i l 23, 19^5 DE-6 (.3/81) i i A b s t r a c t Anthony Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time i s a " f i c t i o n a l memoir" i n which the n a r r a t o r , Nick J e n k i n s , d e s c r i b e s the events and c h a r a c t e r s he has observed throughout h i s l i f e . As such, the primary f o c u s of the n o v e l would seem t o be those c h a r a c t e r s and events, but.the way i n which Nick r e l a t e s h i s s t o r y has a c o n s i d e r a b l e impact on the n a r r a t i v e , and, t h e r e f o r e , on t h a t primary f o c u s . Powell has not only chosen t o employ a f i r s t - p e r s o n n a r r a t o r , thereby e s t a b l i s h i n g a s p e c i f i c , and i n d i v i d u a l , n a r r a t i v e v o i c e , or p o i n t of view, but he a l s o has t h a t n a r r a t o r consume much of n o v e l by d e s c r i b i n g h i s p e r c e p t i o n s o f the world he observes, and t h i s b r i n g s i n t o f o c u s the nature of t h a t p e r s p e c t i v e . Hence, t h i s paper examines the nature of N i c k ' s r o l e i n the n o v e l , both as c h a r a c t e r and n a r r a t o r , and attempts to d e l i n e a t e the e f f e c t t h a t t h a t r o l e has on the novel as a whole. E s s e n t i a l l y , Nick can be c h a r a c t e r i z e d as a "reader" who, i n e f f e c t , " i n t e r p r e t s " the c h a r a c t e r s and events he d e s c r i b e s , thereby c o n t r i b u t i n g h i s i m a g i n a t i o n t o t h e i r " c o n s t r u c t i o n " . Whether he reads a c t u a l t e x t s or observes human behaviour, Nick engages i n an i n t e r p r e t a t i v e p r o c e s s which i s analogous to t h a t i n which a reader i n t e r p r e t s a t e x t : i n t e r p r e t i n g " s i g n s " , c o n s t r u c t i n g "causes", t r a n s l a t i n g t e x t s i n t o images and "meaning-b e a r i n g " i d e a s , and s u b j e c t i n g his^own " r e a d i n g " to s c r u t i n y , t hereby e f f e c t i v e l y " r e r e a d i n g " p r e v i o u s " i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s " . As a "reader", Nick i s i n t e r e s t e d i n more than mere d e s c r i p t i o n : he not o n l y d e s i r e s to understand the nature of the people w i t h whom he i s i n v o l v e d , but a l s o t o a p p r e c i a t e the s i g n i f i c a n c e of the events he wi t n e s s e s , so as t o form a k i n d of p a t t e r n which would r e v e a l the c e n t r a l themes of an age. In so doing, he does not merely r e l a t e "what happens", thereby " p u t t i n g up a m i r r o r " to h i s p ast; he a l s o d e s c r i b e s h i s experience of t h a t p a s t , so t h a t the n a r r a t i v e does not so much present " r e a l i t y " , as i t p r e s e n t s NickVs p e r c e p t i o n of r e a l i t y . N i c k ' s c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n as a "reader" i s founded on s p e c i f i c t h e o r i e s r e g a r d i n g the nature of the r e a d i n g p r o c e s s , e s p e c i a l l y as they apply t o the r e l a t i o n s h i p between reader and t e x t , and, t h e r e f o r e , the products of h i s " i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s " a r e considered i n r e l a t i o n t o the c r e a t i o n of f i c t i o n . In essence, N i c k ' s " r e a d i n g " r e s u l t s i n the c o n s t r u c t i o n of the c h a r a c t e r s and events he observes, so t h a t u l t i m a t e l y he c r e a t e s " f i c t i o n s " . In other words, because he does not present " r e a l i t y " , nor even a " r e c o n s t r u c t i o n " of r e a l i t y , but a " r e c o n s t r u c t i o n " of h i s p e r c e p t i o n of t h a t r e a l i t y , Nick, i n f a c t , " c r e a t e s " h i s n a r r a t i v e , thereby c o n s t r u c t i n g f i c t i o n . Hence, j u s t as a reader c r e a t e s the f i c t i o n of a n o v e l by i n t e r p r e t i n g i t s t e x t , so too does Nick produce f i c t i o n by " i n t e r p r e t i n g " the world he i s p o r t r a y i n g . Thus, i n h i s "search f o r knowledge", i n h i s e f f o r t s t o understand the world around him, Nick " c r e a t e s " t h a t world, so t h a t knowledge would seemuto be the product of the obs e r v e r ' s , or "reade r ' s " , c o n s t r u c t i o n - i n essence; a f i c t i o n . i v Contents A b s t r a c t i i P r e f a c e v Chapter I 1 Chapter I I 33 Chapter I I I 63 B i b l i o g r a p h y 93 V Preface In h i s a r t i c l e e n t i t l e d "Technique as Discovery", Mark Schorer examines "the uses of point of view not only as a mode of dramatic delimitation, but more p a r t i c u l a r l y , of thematic 1 d e f i n i t i o n . " The idea that a study of form, or "technique", might help to i d e n t i f y thematic content i n a l i t e r a r y work, i s at the basis of t h i s paper. Anthony Powell's twelve-volume "sequence-novel", A Dance to the Music of Time, i s a f i c t i o n a l memoir, i n which the f i r s t - p e r s o n narrator, Nick Jenkins, describes the characters and events he has observed over a span of some sixty years. While the primary focus of the novel seems to be those characters and events, one must also consider the eff e c t that the narrative "technique" has on that primary focus. In t h i s paper, I examine the nature of the narrative by characterizing Nick as a "reader" who not only observes the world around him, but who "interprets" that world, thereby contributing h i s creative imagination to i t s construction. I f Nick can be so characterized, one can then consider "reading" as a theme of the novel, es p e c i a l l y as i t might r e l a t e to the creation of f i c t i o n i t s e l f . The primary focus of the paper i s on the nature of Nick^s "interpretations": what he reads (texts, characters), how he reads (misreads, rereads), and why he reads (search f o r knowledge), "Technique as Discovery," Hudson Review, 1 (194&), 67-37; rpt. i n The Theory of the Novel, ed. P h i l i p Stevick (New York: The Free Press, 1967), p. 67. v i as w e l l as the e f f e c t t h a t h i s d u a l f u n c t i o n as n a r r a t o r and c h a r a c t e r has on those i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s . Due t o the n o v e l ' s l e n g t h , i t i s i m p o s s i b l e t o cover every i n s t a n c e of N i c k ' s " r e a d i n g " ; t h e r e f o r e , I have chosen s p e c i f i c examples which I con s i d e r i l l u s t r a t e most f u l l y the v a r i o u s a s p e c t s o f the i n t e r p r e t a t i v e p r o c e s s i n which Nick i n d u l g e s , and which should be s u f f i c i e n t t o i n d i c a t e the g e n e r a l nature o f the n a r r a t i v e form. F u r t h e r , w h i l e I have r e l i e d , t o some extent, on c u r r e n t t h e o r i e s r e g a r d i n g the a c t i v i t y of r e a d i n g , as advanced by Tzvetan Todorov, Wolfgang I s e r , and Roland Barthes, among o t h e r s my aim has not been t o present a thorough c o n s t r u c t o f the reader. I have not a p p l i e d the no v e l t o theory; r a t h e r , I have begun wi t h the t e x t , and, i n examining i t , used theory t o e l u c i d a t e my t h e s i s . I must acknowledge, however, the help t h a t these c r i t i c a l t h e o r i e s have been i n the f o r m u l a t i o n of t h i s paper. Without some understanding of the r e a d i n g p r o c e s s i t s e l f , I could not have subjected the n o v e l t o my p a r t i c u l a r form of i n t e r p r e t a t i o n or " r e a d i n g " . Hence, I must acknowledge as w e l l my own r o l e as "reader o f the t e x t " , which, i f I stand by my t h e s i s , means t h a t t h i s paper i s my "act of c o n s t r u c t i o n " , and, t h e r e f o r e , i t i n c o r p o r a t e s both an examination o f Powell's n o v e l and my experience o f t h a t n o v e l , e s s e n t i a l l y " t h i n g s r e a l and imagined" Anthony Powell, A Question o f Upbri n g i n g (London: Heinemann, 1951), p. 2. 1 Chapter I When Nick Jenkins reads the terms of h i s uncle's commission into the army, i n The Kindly Ones, he continues a process of int e r p r e t a t i o n , i n which G i l e s ' character i s defined and d e l i n e a t e d . H a v i n g previously described some of h i s encounters with the old man, and explained how he i s perceived by the Jenkins family (e s p e c i a l l y Nick's father), Nick has already begun to est a b l i s h a p a r t i c u l a r p o r t r a i t of Uncle G i l e s , so that the commission provides an opportunity f o r further 2 character analysis. Hence, Nick t r i e s to augment h i s under-standing of h i s uncle's personality by comparing the expectations of the commission with G i l e s ' subsequent performance of duty. By looking closely at the way that Nick reads, however, one can i d e n t i f y some of the basic elements of the reading process i t s e l f , e s p e c i a l l y those which characterize the r e l a t i o n s h i p between reader and text. I f one can describe just what Nick does when he reads the commission, one can understand more f u l l y the nature of h i s role as a reader, and appreciate the impact that he has on the text. In order to examine the way that Nick reads the commission, one must f i r s t d i s t i n g u i s h the text i t s e l f from Nick's reading Anthony Powell, The Kindly Ones (London: Heinemann, 1962), pp. 157-9. A l l further references to t h i s work appear i n the text. 2 .;We are f i r s t introduced to Uncle Gi l e s , and get some idea of h i s character, when he v i s i t s Nick at school i n order to talk about "The Trust", i n A Question of Upbringing, pp. 15-25. 2 o f i t . T h i s i s not d i f f i c u l t , c o n s i d e r i n g the form t h a t the n a r r a t i v e takes: p o r t i o n s of the document's t e x t , set o f f by-q u o t a t i o n marks, i n t e r s p e r s e d by N i c k ' s commentary. The commission i s e s s e n t i a l l y a pro forma document, i n t h a t i t i s a standard form presented t o anyone who i s commissioned i n t o the army, w i t h Uncle G i l e s ' name and rank i n s e r t e d i n t o the spaces p r o v i d e d . N i c k ' s r e a d i n g of i t , however, r e l a t e s the document s p e c i f i c a l l y t o Uncle G i l e s , so t h a t i t becomes a p e r s o n a l m i s s i v e addressed t o one i n d i v i d u a l . Thus, by r e a d i n g the commission, Nick c r e a t e s something t h a t goes beyond the t e x t i t s e l f ; he " r e a l i z e s " , or " c o n v e r t s " the t e x t i n t o what 3 may be termed the "work". In so doing, he does not a l t e r the t e x t i t s e l f , f o r i t remains as i t i s , enclosed i n q u o t a t i o n marks; r a t h e r , he produces a new e n t i t y which, though e x i s t i n g o n l y i n h i s i m a g i n a t i o n , i s the c r e a t i v e r e s u l t of h i s i n t e r -a c t i o n w i t h the text.^" In t h i s sense, by i n t e r p r e t i n g the t e x t ( i n t h i s case, imagining t h a t the commission i s a p e r s o n a l l e t t e r addressed to Uncle G i l e s ) , Nick " r e a l i z e s " t h a t t e x t , thereby c r e a t i n g the "work". Acc o r d i n g t o Wolfgang I s e r , i n " I n t e r a c t i o n between Text and Reader," i n The Reader i n the Text, ed. Susan R. Suleiman and Inge Crosman ( P r i n c e t o n , New J e r s e y : P r i n c e t o n U n i v e r s i t y P ress, 198*0), p. 106, "the l i t e r a r y work has two p o l e s , which we might c a l l the a r t i s t i c and the a e s t h e t i c : the a r t i s t i c p o l e i s the a uthor's t e x t , and the a e s t h e t i c i s the r e a l i z a t i o n accomplished by the r e a d e r . " ^ I n "From Work t o Text," i n T e x t u a l S t r a t e g i e s , ed. Josue V. H a r a r i ( I t h a c a , New York: C o r n e l l U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1979), pp. 79-SO, Roland Barthes d e s c r i b e s the r e a d e r ' s a c t i v i t y as " p l a y i n g the Text as one p l a y s a game",.and t h a t the g o a l i s t o "re-produce the Text", or t o "complete" i t , r a t h e r than t o " i n t e r p r e t " i t . 3 Not only does Nick imagine t h a t the commission i s d i r e c t e d p e r s o n a l l y t o Uncle G i l e s , but he a l s o imagines t h a t the Queen h e r s e l f has w r i t t e n i t . S ince the document i s w r i t t e n i n the name of V i c t o r i a , and s i n c e i t i s addressed to Uncle G i l e s , Nick reads i t as i f i t were a p e r s o n a l l e t t e r from Sovereign t o s u b j e c t , and i n so doing, he c r e a t e s a f i c t i o n a l s i t u a t i o n . And, though the document i s , i n f a c t , merely a s t a n d a r d i z e d form, the " s i g n i f i e d f a c t s " of the t e x t ( V i c t o r i a a d d r e s s i n g Uncle G i l e s ) a l l o w f o r such an i m a g i n a t i v e r e a d i n g . In other words, w h i l e the commission may not have been intended t o be read i n such a f a s h i o n , the t e x t , n e v e r t h e l e s s , i s open to such an i n t e r p r e t a t i o n . Thus, d e s p i t e the f i c t i o n a l a s p e c t s of the s i t u a t i o n he imagines, Nick does not "misread" the t e x t i t s e l f ; h i s i n t e r p r e t a t i o n i s based on t h a t t e x t , but i t a l s o i n c o r p o r a t e s the c r e a t i v e elements of the r e a d e r ' s i m a g i n a t i o n . In t h i s way, Nick " r e a l i z e s " , or " c o n v e r t s " , the pro forma document (the t e x t ) by i n t e r p r e t i n g i t , t hereby producing a p e r s o n a l m i s s i v e from Queen V i c t o r i a t o Uncle G i l e s (the "work"). T h i s f i c t i o n a l s i t u a t i o n , i n which the Queen p e r s o n a l l y addresses Uncle G i l e s , i s the f o u n d a t i o n upon which Nick proceeds t o read the commission. He begins by imagining the k i n d of person who would produce the words of the document, and he does so by c h a r a c t e r i z i n g the language of the t e x t . The Queen addresses Uncle G i l e s as " T r u s t y and w e l l - b e l o v e d " , extends " S i g n i f i e d f a c t s " i s a term used by Tzvetan Todorov i n "Reading as C o n s t r u c t i o n , " i n The Reader i n the Text, p. 73 . 4 her " G r e e t i n g " , and remarks of her " e s p e c i a l T r u s t and Confidence i n your L o y a l t y , Courage and good Conduct". Such words provoke t h i s a n a l y s i s from Nick: T r u s t y and w e l l b e l o v e d were not the terms i n which h i s own k i t h and k i n had thought o f Uncle G i l e s f o r f a lo n g time now. Indeed, the Queen's good-hearted-ness i n h e r s e l f g r e e t i n g him so warmly was as touch-i n g as her e r r o r o f judgement was s t a r t l i n g . There was something p o s i t i v e l y ingenuous i n s i n g l i n g out Uncle G i l e s f o r the repose of con f i d e n c e , a c c e p t i n g him so wholly at h i s own v a l u a t i o n . No doubt the Queen had been badly a d v i s e d i n the f i r s t i n s t a n c e . She must haved been vexed and d i s a p p o i n t e d , (p. 157) To Nick, "the g r e a t r o l l i n g phrases" of the commission suggest t h a t the Queen i s "warm" and " f r i e n d l y - even t o the p o i n t o f in t i m a c y " , so t h a t her "good-heartedness" i s " t o u c h i n g " (pp. 157-Being such a person, she would no doubt have been p e r s o n a l l y d i s a p p o i n t e d a t Uncle G i l e s ' poor performance as an o f f i c e r i n her f o r c e s . T h i s r e a d i n g o f the t e x t does not i n v o l v e an understanding o f the t e x t i t s e l f . Nick knows what the words mean, i n the sense t h a t he understands the " s i g n i f i e d f a c t s " (the Queen expresses confidence i n Uncle G i l e s ) , but he a l s o d e r i v e s c e r t a i n c o n n o t a t i o n s from those " f a c t s " , which, i n t u r n , endow the Queen w i t h a p a r t i c u l a r p e r s o n a l i t y . In e f f e c t , Nick imagines V i c t o r i a t o be "warm" and " f r i e n d l y " because he sees such a c h a r a c t e r expressed i n the words of the t e x t . I t i s important t o p o i n t out, however, t h a t w h i l e the Queen may have been " r e a l " , i n the sense t h a t V i c t o r i a was indeed the Queen when G i l e s was commissioned, the c h a r a c t e r t h a t Nick here d e s c r i b e s e x i s t s o n l y i n h i s i m a g i n a t i o n . In t h i s sense, N i c k ' s V i c t o r i a i s not the h i s t o r i c a l " f a c t " , nor i s she the " V i c t o r i a " i n the t e x t of the commission; r a t h e r , she i s N i c k ' s f i c t i o n a l c r e a t i o n , c o n s t r u c t e d by h i s i n t e r p r e t a t i o n , o r " r e a l i z a t i o n " , of t h e t e x t . I t i s N i c k ' s r e a d i n g o f the commission t h a t produces such a p o r t r a i t , and not the t e x t i t s e l f . T h i s r e a d i n g of the t e x t a l s o i n c o r p o r a t e s N i c k ' s under-standing of h i s u n c l e ' s p e r s o n a l i t y . Not onl y was the o l d man not " T r u s t y and w e l l b e l o v e d " by h i s f a m i l y , a t l e a s t by the time Nick reads the commission, but Nick suggests t h a t such a sentiment i s , i n f a c t , G i l e s ' own " v a l u a t i o n " o f h i m s e l f . F u r t h e r , by m a i n t a i n i n g t h a t the Queen "must have been vexed and d i s a p p o i n t e d " , Nick i s assuming the f a c t t h a t h i s u n c l e f a i l e d t o f u l f i l l the commission's e x p e c t a t i o n s , which, though p o s s i b l y t r u e , i s not to be found i n the t e x t . Hence, Nick "reads i n t o " the commission h i s own understanding o f G i l e s ' l i f e and p e r s o n a l i t y , something which i s not d e r i v e d from the t e x t he i s r e a d i n g . The document, i n f a c t , says l i t t l e o f Uncle G i l e s , or o f the Queen; i t i s N i c k ' s r e a d i n g o f i t t h a t produces the two c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n s . He'j " c r e a t e s " Uncle G i l e s and the Queen, i n the sense t h a t the c h a r a c t e r s he d e s c r i b e s do not e x i s t i n the t e x t . While the commission i n c l u d e s the names o f " V i c t o r i a " and " G i l e s Delahay J e n k i n s " , i t does not d e l i n e a t e t h e i r p e r s o n a l i t i e s ; r a t h e r , i t i s Nick who, by c h a r a c t e r i z i n g the language of the t e x t , and s u p p l y i n g the e x p e c t a t i o n s o f Uncle G i l e s ' subsequent performance of duty, c o n s t r u c t s those p e r s o n a l i t i e s from the names he reads. Hence Queen V i c t o r i a and Uncle G i l e s do e x i s t w i t h i n the f i c t i o n a l context o f the n o v e l , and, i n t h i s sense, they are not product 6 of N i c k ' s i m a g i n a t i o n , but the c h a r a c t e r s he d e s c r i b e s when r e a d i n g the commission do not e x i s t o u t s i d e of h i s i m a g i n a t i o n , e i t h e r i n the " r e a l i t y " o f the f i c t i o n a l world, or i n the t e x t i t s e l f . As Nick c o n t i n u e s t o peruse the document, he comes upon another " f a c t " i n the t e x t which l e a d s him to augment h i s d e s c r i p t i o n of Uncle G i l e s ' c h a r a c t e r . The commission s t a t e s t h a t G i l e s i s t o h o l d the rank of "2nd L i e u t e n a n t " , with the understanding t h a t he may achieve a h i g h e r rank, and s i n c e he has always been known t o Nick as "Captain J e n k i n s " , he indeed must have r e c e i v e d some k i n d of promotion. T h i s would not seem too improbable, i f i t were not f o r N i c k ' s e s t i m a t i o n t h a t h i s u n c l e had been a f a i l u r e as an o f f i c e r . I f G i l e s was indeed so " d i s a p p o i n t i n g " and "vexing" t o h i s Sovereign, why was he made a Captain? In order t o answer t h a t q u e s t i o n , Nick imagines v a r i o u s p o s s i b l e reasons behind h i s u n c l e ' s promotion: Perhaps such an o p p o r t u n i t y had not a r i s e n so immediately as might have been expected; perhaps Uncle G i l e s had assumed the h i g h e r rank without r e f e r e n c e t o the Queen. C e r t a i n l y he was always s t y l e d 'Captain' J e n k i n s , so t h a t t h e r e must have been at l e a s t a presumption of a once h e l d c a p t a i n c y of some s o r t , however 'temporary', ' a c t i n g ' or ' l o c a l ' t h a t rank might i n p r a c t i c e have been. (pp. 157-3) Because Nick i s i g n o r a n t of the r e a l circumstances behind the promotion, he i s a b l e t o imagine v a r i o u s p o s s i b i l i t i e s , each of which might be a c c u r a t e . C e r t a i n l y , they are i n keeping with the p o r t r a i t of Uncle G i l e s t h a t Nick has a l r e a d y drawn, s i n c e they assume t h a t the promotion was e i t h e r put o f f f o r some time, 7 of l i t t l e importance, or even a c q u i r e d " u n o f f i c i a l l y " . Yet, by imagining such p o s s i b i l i t i e s , Nick seems to s t r a y from the t e x t he i s r e a d i n g . The " f a c t " of Uncle G i l e s ' promotion, under whatever circumstances, i s not t o be found i n the commission, even though i t i s suggested as a f u t u r e p o s s i b i l i t y , so t h a t N i c k ' s r u minations, once again, i n v o l v e extraneous m a t e r i a l beyond the t e x t i t s e l f . Hence, though N i c k ' s r e a d i n g of the commission i n v o l v e s an understanding of the t e x t u a l " f a c t s " (Uncle G i l e s ' rank of "2nd L i e u t e n a n t " ) , i t a l s o i n c o r p o r a t e s h i s understanding of G i l e s ' c h a r a c t e r and subsequent experience (being s t y l e d "Captain J e n k i n s " ) . The k i n d of r e a d i n g to which Nick s u b j e c t s the commission, h i s comparing of Uncle G i l e s ' performance of duty to the document's e x p e c t a t i o n s , i s f u r t h e r i l l u s t r a t e d when he c o n s i d e r s the f i n a l segment of the t e x t . The commission s t a t e s t h a t the o f f i c e r must " e x e r c i s e and w e l l d i s c i p l i n e " h i s men, "keep them i n good Order"f ;,and "command them to Obey" him, and t h i s l e a d s Nick t o summarize h i s u n c l e ' s f a i l i n g s as an o f f i c e r : Uncle G i l e s , i t must be agreed, had not r i s e n t o the o c c a s i o n . So f a r as l o y a l t y t o h e r s e l f [the Queen] was concerned, he had been heard on more than one o c c a s i o n t o r e f e r t o her as 'that o l d T a r t a r a t Osborne', to express without r e s t r a i n t h i s own l e a n i n g s towards a r e p u b l i c a n form of government. H i s Conduct, i n the army or out of i t , could not p o s s i b l y be d e s c r i b e d as Good. . . . There remained Uncle G i l e s ' s Courage. That, so f a r as was known, remained un-t a r n i s h e d , although - a g a i n so f a r as was known -never put to any p a r t i c u l a r l y severe t e s t . (p. 15&) I n f a c t , a c c o r d i n g to Nick, the o n l y command t h a t Uncle G i l e s had seen f i t to obey, was "the charge to command h i s subordinates 8 to obey him". These a s p e c t s o f G i l e s ' c h a r a c t e r , h i s " w i l l t o command" and " i r r i t a b i l i t y of d i s p o s i t i o n " , a re not d e r i v e d from t h e t e x t of the commission; r a t h e r ; they are N i c k ' s p e r c e p t i o n s of h i s u n c l e ' s p e r s o n a l i t y , a l r e a d y a pa r t o f h i s consciousness, which he a p p l i e s t o h i s r e a d i n g of the t e x t (p. 159). Without such p r e v i o u s " i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s " , or "readings" of Uncle G i l e s , N i c k ' s r e a d i n g o f the commission would be very d i f f e r e n t . That i s , i f Nick d i d not know " G i l e s Delahay J e n k i n s " , i f he had not a l r e a d y come t o some c o n c l u s i o n r e g a r d i n g h i s p e r s o n a l i t y , and, t h e r e f o r e , h i s performance as an o f f i c e r , he would not be ab l e t o make any comparisons between e x p e c t a t i o n s and performance, and he would not read the t e x t as he does. S i m i l a r l y , i f Nick d i d not know t h a t G i l e s was c a l l e d "Captain J e n k i n s " , the term "2nd L i e u t e n a n t " would not i n i t i a t e any quest i o n s ; t h e r e would be no need t o imagine the circumstances behind a promotion, i f Nick d i d not suppose any such promotion to have taken p l a c e . Hence, Nick b r i n g s to h i s r e a d i n g a knowledge of elements which are not contained i n the t e x t i t s e l f . He does not read i n a vacuum; r a t h e r , he a p p l i e s h i s knowledge and understanding o f h i s u n c l e ' s c h a r a c t e r t o h i s r e a d i n g o f the commission, thereby augmenting, as opposed t o merely understand-in g , t i t h essense of the t e x t . When Nick has f i n i s h e d r e a d i n g the commission, however, he does not cease to "read". In f a c t , he continues the p r o c e s s by s u b j e c t i n g h i s own " i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s " t o s c r u t i n y , so t h a t , i n e f f e c t , he "reads" h i s own r e a d i n g . Nick q u e s t i o n s the v a l i d i t y o f the way i n which he reads the commission when he 9 suggests t h a t perhaps " f a c i l e i r o n y " , indeed, any k i n d o f i r o n y , might "go too f a r " (p. 159) . I t i s easy f o r him t o compare the eloquent e x p e c t a t i o n s o f the document wi t h Uncle G i l e s ' subsequent performance of duty when he has the advantage of h i n d s i g h t , but Nick wonders how he h i m s e l f would measure up t o such e x p e c t a t i o n s . He knows t h a t he w i l l soon be c a l l e d upon t o j o i n the army, and he i s unsure t h a t he w i l l succeed any b e t t e r than d i d h i s u n c l e , so t h a t perhaps a comparison between e x p e c t a t i o n s and performance i s u n j u s t . Here, Nick seems t o r e c o g n i z e the way i n which h i s p e r s p e c t i v e i n f l u e n c e s h i s r e a d i n g : i f he had read the commission without knowing how h i s u n c l e performed as an o f f i c e r , h i s r e a d i n g would have been much d i f f e r e n t , perhaps as i n c o n c l u s i v e as h i s " r e a d i n g " of h i s own f u t u r e . N i c k ' s success, or l a c k t h e r e o f , w i l l be decided i n the f u t u r e , j u s t as a t one time the terms of Uncle G i l e s ' commission had yet to be " d i s a p p o i n t e d " . Yet, t h i s r e c o g n i t i o n of the impact t h a t he h i m s e l f has on h i s r e a d i n g o f the t e x t does not a l t e r N i c k ' s e s s e n t i a l p e r c e p t i o n o f h i s u n c l e ' s c h a r a c t e r ; he does not r e a s s e s s h i s p o r t r a i t o f G i l e s as a l e s s than s u c c e s s f u l o f f i c e r . What Nick q u e s t i o n s i s the methodology which he employs t o read the commission. Since the t e x t c o n t a i n s no such r e f e r e n c e s t o G i l e s * a c t u a l performance of duty, i t i s not the i r o n i c document t h a t N i c k ' s i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of i t would suggest. H i s r e a d i n g i s erroneous because the t e x t does not connote any such f a i l u r e on Uncle G i l e s ' p a r t , being simply a l i s t of e x p e c t a t i o n s ; r a t h e r , i t i s N i c k ' s r e a d i n g o f i t which c r e a t e s the i r o n y . Hence,-; Nick "reads" t w i c e over: the commission i t s e l f , and h i s i n t e r p r e t a t i o n o f t h a t commission. 10 Looking c l o s e l y at the d i r e c t i o n t h a t N i c k ' s r u m i n a t i o n s take him, one d e t e c t s a movement from the immediate, r a t h e r harsh judgement of Uncle G i l e s , towards a more considered, temperate, one. H i s i n i t i a l comments r e g a r d i n g h i s u n c l e ' s p e r s o n a l i t y and m i l i t a r y c a r e e r are r a t h e r humorous, but h i s use of " f r i v o l o u s " i r o n y does produce a p o r t r a i t of a somewhat r i d i c u l o u s incompe-t e n t . Nick manages to poke fun a t G i l e s * v a n i t y , arrogance, and egotism, q u e s t i o n h i s "good" conduct and d e v o t i o n t o duty, and d e n i g r a t e any promotion he may have r e c e i v e d . Even G i l e s ' pen-chant f o r command, the one s t r i c t u r e he seems t o have obeyed, i s c h a r a c t e r i z e d i n a n e g a t i v e l i g h t . E s s e n t i a l l y , Nick i s having a l i t t l e f un at the expense of h i s u n c l e ; indeed, one might q u e s t i o n the extent t o which he i s s e r i o u s about such a r e a d i n g , y e t , Nick seems t o r e c o g n i z e t h a t even such " f r i v o l i t y " has a d i r e c t impact on h i s p r e s e n t a t i o n o f Uncle G i l e s ' c h a r a c t e r , and, t h e r e f o r e , he s o f t e n s h i s tone as he r e c o n s i d e r s h i s approach t o the t e x t . H i s doubts about the v a l i d i t y of h i s i r o n i c stance, and h i s concern r e g a r d i n g h i s own f u t u r e conduct, suggest an awareness of a common bond between u n c l e and nephew t h a t tempers p r e v i o u s judgements.^ Since the terms of the commission are e s s e n t i a l l y N i c k ' s r e c o g n i t i o n of a common bond wi t h h i s u n c l e i s s i m i l a r t o h i s p r e v i o u s admission o f a " k i n s h i p " w i t h the n o v e l i s t , St. John C l a r k e , whom he tends t o d e n i g r a t e as a w r i t e r . In Casanova's Chinese Restaurant (London: Heinemann, I960), p. 82, Nick d e s c r i b e s C l a r k e ' s n o v e l s as " t r i v i a l , u n r e a l , v u l g a r , badly put t o g e t h e r , i d i o u s l y [ s i c ] phrased and ' i n -s i n c e r e ' " , but he a l s o remarks, "was not St John C l a r k e s t i l l a person more l i k e myself than anyone s i t t i n g round the t a b l e LNick's i n l a w s ] ? That was a sobering thought. He, too, f o r l o n g e r y e a r s , had e x i s t e d i n the i m a g i n a t i o n , even though t h i s i m a g i n a t i o n l e d him ( i n my eyes) t o a world l u d i c r o u s l y c o n t r i v e d , s o c i a l l y m i s l e a d i n g , p r o f e s s i o n a l l y nauseous." 11 " i d e a l " , and, t h e r e f o r e , u n a t t a i n a b l e , Uncle G i l e s ' f a i l u r e t o f u l f i l l them i s not o n l y understandable, but i n e v i t a b l e under the circumstances (p. 159). T h i s does not a l t e r the p o r t r a i t o f h i s u n c l e , but i t does a l t e r N i c k ' s a p p r e c i a t i o n of t h a t p o r t r a i t . In a sense, by equating h i s f u t u r e c a r e e r i n the army wit h G i l e s ' past experience, Nick changes h i s p e r s p e c t i v e of the o l d man, so t h a t now he i s viewed w i t h some sympathy. Hence, by r e c o n s i d e r i n g the way i n which he reads the commission, Nick r e - e v a l u e s the nature of h i s own p e r s p e c t i v e , which, i n t u r n , l e a d s him t o " r e - i n t e r p r e t " Uncle G i l e s ' c h a r a c t e r . A c l o s e examination o f N i c k ' s r e a d i n g of h i s u n c l e ' s commission i n t o the army r e v e a l s not o n l y the s p e c i f i c , and i n d i v i d u a l , a c t i o n s t h a t Nick performs when r e a d i n g the document, but a l s o the fundamental p r o c e s s t h a t c h a r a c t e r i z e s a r e a d e r ' s i n t e r a c t i o n w i t h a t e x t . In r e a d i n g the commission, Nick does not simply "consume" the t e x t , i n the sense t h a t he r e g i s t e r s i n h i s mind what i t "says", or "means"; he does not simply understand i t s " s i g n i f i e d f a c t s " (the requirements necessary f o r a c a r e e r as a B r i t i s h o f f i c e r ) ; he i s not a p a s s i v e onlooker. Nick i s an a c t i v e " p r o c e s s e r " of the t e x t : a n a l y z i n g , i n t e r -p r e t i n g , c o n t r i b u t i n g h i s knowledge and p e r s p e c t i v e t o the t e x t , so t h a t he produces something beyond t h a t t e x t . That i s , w h i l e the t e x t i t s e l f does not change when i t i s i n t e r p r e t e d , i t n o n e t h e l e s s becomes the b a s i s of a c o n s t r u c t i v e apparatus (the "work"), which i s accomplished by the r e a d e r . In t h i s sense, Nick t r a n s l a t e s the commission i n t o h i s p o r t r a i t s o f Queen V i c t o r i a and Uncle G i l e s , thereby c o n v e r t i n g the t e x t i n t o the "work". And, s i n c e these two c h a r a c t e r s , as d e s c r i b e d by Nick, 12 do not e x i s t o u t s i d e of h i s i m a g i n a t i o n ( e i t h e r i n the t e x t , or i n " r e a l i t y " ) , they are, i n f a c t , h i s " c r e a t i o n s " , or the product of h i s i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of the commission. The Queen and Uncle G i l e s are " c o n s t r u c t s " , i n the p s y c h o l o g i c a l sense of the word, because they are here d e s c r i b e d , not as they are (they are " r e a l " w i t h i n the f i c t i o n a l context o f the n o v e l ) , but as Nick p e r c e i v e s them to be; they are a l s o " c o n s t r u c t i o n s " , i n Todorov's sense, because they are c o n s t r u c t e d by the reader (Nick) as he 7 i n t e r p r e t s the t e x t . Thus, Nick " r e a l i z e s " the t e x t (the commission) by c o n t r i b u t i n g h i s knowledge, p e r c e p t i o n s , and p e r s p e c t i v e t o h i s r e a d i n g of i t , thereby c r e a t i n g the "work" (the p o r t r a i t s of V i c t o r i a and Uncle G i l e s ) . While N i c k ' s r e a d i n g of h i s u n c l e ' s commission i s a p a r t of h i s c o n s t r u c t i o n of G i l e s ' c h a r a c t e r , N i c k ' s r e a d i n g o f other t e x t s i n v o l v e s the c o n s t r u c t i o n of images which r e p r e s e n t the words on the page. Nick d i s c o v e r s the commission when, a f t e r the o l d man's death, he t a k e s i n v e n t o r y of G i l e s ' p e r s o n a l e f f e c t s . Along w i t h the commission, Nick f i n d s a book, e n t i t l e d The Perfumed Garden of the Sheik N e f z a o u i or The Arab A r t of  Love, which arouses h i s c u r i o s i t y (p. 160). Though he merely g l a n c e s at the t i t l e , Nick c o n c e n t r a t e s on the source of t h i s E n g l i s h t r a n s l a t i o n (a French v e r s i o n of the o r i g i n a l s i x t e e n t h -century A r a b i c manuscript), and proceeds to " i n t e r p r e t " the i n s c r i p t i o n r e f e r r i n g t o - t h e French t r a n s l a t o r : a " S t a f f O f f i c e r i n the French Army i n A l g e r i a " . The word " i n t e r p r e t " i s "Reading as C o n s t r u c t i o n , " p. 73. 13 a p p r o p r i a t e , because N i c k does more t h a n j u s t u n d e r s t a n d what t h e i n s c r i p t i o n s a y s . The " s i g n i f i e d f a c t s " o f t h e t e x t a r e e a s i l y p r o c e s s e d : t h e t r a n s l a t o r i s F r e n c h , i n t h e army, and s t a t i o n e d i n A l g e r i a , but t h i s i s not t h e f u l l e x t e n t o f N i c k ' s r e a d i n g . U n d e r s t a n d i n g t h e s e " f a c t s " , he p r o c e e d s t o c o n s t r u c t a r a t h e r e l a b o r a t e image o f t h e t r a n s l a t o r , so t h a t t h i s unknown " S t a f f O f f i c e r " assumes a s p e c i f i c c h a r a c t e r , i n h a b i t i n g a p a r t i c u l a r environment. E s s e n t i a l l y , N i c k ' s a c t i v i t i e s i n v o l v e t h e e x p a n s i o n o f t h o s e " s i g n i f i e d f a c t s " . The i n s c r i p t i o n s t i p u l a t e s c e r t a i n f a c t s , but o n l y i n a g e n e r a l way, and t h i s a l l o w s N i c k t o s u p p l y more p a r t i c u l a r d e t a i l s : who i s t h e man, why i s he t h e r e , and what i s he doing? More i m p o r t a n t l y , t h e s e d e t a i l s , though t o some e x t e n t l i m i t e d by t h e t e x t , a r e t h e p r o d u c t s o f N i c k ' s i m a g i n a t i o n , so t h a t h i s r e a d i n g o f t h e i n s c r i p t i o n i s a c r e a t i v e a c t . ^ Thus, t h e i n s c r i p t i o n l e a d s N i c k t o imagine t h e t r a n s l a t o r a t work on t h e S h e i k ' s m a n u s c r i p t : I p i c t u r e d t h i s F r e n c h S t a f f O f f i c e r s i t t i n g a t h i s desk. The sun was s t r e a m i n g i n t o t h e room t h r o u g h g r e e n l a t t i c e d windows o f M o o r i s h d e s i g n , an o i l s k e t c h by F r o m e n t i n o r J . F. L e w i s . Dressed i n a l i g h t - b l u e f r o g g e d coatee and s c a r l e t peg-topped t r o u s e r s b u t t o n i n g under t h e bo o t , he wore a p o i n t e d moustache and i m p e r i a l . B e s i d e him on t h e t a b l e s t o o d h i s shako, h i g h and n a r r o w i n g t o t h e plume, t h e w h i t e puggaree f a l l i n g a c r o s s t h e scabbard o f h i s d i s c a r d e d s a b r e . (p. 160) The image i s l i k e a p a i n t i n g , a p i c t o r i a l r e n d e r i n g o f t h e i n s c r i p t i o n , but a s h i s d e s c r i p t i o n i l l u s t r a t e s , t h e image Todorov, pp. 6£-9. 14 c o n t a i n s d e t a i l s not found i n the t e x t i t s e l f . The man's c l o t h i n g , the s u n - f i l l e d room, and the p a i n t i n g s on the w a l l are not f a c t s t h a t Nick understands simply by r e a d i n g the i n s c r i p t i o n ; indeed, i t does not r e f e r t o them at a l l ; r a t h e r , they are figments o f N i c k ' s i m a g i n a t i o n which he b r i n g s t o h i s re a d i n g o f the t e x t . Yet, at the same time, these d e t a i l s are not i n c o n s i s t e n t w i t h the t e x t u a l " f a c t s " ; indeed, they are e f f e c t i v e l y determined by the t e x t : the m i l i t a r y u n iform of the p e r i o d , the contemporary p a i n t i n g s , and the Arab s e t t i n g . Hence, N i c k ' s r e a d i n g o f the t e x t i n d i c a t e s the c r e a t i v e r o l e t h a t he p l a y s i n the " r e a l i z a t i o n " o f t h a t t e x t , i n t h a t he t r a n s l a t e s the words of the i n s c r i p t i o n i n t o a f i c t i o n a l image. That image, however, i s c o n t r o l l e d by the t e x t ; Nick may c r e a t e the p a r t i c u l a r d e t a i l s o f the "scene", but those d e t a i l s are based on the t e x t ' s " s i g n i f i e d f a c t s " . N i c k ' s c o n s t r u c t i o n o f t h i s image, however, goes beyond merely " p a i n t i n g a p i c t u r e " . Not onl y does he imagine the t r a n s l a t o r p h y s i c a l l y ^ wearing c e r t a i n c l o t h e s and seated at a desk, but he a l s o s u p p l i e s the man's p e r s o n a l i t y and past experience. I t i s not enough t h a t the Frenchman t r a n s l a t e d the Sheik's manuscript; Nick wants to know why, and so he imagines the circumstances t h a t l e d t o the act of t r a n s l a t i o n . In a sense, Nick expands h i s p o r t r a i t by " i n t e r p r e t i n g " the image t h a t he h i m s e l f has crea t e d : He was a b s o l u t e l y detached, a man who had t a s t e d the sensual p l e a s u r e s of the Second Empire and T h i r d R e p ublic t o t h e i r dregs, indeed, come to North A f r i c a t o escape such i n s i s t e n t b a n a l i t i e s . Now, he was examining t h e i r q u a l i t i e s and d e f e c t s i n a b s o l u t e 15 calm. Here, with the parched wind blowing i n from the desert, he had found a kindred s p i r i t i n the Sheik Nefzaoui, to whose sixteenth-century Arabic he was determined to do j u s t i c e i n the language of Racine and V o l t a i r e . (p. 160) Nick has come a long way from merely understanding the text of the i n s c r i p t i o n . Here, he psychoanalyzes h i s tran s l a t o r : he has f l e d the "sensual pleasures" of Paris i a n society, and come to North A f r i c a to contemplate that l i f e i n "absolute calm" by studying and t r a n s l a t i n g the Sheik's t r e a t i s e . Thus, the act of tr a n s l a t i o n becomes not just a " f a c t " (as i n the t e x t ) , but an event motivated by the o f f i c e r ' s character and past experience, 9 i n essence, the effect of a s p e c i f i c cause. One might contend that Nick, being a writer, i s merely indulging i n the practice of h i s art , attempting a kind of character study that might form part of a novel, but here Nick i s "reading", not "writing", and, i n t h i s sense, h i s a c t i v i t i e s are a constructive expansion of the i n s c r i p t i o n . What i n i t i a l l y was a b r i e f delineation of certain " f a c t s " , has, through the agency of Nick's imaginative int e r p r e t a t i o n , become a f i c t i o n a l scene. In t h i s way, Nick tran s l a t e s text into image, thereby producing the "work", which, i n t h i s case, i s the tr a n s l a t o r ' s character. Having conjured up t h i s image, Nick acknowledges that i t i s only one of many possible images that could be derived from the text. And, i n so doing, he i m p l i c i t l y recognizes the creative aspects of h i s own reading. Nick undercuts the image's r e a l i t y , or admits i t s f i c t i o n a l i t y , when he remarks, "Perhaps Todorov's "causal construction", pp. 7 4 - 5 . 16 t h a t p i c t u r e was t o t a l l y wide of the mark: the r e a l i t y q u i t e another one" (pp. 1 6 0 - 1 ) . He then o f f e r s o t h e r p o s s i b l e "images": perhaps the t r a n s l a t o r was a f a m i l y man, s t e a l i n g p r e c i o u s minutes between f a m i l y o b l i g a t i o n s t o devote t o h i s "beloved t r a n s l a t i o n " ; perhaps he was "Rimbaud's f a t h e r " , who had indeed been s t a t i o n e d i n North A f r i c a , and had t r a n s l a t e d A r a b i c manuscripts (p. l 6 l ) . Nick imagines these p o s s i b i l i t i e s i n t u r n , as he e x p l o r e s other i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s , though none are conceived as e l a b o r a t e l y as the f i r s t image. Perhaps, t o echo N i c k ' s " c a u s a l c o n s t r u c t i o n " , he has expended much of h i s c r e a t i v e energy on the f i r s t image, so t h a t the f o l l o w i n g p o s s i b i l i t i e s l a c k the same thoroughness; perhaps the f i r s t image appeals more to h i s romantic i m a g i n a t i o n . In any case, by advancing more than one image of the t r a n s l a t o r , Nick demonstrates t h a t the t e x t i s open to a v a r i e t y o f i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s . L i m i t e d o n l y by the " s i g n i f i e d f a c t s " , he can c r e a t e h i s images wi t h some freedom, so t h a t each of h i s conceived t r a n s l a t o r s can be c o n s t r u c t e d from the same t e x t without being "erroneous". Nick i s aware t h a t h i s images are " f i c t i o n s " , i n the sense t h a t they are not to be found i n the i n s c r i p t i o n , y e t , w h i l e none o f them may be " t r u e " , they are n o n e t h e l e s s allowed f o r by the t e x t . " ^ Having exhausted h i s i n t e r e s t i n the book's i n s c r i p t i o n Nick proceeds t o scan the chapter t i t l e s , and read p a r t s o f the " s i n c e r e and s c h o l a r l y " t r e a t i s e , but he does so o n l y " i d l y " . ^ A c c o r d i n g t o Barthes, i n "From Work t o Text," p. 7 6 , the t e x t " achieves p l u r a l i t y o f meaning, an i r r e d u c i b l e p l u r a l i t y " . 17 In f a c t , he says l i t t l e of the book's contents, except t o acknowledge the Sheik's "good" a d v i c e (p. l 6 l ) . Here, t h e r e i s no c o n s t r u c t i o n o f images, nor even an a n a l y s i s o f the t r e a t i s e , o n l y a r e c o g n i t i o n o f i t s r a t h e r o p p r e s s i v e nature. Nick admits h i s l a c k of i n t e r e s t i n the book i t s e l f when he says t h a t " D i s i n c l i n a t i o n t o continue r e a d i n g I r e c o g n i s e d as a b a s i c u n w i l l i n g n e s s t o f a c e f a c t s " , but w h i l e he sees t h i s as the r e s u l t o f h i s " i n f e r i o r i t y " , i n l i g h t o f the t r a n s l a t o r ' s " s o c i o l o g i c a l " concerns, one could r e l a t e h i s l a c k o f i n t e r e s t t o the nature of the t e x t i t s e l f . The i n s c r i p t i o n t h a t i n s p i r e s N i c k ' s c r e a t i v e e n e r g i e s i s e s s e n t i a l l y " r e f e r e n t i a l d i s c o u r s e " , because i t r e f e r s t o a preceding event (the t r a n s l a t i o n ) which can be " r e c o n s t r u c t e d " by the reader (Nick) i n h i s i m a g i n a t i o n . On the other hand, j u d g i n g by the chapter t i t l e s quoted, the t r e a t i s e i t s e l f i s e s s e n t i a l l y " n o n - r e f e r e n t i a l d i s c o u r s e " , being a c o l l e c t i o n o f maxims about l o v e and the r e l a t i o n s h i p between men and women, because i t does not r e f e r t o a p r e c e d i n g event as such."'"'*" As a s o c i o l o g i c a l study, the t r e a t i s e i s concerned w i t h the examination o f human conduct, and the e l u c i d a t i o n o f g e n e r a l t r u t h s , so t h a t the reader i s l e f t e i t h e r t o agree w i t h i t s f i n d i n g s , or d i s a g r e e , but not to r e c o n s t r u c t an event. F u r t h e r , even i f the Sheik's "study" i s , i n r e a l i t y , simply a p i e c e o f pornography couched i n s o c i o l o g i c a l terms, i t non e t h e l e s s demands l i t t l e i m a g i n a t i v e c o n s t r u c t i o n , or i n t e r -p r e t a t i o n , on the r e a d e r ' s p a r t . Thus, w h i l e the i n s c r i p t i o n Todorov, pp. 63-9. IS a l l o w s Nick t o c r e a t e an image ( o r t h r e e ) of the t r a n s l a t o r , the t r e a t i s e evokes no such c o n s t r u c t i o n and, t h e r e f o r e , i t can o n l y be understood, o r "consumed", but not i n t e r p r e t e d c r e a t i v e l y . N i c k ' s r e a d i n g o f the b o o k ' s i n s c r i p t i o n does not have, i n i t s e l f , an e f f e c t on h i s p e r c e p t i o n o f Uncle G i l e s , but s i n c e the book i s one of G i l e s ' p o s s e s s i o n s , Nick t r i e s too r e l a t e i t t o h i s u n c l e ' s c h a r a c t e r . Why d i d G i l e s f i r s t o b t a i n the book, and why d i d he choose t o keep i t ? Hence, w h i l e Nick c c e a s e s i t o " i n t e r p r e t " the t e x t , he does t r y t o .construct the reasons behind h i s u n c l e ' s a t t r a c t i o n t o i t . He suggests t h a t "perhaps" the book reminded Uncle G i l e s o f the women he had known i n h i s l i f e , or " p o s s i b l y " i t was used as some k i n d o f "handbook" t o guide him through the t r e a c h e r o u s paths o f l o v e (p. 1 6 2 ) . Whether or not these s u p p o s i t i o n s are c o r r e c t , N i c k ' s espousal o f them i n d i c a t e s t h a t he i s once a g a i n r e f i n i n g h i s p e r c e p t i o n o f Uncle G i l e s ' c h a r a c t e r , i n t h i s case, by c h a r a c t e r i z i n g the k i n d of books he rea d . T h i s method o f d e l i n e a t i n g p e r s o n a l i t y i s not u n l i k e N i c k ' s approach t o the t r a n s l a t o r ' s c h a r a c t e r , where he i n t e r p r e t s the man's p r e f e r e n c e f o r t he S h e i k ' s study as a r e j e c t i o n o f the P a r i s i a n "canons of 12 s e n s u a l i t y " . Having a l r e a d y d e f i n e d Uncle G i l e s as "a b i t o f a r a d i c a l " , N i ck sees h i s p o s s e s s i o n of the book as an a f f i r m a t i o n o f t h a t aspect o f h i s p e r s o n a l i t y : " I n any case, T h i s i s analogous t o Todorov's concept o f "symbolized f a c t s " , which are i n t e r p r e t e d , r a t h e r than understood ( " s i g n i f i e d f a c t s " ) , p. 7 3 . 19 t h e r e was no reason t o suppose Uncle G i l e s t o have become more s t a i t - l a c e d [ s i c ] as he grew o l d e r " (p. 1 6 2 ) . When Nick concludes h i s c o n s i d e r a t i o n of The Arab A r t A of Love he says, " I put the volume a s i d e t o r e c o n s i d e r " , and t h i s suggests t h a t he has y e t t o f i n i s h h i s d e l i b e r a t i o n s on the book, or on Uncle G i l e s . He can " r e c o n s i d e r " h i s i n i t i a l r e a d i n g , and, t h e r e f o r e , h i s " i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s " are not d e f i n i t i v e ; r a t h e r , they are open t o r e - e v a l u a t i o n , or " r e r e a d i n g " , and thus, a d i f f e r e n t i n t e r -p r e t a t i o n . N i c k ' s r e a d i n g of the i n s c r i p t i o n from The Arab A r t of Love i l l u s t r a t e s the k i n d of i n t e r p r e t a t i o n t h a t i n v o l v e s the t r a n s l a t i o n of t e x t i n t o image. That i s , Nick understands what the i n s c r i p t i o n says, so t h a t h i s " p i c t u r e " of the t r a n s l a t o r i s a c r e a t i v e augmentation of the t e x t . Another example of h i s r e a d i n g , however, i l l u s t r a t e s a d i f f e r e n t k i n d of i n t e r -p r e t a t i v e p r o c e s s which does not i n v o l v e the c o n s t r u c t i o n of images, but the d i s c o v e r y of "meaning". In the f i n a l volume of the sequence, Nick t r i e s t o d e c i p h e r the epigraph found i n R u s s e l l Gwinnett's biography of the n o v e l i s t X. T r a p n e l , e n t i t l e d Death's-Head Swordsman, which reads, "My study's ornament, thou s h e l l of death, / Once the b r i g h t f a c e o f my 13 b e t r o t h e d l a d y " . Upon r e a d i n g the epigraph, Nick p r o c l a i m s i t to be "ambiguous", and he t r i e s t o c l a r i f y t h a t ambiguity by c o n s i d e r i n g the v a r i o u s p o s s i b l e meanings behind the words o f * Anthony Powell, Hearing Secret Harmonies (London: Heinemann, 1 9 7 5 ) , p. 7 0 . A l l f u r t h e r r e f e r e n c e s t o t h i s work appear i n the t e x t . 20 t h e t e x t . I n t h i s c a s e , t h a t "meaning" l i e s not so much i n t h e words t h e m s e l v e s , a s i n t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p to' G w i n n e t t ' s b i o g r a p h y . Why d i d he choose such an e p i g r a p h ? What i s t h e s i g n i f i c a n c e o f t h e q u o t a t i o n f o r him, and f o r t h e book's s u b j e c t ? What does i t mean? The way i n whi c h N i c k t r i e s t o unc o v e r t h i s "meaning" i l l u s t r a t e s not o n l y h i s d e s i r e t o u n r a v e l a m y s t e r y , t o u n d e r s t a n d t h a t which i s o b s c u r e , but a l s o t h e e f f e c t o f h i s i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s on t h e t e x t he i s r e a d i n g . N i c k ' s d i f f i c u l t y i n u n d e r s t a n d i n g t h e e p i g r a p h ' s s i g n i f i c a n c e i s not due t o i g n o r a n c e so much as t o a p r o f u s i o n o f p o s s i b l e r e f e r e n c e s : "The l o n g e r t h e l i n e s were c o n s i d e r e d , t h e more p r o f u s e i n p r i v a t e meaning t h e y seemed t o become" (p. 7 1 ) . He u n d e r s t a n d s t h a t t h e e p i g r a p h i s a q u o t a t i o n from Tourneur's The Revenger's Tragedy ( a " s i g n i f i e d f a c t " o f t h e t e x t ) , and he knows t h a t i n t h e p l a y , "My s t u d y ' s ornament" r e f e r s t o a " s k u l l c a r r i e d by t h e spe a k e r , so t h a t N i c k i s a b l e t o s urmise t h e c o n n e c t i o n t o G w i n n e t t ' s " s t u d y " , b e i n g t h e s k u l l t h a t topped T r a p n e l ' s w a l k i n g s t i c k , but t h e r e s t o f t h e q u o t a t i o n i s more d i f f i c u l t t o a p p r e c i a t e . Hence, N i c k remarks: The l i n e s c o u l d be r e g a r d e d a s , say, d e d i c a t i o n t o t h e memory o f G w i n n e t t ' s e a r l i e r g i r l f r i e n d ( a t whose d e a t h he had been i n v o l v e d i n some s o r t o f s c a n d a l ) ; a l t e r n a t i v e l y , a s a l l u s i o n t o Pamela Widraerpool h e r s e l f . I f t h e l a t t e r , were t h e words c o n c e i v e d a s spoken by T r a p n e l , by G w i n n e t t , by b o t h - o r ^ i n d e e d , by a l l Pamela's l o v e r s ? (p. 71) The c l o s e c o n n e c t i o n between a u t h o r and s u b j e c t ( G w i n n e t t and T r a p n e l ) , p r i m a r i l y t h r o u g h t h e p e r s o n o f Pamela Widmerpool, 21 i s t h e main cause of such ambiguity, and s i n c e Nick i s f a m i l i a r w i t h those r e l a t i o n s h i p s , he f i n d s the s i g n i f i c a n c e of the epigraph obscure. As a reader, he b r i n g s h i s own knowledge of people and events t o h i s i n t e r p r e t a t i o n o f the t e x t , know-ledge t h a t another reader may not have, and, t h e r e f o r e , the ambiguity d e r i v e s not so much from the t e x t i t s e l f , as from N i c k ' s r e a d i n g o f i t . Hence, even the source of the q u o t a t i o n does not c l e a r up N i c k ' s c o n f u s i o n : "Did revenge play:?some p a r t i n w r i t i n g the book? I f so, Gwinnett's revenge on whom? Trapnel? Pamela? Widmerpool?" Such musings on N i c k ' s p a r t i n d i c a t e t h a t h i s d i f f i c u l t i e s d e r i v e from a p l e t h o r a o f p o s s i b l e r e a d i n g s , which, i n t u r n , a re the product o f h i s own p e c u l i a r knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the r e l a t i o n s h i p s o f the people i n v o l v e d . In t h i s sense, Nick knows too much t o be ab l e t o produce a s i n g l e i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of the t e x t , so t h a t he can onl y suggest p o s s i b i l i t i e s . Having f a i l e d t o come t o any c o n c l u s i o n about the epigraph's s i g n i f i c a n c e , Nick l e a v e s the matter f o r a time, but he soon f i n d s o t h e r o p p o r t u n i t i e s t o re-examine the t e x t . L a t e r , i n a d i s c u s s i o n w i t h Nick and E m i l y Brightman, Gwinnett speaks o f h i s d e s i r e t o do r e s e a r c h f o r another book, t o be e n t i t l e d The  Gothic Symbolism of M o r t a l i t y i n the Texture o f Jacobean  S t a g e c r a f t (p. 99). He e x p l a i n s h i s i n t e r e s t i n the s u b j e c t by suggesting t h a t T r a p n e l had much i n common with the Jacobean p l a y w r i g h t s , and, t h e r e f o r e , t h a t the new work would be an ext e n s i o n o f the biography. Nick responds t o t h i s remark, r e g a r d i n g Gwinnett's p e r c e p t i o n of T r a p n e l , by r e l a t i n g i t t o 22 the ambiguous epigraph: " T h i s o f f e r e d y e t another reason f o r the epigraph i n t r o d u c i n g Death's-Head Swordsman". S i m i l a r l y , when Gwinnett r e c e i v e s the Magnus Donners P r i z e f o r the bio g r a p h y , he quotes another passage from Tourneur's p l a y as an e x p l a n a t i o n of h i s choice of t i t l e and epigraph ( i t "'emphasises t h a t Death, as w e l l as L i f e , can have i t s beauty'"), but t h i s does not s a t i s f y Nick: The audience, myself i n c l u d e d , supposing he was going t o e l a b o r a t e the meaning of the q u o t a t i o n , draw some analogy, waited t o c l a p . Whatever s i g n i f i c a n c e he att a c h e d t o the l i n e s , they remained unexpounded. (p. 106) Thus, w h i l e Gwinnett e x p l a i n s h i s reasons f o r i n c l u d i n g the epigraph i n h i s biography, Nick m a i n t a i n s t h a t f o r him, the l i n e s remain "unexpounded". Whatever the o r i g i n a l s i g n i f i c a n c e o f the q u o t a t i o n f o r the " w r i t e r " (Gwinnett having chosen, i f not a c t u a l l y w r i t t e n , the words), as a reader, Nick must c o n s t r u c t h i s own i n t e r p r e t a t i o n o f the t e x t . The epigraph, t h e r e f o r e , remains ambiguous t o Nick, even i f i t i s not so f o r Gwinnett, and t h i s suggests t h a t , i n t h i s i n s t a n c e a t l e a s t , i t i s the reader, and not the t e x t i t s e l f , who i s r e s p o n s i b l e f o r t h a t ambiguity. I f Nick had not known, of the complicated r e l a t i o n s h i p s between Gwinnett, T r a p n e l , and the Widmerpools, as might be the case w i t h o t h e r r e a d e r s , perhaps Lhe would not have found the epigraph so obscure; perhaps any ambiguity would have been c l e a r e d up by Gwinnett's e x p l a n a t i o n . Yet,- even t h a t p o s s i b i l i t y would not n e c e s s a r i l y r e s u l t i n a s i n g l e i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of the t e x t . Gwinnett knows 23 as much about the complicated r e l a t i o n s h i p s i n which he was i n v o l v e d as does Nick, and y e t , they i n t e r p r e t the s i g n i f i c a n c e of the q u o t a t i o n i n d i f f e r e n t ways, so t h a t t h e r e i s no guarantee t h a t two r e a d e r s with the same knowledge, or l a c k t h e r e o f , w i l l come t o the same c o n c l u s i o n r e g a r d i n g a t e x t . In t h i s sense, equal knowledge does not n e c e s s a r i l y r e s u l t i n a s i m i l a r p e r s p e c t i v e on the t e x t . Hence, even though Nick a t t r i b u t e s h i s d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n w i t h Gwinnett's " r e a d i n g " to t h e audience i n g e n e r a l , e s s e n t i a l l y , i t i s h i s r e a d i n g t h a t remains t e n t a t i v e ; i f the t e x t i t s e l f i s ambiguous, as an epigraph o f Gwinnett's biography, N i c k ' s e f f o r t s t o r e s o l v e t h a t ambiguity c o n t r i b u t e t o h i s c o n f u s i o n . Thus, t h e t e x t i s obscure p r i m a r i l y because N i c k ' s r e a d i n g of i t makes i t so. N i c k ' s d e s c r i p t i o n of the T h a n k s g i v i n g S e r v i c e a t S t . P a u l ' s , commemorating the end of the Second World War, i s another i l l u s t r a t i o n o f h i s i n t e r p r e t a t i v e t e c h n i q u e . T h e circumstances i n which he reads are somewhat d i f f e r e n t from those surrounding h i s r e a d i n g o f the commission, the i n s c r i p t i o n , and the epigraph, as he i s f a c e d w i t h numerous " t e x t s " i n sequence, but N i c k ' s response to the s e l e c t e d hymns and b i b l i c a l passages of the s e r v i c e i s e q u a l l y c o n s t r u c t i v e and i m a g i n a t i v e , as he both t r a n s l a t e s t e x t s i n t o images, and t r i e s t o d i s c o v e r "meaning". E s s e n t i a l l y , Nick i n d u l g e s i n a s e r i e s of i n t e r p r e t a t i v e a c t i v i t i e s : he t r i e s , and f a i l s , ^ : t o ^ Anthony Powell, The M i l i t a r y P h i l o s o p h e r s (London: Heinemann, 1963), pp. 221-7. A l l f u r t h e r r e f e r e n c e s to t h i s work appear i n the t e x t . 24 understand a u t h o r i a l i n t e n t i o n ; he c o n s t r u c t s h i s own "meaning" by r e l a t i n g the v a r i o u s t e x t s t o h i s wartime experience; he pursues a ch a i n of a s s o c i a t i o n s , i n which one t e x t r e c a l l s another, thereby l e a d i n g t o a short d i g r e s s i o n on the s u b j e c t of p o e t r y . By the end of the s e r v i c e , N i c k ' s penchant f o r t e x t u a l i n t e r p r e t a t i o n has l e d him a l o n g way from the o r i g i n a l t e x t s themselves, and t h i s c l e a r l y i l l u s t r a t e s the very nature of h i s n a r r a t i v e t e c h n i q u e . He i s not onl y r e - p r e s e n t i n g a past " r e a l i t y " (the s e r v i c e ) , but a l s o h i s experience o f t h a t r e a l i t y . I n i t i a l l y , Nick ponders the phrase "the h a b i t a t i o n o f dragons", from the t e x t o f I s a i a h 35, but he does so, not i n r e l a t i o n t o the t e x t i t s e l f , but i n connection w i t h h i s wartime experience. The phrase r e c a l l s f o r him the V . l . bombs t h a t a s s a i l e d England l a t e i n the war, and t h i s , i n t u r n , s o l i d i f i e s h i s c o n s t r u c t i o n of an image: "Looking back on the V . l ' s f l y i n g through the n i g h t , one thought o f dragons as, p h y s i c a l l y speaking, l e s s remote than f o r m e r l y " (p. 222). What once was d i f f i c u l t , i f not i m p o s s i b l e , t o conjure up i n an image, i s now almost p a l p a b l e i n N i c k ' s i m a g i n a t i o n , by v i r t u e o f another, separate, image. In t h i s way, N i c k ' s i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of the t e x t ("the h a b i t a t i o n of dragons") i s not d i r e c t l y t r a n s l a t e d i n t o an image o f dragons; r a t h e r , he r e c a l l s a " r e a l " image (the V . l ' s ) , which then p r o v i d e s a b a s i s f o r the c o n s t r u c t i o n o f h i s own image. Hence, because of h i s experience w i t h the "t w e n t i e t h - c e n t u r y dragons", Nick i s b e t t e r a b l e t o imagine what I s a i a h ' s dragons might have been l i k e : 25 Probably they l i v e d i n caves and came down from time t o time t o the banks o f a r i v e r or l a k e to d r i n k . The ground 'where each lay'-' would, o f course, be scorched by f i e r y b r e a t h s , t h e i r t a i l s too, no doubt, g i v i n g out f i r e t h a t made the water h i s s and steam, the sedge become charred, (pp. 222-3) T h i s image, cre a t e d by N i c k ' s i m a g i n a t i o n , i s the same k i n d of f i c t i o n a l " p i c t u r e " t h a t he c o n s t r u c t e d of the t r a n s l a t o r , y e t , the p r o c e s s i s somewhat d i f f e r e n t . The t r a n s l a t o r ' s image ( c o n t r o l l e d by the t e x t of the i n s c r i p t i o n ) i s based on N i c k ' s knowledge of contemporary f a s h i o n (the man's un i f o r m ) , geo-g r a p h i c a l surroundings ( A r a b i a n d e s e r t ) , and h i s i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of c h a r a c t e r (the k i n d o f p e r s o n a l i t y t h a t would be i n t e r e s t e d i n the Sheik's t r e a t i s e ) . The image of the dragons, w h i l e composed o f d e t a i l s commonly a s s o c i a t e d w i t h the c r e a t u r e s ( t a i l s , f i r e ) , and, t h e r e f o r e , based on a k i n d o f "knowledge", i s n o n e t h e l e s s t r i g g e r e d by another image (the V . l ' s ) which a l l o w s Nick t o c o n s t r u c t h i s f i c t i o n a l one. Thus, N i c k ' s i n t e r p r e t a t i o n o f the t e x t , having been determined by h i s v i s i o n o f t h e bombs, i s dependent on an experience he has undergone p r i o r t o h i s r e a d i n g , r a t h e r than on knowledge alone. The image of the dragons thus c o n s t r u c t e d may not appear t o be so i n f l u e n c e d , but the a c t o f c o n s t r u c t i o n i t s e l f , a c c o r d i n g to Nick, would not have been p o s s i b l e i f i t were not f o r the r e c o l l e c t i o n of the " r e a l " image. The primary f o c u s of N i c k ' s r e a d i n g , however, i s the remainder of the b i b l i c a l passage which r e f e r s t o the "wayfaring men" who w i l l be a b l e t o walk on the "way of h o l i n e s s " . Here, Nick does not t r a n s l a t e t e x t i n t o image; r a t h e r , he t r i e s t o 2 6 d e c i p h e r i t s meaning. And, i t i s p r e c i s e l y because the passage i s ambiguous t h a t Nick i s i n t e n t on i n t e r p r e t i n g i t : Not a l l the l a t e r promises of the prophecy were e a s i l y comprehensible. An i n t e n s e , mysterious beauty pervaded the o b s c u r i t y of the t e x t , i t s assurances a l l the more magical f o r being enigmatic. (p. 2 2 3 ) J u s t as Nick does not comprehend the s i g n i f i c a n c e of Gwinnett's epigraph, here he does not understand the intended meaning of I s a i a h ' s prophecy. Who does the author meanlby the phrase "wayfaring men": are they ''fools", or are they meant t o be c o n t r a s t e d w i t h f o o l s ; are they simply being warned a g a i n s t f o o l i s h n e s s , so t h a t the "way" w i l l be open t o them? Each of these p o s s i b i l i t i e s i s c o n s i s t e n t w i t h the way i n which the prophecy i s worded, so t h a t Nick i s not sure what the t e x t "means". Hence, the t e x t , i n i t s o b s c u r i t y , c r e a t e s the "mysterious" and "magical" q u a l i t y of the prophecy, and t h i s appeals t o N i c k , i n t h a t i t a l l o w s f o r a v a r i e t y of " r e a d i n g s " . And y e t , as w i t h Gwinnett's epigraph, the o b s c u r i t y i s not so much produced by the t e x t , as i t i s by N i c k ' s r e a d i n g of i t ; i t i s Nick who cannot comprehend I s a i a h ' s " d e f i n i t i o n " of the phrase "wayfaring men", and, t h e r e f o r e , i t i s he, and not the t e x t , who " c r e a t e s " the "magic" of the prophecy. Having f a i l e d t o d i s c o v e r a s i n g l e i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of the phrase, Nick chooses t o l e a v e the q u e s t i o n open, r e c o g n i z i n g t h a t each " r e a d i n g " i s v a l i d , and, t h e r e f o r e , none i s n e c e s s a r i l y " c o r r e c t " . He reaches o n l y one c o n c l u s i o n about the prophecy, and even t h a t i s o n l y " f a i r l y " e v i d e n t : "One t h i n g was f a i r l y c l e a r , the f o o l s , 27 whoever they were, must keep o f f the highway" (p. 223). Having f a i l e d t o determine what I s a i a h meant by the phrase "wayfaring men", Nick proceeds t o apply i t to h i s own experience w i t h i n d i v i d u a l c h a r a c t e r s : Taking the war p e r i o d , l i m i t i n g the f i e l d t o the army, one had met q u i t e a few wayfaring men. Biggs h i m s e l f was e s s e n t i a l l y not of t h a t category: B i t h e l , perhaps: Odo Stevens, c e r t a i n l y . B o r r i t ? (p. 223) Nick knows what the phrase means t o him, i f not to I s a i a h , and, t h e r e f o r e , he c l a s s i f i e s those among h i s acquaintances i n the army who seem t o f i t the d e s i g n a t i o n . Whatever I s a i a h may have meant by the phrase, Nick s u p p l i e s h i s own "meaning". The meaning of the prophecy, however, i s l e f t i n c o n c l u s i v e , as Nick does not proceed t o apply h i s "wayfaring men" to the f a t e p r e s c r i b e d by I s a i a h . In other words, he does not r e l a t e the men t o I s a i a h ' s " f o o l s " , nor to the "way o f h o l i n e s s " , and t h i s i s p r i m a r i l y due t o the circumstances i n which he reads. The passage from I s a i a h , being o n l y one of a s e r i e s of "r e a d i n g s " and hymns which make up the s e r v i c e , i s f o l l o w e d by another " t e x t " , t o which Nick s h i f t s h i s i n t e r p r e t a t i v e f o c u s , so t h a t , i n e f f e c t , he does not have the time t o i n d u l g e i n f u r t h e r s p e c u l a t i o n s . F u r t h e r , when he c o n s i d e r s the c h a r a c t e r o f B o r r i t as a p o s s i b l e "wayfaring" man, Nick i s reminded o f the s t o r y about the honeymooning couple i n Spain t h a t B o r r i t had t o l d him, so t h a t Nick l o s e s i n t e r e s t i n the prophecy. Yet, no matter how l o n g , o r t o what extent, Nick reads the prophecy, he i s ab l e t o c o n s t r u c t h i s own "meaning" because the t e x t does not do i t f o r him. And, because the t e x t i s thus i n d e t e r m i n a t e , i t a l l o w s 28 f o r numerous p o s s i b l e i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s . When Nick r e c a l l s B o r r i t ' s s t o r y about the couple i n Spain, 15 i t a f f e c t s h i s subsequent response t o the hymn "Jerusalem". Once a g a i n , he i s unsure of the meaning of the t e x t : "Was a l l t h a t about sex too? I f so, why were we s i n g i n g i t at the V i c t o r y S e r v i c e ? Blake was as impenetrable as I s a i a h ; i n h i s way, more so" (pp. 223-4). Although Nick does not attempt to p e n e t r a t e t h a t o b s c u r i t y , as he d i d I s a i a h ' s prophecy, the suggestion t h a t the hymn might be about sex l e a d s him i n t o a chain of l i t e r a r y a s s o c i a t i o n s , i n which he r e c a l l s numerous other t e x t s t h a t f o c u s on the theme o f l o v e . B l a k e ' s "Arrows of d e s i r e " b r i n g s t o mind Cowley, who, i n t u r n , evokes Pope's p o e t i c epitaph; Cowley's conception of "Love's f r e e - f o r - a l l i n dreams" r e c a l l s Poe's treatment o f a s i m i l a r theme; Poe's t e x t summons up memories of Jean Duport."^ U l t i m a t e l y , t h i s c h a i n of a s s o c i a t i o n s c a r r i e s Nick a l o n g way from "Jerusalem", and c e r t a i n l y from the s e r v i c e as a whole, but the phrase "Arrows of d e s i r e " i s the connecting l i n k i n the c h a i n . In a sense, N i c k ' s i n t e r p r e t a t i o n o f t h a t phrase i s f i n a l l y s o l i d i f i e d i n the form of Jean's image, a l b e i t , by a r a t h e r c i r c u i t o u s r o u t e . Hence, B l a k e ' s t e x t ( o r , a t l e a s t , one phrase of i t ) i s I S ' The hymn "Jerusalem" i s d e r i v e d from B l a k e ' s poem M i l t o n , and should not be confused w i t h h i s l o n g , p r o p h e t i c poem e n t i t l e d Jerusalem. While Jean might seem somewhat out of p l a c e i n such a l i s t o f t e x t s , Nick says t h a t he o f t e n used t o t h i n k of Poe's verse when he was w i t h her, so t h a t , i n a sense, h i s experience w i t h her i s a s s o c i a t e d w i t h a t e x t . 2 9 t r a n s l a t e d i n t o an image, but u n l i k e the image of the t r a n s l a t o r , 17 i t i s c o n s t r u c t e d by an i n t r i c a t e a s s o c i a t i o n of other t e x t s . I t i s important t o note, however, t h a t these a s s o c i a t i o n s are not i n h e r e n t i n the t e x t s themselves, i n t h a t they are not a l l u s i o n s p l a n t e d by the authors f o r the r e a d e r to r e c o g n i z e ; r a t h e r , i t i s N i c k ' s i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of the t e x t s t h a t produces such a s s o c i a t i o n s . "^ I f N i c k ' s " r e a d i n g " of the hymn "Jerusalem" seems t o have l i t t l e c onnection w i t h the theme of the Thanksgiving S e r v i c e , i t i s n o n e t h e l e s s c o n s i s t e n t w i t h the t e x t ("Arrows o f d e s i r e " ) , so t h a t w h i l e h i s i n t e r p r e t a t i o n may be i n a p p r o p r i a t e , g i v e n the s i t u a t i o n , i t i s i n no way " i n c o r r e c t " . T h i s d i s t i n c t i o n may be b e t t e r i l l u s t r a t e d by examining an e a r l i e r passage i n The M i l i t a r y P h i l o s o p h e r s , when Nick d e s c r i b e s h i s v i s i t w i t h the m i l i t a r y a t t a c h e s t o F i e l d - M a r s h a l Montgomery's T a c t i c a l Headquarters i n the Netherlands, near the end of the war (p. l 3 l ) . As Montgomery e x p l a i n s the t r o o p movements, wit h the a i d o f a huge map, N i c k ' s eye f a l l s on a few place-names which remind him o f h i s t o r i c a l b a t t l e s , and he soon f i n d s h i m s e l f d i s t r a c t e d by other thoughts: As Barthes says, "Every t e x t , being i t s e l f the i n t e r -t e x t o f another t e x t , belongs t o the i n t e r t e x t u a l " , p. 7 7 . Even though Pope's v e r s e e x p l i c i t l y r e f e r s t o Cowley, Nick r e c a l l s a Cowley t e x t which he f e e l s r e f u t e s , r a t h e r than confirms, Pope's sentiments, so t h a t , presumably, Pope i s not a l l u d i n g t o t h a t p a r t i c u l a r t e x t . And, even i f t h a t t e x t i s indeed an example o f Pope's c o n t e n t i o n , and, t h e r e f o r e , i t i s a l l u d e d t o i n h i s v e r s e , Nick "reads" i t i n a way not intended by the author, so t h a t , i f he has not e x a c t l y missed the a l l u s i o n , Nick has n o n e t h e l e s s " r e j e c t e d " i t . 30 As the eye t r a v e l l e d northward, i t f e l l on Zutphen, where S i r P h i l i p Sidney had stopped a b u l l e t i n t h a t charge a g a i n s t the A l b a n i a n c a v a l r y . . . . One f e l t him LSidney] e s s e n t i a l l y the k i n d of s o l d i e r Vigny had i n mind when w r i t i n g of the man who, l i k e a monk, submitted h i m s e l f t o the m i l i t a r y way o f l i f e , because he thought i t r i g h t , r a t h e r than because i t appealed t o him. (pp. 181-2) Perhaps Nick f e e l s some a f f i n i t y f o r Sidney's supposed view of m i l i t a r y l i f e , b e i n g h i m s e l f a s o l d i e r by circumstance, r a t h e r than ambition, but, i n any case, h i s contemplation o f Sidney seems f a r removed from the contemplation of t r o o p movements, something f o r which the map i s intended, at l e a s t by Montgomery. For Nick, however, the name "Zutphen" r e c a l l s the poet's experience of war, which, i n t u r n , l e a d s to the c o n s i d e r a t i o n of t h e k i n d of s o l d i e r he might have been. Though the place-name i t s e l f does not a l l u d e t o Sidney, so t h a t i t i s N i c k ' s recog-n i t i o n of i t t h a t sparks h i s ruminations, h i s " r e a d i n g " i s not e s s e n t i a l l y erroneous. The r e f e r e n c e s t o Sidney, as w e l l as Rochester, d'Artagnan, and Marlborough, may have n o t h i n g to do w i t h t h e context of Montgomery's b r i e f i n g , but they are r e l a t e d t o the circumstances of war ( " f o r g o t t e n c o n f l i c t s " ) i n which Nick f i n d s h i m s e l f a t t h a t moment (pp. 18*2-3). I t i s as i f he Were engaged i n the same b a t t l e as these h i s t o r i c a l f i g u r e s , r e t r a c i n g t h e i r steps over the same b a t t l e g r o u n d s , f i g h t i n g an e t e r n a l war. F u r t h e r , j u s t as N i c k ' s i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of "Jerusalem" l e a d s him to ponder the r e l a t i o n s h i p between sex and the V i c t o r y S e r v i c e , here too, h i s "musings" l e a d t o "the connexion between sex and war" (p. 18*3). Returning t o the Thanksgiving S e r v i c e , Nick f o c u s s e s h i s 31 i n t e r p r e t a t i v e a t t e n t i o n t o the " t e x t " of the n a t i o n a l anthem. In a sense, he "reviews" the l y r i c s by s u b j e c t i n g them t o the p e r s p e c t i v e o f a t w e n t i e t h - c e n t u r y c r i t i c : R e p e t i t i v e , j e r k y , s u b j e c t i v e i n f e e l i n g , not much-ornamented by i m a g i n a t i o n nor s u b t l e t y of thought and phraseology, the words possessed a t the samje time a k i n d of depth, an u n p r e t e n t i o u s e x p r e s s i o n of sentiments s u i t e d somehow to the moment. (p. 226) T h i s m a t e r i a l , e s p e c i a l l y the second v e r s e , i s nothin g l i k e the obscure v i s i o n s o f Blake and I s a i a h . I t speaks d i r e c t l y , un-cloaked by "the verb i a g e o f h i g h - t h i n k i n g " , and, t h e r e f o r e , i t does not a l l o w Nick t o s p e c u l a t e on i t s p o s s i b l e "meaning". He i s c u r i o u s , however, about the anthem's unabashed p a t r i o t i s m , which seems t o him e n t i r e l y a p p r o p r i a t e f o r the times, d e s p i t e a l a c k o f " i m a g i n a t i o n " and " s u b t l e t y o f thought and phraseology", "ornaments" so p r i z e d i n the t w e n t i e t h century. Nick supposes t h a t the era of the composition must have been "outwardly l e s s squeamish" than h i s own, an era when " h y p o c r i s y had e s t a b l i s h e d l e s s o f a s t r a n g l e h o l d on t h e p u b l i c mind" (p. 227). T h i s " r e a d i n g " of the pa s t , however, i s immediately undercut by a f u r t h e r c o n s i d e r a t i o n : "Such a mental p i c t u r e of the past was no doubt l a r g e l y u n h i s t o r i c a l , indeed t o t a l l y i l l u s o r y " . Thus, w h i l e the anthem may be understood without a n a l y s i s as a simple c e l e b r a t i o n o f p a t r i o t i s m , Nick nonetheless f i n d s an o u t l e t f o r h i s i n t e r p r e t a t i v e e n e r g i e s by c o n s t r u c t i n g a p i c t u r e o f a past era, at the same time r e c o g n i z i n g t h a t t h a t " p i c t u r e " may be erroneous. U l t i m a t e l y , he comes to the c o n c l u s i o n t h a t perhaps the past, l i k e t he present, was e q u a l l y open t o some k i n d of 32 "thraldom", though perhaps of a d i f f e r e n t n a t u r e . The way i n which Nick "reads" these " t e x t s " demonstrates the k i n d o f i n t e r p r e t a t i v e p r o c e s s t o which a reader s u b j e c t s a t e x t . He i s an a c t i v e and c r e a t i v e f o r c e i n the " r e a l i z a t i o n " of the t e x t s , i n t h a t i t i s h i s " r e a d i n g " t h a t t r a n s l a t e s the words i n t o images and "meaning-bearing" i d e a s , which approximate the "work". F u r t h e r , i t i s h i s p e r s p e c t i v e ( i n c l u d i n g h i s past " r e a d i n g " , wartime experience, and knowledge of the events and c h a r a c t e r s he has observed) t h a t determines h i s p a r t i c u l a r , unique, i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s . N i c k ' s ruminations d u r i n g the s e r v i c e a l s o i l l u s t r a t e the very nature of h i s n a r r a t i v e technique i n the n o v e l . He does not simply d e s c r i b e the event as i t happened, i n e f f e c t , put a " m i r r o r " up t o r e a l i t y ; r a t h e r , he d e s c r i b e s h i s experience of t h a t r e a l i t y . Thus, he does not d e s c r i b e the church, nor the people gathered t h e r e , and l i s t the v a r i o u s s e l e c t i o n s from the s e r v i c e . He d e s c r i b e s , on the c o n t r a r y , h i s experience of the s e r v i c e , and, t h e r e f o r e , he i n c l u d e s h i s thoughts throughout the event (both the i n t e r e s t i n g and u n i n t e r e s t i n g p a r t s : "The Arch-bishop u n e n t h r a l l i n g l y preached"), so t h a t h i s p e r c e p t i o n of the s e r v i c e i s u n l i k e t h a t of anyone e l s e present (p. 223). Hence, wh i l e Cowley, Pope, Poe, and Jean Duport have nothing t o do with the s e r v i c e , they are n o n e t h e l e s s a p a r t of i t i n N i c k ' s view, and, t h e r e f o r e , f o r us, as r e a d e r s of h i s n a r r a t i v e , e q u a l l y a p a r t o f the experience. N i c k ' s p r o c e s s of i n t e r p r e t a t i o n m i r r o r s , to some extent, Todorov's concept of r e a d i n g : "Ignorance, i m a g i n a t i o n , i l l u s i o n , and t r u t h : here are a t l e a s t t h r e e stages through which the search f o r knowledge passes b e f o r e l e a d i n g a c h a r a c t e r t o a d e f i n i t i v e c o n s t r u c t i o n " , p. 79* 33 Chapter I I While Nick c o n s t r u c t s the c h a r a c t e r s of Queen V i c t o r i a , Uncle G i l e s , and the t r a n s l a t o r by r e a d i n g the t e x t s o f the commission and the i n s c r i p t i o n , t h a t i n t e r p r e t a t i v e p r o c e s s i s e s s e n t i a l l y analogous t o the way i n which he " i n t e r p r e t s " p h y s i c a l phenomena. That i s , when Nick observes c e r t a i n events and c h a r a c t e r s , he tends t o s u b j e c t them t o the same k i n d of " r e a d i n g " t e c h n i q u e s which he a p p l i e s to h i s p e r u s a l of a c t u a l t e x t s . T h i s can be demonstrated by examining h i s d e s c r i p t i o n of i the n o v e l i s t , X. T r a p n e l , i n Books Do F u r n i s h a Room. E s s e n t i a l l y , Nick attempts t o " i n t e r p r e t " T r a p n e l ' s p e r s o n a l i t y by a n a l y z i n g h i s p h y s i c a l t r a i t s , c l o t h i n g , and manner, so as to understand h i s c h a r a c t e r , but i n the p r o c e s s he, i n f a c t , 2 c o n s t r u c t s t h a t c h a r a c t e r h i m s e l f . In so doing, Nick employs the same k i n d of i n t e r p r e t a t i v e approach t h a t he a p p l i e s t o the commission and the i n s c r i p t i o n : i n t e r p r e t i n g " s i g n s " , suggesting causes, i n v o k i n g h i s knowledge d e r i v e d from o t h e r " t e x t s " , as w e l l as s c r u t i n i z i n g h i s own " r e a d i n g " . W i t h i n the f i c t i o n a l context of the n o v e l , Nick engages i n the p r o c e s s of " g e t t i n g t o know" the n o v e l i s t , or " c o n s t r u c t i n g r e a l i t y " , and t h i s can be seen as analogous t o the way i n which a reader -i Anthony Powell, Books Do F u r n i s h a Room (London: Heinemann, 1971), p. 10~5~* A l l f u r t h e r r e f e r e n c e s t o t h i s work appear i n t h e t e x t . 2 A c c o r d i n g t o Norman H o l l a n d , i n h i s " T r a n s a c t i v e C r i t i c i s m , " C r i t i c i s m , IS (1976), 335, " p e r c e p t i o n i s a c o n s t r u c t i v e a c t " . 34 comes t o know the c h a r a c t e r s of a n o v e l . Most i m p o r t a n t l y , however, the way t h a t Nick "reads" T r a p n e l suggests the impact t h a t an observer, or "reader", has on the o b j e c t observed. Upon f i r s t meeting T r a p n e l , Nick t r e a t s h i s appearance t o a r a t h e r l e n g t h y examination, n o t i n g s p e c i f i c f e a t u r e s of p h y s i c a l form and s t y l e o f d r e s s : " t a l l , dark, w i t h a beard"; "a v o i c e both deep and harsh"; a "spare, almost emaciated body"; wearing a "pale o c h r e - c o l o u r e d t r o p i c a l s u i t " and heavy coat, and c a r r y i n g a walking s t i c k (pp. 105-6). These p h y s i c a l phenomena are, i n a sense, " s i g n i f i e d f a c t s " , i n t h a t Nick can see, r e c o g n i z e , and d e s c r i b e them as f e a t u r e s , or o b j e c t s . He knows what a beard, coat, and cane are, so t h a t he "understands" what he sees, j u s t as he understands the language of h i s u n c l e ' s commission, and the t r a n s l a t i o n of the Sheik's manuscript. In t h i s way, the " f a c t s " of T r a p n e l ! s appearance are analogous t o the words on a page: p h y s i c a l , v i s i b l e , and understandable e n t i t i e s which form a "language" t h a t "speaks" to the observer, or "reader". Hence, l i k e a r eader who i s f a m i l i a r w i t h the language of a t e x t , and who t h e r e f o r e can i n t e r p r e t i t s "meaning", Nick understands the "language" of T r a p n e l ' s p h y s i c a l appearance, and thus, can proceed t o analyze i t . N i c k ' s d e s c r i p t i o n of T r a p n e l i s more than j u s t a l i s t i n g o f p h y s i c a l t r a i t s ; as w i t h h i s image of the t r a n s l a t o r , Nick ^ Todorov says t h a t the " c o n s t r u c t i o n of r e a l i t y " i s Jean P i a g e t ' s term f o r c o n s t r u c t i o n based on sensory p e r c e p t i o n s ( s i g h t , sound, and s m e l l ) , r a t h e r than on t e x t u a l i n f o r m a t i o n . Though the i n d i v i d u a l d e t a i l s of c o n s t r u c t i o n may be d i f f e r e n t , the two processes, as a whole, are n o n e t h e l e s s analogous, p. 81. 35 t r i e s t o i n t e r p r e t the c h a r a c t e r behind t h a t appearance. T r a p n e l ' s p h y s i c a l c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s , as w e l l as h i s garments, are not merely d e t a i l s t o be understood and noted f o r t h e i r own sake; r a t h e r , they are seen by Nick as e x p r e s s i o n s of a c e r t a i n c h a r a c t e r , i n d i c a t i v e of the man's p e r s o n a l i t y . They are "symbolized f a c t s " , and, t h e r e f o r e , they can be i n t e r p r e t e d . Hence, T r a p n e l ' s beard (uncommon at the t i m e ) , " t r o p i c a l s u i t " , RAF g r e a t c o a t " , and walking s t i c k (with i t s knob " c r u d e l y carved i n the shape of a s k u l l " ) suggest to Nick the c h a r a c t e r o f "an e x h i b i t i o n i s t " , who i s determined to stand out i n a crowd.^ In f a c t , Nick i n t e r p r e t s T r a p n e l * s appearance as a symbolic r e p u d i a t i o n of contemporary s o c i e t y : The g e n e r a l e f f e c t , c h i e f l y caused by the s t i c k , was of the E i g h t e e n - N i n e t i e s , the decadence; p u t t i n g t h i n g s at t h e i r l e a s t e c l e c t i c , a contemptuous r e j e c t i o n of c u r r e n t l y popular male modes . . . (p. 106) Indeed, T r a p n e l ' s " p e r s o n a l s u p e r s t r u c t u r e " i s so s i n g u l a r and "exaggerated", t h a t Nick i s s u r p r i s e d when he chooses t o d r i n k a "temperate" p i n t of b i t t e r (pp. 1 0 5 - 7 ) . Thus, Nick views the components of T r a p n e l ' s appearance as s u r f a c e " f a c t s " which r e p r e s e n t p h y s i c a l l y c e r t a i n u n d e r l y i n g c h a r a c t e r t r a i t s , and, t h e r e f o r e , he i n t e r p r e t s those " f a c t s " i n order to c o n s t r u c t T r a p n e l ' s p e r s o n a l i t y . N i c k ' s examination of T r a p n e l extends beyond the o v e r a l l ^ When Nick i s o u t f i t t e d i n h i s army uniform f o r the f i r s t time, he comments, " c l o t h e s , i f not the whole man, are a l l a r g e p a r t of him", i n The S o l d i e r ' s A r t (London: Heinemann, 1 9 6 6 ) , p. 3 . 36 impression of e c c e n t r i c i t y . He p i c k s out i n d i v i d u a l a s p e c t s of the n o v e l i s t ' s appearance and manner, which he c o n s i d e r s to be p h y s i c a l m a n i f e s t a t i o n s of p e r s o n a l i t y t r a i t s , o r past experience. Nick sees T r a p n e l ' s p o s s e s s i o n of the RAF coat as an i n d i c a t i o n of c e r t a i n a s p i r a t i o n s : "The p r i d e T r a p n e l o b v i o u s l y took i n the coat was c e r t a i n l y not u n t a i n t e d by an i m p l i e d , though u n j u s t i f i e d , a s p i r a t i o n t o e x - o f f i c e r s t a t u s " (p. 1 0 6 ) . Not o n l y does Nick see evidence of " p r i d e " i n T r a p n e l ' s s p o r t i n g of such a garment, indeed, i t i s "obvious", but he a l s o assumes t h a t t h a t p r i d e " i m p l i e s " t h a t T r a p n e l wishes t o be c o n s i d e r e d an " e x - o f f i c e r " , an a s p i r a t i o n t h a t 5 Nick deems " u n j u s t i f i e d " . S i m i l a r l y , Nick "reads i n t o " the n o v e l i s t ' s " g r u f f n e s s of manner" a p s y c h o l o g i c a l defence mechanism: The f a c t t h a t h i s demeanour stopped j u s t short of being a g g r e s s i v e was no doubt i n the main a form o f s e l f - p r o t e c t i o n , because a look of u n c e r t a i n t y , almost of f e a r , i n t e r m i t t e n t l y showed i n h i s -eyes, which were dark brown t o b l a c k . They gave the c l u e to T r a p n e l having been through a hard time a t some stage of h i s l i f e , even when one was s t i l l unaware how dangerously - anyway how uncomfortably - he was i n c l i n e d t o l i v e . (pp. 107-8) Thus, i n N i c k ' s view, T r a p n e l ' s hard-edged p e r s o n a l i t y (an i n t e r p r e t a t i o n i n i t s e l f ) i s a facade t o cover deeper i n -s e c u r i t i e s , even " f e a r " , and t h i s i s evident by " r e a d i n g " h i s eyes. Even T r a p n e l * s beard " h i n t s " of wartime experience i n ^ Nick l e a r n s "much l a t e r " t h a t the RAF coat was a g i f t from L i n d s a y Bagshaw, but much of t h i s " r e a d i n g " of T r a p n e l i s from the mature n a r r a t o r ' s p o i n t o f view. 37 submarines, rather than a taste f o r exotic fashion (p. 105). In each of these cases, Nick perceives expressions of Trapnel's character i n h i s physical, and s a r t o r i a l , makeup; they are "implied", "hinted at", or "given a clue to", and yet, i t i s Nick who supplies these "interpretations". In f a c t , Trapnel's appearance, as described by Nick, i s not expressive of h i s character, but of Nick's perception of that character. Nick's "reading" of Trapnel i s not solely based on the physical "signs" thus exhibited. Just as h i s construction of Uncle G i l e s , when reading the commission, i s influenced by previous "interpretations" of the old man, Nick's view of Trapnel i s affected by certain expectations. Lindsay "Books-do-furnish-a-room" Bagshaw has related some of Trapnel's hi s t o r y to Nick, so he i s prepared f o r an "odd-raan-out", but Nick has also read Trapnel*s novel, and t h i s has produced h i s own assumptions: Even without Bagshaw's note of caution, I had come prepared f o r Trapnel to turn out a bore. Pleasure i n a book c a r r i e s l i t t l e or no guarantee where the author i s concerned, and Camel Ride to the Tomb, whatever i t s q u a l i t i e s as a novel, had a l l the marks of having been written by a man who found d i f f i c u l t y i n getting on with the rest of the world. (p. 104) Nick already expects Trapnel to be something of an non-conformist, someone who does not "get on" with the world i n general, and, therefore, h i s examination of the no v e l i s t ' s appearance seems In Temporary Kings (London: Heinemann, 1973), p. 20, Nick gives a similar, though b r i e f e r , "reading" of Russell Gwinnett, i n which he maintains that the man's t h i n bones and. sallow skin "suggested" h i s American n a t i o n a l i t y . 3* t o be a c o n f i r m a t i o n o f the e a r l i e r p o s t u l a t i o n . More i m p o r t a n t l y , these e x p e c t a t i o n s have r e s u l t e d from the r e a d i n g of a r e a l t e x t : T r a p n e l ' s n o v e l . Nick has a l r e a d y , t o some extent, c o n s t r u c t e d T r a p n e l ' s c h a r a c t e r by i n t e r p r e t i n g what he has w r i t t e n (not u n l i k e h i s e v a l u a t i o n of Queen V i c t o r i a , on the b a s i s of the commission she "wrote"), thereby i n i t i a t i n g the p r o c e s s of i n t e r p r e t a t i o n t h a t c o n t i n u e s w i t h the a i d of o t h e r " t e x t s " when Nick meets T r a p n e l . T h i s can be seen as a r e v e r s a l of the p r o c e s s whereby Nick c o n s t r u c t s h i s u n c l e ' s c h a r a c t e r when he reads the commission. Nick expands, or augments, h i s p o r t r a i t -o f Uncle G i l e s by r e l a t i n g the t e x t of the document to what he has a l r e a d y experienced of G i l e s i n person (or through anecdote); whereas, h i s c o n s t r u c t i o n o f T r a p n e l develops i n the o p p o s i t e d i r e c t i o n : having p r e v i o u s l y d e f i n e d something of the n o v e l i s t ' s p e r s o n a l i t y from the t e x t of h i s n o v e l , Nick now augments t h a t view by " r e a d i n g " T r a p n e l i n person. The i n t e r p r e t a t i v e process, however, i s e s s e n t i a l l y the same. In both cases, Nick reads the t e x t and " i n t e r p r e t s " p h y s i c a l phenomena i n order t o understand c h a r a c t e r . Having noted the " s i g n i f i e d f a c t s " of T r a p n e l ' s p h y s i c a l appearance, and i n t e r p r e t e d the "symbolized f a c t s " , Nick proceeds t o q u e s t i o n h i s d e s c r i p t i o n i n the same way i n which he q u e s t i o n s h i s i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s o f the commission and the i n s c r i p t i o n ; ' ' He wonders i f he has presented a " t r u e " p i c t u r e of h i s s u b j e c t : Perhaps t h i s d e s c r i p t i o n , f a c t u a l l y a c c u r a t e - as so o f t e n when f a c t s are a c c u r a t e l y r e p o r t e d - i s at the same time m o r a l l y u n f a i r . ''Facts' - as T r a p n e l h i m s e l f , 3 9 t a l k i n g about w r i t i n g , was l a t e r t o p o i n t out - are a f t e r a l l o n l y on the s u r f a c e , i n e v i t a b l y s e l e c t i v e , p r e j u d i c e d by s u b j e c t i v e p r e s e n t a t i o n . What i s below, hidden, much more l i k e l y t o be important, i s e a s i l y omitted, (p. 1 0 7 ) ; The " f a c t s " of T r a p n e l ' s p h y s i c a l appearance, being merely s u p e r f i c i a l phenomena, are not n e c e s s a r i l y a t r u e i n d i c a t i o n of h i s c h a r a c t e r , and, therefore,.may p a i n t an " u n f a i r " p i c t u r e 7 o f the man. In N i c k ' s view, the d e s c r i p t i o n of T r a p n e l , though f a c t u a l l y " a c c u r a t e " , n o n e t h e l e s s suggests an aspect of a b s u r d i t y t h a t i s r a t h e r d e c e p t i v e : "In s p i t e of much t h a t was a l l but l u d i c r o u s , a k i n d o f i n n e r d i g n i t y s t i l l somehow clung t o him." While Nick does not q u e s t i o n h i s own i n t e r p r e t a t i o n o f those " f a c t s " , indeed, h i s a n a l y s i s i s an attempt to reach "below", t o what i s "hidden", he n o n e t h e l e s s r e c o g n i z e s the p o s s i b i l i t y of an erroneous " r e a d i n g " . In t h i s sense, i f the " f a c t s " of T r a p n e l ' s appearance are " a c c u r a t e " , they are o n l y s u p e r f i c i a l , and may be " p r e j u d i c e d by s u b j e c t i v e p r e s e n t a t i o n " , so t h a t an " u n f a i r " p o r t r a i t could be drawn. Although Nick does not q u e s t i o n h i s a n a l y s i s of what i s "below" the s u p e r f i c i a l phenomena of T r a p n e l ' s " s u p e r s t r u c t u r e " , h i s i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of the n o v e l i s t ' s c h a r a c t e r i s a f f e c t e d by " s u b j e c t i v e " elements. J u s t as h i s i r o n i c p r e s e n t a t i o n o f the I n other volumes of Dance, Nick c o n s i d e r s the d i f f i c u l t y o f conveying "the i n n e r t r u t h o f the t h i n g s observed" i n an e n t i r e l y o b j e c t i v e , or f a c t u a l , account. In The Acceptance World (London: Heinemann, 1 9 5 5 ) , p. 3 3 , he suggests t h a t d e s p i t e the s u p e r f i c i a l i n a c c u r a c y t h a t p r e j u d i c e might produce, i n d e s c r i b i n g someone l i k e Mark Members, i t might a l s o capture " h i s f i n a l essence"; and i n The K i n d l y Ones, p. 1 5 , he remarks t h a t "over-statement and understatement" o f t e n express the t r u t h " b e t t e r than a f l a t a s s e r t i o n of bare f a c t " . 40 " f a c t s " of Uncle G i l e s ' m i l i t a r y c a r e e r ( o r , more a c c u r a t e l y , h i s s u i t a b i l i t y f o r t h a t c a r e e r ) i l l u s t r a t e s the r o l e t h a t the r e a d e r ' s p e r s p e c t i v e p l a y s i n the " r e a l i z a t i o n " of the t e x t , N i c k ' s d e s c r i p t i o n o f T r a p n e l * s p e r s o n a l i t y suggests the impact t h a t the observer has on the o b j e c t observed. While Nick t r i e s t o undercut the " l u d i c r o u s " a s p e c t s of T r a p n e l ' s appearance they d e r i v e , i n f a c t , not from T r a p n e l , but from N i c k ' s p e r c e p t i o n of him. In other words, T r a p n e l ' s appearance i n i t s e l f i s not "absurd"; r a t h e r , i t i s Nick who a p p l i e s t h a t term, and thus, t h a t p e r s p e c t i v e , t o what he sees. By t r y i n g topprobe beneath the s u r f a c e , i n order t o i l l u m i n a t e the " r e a l " T r a p n e l , Nick a c c e n t u a t e s the " s u b j e c t i v i t y " of h i s d e s c r i p t i o n ; he does not present the " f a c t " o f T r a p n e l , but h i s p e r c e p t i o n of t h a t " f a c t " . Hence, j u s t as the c h a r a c t e r o f Uncle G i l e s i s the product o f h i s nephew's i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of the commission, among other "readings", so too i s T r a p n e l ' s c h a r a c t e r the product o f N i c k ' s c o n s t r u c t i v e i m a g i n a t i o n . Trapnel* s p h y s i c a l .-appearance i s not, i n t h i s sense, an e x p r e s s i o n o f h i s c h a r a c t e r ; r a t h e r , N i c k ' s p e r c e p t i o n t j o f t h a t appearance, and, t h e r e f o r e , h i s c o n s t r u c t i o n of T r a p n e l ' s c h a r a c t e r , i s an e x p r e s s i o n o f h i s own p e r s p e c t i v e oh t h a t appearance. In t h i s way, N i c k ' s " r e a d i n g " of T r a p n e l demonstrates the extent to which he i s r e s p o n s i b l e f o r the In Speech and Phenomena and Other Essays on H u s s e r l ' s  Theory of Signs, t r a n s . David B. A l l i s o n (Evanston, I l l i n o i s : Northwestern U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1973)» pp. 36-7, Jacques Derrida. w r i t e s , "Even f o r him who f i n d s something d i s c u r s i v e i n another person's g e s t u r e s , the i n d i c a t i v e m a n i f e s t a t i o n s of the oth e r a r e not thereby transformed i n t o e x p r e s s i o n s . I t i s he, the i n t e r p r e t e r , who expresses h i m s e l f about them." 41 a s p e c t s t h a t make up the n o v e l i s t ' s c h a r a c t e r . While T r a p n e l e x i s t s w i t h i n the f i c t i o n a l context o f the n o v e l , and thus, has a s p e c i f i c c h a r a c t e r , i n t h i s scene a t l e a s t , he i s r e v e a l e d t o us through the mediation o f N i c k ' s p e r c e p t i o n s , and, t h e r e f o r e , i s the product o f h i s " r e a d e r ' s " c o n s t r u c t i o n . When Nick c o n j u r e s up the image of the t r a n s l a t o r working on the Sheik's manuscript, he t r a n s l a t e s the t e x t of the i n s c r i p t i o n i n t o a f i c t i o n a l scene. He r e c o g n i z e s t h a t t h i s image, though, r e s t r i c t e d by the l i m i t a t i o n s o f the t e x t ' s " s i g n i f i e d f a c t s " , i s h i s c r e a t i o n , and, t h e r e f o r e , i t i s not n e c e s s a r i l y a r e p r e s e n t a t i o n o f r e a l i t y . T h i s c o n s t r u c t i o n o f images, however, i s not co n f i n e d t o N i c k ' s r e a d i n g o f t e x t s , f o r i t a l s o o c c u r s when he observes p a r t i c u l a r scenes o f c h a r a c t e r s . That i s , even when he i s presented w i t h a " r e a l " image (a person i n a c e r t a i n s i t u a t i o n ) , as opposed t o a t e x t ( l i k e the i n s c r i p t i o n ) , Nick w i l l o f t e n conjure up another image, which i s h i s i n t e r p r e t a t i v e response t o the " r e a l " one. And, w h i l e the image t h u s c o n s t r u c t e d i s a " f i c t i o n " , i n t h a t i t i s N i c k ' s i m a g i n a t i v e c r e a t i o n , i t i s a l s o a f i c t i o n i n the sense t h a t i t d e r i v e s from a " f a l s e " r e a d i n g o f the s u b j e c t . Here, the i n t e r p r e t a t i v e p r o c e s s i s u n l i k e t h a t i n which Nick i n d u l g e s when " r e a d i n g " X. T r a p n e l ' s appearance, f o r i n s t e a d o f s y s t e m a t i c a l l y a n a l y z i n g the s u p e r f i c i a l f e a t u r e s o f h i s su b j e c t , i n order t o c o n s t r u c t c h a r a c t e r , Nick almost uncons-c i o u s l y t r a n s l a t e s what he sees i n t o h i s own images, which are only l a t e r p e r c e i v e d as c h a r a c t e r a n a l y s e s . By examining these episodes o f image c o n s t r u c t i o n , one can estimate the e f f e c t 42 t h a t a p e r c e i v e r has on the p e r c e i v e d , and, t h e r e f o r e , the s i g n i f i c a n c e of N i c k ' s r o l e as a v e h i c l e o f p e r s p e c t i v e . In A Buyer's Market, when Nick and the Walpole-Wilson p a r t y are being conducted through the dungeons of Stourwater by S i r Magnus Donners, Nick becomes separated from the o t h e r s , 6 and comes upon Widmerpool p e e r i n g through a g r i l l e d window. The s u r p r i s e o f such an encounter, as w e l l as the dark and enclosed surroundings, prompts Nick to f a n t a g i z e f o r a moment about h i s f r i e n d ' s unexpected appearance. Widmerpool's presence, as strange as i t i s i n r e a l i t y , becomes even more so i n N i c k ' s i m a g i n a t i o n : I t was a v i s i o n of Widmerpool, imprisoned, t o a l l outward appearances, i n an underground c e l l , from which o n l y a small g r a t i n g gave a c c e s s t o the o u t e r world . . . I f e l t a c h i l l a t my h e a r t i n the f a t e t h a t must be h i s , thus immured, w h i l e I racked my b r a i n , f o r the same b r i e f i n s t a n t o f almost unbear-a b l e a n x i e t y , to c o n j e c t u r e what crime, or d e r e l i c t i o n of duty, he must have committed t o s u f f e r such treatment at the hands of h i s t y r a n t . (p. 204) At f i r s t , Nick encounters o n l y a v o i c e ( " i s o l a t e d from human agency"), but even when he r e c o g n i z e s t h a t i t belongs t o Widmerpool, the a c t u a l s i g h t of the man, p e e r i n g through the barred window, does not immediately e x p l a i n h i s presence; indeed, i t produces what Nick terms a "nameless apprehension". Nick r e g i s t e r s "in h i s mind the p h y s i c a l " f a c t s " of Widmerpool' s appearance ( h i s f a c e behind the b a r s , somewhat shadowed by the ^ Anthony Powell, A Buyer's Market (London: Heinemann, 1952), p. 203. A l l f u r t h e r r e f e r e n c e s t o t h i s work appear i n the t e x t . 42a darkness o f the dungeon), but he i n t e r p r e t s those " f a c t s " by-imagining t h a t Widmerpool Viss?imprisoned i n a c e l l f o r some k i n d o f crime. Nick t r a n s l a t e s what he sees (the " r e a l " image of Widmerpool) i n t o a v i s i o n t h a t e x i s t s o n l y i n h i s i m a g i n a t i o n , even though i t i s based on " f a c t " . Here, N i c k ' s " r e a d i n g " i n v o l v e s the c o n s t r u c t i o n o f image from image, as opposed t o image from t e x t , which i s e s s e n t i a l l y the t r a n s l a t i o n o f r e a l i t y i n t o f i c t i o n . What Nick terms h i s "subconscious f a n t a s i e s of the mind", are t r i g g e r e d by the unexpected s i g h t of Widmerpool, but they are c o n d i t i o n e d , or p a r t l y determined, by N i c k ' s r e c o l l e c t i o n of something beyond the " r e a l " image i t s e l f : Perhaps S i r Magnus's a l l u s i o n to the a p p r o p r i a t e treatment o f ' g i r l s who don't behave' . . . had, f o r some unaccountable reason, r e s u l t e d i n the c o n j u r a t i o n of t h i s s p e c t r e , as the image seemed t o be, t h a t took form a t t h a t moment b e f o r e my eyes. (pp. 204-5) Having heard S i r Magnus speak of i m p r i s o n i n g u n t r a c t a b l e women i n h i s dungeon, Nick associatesa.such treatment w i t h Widmerpool's presence, which, at t h i s p o i n t , i s otherwise u n e x p l a i n a b l e . N i c k ' s image o f Widmerpool i n c a r c e r a t e d i n a c e l l i s thus dependent on o t h e r f a c t o r s than j u s t what he sees at t h a t moment. I t i s important to note, however, t h a t t h i s r e c o g n i t i o n o f the p o s s i b l e causes behind N i c k ' s image does not occur a t the time of the encounter; r a t h e r , i t i s the mature n a r r a t o r ' s i n s i g h t . When Nick sees Widmerpool, he conjures up h i s image almost u n c o n s c i o u s l y ; i t i s an immediate impression, of b r i e f d u r a t i o n , which i s d i s c a r d e d i n an i n s t a n t . I t i s o n l y on 43 l o o k i n g back, t h a t Nick endeavours to o f f e r an e x p l a n a t i o n f o r h i s " s p e c t r e " . Hence, i t i s on r e c o n s i d e r a t i o n of the encounter w i t h Widmerpool t h a t Nick d e s c r i b e s the "outrageous" and " i n c r e d i b l e " assumptions t h a t the waking mind can make, i n order t h a t he may e x p l a i n h i s i m a g i n a t i v e f a n t a s y . By " r e r e a d i n g " the i n c i d e n t , and examining h i s response t o i t , Nick d i s t i n g u i s h e s between the o b j e c t observed (Widmerpool) and h i s p e r c e p t i o n of t h a t o b j e c t ( h i s " s p e c t r e " ) , thereby f o c u s s i n g on the element of p e r s p e c t i v e . Whereas Nick r e c o g n i z e s the p a r t t h a t h i s ; c r e a t i v e i m a g i n a t i o n p l a y s i n the c o n s t r u c t i o n of the t r a n s l a t o r ' s image, thereby acknowledging i t s " u n r e a l i t y " , h i s r e a l i z a t i o n t h a t Widmerpool i s not i n c a r c e r a t e d i n the dungeons l e a d s him to d e c l a r e the a b s u r d i t y of h i s i m a g i n i n g s . As soon as he r e v e r t s t o " r a t i o n a l thought", he comes t o understand t h a t Widmerpool i s speaking to him from the o u t s i d e o f the c a s t l e , and thus, i s not even remotely c o n f i n e d t o the c e l l o f N i c k ' s i m a g i n a t i o n (p. 205). Nick has "misread" the presence of h i s f r i e n d , y e t , as he suggests, t h a t "misreading" i s not a l t o g e t h e r a " f a l s e " i n t e r p r e t a t i o n . He deems h i s image of Widmerpool to be an "absurd a b e r r a t i o n " , but i n c l u d e s i t i n h i s n a r r a t i v e "because i t had some r e l a t i o n t o what f o l l o w e d " , and, indeed, the n o t i o n t h a t Widmerpool i s a k i n d of p r i s o n e r soon appears l e s s outrageous. He may not be i n p r i s o n , i n the p h y s i c a l sense o f the word, but Widmerpool's c o n f e s s i o n t h a t he has p a i d the expenses f o r Gypsy Jones' a b o r t i o n suggests t h a t he has committed, at l e a s t i n h i s own mind, a "crime" f o r which he i s 44 being punished (pp. 207-9). In t h i s sense, the c e l l c o n s t r u c t e d i n N i c k ' s i m a g i n a t i o n , w h i l e f a c t u a l l y i n a c c u r a t e , may be an a p p r o p r i a t e " r e - p r e s e n t a t i o n " of the mental anguish t h a t Widmerpool i s s u f f e r i n g . Hence, w h i l e N i c k ' s " r e a d i n g " of Widmerpool's presence i s erroneous, i n t h a t he i s a c t u a l l y on the o u t s i d e of the c a s t l e , p e e r i n g through a window, such an i n t e r p r e t a t i o n may, i n f a c t , be u l t i m a t e l y " c o r r e c t " , because t h a t image may c h a r a c t e r i z e the man's i n n e r c o n f l i c t . A p h y s i c a l d e s c r i p t i o n of Widmerpool may be a f a c t u a l l y a c c u r a t e p i c t u r e of what i s b e f o r e N i c k ' s eyes, but N i c k ' s "subconscious f a n t a s i e s " , a l b e i t " f a l s e " , capture the essence of Widmerpool's s i t u a t i o n , something of which Nick i s unaware at t h i s p o i n t . In t h i s way, N i c k ' s "misreading" n o n e t h e l e s s r e s u l t s i n a v a l i d i n t e r p r e t a t i o n ; he m i s i n t e r p r e t s the " f a c t s " , but i n so doing, c o n s t r u c t s an a p p r o p r i a t e , though f i c t i o n a l , image. Nick e x p e r i e n c e s another such "aberration'.' i n The K i n d l y  Ones, when he i s once aga i n i n the company o f S i r Magnus at Stourwater (p. 115). Upon meeting B e t t y Templer, P e t e r ' s second w i f e , N i c k ' s immediate impression o f her evokes another f a n c i f u l image. She appears t o be so "dazed" and " t e r r i f i e d " t h a t Nick imagines she has j u s t emerged from the dungeons: Could i t be t h a t B e t t y Templer, with her husband's connivance - an e x p l a n a t i o n of Templer's uneasy a i r -had been imprisoned i n the course of some p a r t l y h i g h - s p i r i t e d , p a r t l y s a d i s t i c , rompings t o g r a t i f y t h e i r h o s t ' s strange whims? Of course, I d i d not s e r i o u s l y suppose such a t h i n g , but f o r a s p l i t second the grotesque n o t i o n presented i t s e l f . J u s t as Widmerpool i s "imprisoned" i n N i c k ' s i m a g i n a t i o n , i f 45 o n l y f o r a moment, so too i s B e t t y Templer. U n l i k e N i c k ' s " r e a d i n g " of Widmerpool, however, i n t h i s i n s t a n c e t h e r e i s no c o n s t r u c t i o n o f a second, f i c t i o n a l , image; a t l e a s t Nick does not d e s c r i b e one, but such an image i s none t h e l e s s suggested by h i s musings. By c o n s t r u c t i n g a p o s s i b l e reason, which i s as f i c t i o n a l as Widmerpool's i n c a r c e r a t i o n , f o r Betsy's a g i t a t i o n , Nick evokes the impression, i f not the d e t a i l e d image, of such "rompings". And, once agai n , the a s s o c i a t i o n w i t h S i r Magnus' r e f e r e n c e t o " g i r l s who don't behave", and the p r e v i o u s t o u r through the dungeons of Stourwater, i n f l u e n c e N i c k ' s " r e a d i n g " of Betsy's c o n d i t i o n . Even though Nick immediately r e c o g n i z e s the a b s u r d i t y o f h i s s p e c u l a t i o n s , thereby acknowledging h i s "misreading" o f the woman, h i s e r r o r l i e s , not i n p e r c e i v i n g the " s i g n i f i e d f a c t s " (her un e a s i n e s s and f e a r ) , but i n i n t e r p r e t i n g the reason f o r those " f a c t s " . N otwithstanding the f a n t a s t i c nature o f N i c k ' s "grotesque n o t i o n " , the i d e a t h a t B e t t y Templer has been subjected t o "some p a r t l y h i g h - s p i r i t e d , p a r t l y s a d i s t i c , rompings", i s not so wide o f the mark. L i k e Widmerpool, she might be seen as "imprisoned", i n the sense t h a t her marriage t o P e t e r appears t o be a r a t h e r " p u n i s h i n g " experience f o r her. T h i s becomes e v i d e n t , at l e a s t t o Nick, as he continues t o examine the woman's manner, without r e c o u r s e t o obvious f a n t a s y , i n an attempt t o d i s c o v e r the r e a l source o f her " t e r r o r " . He wonders why P e t e r married her ( d i d he want a l e s s than b r i g h t , a d o r i n g "devotee", who would not run o f f wit h another man, as d i d h i s f i r s t w i f e , Mona?); he s p e c u l a t e s on the k i n d o f l i f e such a 46 marriage had probably brought about f o r the e s s e n t i a l l y shy and nervous w i f e ( P e t e r ' s enjoyment of s o c i a l o c c a s i o n s , and h i s tendency to s t r a y ) ; and he comes t o the c o n c l u s i o n t h a t B e t t y i s on the b r i n k of i n s a n i t y : "That, at l e a s t , was my own r e a d i n g of the s i t u a t i o n " (p. 1 2 1 ) . L a t e r , when the p a r t y d e c i d e s to pose as the Seven Deadly S i n s f o r S i r Magnus' camera ( i n c i d e n t a l l y , N i c k ' s i d e a ) , B e t t y ' s r e l u c t a n c e to j o i n them provokes exaspera-t i o n i n her husband and t h e i r host, w h i l e her t e a r f u l e x i t from the room, a f t e r watching P e t e r ' s p o r t r a y a l of " L u s t " with Anne U m f r a v i l l e , e l i c i t s o n l y m i l d concern((pp. 1 2 5 - 3 3 ) . Such "rompings" may not be " s a d i s t i c " , but i t seems evident t h a t both P e t e r and S i r Magnus have indeed subjected B e t t y , at the v e r y l e a s t , t o unconscious c r u e l t y . While she may not have undergone the punishment r e s e r v e d f o r " g i r l s who don't behave", as i n N i c k ' s i m a g i n a t i o n , she n o n e t h e l e s s does experience a form o f mental s u f f e r i n g d u r i n g the p a r t y . Hence, N i c k ' s " r e a d i n g " of B e t t y ' s f e a r may i n i t i a l l y be i n c o r r e c t (she has not, as f a r as we know, been chained up i n the dungeons of Stourwater), but the " i n n e r t r u t h " of her s i t u a t i o n a t t h a t moment could w e l l be r e p r e s e n t e d , m e t a p h o r i c a l l y speaking, i n such a v i s i o n . ± u In A Buyer's Market, p. 138, N i c k ' s " r e a d i n g " of S i r Magnus Donners and Mrs. |_"kaby"] Wentworth c o n t a i n s the same k i n d of image c o n s t r u c t i o n as h i s " r e a d i n g " of Widmerpool and B e t t y Templer. Seeing them enter a room, l o o k i n g none too p l e a s e d with each o t h e r , Nick i s reminded of the k i n d of p i c t u r e s , then i n vogue, t h a t t r e a t e d b i b l i c a l s u b j e c t s i n modern d r e s s , and ima-g i n e s the p a i r as Adam and Eve l e a v i n g the Garden of Eden: " t h i s i m pression being so v i v i d t h a t I almost expected them t o be f o l l o w e d through the door by a w e l l - t a i l o r e d a n g e l , p o i n t i n g i n t h e i r d i r e c t i o n a f l a m i n g sword." Here, the " r e a l " image of the couple produces the a n t i c i p a t i o n o f a " f i c t i o n a l " one, which, subsequently, i s " u n r e a l i z e d " . 47 While these episodes i n d i c a t e N i c k ' s tendency t o a l l o w h i s i m a g i n a t i o n comparatively f r e e r e i n , and thus, i l l u s t r a t e an i n t e r e s t i n g aspect of h i s c h a r a c t e r , they a l s o suggest the impact t h a t an observer has on the o b j e c t observed. Nick d e s c r i b e s what he sees, whether Widmerpool l o o k i n g i n a window o r B e t t y Templer l o o k i n g f r i g h t e n e d and confused, but he a l s o d e s c r i b e s h i s response t o what he sees. He p r e s e n t s h i s reader w i t h h i s " r e a d i n g " o f the scene Before him: i n one i n s t a n c e , i n the form o f an image, which, though based on the " f a c t s " of what he sees, i s e s s e n t i a l l y h i s own c r e a t i o n ; i n the o t h e r i n s t a n c e , by imaginings-possible causes f o r what he sees, which, i n themselves, suggest an e q u a l l y f i c t i t i o u s image. F u r t h e r , though i n both cases Nick "misreads" what he sees, t h a t "misreading" n o n e t h e l e s s r e s u l t s i n a f a i r l y j u s t i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of the " i n n e r t r u t h " t h a t e x i s t s beneath the s u r f a c e phenomena. In both cases, N i c k ' s " r e a d i n g " may seem almost unconscious, a spontaneous r e a c t i o n which i s n e i t h e r v o l u n t a r y nor c a l c u l a t e d , but i t does c o n t a i n the same elements of c o n s t r u c t i o n which mark h i s more d e l i b e r a t e r e a d i n g of t e x t s . I t a l s o i l l u s t r a t e s how an observer can c o n s t r u c t what he sees. In t h i s sense, w h i l e B e t t y Templer and Widmerpool may be d e s c r i b e d o b j e c t i v e l y as e x h i b i t i n g c e r t a i n p h y s i c a l a t t r i b u t e s , w i t h i n a g i v e n environment, N i c k ' s p e r c e p t i o n of them goes beyond such a d e s c r i p t i o n , and i n c l u d e s those elements of h i s own c r e a t i o n . Hence, when Nick encounters Widmerpool and B e t t y , he sees something o t h e r than what i s t h e r e , at l e a s t on the s u r f a c e ; he sees a man imprisoned and a woman subjected t o some k i n d of torment. 43 The most t y p i c a l k i n d o f " r e a d i n g " i n which Nick i n d u l g e s o c c u r s when he t r i e s t o determine the reasons f o r a c h a r a c t e r ' s a c t i o n s . Having, t o some extent, come t o know t h a t person, Nick i s f a c e d w i t h a s i t u a t i o n i n which h i s or her a c t i o n s a re not immediately s e l f - e x p l a n a t o r y , and, t h e r e f o r e , he goes t o some l e n g t h t o examine those a c t i o n s , i n l i g h t o f what he does know. One example of such " r e a d i n g " can be found i n The S o l d i e r ' s A r t , where Nick t r i e s t o understand why h i s s i s t e r - i n - l a w , P r i s c i l l a L o v e l l , should l e a v e the Cafe Royal so suddenly (p. 142). While the a c t i o n i t s e l f seems simple enough, Nick "reads i n t o " i t numerous p o s s i b l e e x p l a n a t i o n s which heighten i t s importance i n h i s mind, and i l l u s t r a t e s h i s tendency t o a l l o w f o r a " p l u r a l i t y o f meaning" i n the i n t e r p r e t a t i v e p r o c e s s . N i c k ' s response t o P r i s c i l l a ' s d e parture, h i s ru m i n a t i o n s concerning the reasons f o r ,her a c t i o n s , i s e s s e n t i a l l y another a c t o f c o n s t r u c -t i o n , which, l i k e h i s r e a d i n g o f the epigraph and the t e x t s ofam the Thanksgiving S e r v i c e , i n v o l v e s the d i s c o v e r y o f "meaning". I t i s a l s o an attempt t o i n t e r p r e t her p e r s o n a l i t y , and, t h e r e f o r e , a p a r t o f h i s c o n s t r u c t i o n o f c h a r a c t e r . The f a c t t h a t he never comes t o a f i n a l c o n c l u s i o n r e g a r d i n g her behaviour o n l y enhances 11 A l l f u r t h e r r e f e r e n c e s t o t h i s work appear i n the t e x t . Other examples of t h i s k i n d o f " r e a d i n g " can be found i n A Buyer's Market, pp. 111-12, where Nick ponders on the reason behind S i l l e r y ' s presence a t M i l l y A n d r i a d i s ' p a r t y , and i n The  Acceptance World, where he wonders why Stringham i s g e t t i n g married (pp. 197-3), why Widmerpool makes h i s speech a t the Old Boy Dinner, and why Le Bas g r e e t s t h a t speech as he does, by succumbing t o a str o k e (pp. 194-6). Most o f these episodes a r e much b r i e f e r than N i c k ' s c o n s i d e r a t i o n o f P r i s c i l l a ' s d e parture, but h i s g o a l i s the same: t o d i s c o v e r the "meaning" behind such a c t i o n s . 49 the n o t i o n t h a t P r i s c i l l a , i n t h i s scene, i s p a r t l y the product of N i c k ' s c r e a t i v e i m a g i n a t i o n , i n t h a t her c h a r a c t e r i s d e s c r i b -ed as i t i s p e r c e i v e d from h i s p e r s p e c t i v e . The events l e a d i n g up t o P r i s c i l l a * s d e parture from the Cafe Royal are f r a u g h t w i t h some a n x i e t y f o r Nick, who has come to the r e s t a u r a n t to meet her husband, Chips L o v e l l , but who i s soon f a c e d w i t h numerous other encounters: w i t h Hugh Moreland i and Audrey M a c l i n t i c k , as w e l l as P r i s c i l l a and her l o v e r , Odo Stevens (pp. 1 0 6 - 4 3 ) . Nick i s aware of the t a n g l e d r e l a t i o n s h i p s between these c h a r a c t e r s , each of whom has been, o r i s c u r r e n t l y , i n v o l v e d w i t h someone i n the group, and t h i s knowledge a f f e c t s h i s " i n t e r p r e t a t i o n " of the scene. P r i s c i l l a , once i n l o v e w i t h Moreland, now married t o L o v e l l , and at present i n v o l v e d w i t h Stevens, i s the r e c u r r i n g l i n k i n the c h a i n , and, because of her r e l a t i o n s h i p w i t h Nick, he f i n d s h i s encounter with a l l f o u r c h a r a c t e r s i n a s i n g l e evening r a t h e r t r y i n g , even though L o v e l l has l e f t b e f o r e the o t h e r s a r r i v e . L o v e l l has j u s t t o l d Nick about h i s w i f e ' s r e l a t i o n s h i p w i t h Stevens (p. 10& ) , so t h a t when the couple enter the r e s t a u r a n t , Nick "reads" P r i s c i l l a * s demeanour wi t h such knowledge i n mind: Thus, i n N i c k ' s mind at l e a s t , P r i s c i l l a seems not too uncomfort-a b l e a t the prospect of an evening i n the company o f her l o v e r , an " o l d l o v e " (Moreland), and her b r o t h e r - i n - l a w , but, as the 50 scene develops, N i c k - i n b t i c e s t h a t P r i s c i l l a ' s ease i s not complete, e s p e c i a l l y a f t e r he t e l l s her t h a t L o v e l l i s i n town (pp. 131-2). In s p i t e of such s u r p r i s e s , t h a t might i n them-s e l v e s be reason f o r an e a r l y departure, P r i s c i l l a does not l e a v e u n t i l a f t e r her suggestion t h a t a b l i t z might be "on" provokes a g e n e r a l d i s c u s s i o n about the s a f e t y of c i v i l i a n s and s o l d i e r s d u r i n g the war (pp. 137-8). She begs o f f by complaining of a headache, but a f t e r she l e a v e s (without Stevens), Nick f i n d s t h a t the " r e a l " reason f o r her departure i s not so e a s i l y fathomed. Hence, he suggests numerous f a c t o r s which might e x p l a i n her a c t i o n s , and which would be c o n s i s t e n t w i t h both her p e r s o n a l i t y (as he sees i t ) and the events of the evening. At f i r s t , Nick examines the p o s s i b i l i t y t h a t P r i s c i l l a went o f f i n search o f her husband, but he c o n s i d e r s t h i s "more dramatic than probable", although t h i s , i n i t s e l f , does not deny i t s p o s s i b i l i t y (p. 142). I t i s much more l i k e l y t h a t Odo Stevens' remark about her f e a r of an a i r r a i d being unwarranted had s t r u c k an already te n s e chord i n her nerves, but the reasons f o r t h a t t e n s i o n seem m u l t i p l e t o Nick: P o s s i b l y t h i s nervous s t a t e stemmed from some minor row; p o s s i b l y P r i s c i l l a ' s p o o r i s h form e a r l i e r i n the evening suggested t h a t she was beginning t o t i r e o f Stevens, or f e a r e d he might be t i r i n g o f her. On the o t h e r hand, the headache, the thought of her l o v e r ' s d e parture, could e q u a l l y have upset her; w h i l e the presence o f the r e s t of the p a r t y a t the t a b l e , the news t h a t her husband was i n London, a l l helped to discompose her. Reasons f o r her behaviour were as hard to estimate as t h a t f o r g i v i n g h e r s e l f t o Stevens i n the f i r s t i n s t a n c e . (p. 143) P r i s c i l l a c o uld have l e f t f o r one, a few, or a l l o f these reasons, 51 indeed, f o r none of them, but Nick does not attempt to narrow the f i e l d . He r e c o g n i z e s t h a t he can o n l y c o n j e c t u r e as to the " r e a l " causes of P r i s c i l l a * s behaviour, and t h a t he might never know the " t r u t h " , so t h a t each p o s s i b i l i t y remains v a l i d . Given what he p e r c e i v e s of P r i s c i l l a ' s p e r s o n a l i t y , and h i s " r e a d i n g " of the evening's events (as w e l l as her response t o them), Nick a l l o w s f o r a number o f d i f f e r e n t " i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s " of her departure, thereby, m e t a p h o r i c a l l y speaking, acknowledging the " p l u r a l i t y of the t e x t " . Most i m p o r t a n t l y , P r i s c i l l a ' s a c t i o n s express t o Nick some k i n d of "meaning", so t h a t her d e p a r t u r e s i g n i f i e s more than her e x p l a n a t i o n (the headache) would suggest. Hence, Nick understands the " f a c t " of the event (her d e p a r t u r e ) , but he a l s o " i n t e r p r e t s " t h a t " f a c t " , so t h a t i t a c q u i r e s a s i g n i f i c a n c e , a t l e a s t i n h i s own mind. As w i t h h i s " r e a d i n g " of X. T r a p n e l , Widmerpool, and B e t t y Templer, N i c k ' s c o n s i d e r a t i o n of P r i s c i l l a ' s departure from the Cafe Royal demonstrates the extent t o which her c h a r a c t e r i s c o n s t r u c t e d by her "reader". I f Nick were t o d e s c r i b e the " s i g n i f i e d f a c t s " of the evening, h i s n a r r a t i v e would c o n s i s t o f the numerous a r r i v a l s and d e p a r t u r e s of the c h a r a c t e r s i n v o l v e d , the c o n v e r s a t i o n s t h a t take p l a c e , and the i n d i v i d u a l a c t i o n s of each person. Nick, however, d e s c r i b e s more than mere " f a c t s " . H i s account of the evening i n c l u d e s h i s " r e a d i n g " of a l l the persons p r e s e n t , most e s p e c i a l l y o f P r i s c i l l a * s demeanour and her response t o the company. Thus, Nick a t t r i b u t e s t o her an aware-ness o f h i s u n c e r t a i n t y about i n v i t i n g her and Stevens t o j o i n h i s t a b l e : "Obviously the thoughts going through my head were as 52 c l e a r as day t o her" (p. 1 3 1 ) ; he suggests t h a t Stevens;*; behaviour towards Audrey M a c l i n t i c k i s "perhaps d i s p l e a s i n g t o P r i s c i l l a " , who was "no doubt u n w i l l i n g t o admit to h e r s e l f t h a t , f o r Stevens, one woman was, a t l e a s t up t o a p o i n t , as good as another" (p. 1 3 6 ) ; and he i n t e r p r e t s her complaint of a headache as the r e s u l t of some s o r t o f pet u l a n c e : I imagined t h a t , having decided a mistake:;;had been made i n a l l o w i n g him [Stevens] t o j o i n our t a b l e , she had now s e t t l e d on a d i s p l a y of bad temper as the best means of g e t t i n g him away. (p. 1 3 9 ) In each case, Nick a s c r i b e s some k i n d of meaning t o P r i s c i l l a ' s words and a c t i o n s , so t h a t they become ex p r e s s i o n s o f her c h a r a c t e r . In so doing, he does not so much r e v e a l t h a t charac-t e r , as he c o n s t r u c t s i t h i m s e l f . In t h i s sense, w h i l e P r i s c i l l a may l e a v e the r e s t a u r a n t f o r a number of reasons, N i c k ' s account r e v e a l s o n l y those reasons t h a t he h i m s e l f imagines t o be p o s s i b l e , which, once again, are the product of h i s " r e a d i n g " . These reasons may be based on " f a c t " (her r e l a t i o n s h i p w i t h Stevens, her knowledge of her husband's r e t u r n t o London, and her a g i t a t i o n ) , but they are N i c k ' s c o n s t r u c t i o n s , or " i n t e r p r e -t a t i o n s " , and, t h e r e f o r e , h i s c r e a t i o n s . While Nick p r i m a r i l y s u b j e c t s the t e x t s he reads, and the people he observes, t o h i s own p a r t i c u l a r form of i n t e r p r e t a t i o n , at times he invokes other p e r s p e c t i v e s , or p o i n t s o f view, which might c o n t r a s t w i t h , o r enhance, h i s own. That i s , i n s t e a d o f o f f e r i n g simply h i s own response t o a person o r event, Nick w i l l sometimes present what he t h i n k s another c h a r a c t e r ' s response would be i f he or: she were present to witness.what he h i m s e l f 53 observes. A prime example of t h i s a p p r o p r i a t i o n o f another p e r s p e c t i v e can be found i n A Buyer's Market, when Nick d e s c r i b e s the scene at M i l l y A n d r i a d i s ' p a r t y , as i t were, through Uncle G i l e s ' eyes (pp. 9 6 - 1 0 1 ) . In so doing, he demonstrates not only the impact t h a t an observer has on the o b j e c t observed, but a l s o the d i f f e r e n t i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s t h a t can be d e r i v e d from one event, by v i r t u e of an a l t e r e d p e r s p e c t i v e . By u s i n g Uncle G i l e s ' eyes, Nick examines the p a r t y from a viewpoint not h i s own, so t h a t h i s account o f the event i s not o n l y d i f f e r e n t from what he p e r c e i v e d at the time, but a l s o d i f f e r e n t from what he, as n a r r a t o r , now p e r c e i v e s from the vantage o f h i n d s i g h t . At the same time, however, i t i s important to r e c o g n i z e t h a t N i c k ' s p e r s p e c t i v e s t i l l pervades the n a r r a t i v e , i n s p i t e of the r e f e r e n c e t o Uncle G i l e s . In t h i s sense, w h i l e Nick may a p p r o p r i a t e h i s u n c l e ' s viewpoint, t h a t p e r s p e c t i v e i s not, i n r e a l i t y , p r o v i d e d by G i l e s h i m s e l f ; r a t h e r , i t i s N i c k ' s p e r c e p t i o n o f what Uncle G i l e s would have p e r c e i v e d i f he had been present at the p a r t y , and, t h e r e f o r e , the product of N i c k ' s c o n s t r u c t i o n . N i c k ' s d e s c r i p t i o n of the p a r t y i s an i l l u s t r a t i o n of what Todorov c a l l s " s e c o n d - l e v e l c o n s t r u c t i o n " , wherein one c h a r a c t e r c o n s t r u c t s what he imagines would be another c h a r a c t e r ' s 12 These episodes should not be confused w i t h what may be termed "second-hand n a r r a t i v e s " , wherein Nick i s t o l d of an i n c i d e n t , or a c h a r a c t e r ' s experiences, which he i s not present to witness, such as Malcolm Crowding's account of X. T r a p n e l ' s " a p o t h e o s i s " i n the Hero of Acre Pub (Temporary Kings, pp. 2 9 -3 5 ) , o r Gibson D e l a v a c q u e r i e ' s s t o r y about R u s s e l l Gwinnett's involvement w i t h S c o r p i o M u r t l o c k ' s c u l t (Hearing Secret  Harmonies, pp. 1 6 2 - 7 0 ) . "Second-hand n a r r a t i v e s " a r e not r e l a t e d t o us from N i c k ' s p e r s p e c t i v e , even though he comments on them. 54 c o n s t r u c t i o n of a f a c t . J Hence, Nick views the p a r t y from h i s own p e r s p e c t i v e ( " f i r s t - l e v e l c o n s t r u c t i o n " ) , but he a l s o i n c o r p o r a t e s what he conceives would be h i s u n c l e ' s p e r c e p t i o n of the same event, i f herwere present to observe i t . Nick adopts such an approach because he t h i n k s t h a t perhaps Uncle G i l e s would have seen " l a t e n t i m p e r f e c t i o n s " which he, owing t o the "momentary enthusiasms" of a new experience, might have overlooked. Uncle G i l e s ' standards r e g a r d i n g human behaviour may be beyond " e a r t h l y " f u l f i l l m e n t (not u n l i k e the " i d e a l " e x p e c t a t i o n s of the commission), but Nick n o n e t h e l e s s c o n s i d e r s the advantages i n a p p l y i n g those standards: Toolook at t h i n g s through Uncle G i l e s ' s eyes would never have o c c u r r e d to me; but - simply as an e x c e p t i o n a l expedient f o r attempting t o p r e s e r v e a sense o f p r o p o r t i o n , a s t a t e of mind, f o r t h a t matter, n e i t h e r always a c c e p t a b l e nor immediately advantageous - t h e r e may have been something t o be s a i d f o r borrowing, once i n a way, something from Uncle G i l e s ' s method o f approach. (p. 96) Nick r e c o g n i z e s t h a t h i s own p e r s p e c t i v e on the p a r t y may be somewhat l i m i t e d , the s u b j e c t i v i t y i n h e r e n t i n i n d i v i d u a l i n t e r p r e t a t i o n being a b a r r i e r t o "a sense of p r o p o r t i o n " , and, t h e r e f o r e , he "borrows" h i s u n c l e ' s p o i n t o f view i n o r d e r t o present a wider p i c t u r e o f the p a r t y . Uncle G i l e s ' o b s e r v a t i o n s would be e q u a l l y s u b j e c t i v e , and not always " a c c e p t a b l e " i n N i c k ' s view, but they would p r o v i d e a k i n d of balance f o r the young man's p e r s p e c t i v e , thereby producing, i f not an o b j e c t i v e account, then perhaps a more i n t e r e s t i n g one. In "Reading as C o n s t r u c t i o n , " p. 79. 55 N i c k ' s use of Uncle G i l e s as another "reader o f the t e x t " , i f one can equate the p a r t y scene wi t h a t e x t , which i s "read" by the observer, n e c e s s i t a t e s a d i s t i n c t i o n between Nick as the young man at the p a r t y , and as the mature n a r r a t o r o f the n o v e l . Even though he says t h a t he had indeed thought of h i s u n c l e at the time, i t i s onl y on l o o k i n g back, as n a r r a t o r , t h a t Nick s u b j e c t s the p a r t y t o Uncle G i l e s ' s c r u t i n y (p. 100). He admits t h a t he would never have considered imposing h i s u n c l e ' s view on the p a r t y a t t h a t time, so t h a t Nick i s not o n l y r e -c o n s t r u c t i n g t h e scene through the v e h i c l e of h i s memory, but he i s a l s o examining h i s own impressions as a young man. U n l i k e h i s younger s e l f , Nick now r e c o g n i z e s t h a t the " t e x t " o f the p a r t y i s , and was, open t o v a r i o u s p e r s p e c t i v e s , arid t h a t by re- v i e w i n g i t through h i s u n c l e ' s eyes, he can present a d i f f e r e n t view of the same event. T h i s i s not t o suggest t h a t Nick now p e r c e i v e s the p a r t y i n a s u b s t a n t i a l l y d i f f e r e n t way ( a s i d e from the changes brought byotime;) , t f o r ' h i s > i m p r e s s i p n s a l of i t remain; r a t h e r , by "borrowing" a d i f f e r e n t p e r s p e c t i v e , he can "see" the p a r t y i n a d i f f e r e n t way, and, t h e r e f o r e , he can p r e s e n t more than one account of the p a r t y . Hence, the n a r r a t i v e p r o v i d e s t h r e e p e r s p e c t i v e s on the same event: t h a t of young Nick, the mature n a r r a t o r , and the n a r r a t o r ' s conception of Uncle G i l e s ' p e r s p e c t i v e . Yet, because these p e r s p e c t i v e s are the product o f the same consciousness ( N i c k ' s ) , they a re e s s e n t i a l l y the p e r c e p t i o n s of one man. The a l t e r i n g o f p e r s p e c t i v e s i s t h u s ; the r e s u l t of time (young Nick and the n a r r a t o r ) and i m a g i n a t i o n ( N i c k ' s c o n s t r u c t i o n o f h i s u n c l e ' s v i e w p o i n t ) . 56 Nick p r e f a c e s h i s account o f how Uncle G i l e s would have r e a c t e d t o M i l l y ' s p a r t y by f i r s t e s t a b l i s h i n g the o l d man's o p i n i o n s r e g a r d i n g the k i n d o f people present a t the Huntercombes' dance, t o which Nick had proceeded b e f o r e the p a r t y . T h i s i n t r o d u c t i o n t o Uncle G i l e s ' views i s an ex t e n s i o n o f N i c k ' s p r e v i o u s d e s c r i p t i o n s o f him, and, t h e r e f o r e , can be seen as another " b u i l d i n g b l o c k " i n the c o n s t r u c t i o n o f G i l e s ' c h a r a c t e r . I t a l s o p r o v i d e s a background t o the forthcoming p r e s e n t a t i o n o f Uncle G i l e s ' p e r s p e c t i v e , i n t h a t i t forms a g e n e r a l f o u n d a t i o n f o r the more p a r t i c u l a r a t t i t u d e s t h a t Nick a s c r i b e s t o h i s un c l e i n h i s account o f the p a r t y . And, as Nick admits, G i l e s , indeed, anyone e l s e , would probably p e r c e i v e no d i f f e r e n c e between the two s o c i a l events, c e r t a i n l y not i n the k i n d o f people t o be found t h e r e : He [Uncle G i l e s ] would, f o r example, have d i s m i s s e d the Huntercombes' dance as one of those formal o c c a s i o n s t h a t he h i m s e l f , as i t were by d e f i n i t i o n , found wholly unsympathetic. Uncle G i l e s disapproved on p r i n c i p l e o f anyone who could a f f o r d t o l i v e i n Belgr a v e Square . . . e s p e c i a l l y when they were, i n a d d i t i o n , b e a r e r s of what he c a l l e d 'handles t o t h e i r names' . . . . I t was t o any form of l o n g - e s t a b l i s h e d a f f l u e n c e t h a t he took the g r a v e s t e x c e p t i o n , p a r t i -c u l a r l y i f the ownership of l a n d was combined w i t h any suggestion o f p u b l i c s e r v i c e . . . (p. 97) Thus, Uncle G i l e s ' o b s e r v a t i o n s o f M i l l y ' s p a r t y would be founded on h i s g e n e r a l p r i n c i p l e s r e g a r d i n g wealth, and those who have i t , p r i n c i p l e s a c q u i r e d through a l i f e t i m e o f such obser-v a t i o n s , so t h a t , i n a sense, h i s " r e a d i n g " of the p a r t y , or " t e x t " , would depend on p r e v i o u s " i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s " . Uncle G i l e s , i n N i c k ' s view, would not approach the scene i n a detached and 57 o b j e c t i v e frame of mind; r a t h e r ; he would b r i n g h i s b e l i e f s about people i n g e n e r a l to/bear on t h i s p a r t i c u l a r " t e x t " . In a s i m i l a r way, Nick too i s b r i n g i n g h i s past "knowledge" of Uncle G i l e s t o bear on the c o n s t r u c t i o n o f the o l d man's p e r s p e c t i v e , so t h a t G i l e s ' views are the product of N i c k ' s " r e a d i n g " o f h i s u n c l e ' s " r e a d i n g " . Nick does d e s c r i b e the p a r t y from h i s own p e r s p e c t i v e , such as the i n t e r i o r o f the house, and the p h y s i c a l appearance of a few guest s , and t h i s a l l o w s f o r a comparison of the two p o i n t s of view. For i n s t a n c e , Uncle G i l e s would have noted, and d e s p i s e d , the atmosphere of " f r i v o l i t y " t h a t pervades the scene, whereas N i c k h i m s e l f senses t h a t such " f r i v o l i t y " i s " i n f u s e d w i t h an undercurrent of extreme coolness, a c h i l l y c o nsciousness o f c o n f l i c t i n g egoisms", which he f i n d s r a t h e r " i n t i m i d a t i n g " (pp. 9$-9). In t h i s case, Uncle G i l e s ' sense o f the p a r t y atmosphere seems t o be the r e s u l t o f an immediate and s u p e r f i c i a l " r e a d i n g " , e s p e c i a l l y i n l i g h t of N i c k ' s more p e n e t r a t i n g a n a l y s i s , and t h i s suggests t h a t , i n N i c k ' s view, Uncle G i l e s would be a l e s s than s e n s i t i v e observer. On the other hand, as a "reader", Nick goes beyond the " s u r f a c e of the t e x t " , whether or not he " i n t e r p r e t s " c o r r e c t l y , and i d e n t i f i e s the i n d i v i d u a l t h r e a d s t h a t combine t o form the appearance of " f r i v o l i t y " . Hence, h i s i n i t i a l p e r c e p t i o n of an o v e r a l l f o r m a l i t y , o r " s t i f f n e s s " , i s m o d i f i e d by h i s r e c o g n i t i o n o f an o c c a s i o n a l " e x o t i c i s m " , which undercuts s u p e r f i c i a l appearances (p. 99). For Nick, o b s e r v i n g the scene i n v o l v e s a movement from the g e n e r a l t o the p a r t i c u l a r : i t moves from the g e n e r a l sense 53 of " f r i v o l i t y " , through an a p p r e c i a t i o n o f the more s p e c i f i c d e t a i l s ( " c o n f l i c t i n g .egoisms"), t o the r e c o g n i t i o n o f i n d i v i d u a l p a r t s , or "patches of s i n g u l a r i t y " (pp. 99-100). In t h i s sense, Nick i s a more acute "reader" than Uncle G i l e s , who, i n h i s nephew's c o n s t r u c t i o n , would never advance beyond the i n i t i a l , and s u p e r f i c i a l , i n t e r p r e t a t i o n . N i c k ' s d e s c r i p t i o n o f the o l d man with the ey e - g l a s s , and the b l a c k man t o whom he i s t a l k i n g , i s another i l l u s t r a t i o n o f the r o l e t h a t p h y s i c a l appearance can p l a y i n the c o n s t r u c t i o n of c h a r a c t e r . U n l i k e the account o f X. T r a p n e l , however, here i t i s Uncle G i l e s who i n t e r p r e t s appearance as an e x p r e s s i o n o f ch a r a c t e r , w h i l e Nick e s s e n t i a l l y r e s e r v e s judgement. Nick assumes t h a t both gentlemen have come t o M i l l y ' s p a r t y from some " o f f i c i a l assemblage", because one i s wearing " m i n i a t u r e s " and a "white enamel and g o l d " c r o s s , w h i l e the other s p o r t s an " e l a b o r a t e l y w a i s t e d " coat, w i t h "exaggeratedly p o i n t e d l a p e l s " (p. 100). A c c o r d i n g t o N i c k ' s n o t i o n s o f s a r t o r i a l p r o p r i e t y , n e i t h e r man would have worn such a t t i r e j u s t t o at t e n d M i l l y ' s p a r t y . On the othe r hand, Uncle G i l e s would have balked at the black man's presence because "he would c e r t a i n l y not have approved o f gue s t s o f A f r i c a n descent being i n v i t e d t o a p a r t y t o which he h i m s e l f had been bidden." E q u a l l y o f f e n s i v e t o Uncle G i l e s would have been the white gentleman, by v i r t u e o f the medals he i s wearing. A c c o r d i n g t o Nick, h i s u n c l e considered the d i s p l a y o f medals t o be v u l g a r , and probably d i s h o n e s t ('"Won 'em i n P i c c a d i l l y , I shouldn't wonder'"), and, t h e r e f o r e , he would have di s m i s s e d the man w i t h contempt. Thus, w h i l e Nick "reads" the 59 p h y s i c a l appearances of the two men i n order t o enhance h i s d e s c r i p t i o n of them, without any r e f e r e n c e t o t h e i r p e r s o n a l i t i e s (except by i m p l i c a t i o n ) , Uncle G i l e s (or N i c k ' s c o n s t r u c t i o n of him) employs i t as a way t o d e f i n e , and judge, c h a r a c t e r , but i n a very narrow and r e s t r i c t i v e f a s h i o n . Uncle G i l e s ' supposed i n t e r p r e t a t i v e approach to the p a r t y i s f u r t h e r evident when Nick d e s c r i b e s the b a t t l e over a b o t t l e of champagne, waged between a bearded man and a woman wearing a t i a r a . I n N i c k ' s o p i n i o n , t h i s would be f u r t h e r m a t e r i a l f o r h i s u n c l e ' s c r i t i c a l eye: Here, t h e r e f o r e , were assembled i n a s i n g l e group -as i t were of baroque s c u l p t u r e come a l l a t once t o l i f e - t h r e e c l a s s e s of o b j e c t a l l e q u a l l y abhorrent t o Uncle G i l e s ; t h a t i s to say, champagne, beards, and t i a r a s : each i n i t s d i f f e r e n t way r e p r e s e n t i n g s i d e s of l i f e f o r which he could f i n d no good t o say . . . (p. 101) To G i l e s , beards i n d i c a t e a Bohemian i r r e s p o n s i b i l i t y , w h i l e t i a r a s and champagne r e p r e s e n t a " g u i l t y opulence", n e i t h e r o f which he i s p r e d i s p o s e d t o a c c e p t . Beards, champagne, and t i a r a s are, l i k e the o l d man's medals, p h y s i c a l o b j e c t s which, i n h i s view, symbolize the k i n d of l i f e and a t t i t u d e s which oppose h i s own " r a d i c a l " b e l i e f s . T h i s k i n d of symbolic i n t e r p r e t a t i o n i s not u n l i k e t h a t which Nick a p p l i e s t o h i s o b s e r v a t i o n o f X. T r a p n e l , wherein h i s s t y l e o f d r e s s was deemed t o be t h a t of the n i n e t e e n t h century, and thus, a symbolic r e p u d i a t i o n of contemp-o r a r y l i f e . U n l i k e N i c k ' s " r e a d i n g " , however, which i s employed as an a i d f o r the c o n s t r u c t i o n c h a r a c t e r , Uncle G i l e s * k i n d o f i n t e r p r e t a t i v e o b s e r v a t i o n i s used not o n l y t o d e f i n e c h a r a c t e r , 60 but t o judge t h a t c h a r a c t e r m o r a l l y as w e l l . In t h i s sense, u n l i k e Nick, Uncle G i l e s would have taken one look-^at the "baroque s c u l p t u r e " , estimated i t s p h y s i c a l and s u p e r f i c i a l components, and, i n r e j e c t i n g i t s "meaning", ceased t o "read" a l t o g e t h e r . That, i n any case, i s how Nick imagines h i s u n c l e would r e a c t t o the scene, i f he were t h e r e to w i t n e s s i t . N i c k ' s "borrowing" of Uncle G i l e s ' approach to " r e a d i n g " forms an i n t r o d u c t i o n , i n i t s e l f , t o the p a r t y scenes t h a t f o l l o w , a t c o n s i d e r a b l e l e n g t h , i n which t h e r e i s no f u r t h e r r e f e r e n c e t o the o l d man's p e r s p e c t i v e (pp. 1 0 1 - 5 1 ) . The mature n a r r a t o r ' s r e c o n s t r u c t i o n of the event r e v e r t s to the " f i r s t l e v e l " , so t h a t from t h i s p o i n t on we p e r c e i v e the p a r t y through N i c k ' s eyes (both those of the young man at the p a r t y and the n a r r a t o r ) , though he w i l l l a t e r meet h i s u n c l e a f t e r l e a v i n g the p a r t y (p. 1 5 4 ) . Before he c o n t i n u e s h i s n a r r a t i v e , however, Nick invokes the metaphor of the t a p e s t r y i n order to summarize h i s o v e r a l l impression of the scene: Although these r e l a t i v e l y e x o t i c embellishments to the scene occ u r r e d w i t h i n a framework on the whole commonplace enough, the s h i f t i n g groups of the p a r t y c r e a t e d , as a s p e c t a c l e , i l l u s i o n of moving w i t h i n the a c t u a l c o n f i n e s o f a p i c t u r e or t a p e s t r y , i n t o the depths of which the p e r s o n a l i t y of each new a r r i v a l had to be a u t o m a t i c a l l y amalgamated . . . (p. 1 0 1 ) Here, Nick r e c o g n i z e s t h a t , though he i s o n l y l o o k i n g a t a group of people, some more i n t e r e s t i n g than o t h e r s , and t h a t , t h e r e f o r e , the experience i s "commonplace enough", h i s p e r c e p t i o n of the scene i n some way t r ansforms i t i n t o an " i l l u s i o n " , so t h a t i t becomes a moving " p i c t u r e or t a p e s t r y " . And, w h i l e t h i s d e s c r i p -61 t ion might at f i r s t appear to be no more than an attempt to p r e s e n t more a c c u r a t e l y the scene b e f o r e him (Nick says t h a t the movement o f t h e groups " c r e a t e d " the i l l u s i o n ) , i t i s n o n e t h e l e s s N i c k ' s p e r c e p t i o n of the scene, and not the scene i t s e l f , so t h a t he, i n f a c t , " c r e a t e s " the i l l u s i o n by o b s e r v i n g t h a t scene. I n a sense, N i c k ' s v i s i o n "frames" the p a r t y , or '':'^y<xl:±?i " c o n f i n e s " i t , so t h a t the p i c t u r e or " t a p e s t r y " i s formed. Returning t o the metaphor of the reader, he t r a n s l a t e s the "image" of the p a r t y i n t o a " t e x t " , whose metaphor i s the " t a p e s t r y " (from the L a t i n " t e x t e r e " , meaning "to weave"). I t i s thus Nick, t h e observer or "reader' 1, who t a k e s the i n d i v i d u a l "threads", or d e t a i l s of the scene, and, through the v e h i c l e of h i s p e r c e p t i o n , "weaves" them t o g e t h e r t o form the i l l u s o r y t a p e s t r y , or " t e x t " , thereby r e v e r s i n g the i n t e r p r e t a -t i v e p r o c e s s i n which he t r a n s l a t e s Uncle G i l e s * commission and the i n s c r i p t i o n from The Arab A r t of Love i n t o f i c t i o n a l images, or scenes. While Nick d e s c r i b e s some of the scene at M i l l y ' s p a r t y from h i s u n c l e ' s p e r s p e c t i v e , t h a t p e r s p e c t i v e i s n o n e t h e l e s s a product of c o n s t r u c t i o n . That i s , we do not get the o l d man's response t o the p a r t y , nor do we get what he would have p e r c e i v e d , i f he had been present a t the time; r a t h e r , we are presented w i t h what Nick imagines h i s u n c l e would p e r c e i v e , i f he had been on — the spot. Thus, Uncle G i l e s cannot be termed "a k i n d of second-l1* i n "From Work to Text," p. 73, Barthes uses the metaphor of the "network" to d e s c r i b e the t e x t , which a l s o suggests the image o f i n d i v i d u a l components (my "threads") arranged, or " c o n s t r u c t e d " , t o form the "net" (my " t a p e s t r y " ) . 62 s t r i n g n a r r a t o r " i n t h i s scene, because, i n f a c t , he does not 15 " n a r r a t e " a n y t h i n g . U n l i k e Malcolm Crowding's s t o r y about X. T r a p n e l , or D e l a v a c q u e r i e * s account of R u s s e l l Gwinnett, the A n d r i a d i s p a r t y i s not recounted by Uncle G i l e s , but by N i c k . In t h i s sense, Nick does not "borrow" h i s u n c l e ' s p e r s p e c t i v e ; he c o n s t r u c t s i t from h i s own i m a g i n a t i o n , based on h i s knowledge o f the man and h i s c h a r a c t e r . The o l d man may indeed have r e a c t e d i n such a manner, but s i n c e i t i s N i c k ' s n a r r a t i v e , any " r e a d i n g s " presented are h i s own. Hence, the d e s c r i p t i o n o f the p a r t y becomes another i n s t a n c e of N i c k ' s c o n s t r u c t i o n o f c h a r a c t e r . By imagining how h i s u n c l e would "read the t e x t " , N i c k , i n f a c t , g i v e s h i s own " r e a d i n g " of h i s u n c l e , thereby c o n t r i b u t i n g t o the c r e a t i o n of h i s c h a r a c t e r . 5 James Tucker, i n The Novels of Anthony Powell- (London: Macmillan, 1976), pp. 11-12, uses the term t o descrrb'e Uncle G i l e s ' r o l e i n t h i s p a r t i c u l a r scene:' " N i c h o l a s w i l l a c t u a l l y surrender h i s p o i n t of view, h i s judgement, to G i l e s f o r awhile", y e t , a t the same time, he r e c o g n i z e s t h a t i t i s Nick "who g i v e s us what he t a k e s t o be G i l e s ' s way of j u d g i n g matters". I suggest t h a t Nick " s u r r e n d e r s " n o t h i n g , because w h i l e we may get Uncle G i l e s ' supposed view, i t i s the product of N i c k ' s c o n s t r u c -t i o n , and, t h e r e f o r e , of h i s p o i n t o f view. In t h i s sense, N i c k ' s " r e a d i n g " of G i l e s ' " r e a d i n g " i s s t i l l N i c k ' s " r e a d i n g " . 63 Chapter I I I Looking c l o s e l y a t these episodes o f N i c k ' s " r e a d i n g " , i t i s e v ident t h a t he has a s i g n i f i c a n t impact on the c h a r a c t e r s and events he observes, and the t e x t s he i n t e r p r e t s . As a c h a r a c t e r i n the n o v e l , he seems t o p l a y a secondary r o l e , having l i t t l e e f f e c t on the people he meets, o r t h e events he w i t n e s s e s , which, i n t u r n , have l i t t l e e f f e c t on him. As a " n a r r a t o r - r e a d e r " , however, he has c o n s i d e r a b l e impact on the n a r r a t i v e i t s e l f . I t i s not merely t h a t as " t e l l e r of the t a l e " , he s e l e c t s those c h a r a c t e r s and events he wishes t o r e l a t e , t h e r e -by c o n t r o l l i n g the content of the n a r r a t i v e , but a l s o t h a t the way i n which he " t e l l s " h i s t a l e a f f e c t s our r e c e p t i o n o f i t . Because Powell i n c l u d e s so much o f h i s n a r r a t o r ' s experience of those c h a r a c t e r s and events, p r i m a r i l y by p r e s e n t i n g N i c k ' s p e r c e p t i o n s o f them, t h a t p e r s p e c t i v e becomes an important p a r t o f the n o v e l as a whole. One might suggest t h a t i n order t o be r e a l i s t i c , a f i r s t - p e r s o n n a r r a t o r can o n l y r e l a t e what he p e r c e i v e s , but then one must ask why Powell chose t o use such a n a r r a t o r . Whatever the reason, one must take i n t o account t h a t n a r r a t i v e v o i c e , and c o n s i d e r how i t a f f e c t s the n a r r a t i v e i t s e l f . Hence, one must r e c o g n i z e the two b a s i c elements o f the n a r r a t i v e s t r u c t u r e : 1 " h i s t o i r e " , which i s the s t o r y i t s e l f , and " d i s c o u r s " , whieh i s the way t h a t s t o r y i s told.**" While the " h i s t o i r e " may h e l p t o determine the nature of the " d i s c o u r s " , from the author's 1 In L i n g u i s t i c s and The Novel (London: Methuen and Co., 1 9 7 7 ) , p. 7 9 , Roger Fowler c i t e s these terms as d e r i v a t i o n s o f t h e Russian d i s t i n c t i o n between "form" and "content" 64 p o i n t o f view, the " d i s c o u r s " has a g r e a t d e a l o f impact on the " h i s t o i r e " , from the r e a d e r ' s p o i n t o f view. F u r t h e r , s i n c e the author must n e c e s s a r i l y be a reader o f h i s own n a r r a t i v e (Nick, as w e l l as P o w e l l ) , the importance o f examining a n o v e l ' s " d i s c o u r s " cannot be overemphasized. In t h i s sense, the way i n which Nick r e l a t e s h i s s t o r y , and, t h e r e f o r e , the way i n which Powell c o n s t r u c t s h i s n o v e l , has a profound e f f e c t on our under-2 standing o f the n a r r a t i v e . Hence, i n order f o r us, as r e a d e r s , t o " r e a l i z e " t he t e x t of Powell's n o v e l , we must understand how the " d i s c o u r s " a f f e c t s the n o v e l ' s " h i s t o i r e " . I t i s by examining the episodes o f N i c k ' s c o n s t r u c t i v e " r e a d i n g " , or i n many cases, "misreading", t h a t one can see the extent t o which h i s p e r s p e c t i v e i n f l u e n c e s our r e c e p t i o n of the n a r r a t i v e . I f , as I have suggested, Nick c o n t r i b u t e s h i s i n t e r -p r e t a t i o n s t o the t e x t s he reads, and h i s p e r c e p t i o n s t o the c h a r a c t e r s and events he observes, then what we get i s not j u s t a f a c t u a l account o f what happens, but N i c k ' s p e r c e p t i o n of what happens. In oteher words, because of the "form" of the n a r r a t i v e , we can view the no v e l from two angles: what a c t u a l l y o c c u r s , and how Nick p e r c e i v e s what occur s , whether a t the time o r i n r e t r o -spect. Yet, because the former i s so i n t r i c a t e l y connected t o the l a t t e r , our re a d i n g o f t h e ' n o v e l i s g r e a t l y i n f l u e n c e d by N i c k ' s " r e a d i n g " . In t h i s way, N i c k ' s p e r s p e c t i v e on c h a r a c t e r s and 2 Nick h i m s e l f remarks on the e f f e c t t h a t a n a r r a t o r has on h i s n a r r a t i v e , and, consequently, on h i s reader, o r " l i s t e n e r " , i n At Lady M o l l y ' s (London: Heinemann, 1 9 5 7 ) , pp. 2 1 2 - 1 3 , when he d e s c r i b e s h i s response t o Chips L o v e l l ' s s t o r i e s about h i s r e l a t i v e s : "When someone r e p e a t e d l y t e l l s you s t o r i e s about t h e i r r e l a t i o n s , p i c t u r e s begin a t l a s t to form i n the mind, t i n g e d always i n c o l o u r s used by the n a r r a t o r " . 65 events h e l p s t o determine our p e r c e p t i o n of them, so t h a t the novel i s as concerned, i f not more so, w i t h N i c k ' s experience as i t i s w i t h t h a t of the o t h e r c h a r a c t e r s , even though they seem t o command i t s primary f o c u s . Because so much of the n o v e l i s , mediated through the n a r r a t o r ' s consciousness, t h a t v e h i c l e t a k e s on i t s own s i g n i f i c a n c e , being a p a r t of the " t e x t " t h a t we read. Thus, w h i l e N i c k ' s " i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s " must be d i s t i n g u i s h e d from the " t e x t s " he "reads", they are nonetheless i n c l u d e d i n the t e x t t h a t we read, and, t h e r e f o r e , they are " s i g n i f i e d f a c t s " upon which we c o n s t r u c t our " r e a l i z a t i o n " of Powell's n o v e l . Though such i n s t a n c e s of " r e a d i n g " do not make up the e n t i r e n o v e l , as Powell p r e s e n t s l o n g scenes i n which we have d i r e c t access t o c h a r a c t e r s and events (where Nick says l i t t l e ) , even those scenes are c o n s t a n t l y " i n t e r r u p t e d " by N i c k ' s ruminations, which a f f e c t our r e a d i n g of them.^ For i n s t a n c e , a f t e r Nick James Tucker w r i t e s , " P e r s p e c t i v e on what happens i s as important t o him [Powell] as what happens" (p. 9 7 ) ; F r a n c i s Wyndham, i n "Novels," Encounter, 19 (Sept. 1 9 6 2 ) , 7 5 , says t h a t "the i n c i d e n t s , which a l t e r , are comparatively unimportant, w h i l e the f a i l u r e t o f o r e t e l l and t o i n t e r p r e t them i s constant and e s s e n t i a l t o the n o v e l i s t ' s theme"; and James H a l l , i n The T r a g i c  Comedians (Bloomington: Indiana U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1 9 6 3 ) , p. 1 3 3 , contends t h a t t h e ^ n o v e l "develops i t s c h a r a c t e r s - even i t s e c c e n t r i c s - more as N i c k ' s response to them than as independent e n t i t i e s . " ^ A c c o r d i n g t o W. R. M a r t i n , i n " S t y l e as Achievement i n Anthony Powell's Music of Time," E n g l i s h S t u d i e s i n A f r i c a , 14 (Mar. 1 9 7 1 ) , 32, "every i n c i d e n t i s s a t u r a t e d by the n a r r a t o r ' s r e f l e c t i o n on i t . The q u a l i t y and p r o c e s s e s o f the mature n a r r a t o r ' s mind subdue a l l the a c t i o n . The method i n the sequence i s not p r i m a r i l y dramatic but r e f l e c t i v e " . Dan McLeod, i n "Anthony Powell: Seme Notes on the A r t of the Sequence Novel," S t u d i e s i n the Novel, 3 ( 1 9 7 1 ) , 5 3 - 6 1 , n o t i c e s t h a t Nick r e f r a i n s from such " e d i t o r i a l i n t r u s i o n s " p r i m a r i l y when he i s " a c t i v e " i n a scene, or more prominent as a c h a r a c t e r , such as i n The S o l d i e r ' s A r t . 66 c o n s t r u c t s what he t h i n k s Uncle G i l e s would have thought of M i l l y A n d r i a d i s ' p a r t y , i n A Buyer's Market, the scene u n f o l d s i n patches of c o n v e r s a t i o n with Stringham, Mr. Deacon, and S i l l e r y , among o t h e r s , and though Nick p l a y s a secondary r o l e i n such t a l k , he c o n s t a n t l y r e f l e c t s on those who do, by c o n s i d e r i n g the nature of t h e i r p e r s o n a l i t i e s and t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p s w i t h each other (pp. 101-51). S i m i l a r l y , a f t e r Nick d e s c r i b e s X. T r a p n e l ' s i n Books Do F u r n i s h a Room, he r e l a t e s h i s c o n v e r s a t i o n with the n o v e l i s t and Bagshaw, i n which T r a p n e l r e c o u n t s something of h i s past l i f e , and i n which Nick p l a y s l i t t l e p a r t (pp. 109-10). He does, however, continue t o examine T r a p n e l ' s c h a r a c t e r , q u e s t i o n -i n g h i s s t o r y about the source of h i s n o v e l ' s t i t l e (Camel Ride  to the Tomb), and contemplating h i s f a m i l y background. Hence, while we have d i r e c t access t o other c h a r a c t e r s i n scenes, where we can "hear" t h e i r c o n v e r s a t i o n , or "witness" t h e i r a c t i o n s , and, t h e r e f o r e , c o n s t r u c t f o r o u r s e l v e s t h e i r p e r s o n a l i t i e s , N i c k ' s " i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s " are c o n s t a n t l y presented as w e l l , so t h a t they h e l p t o determine our own. Hence, whether or not he "reads" c o r r e c t l y , N i c k ' s r u m i n a t i o n s consume so much of the novel as t o e f f e c t i v e l y form the b a s i s of the t e x t , thereby c o n t r o l l i n g , t o a c e r t a i n extent, our r e a d i n g of i t . In order t o c o n s i d e r f u l l y the nature of the n o v e l ' s uc ; " d i s c o u r s " , one must take i n t o account the d u a l i t y of the n a r r a t i v e v o i c e . The d i s t i n c t i o n between Nick as the.mature ^ Here, Nick r e f l e c t s on the nature of Stringham's l i f e , e s p e c i a l l y h i s r e l a t i o n s h i p w i t h M i l l y A n d r i a d i s (pp. 102-6), S i l l e r y ' s presence at the p a r t y (p. I l l ) , and Mr. Deacon's c h a r a c t e r (p. 117), among other t h i n g s . 67 n a r r a t o r of the n o v e l , and Nick as a c h a r a c t e r i n the n o v e l , has a l r e a d y been noted i n my examination of the way i n which he "borrows" Uncle G i l e s ' p e r s p e c t i v e t o d e s c r i b e the scene of M i l l y A n d r i a d i s ' p a r t y , but t h i s a p p l i c a t i o n of a "double p e r s p e c t i v e " must be considered f u r t h e r i f N i c k ' s c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n as a "reader" i s t o be understood f u l l y . ^ Hence, i t i s not Nick, the young man at the p a r t y , who so "borrows" h i s u n c l e ' s "eyes"; r a t h e r , i t i s Nick, the n a r r a t o r , who chooses t o adopt such an approach. S i m i l a r l y , i t i s the n a r r a t o r who s u p p l i e s the p o s s i b l e reasons f o r young N i c k ' s " a b e r r a t i o n s " of Widmerpool and B e t t y Templer; i t i s the n a r r a t o r who muses on the p o s s i b l e causes behind P r i s c i l l a L o v e l l ' s e x i t from the Cafe Royal. In each case, the young Nick who i s engaged i n p e r u s i n g t e x t s (the commission, the i n s c r i p t i o n , the epigraph, and the s e l e c t i o n s from the Thanksgiving S e r v i c e ) , or o b s e r v i n g c h a r a c t e r s and events ( T r a p n e l , Widmerpool, B e t t y Templer, P r i s c i l l a L o v e l l , and M i l l y A n d r i a d i s ' p a r t y ) , does indeed " i n t e r p r e t " the m a t e r i a l s b e f o r e him, whether by c o n s t r u c t i n g images or d e c i p h e r i n g "meaning", but the mature n a r r a t o r i s a l s o a "reader". As the c o n t r o l l i n g consciousness of the n o v e l , he, i n e f f e c t , " r e r e a d s " a l l of the In "The Heresy of N a t u r a l i s m , " i n Handbook t o Anthony  Powell's Music of Time (London: Heinemann" 1977), p. x v i i i , H i l a r y S p u r l i n g w r i t e s , "Indeed, J e n k i n s h i m s e l f may be seen . . . as a convenient d e v i c e f o r the adjustment of p e r s p e c t i v e . . . . I t means t h a t the reader sees much of the a c t i o n i n the e a r l y volumes as i t were i n double f o c u s , through the eyes of the n a r r a t o r and simultaneously through the eyes of h i s n a i v e younger s e l f . " For a more thorough study of t h i s d u a l i t y , see Donald G u t i e r r e z , "The Doubleness of Anthony Powell: P o i n t of View i n A Dance t o the Music of Time," U n i v e r s i t y of Dayton Review, 14 (1980), 15-27. 68 t e x t s , c h a r a c t e r s , and events t h a t he once viewed " f i r s t hand", the r e b y s u b j e c t i n g them t o a "second r e a d i n g " . _ S ince the n a r r a t o r i s l o o k i n g back on the c h a r a c t e r s and events he has observed over a g r e a t many y e a r s , he i s a b l e t o re-examine t h a t which he once observed as a young man, and t o t h i s extent, he " r e r e a d s " those " t e x t s " , as w e l l as H i s own p r e v i o u s " i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s " of them. Here, however, Nick "reads" from a d i f f e r e n t p e r s p e c t i v e , a l t e r e d by age, time and knowledge, and t h i s o f t e n r e s u l t s i n a d i f f e r e n t k i n d of " i n t e r p r e t a t i o n " . In t h i s sense, the n a r r a t o r "reads" the same " t e x t s " , but f o r a second time, and s i n c e h i s p e r s p e c t i v e has changed, the way i n which he "reads" a l s o changes. With the advantage of h i n d s i g h t , Nick i s ab l e t o r e l a t e i n d i v i d u a l " t e x t s " (what he once observed on the spot) t o what has s i n c e o c c u r r e d , or what he has s i n c e come t o know, and, t h e r e f o r e , he sees them i n r e l a t i o n t o the past as a whole. Hence, w h i l e young Nick would never have thought t h a t h i s view of M i l l y ' s p a r t y might be inadequate, on l o o k i n g back, the n a r r a t o r t h i n k s t h a t such an approach would p r o v i d e "a sense of p r o p o r t i o n " t o h i s own p e r s p e c t i v e as a young man. S i m i l a r l y , w h i l e i t i s young Nick who con j u r e s up the image of Widmerpool i n c a r c e r a t e d i n a c e l l , i t i s the n a r r a t o r who r e l a t e s t h a t image t o Widmerpool'susubsequentfadmrssWomthat he p a i d f o r Gypsy Jones' a b o r t i o n , a f a c t o f which Nick i s unaware when he c o n s t r u c t s the image. In t h i s way, young Nick p r o v i d e s the " f i r s t r e a d i n g " , r e g i s t e r i n g a l l the " s i g n i f i e d f a c t s " and " i n t e r p r e t i n g " them on the b a s i s o f what he knows a t the time. The n a r r a t o r , however, a l r e a d y knows t h e i n d i v i d u a l a s p e c t s o f each " t e x t " , and thus, 69 h i s "reading" takes into account the scene as a whole, as 7 viewed i n retrospect. This c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of the "rereader's" perspective i s evident when one considers the nature of the narrative as a whole. As narrator, Nick t r i e s to form a u n i f i e d , and compre-hensible, whole out of the mass of diverse, and often seemingly unconnected, d e t a i l that make up the substance of h i s past, so that some kind of "pattern" emerges. While t h i s e f f o r t may be deemed the province of any author, i t i s also the aim of the reader, who, on second reading, t r i e s to r e l a t e the i n d i v i d u a l characters and events, not only to each other, but to the "work" as a whole, sbeasitol'id"eht£fy:irecuri?ihg themeslin thevnarrative. ' In "The Reading of F i c t i o n a l Texts," i n The Reader i n the  Text, pp. 94-5, Karlheinz S t i e r l e says that the f i r s t reading of a text i s controlled by i t s " l i n e a r structure", which gradually unfolds f o r the reader, while the second reading i s determined by a "retrospective view" of the complete text, which produces "conceptual perception": "The second reading thus leads from the quasi-pragmatic reception producing i l l u s i o n [ f i r s t reading] to a reception of f i c t i o n as such, since i t i s only then that the fabricated character of f i c t i o n i s subjected to the reader's c r i t i c a l judgement." In "The Autobiographical Novel and The Autobiography," Essays i n C r i t i c i s m , 9 (1959), 143, Roy Pascal writes that the author "must also give a special pattern to h i s whole story, organise i t round a dominant motif, so that with the p a r t i c u l a r i d e n t i t y of occurrences there emerges another, more general i d e n t i t y . " S i m i l a r l y , Northrop Frye, i n "The Four Forms of F i c t i o n , " i n The Theory of the Novel, p. 35, says, "Most auto-biographies are inspired by a creative, and therefore f i c t i o n a l , impulse to select only those events and experiences i n the writer's l i f e that go to b u i l d up an integrated pattern." According to Robert K. Morris, i n The Novels of Anthony Powell (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1968), p. 109, "This concern of r e l a t i n g cause and e f f e c t , of descrying the figure i n the carpet, of prodding or pressing the past i n shape i s that of the narrator-hero, Nicholas Jenkins." 70 In f a c t , t h a t wish t o form a p a t t e r n can be seen as a r e s u l t of the w r i t e r ' s " r e a d i n g " o f h i s own t e x t . That i s , by r e c o g n i z i n g the need f o r such a p a t t e r n t o be drawn i n the f i r s t p l a c e , the author i s e f f e c t i v e l y s u b j e c t i n g h i s m a t e r i a l t o a second r e a d i n g . Nick acknowledges t h i s d e s i r e f o r p a t t e r n s when he d e s c r i b e s the way he once looked a t l i f e and the world around him. In The K i n d l y Ones, when the n a r r a t o r r e c a l l s h i s experiences as a young boy b e f o r e World War I, he d e s c r i b e s h i s wish t o see B i l l s o n and Bracey (two of the f a m i l y servants) married as "some i d e a o f a r r a n g i n g the world, as then known t o me, i n a neat p a t t e r n " (p. 18). And again, i n A Buyer's Market, Nick ponders the seemingly "separate compartments" which he used t o imagine e x i s t e d , and which contained the e s s e n t i a l l y d i s p a r a t e elements of l i f e , such as work and p l a y , l o v e and hate, p l e a s u r e and p a i n . He now deems t h i s concept t o be an " i l l u s i o n " because he has come t o view such elements as p a r t s o f a whole: As time goes onf»of course, these supposedly d i f f e r e n t worlds, i n f a c t , draw c l o s e r , i f not to each other, then t o some p a t t e r n common to a l l ; so t h a t , a t l a s t , d i v e r s i t y between them, i f i n t r u t h e x i s t e n t , seems t o be almost i m p e r c e p t i b l e except i n a few crude and e x t e r i o r ways: u n t h i n k a b l e , as f o r m e r l y appeared, any s i n g l e consummation of cause and e f f e c t . (p. 159) What Nick once considered to be i n d i v i d u a l , and o f t e n unconnected, elements o f l i f e when he was young, are now seen i n r e l a t i o n t o each o t h e r - d i f f e r e n t , y e t j o i n e d i n some k i n d o f p a t t e r n . That " p a t t e r n common t o a l l " i s r e v e a l e d as Nick "rereads" the past, viewing i t from the vantage o f h i n d s i g h t , so t h a t he can 71 a p p r e c i a t e the "shape" that h o l d s t o g e t h e r the v a r i o u s events q and c h a r a c t e r s he has observed. Much of the n a r r a t o r ' s " r e r e a d i n g " can a l s o be seen as an attempt to c o r r e c t h i s own p r e v i o u s "misreading". That i s , as a young man, Nick o f t e n " i n t e r p r e t s " e r r o n e o u s l y , whether through ignorance or l a c k o f i n s i g h t , and, t h e r e f o r e , as n a r r a t o r , he r e c o g n i z e s those e r r o r s and t r i e s t o " c o r r e c t " them. At times, Nick i n d i c a t e s h i s "misreading" by i n s e r t i n g h i s mature awareness o f f a c t s not known at the time, or by suggesting the inadequacy o f h i s y o u t h f u l p e r s p e c t i v e , as he rec o u n t s a p a r t i c u l a r i n c i d e n t . T h i s i s e s p e c i a l l y n o t i c e a b l e i n the e a r l y volumes of the sequence, when Nick encounters Widmerpool, whom he l o o k s on r a t h e r d i s p a r a g i n g l y , and whom he contin u e s t o view from an e s s e n t i a l l y " s c h o o l b o y i s h p e r s p e c t i v e " , even a f t e r they have both l e f t t h a t world behind. Hence, when Barbara Goring pours sugar over Widmerpool's head at the Huntercombes' dance, i n A Buyer's Market, Nick says t o Tompsitt t h a t Widmerpool i s "the k i n d of man people pour sugar on" (p. 7 4 ) . Despite the f a c t t h a t Widmerpool has embarked on a ca r e e r i n bus i n e s s , Nick s t i l l r e g a r d s him i n immature terms, but as n a r r a t o r , he r e c o g n i z e s the inadequacy o f such a p e r s p e c t i v e : q T h i s i s not u n l i k e h i s v i s i o n of M i l l y A n d r i a d i s ' p a r t y , i n which he p e r c e i v e s the i n d i v i d u a l guests moving b e f o r e him as a k i n d o f " t a p e s t r y " , an o v e r a l l p a t t e r n i n t o which each new element i s "amalgamated". In the f i n a l pages o f Hearing Secret  Harmonies, the passage from Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy"! which expresses the c o n t i n u a l rampaging o f human events, can be seen as an a p p r o p r i a t e "summary" of N i c k ' s n a r r a t i v e ; indeed, i t r e f l e c t s a " p a t t e r n common t o a l l " o f human h i s t o r y , which may suggest a r e c u r r i n g theme of f i c t i o n i t s e l f : the nature of human e x i s t e n c e (pp. 2 7 1 - 2 ) . 72 Tompsitt looked d i s a p p r o v i n g and r a t h e r contemptuous. I thought at the time t h a t h i s glance had r e f e r e n c e to Widmerpool. I can now see t h a t i t was d i r e c t e d , almost c e r t a i n l y , towards my own remark, which he must have regarded, i n some r e s p e c t s j u s t l y , as an answer inadequate t o h i s q u e s t i o n . Looking back on t h i s exchange, I have no doubt t h a t Tompsitt had a l r e a d y r e c o g n i z e d as e x i s t i n g i n Widmerpool some p o t e n t i a l t o which I was myself s t i l l almost t o t a l l y b l i n d . . . (p. 7 4 ) Tompsitt a c c e p t s Widmerpool as a person of some i n t e r e s t , so t h a t N i c k ' s response i s i n s u f f i c i e n t ; even i f ; he may not " l i k e " him, Tompsitt does not d i s m i s s Widmerpool, as does young N i c k . As n a r r a t o r , however, Nick knows t h a t he had yet to p e r c e i v e t h a t " p o t e n t i a l " i n Widmerpool which he now assumes Tompsitt p e r c e i v e d at the time, and which he has s i n c e come t o accept h i m s e l f , so t h a t he qu e s t i o n s h i s own y o u t h f u l p e r s p e c t i v e . ^ Hence, Nick r e c o g n i z e s the inadequacy o f h i s p r e v i o u s "readings", and, t h e r e f o r e , he i s a b l e t o p o i n t them out, even as he p r e s e n t s them. O f t e n such i n s t a n c e s of "misreading" are not immediately apparent, as the n a r r a t o r w i l l not p o i n t them out u n t i l t h a t p a r t o f the n a r r a t i v e where he h i m s e l f became aware of them. The o p p o r t u n i t y f o r Nick t o d i s c o v e r h i s "misreading" g r a d u a l l y In A Question o f Upbringing, p. 134, Widmerpool h i m s e l f t e l l s N i c k , " ' I t doesn't do t o read too much . . . . You get to look at l i f e w i t h a f a l s e p e r s p e c t i v e ' " . 11 Nick i s c o n t i n u a l l y f o r c e d t o p o i n t out such "misreadings" i n r e g a r d t o Widmerpool. In A Question of Upbringing, p. 152, Nick says, " I s t i l l saw him [WidmerpoolJ o n l y i n the crude, and inadequate, terms w i t h which.I had accepted him at s c h o o l " ; i n A Buyer's Market, p. 59, he admits, "At t h a t time I s t i l l had very l i t t l e i d e a of Widmerpool's t r u e c h a r a c t e r : n e i t h e r i t s q u a l i t i e s nor d e f e c t s . " 73 i s allowed f o r by the s e r i a l form of the n o v e l , which, by un-f o l d i n g the events and c h a r a c t e r s Nick observes over a g r e a t l e n g t h o f time, p l o t s the c o n t i n u a l reappearance of the same c h a r a c t e r s . Hence, Nick i s a b l e t o r e a f f i r m past "readings", expand them, or " c o r r e c t " them, as each c h a r a c t e r r e - e n t e r s h i s l i f e . T h i s r e p e t i t i o n of c h a r a c t e r s , o f t e n t u r n i n g up i n un-expected s i t u a t i o n s , or i n v o l v e d i n new r e l a t i o n s h i p s , but j u s t as o f t e n r e p e a t i n g past behaviour, c o n t i n u a l l y f o r c e s Nick t o r e f i n e h i s c o n s t r u c t i o n of t h e i r p e r s o n a l i t i e s , sometimes wi t h the h e l p of new i n f o r m a t i o n , s i n c e garnered, but o f t e n by a p p l y i n g a new p e r s p e c t i v e , brought about by a growth i n h i s awareness of human c h a r a c t e r and behaviour. Thus, t h i s r e p e t i -t i o n does not simply r e s u l t i n a r e i t e r a t i o n of past c o n s t r u c t i o n , even though the same c h a r a c t e r s reappear. Those c h a r a c t e r s may continue to do the same t h i n g s , and e x h i b i t the same person-a l i t i e s , but N i c k ' s p e r s p e c t i v e on them changes, : so t h a t what/ . he o f t e n p e r c e i v e s i s not a "sameness", but a " d i f f e r e n c e " . T h i s can be seen i n the case of N i c k ' s a t t i t u d e towards Widmerpool. When Widmerpool f i r s t t a k e s "coherent form" i n N i c k ' s mind, he i s running along an empty road, l o o k i n g " c o m f o r t l e s s and i n e l e g a n t " , as he t r a i n s f o r r a c e s he w i l l never win (A Question o f Upbringing, pp. 3 - 4 ) . Throughout the n o v e l , Nick c o n t i n u e s t o p e r c e i v e t h a t comic awkwardness and power of w i l l i n Widmerpool, but he a l s o comes t o a p p r e c i a t e more p o s i t i v e a s p e c t s of h i s p e r s o n a l i t y , such as perseverance and a knack f o r b u s i n e s s and p o l i t i c s , matters i n which Nick h i m s e l f has l i t t l e i n t e r e s t . Hence, by the end of the n o v e l , when Nick hears t h a t 74 Widmerpool has d i e d w h i l e running another " r a c e " (and e x c l a i m i n g , '"I'm l e a d i n g , I'm l e a d i n g now'"), the r e c u r r i n g image i s none-12 t h e l e s s d i f f e r e n t . I t i s not j u s t the circumstances surround-i n g t h i s r e p e t i t i v e a c t t h a t have a l t e r e d , but N i c k ' s p e r c e p t i o n of i t , because now h i s understanding o f Widmerpool's c h a r a c t e r i s based on a l i f e t i m e o f "readings"; the " s c h o o l b o y i s h -p e r s p e c t i v e " , i n t h i s sense, has "matured" t o the p o i n t where Nick can a p p r e c i a t e the complexity o f the man's c h a r a c t e r , and sympathize w i t h h i s a l l too human a s p i r a t i o n s t o "win h i s f i n a l r a c e " . By c h a r a c t e r i z i n g t h e r o l e of the n a r r a t o r as a k i n d o f "rer e a d e r " , one can a p p r e c i a t e the very nature of h i s n a r r a t i v e . N i c k ' s account o f h i s a s s o c i a t i o n w i t h the many c h a r a c t e r s and events he has observed over the y e a r s can be termed a "memoir", and, i n t h i s sense, i t i s e s s e n t i a l l y a " r e p r o d u c t i o n " of the pa s t . Without going i n t o too much d e t a i l about the c r e a t i v e a s p e c t s o f memory i t s e l f , t he autobiography, o r memoir, i s what J . H i l l i s M i l l e r d e f i n e s as the " s u b j e c t i v e r e c o n s t r u c t i o n of a l i f e " , i n which the n a r r a t o r " r e c r e a t e s " the l i f e he has Hearing Secret Harmonies, pp. 2 6 5 - 9 . 13 J As Dan McLeod says, "While Powell a l l o w s h i s n a r r a t o r - a s -c h a r a c t e r t o change h i s views of c h a r a c t e r , the c h a r a c t e r s themselves do not change at a l l " (p. 5 3 ) . In S/Z, t r a n s . R i c h a r d M i l l e r (New York: H i l l and Wang, 1 9 7 4 ) , p. 16 , Barthes maintains, "Those who f a i l t o r e r e a d are o b l i g e d t o read the same s t o r y everywhere". Without a change i n p e r s p e c t i v e , a re a d e r w i l l always look f o r the same t h i n g s i n most t e x t s , and probably f i n d them. A second r e a d i n g a l l o w s f o r , i f not f o r c e s , such a change, so t h a t the reader w i l l p e r c e i v e at l e a s t d i f f e r e n t a s p e c t s of the same s t o r y . 75 experienced. As such, he does not re - e x p e r i e n c e t h a t l i f e as i t o c c u r r e d , nor even as i t appeared t o occur t o him; r a t h e r , he " r e - p r e s e n t s " t h a t experience as bes t he can by r e f l e c t i n g on the i n i t i a l experience i t s e l f . Hence, j u s t as N i c k ' s image of the t r a n s l a t o r i s a " r e - p r e s e n t a t i o n " of the t e x t o f the i n s c r i p t i o n (enhanced by the c o n t r i b u t i o n s o f h i s c r e a t i v e i m a g i n a t i o n ) , through h i s memory, he "re-produces" the "presence" o f h i s past, 15 as he p e r c e i v e s i t t o have been. Yet, wh i l e the a c t of r e -membering i s a c r e a t i v e r e c o n s t r u c t i o n of the past i n i t s e l f , s i n c e what i s remembered i s no l o n g e r "present", t h a t memory i n c l u d e s w i t h i n i t both what happened and N i c k ' s p e r c e p t i o n of what happened. T h i s i s c l e a r l y s t a t e d by the n a r r a t o r e a r l y i n A Question of Upbringing, when he says t h a t the snow f a l l i n g and the men working i n the road s t i m u l a t e i n him "the memory of t h i n g s r e a l and imagined" (p. 2). In t h i s sense, h i s memory co n t a i n s both the " r e a l " (what happened) and the "imagined" ( N i c k ' s p e r c e p t i o n o f t h a t r e a l i t y ) . The "imagined", t h e r e f o r e , i s not those c r e a t i v e a s p e c t s of the n a r r a t o r ' s " r e - p r e s e n t a t i o n " of past events, which i s encompassed w i t h i n memory i t s e l f , but young N i c k ' s p e r c e p t i o n s , or " i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s " , at the time. Thus, the n a r r a t i v e c o n t a i n s both the " r e a l " and the "imagined", ^ The Form of V i c t o r i a n F i c t i o n (Notre Dame, Indiana: U n i v e r s i t y o f Notre Dame Press, 1968J, p. 18. M i l l e r r e f e r s s p e c i f i c a l l y t o Thackeray's Henry Esmond, which i s an a u t o b i o -g r a p h i c a l n o v e l , and which, i n c i d e n t a l l y , " Nick reads d u r i n g the war i n The V a l l e y of Bones (London: Heinemann, 1 9 6 4 ) , pp. l68"-8"0. I S J In Speech and Phenomena, D e r r i d a d e s c r i b e s the image and memory as the " r e p r o d u c t i o n o f a presence, even i f the product i s a p u r e l y f i c t i t i o u s o b j e c t " , p. 55. 76 which, i n turn, are processed by the reconstructive act of remembrance. I f the narrator's r o l e as a "rereader" i s characterized by a desire to reconstruct the past, both " r e a l and imagined", into some kind of pattern which reveals the perceived themes of an era, Nick's r o l e as a "reader" i s e s s e n t i a l l y characterized by h i s desire to "know". He i s curious about the world around him, esp e c i a l l y i n regard to human character and behaviour, and, therefore, he i s constantly t r y i n g to define p e r s o n a l i t i e s and characterize human actions and attitudes; i n e f f e c t , to under-stand why people behave as they do. He i s , i n t h i s sense, e s s e n t i a l l y a "seeker of knowledge", not so much of himself, but of those around him. He i s not interested i n describing h i s own actions, f e e l i n g s , or motivations; indeed, we are t o l d l i t t l e of hi s pursuits, except that which we learn through h i s association with other characters, or by way of an a s i d e . H e n c e , we are given the "bare f a c t s " of h i s l i f e - h i s work, h i s r e l a t i o n s h i p with Jean Duport, h i s marriage to Isobel Tolland, and the s o c i a l functions he attends - but only i n so f a r as they r e l a t e to h i s primary "occupation" as an observer. In t h i s sense, Nick may t r a v e l to Venice f o r a l i t e r a r y conference, and describe some of his a c t i v i t i e s there, but the primary focus of the t r i p i s not Nick, but the other characters he meets, such as Gwinnett, the Powell himself has remarked, "I r e a l l y t e l l people a minimum of what my narrator f e e l s . . . because I have no talen t for that p a r t i c u l a r sort of s e l f - r e v e l a t i o n " , i n Michael Barber's "Anthony Powell: The Art of F i c t i o n , " Paris Review, 20 (Spring 1978), 67. Nick reveals himself through h i s consciousness not-ithrough h i s emotions. 77 Widmerpools, and Louis Glober (Temporary Kings, pp. 1-179). >Even hi s intimate r e l a t i o n s h i p with Jean (he does not discuss h i s marriage) i s related more as the perception of a r e l a t i o n s h i p , rather than h i s r e l a t i o n s h i p , as he tends to analyze i t i n t e l l -e c t u a lly, and almost t o t a l l y ignores i t as an emotional exper-17 ience. Nick i s more interested i n others than he i s i n himself, and much of h i s time and imagination i s spent i n t r y i n g to understand those characters, by " i n t e r p r e t i n g " t h e i r i n t e r e s t s , ambitions, philosophies, and r e l a t i o n s h i p s with each other, i n e f f e c t , coming to "know" them. One explanation f o r Nick's focus on other characters, within the f i c t i o n a l context of the novel, i s that he i s a no v e l i s t , and, therefore, concerned with the study of human l i v e s . And yet, we never learn much about t h i s aspect of h i s l i f e , as he seems as r e t i c e n t about i t as he i s about the rest of h i s a c t i v i t i e s . We know that he publishes a number of novels over the course of h i s l i f e , but he never describes h i s e f f o r t s to write them, nor do we have any opportunity to know t h e i r contents, much l e s s t h e i r t i t l e s . We accept that he has written them (other characters often r e f e r to them), but Nick obviously considers them of l i t t l e i n t e r e s t , at l e a s t to h i s narrative. The only book to which we are given even lim i t e d access i s h i s work on Robert Burton, e n t i t l e d Borage and Hellebore, and even t h i s i s mentioned only as the reason f o r Nick's return to ' See f o r instance Nick's description of t h e i r f i r s t embrace i n the back seat of Templer's car i n The Acceptance  World, pp. 64-5. 78 u n i v e r s i t y , and, thus a p o i n t of departure f o r h i s subsequent d e s c r i p t i o n of h i s meeting w i t h S i l l e r y , Short, and Ada L e i n t -18 wardine. N i c k ' s c a r e e r as a n o v e l i s t , and, consequently, h i s r o l e as a w r i t e r , seems l i t t l e more than a d e t a i l , i n c l u d e d by Powell i n order t o g i v e h i s n a r r a t o r something to do i n between the p a r t i e s , v i s i t s t o country houses, and t r a v e l s abroad (one assumes the a u t o b i o g r a p h i c a l connection t o Powell's p r o f e s s i o n ) . Hence, N i c k ' s r o l e as a "reader" seems t o be much more prominent than h i s r o l e as a w r i t e r , as the bulk of the n a r r a t i v e i s taken up with h i s " i n t e r p r e t a t i v e " o b s e r v a t i o n s . In t h i s way, by engaging i n the process of " r e a d i n g " , Nick attempts t o come to some understanding about human c h a r a c t e r and behaviour. Hence, when Nick reads h i s u n c l e ' s commission, i t i s not j u s t i n order t o d e s c r i b e the p e r s o n a l p o s s e s s i o n s t h a t G i l e s l e f t behind, but t o d i s c o v e r what those p o s s e s s i o n s have t o 1 9 " t e l l " him about h i s u n c l e ' s c h a r a c t e r . 7 S i m i l a r l y , by ex-18 Books Do F u r n i s h a Room, pp. 1 - 2 6 . N i c k ' s r e f e r e n c e to Burton a l s o forms a backdrop to h i s sense of the post-war world, in^which the i n d i v i d u a l r e s o l v e t o r e t u r n t o work i s undercut by a d e s i r e t o do n o t h i n g . N i c k ' s r e t u r n t o u n i v e r s i t y "at f o r t y " a l s o b r i n g s back w i t h i t what he terms "the c r u s h i n g melancholy of the undergraduate c o n d i t i o n " . ^ I t might be i n t e r e s t i n g t o c h a r a c t e r i z e Nick as a "voyeur" who l i v e s h i s l i f e v i c a r i o u s l y through the a c t i o n s of o t h e r s . In Casanova's Chinese Restaurant, p. 1 5 5 , Nick responds t o the news t h a t h i s s i s t e r - i n - l a w , P r i s c i l l a , i s i n v o l v e d w i t h Hugh Moreland, by commenting, "That odd f e e l i n g of excitement began t o s t i r w i t h i n me always provoked by news of o t h e r people's ad-v e n t u r e s i n l o v e ; accompanied as ever by a sense of sadness, of r e g r e t , almost j e a l o u s y , inward emotions t h a t express, l i k e n o t h i n g e l s e i n l i f e , l i f e ' s i r r a t i o n a l d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n s . " Here, the f i r s t s u ggestion of a " f e e l i n g " i s q u i c k l y succeeded by the contemplation of f e e l i n g s , thereby s h i f t i n g the f o c u s from N i c k ' s emotions t o h i s i n t e l l e c t . 7 9 amining t h e f i g u r e o f X. T r a p n e l , Nick does not simply d e s c r i b e him p h y s i c a l l y , so as t o a p p r e c i a t e h i s " p e r s o n a l s u p e r s t r u c t u r e " ; r a t h e r , he t r i e s to come t o some understanding r e g a r d i n g the n o v e l i s t ' s p e r s o n a l i t y . F u r t h e r , though h i s d e l i b e r a t i o n s on the hymns and b i b l i c a l passages of the Thanksgiving S e r v i c e do not so much i n d i c a t e a d e s i r e t o know human c h a r a c t e r , they n o n e t h e l e s s i l l u s t r a t e h i s s quest f o r "the meaning o f the t e x t " , and, t h e r e f o r e , a search f o r some k i n d o f knowledge. N i c k ' s r e a d i n g of the i n s c r i p t i o n from The Arab A r t of Love i s , perhaps, the c l e a r e s t i n d i c a t i o n o f h i s wish t o "know", f o r i t i s here sought e s s e n t i a l l y f o r i t s own sake. That i s , h i s t r a n s l a t i o n of the t e x t i n t o the image of the t r a n s l a t o r has nothi n g t o do with h i s c o n s i d e r a t i o n o f Uncle G i l e s ' c h a r a c t e r , nor wit h t h a t of any oth e r c h a r a c t e r he meets, and, t h e r e f o r e , i t stands as an a c t i o n seemingly.unmotivated by any oth e r impetus but the a c t of c o n s t r u c t i o n i t s e l f . Y et, at the same time, Nick i s s t i l l i n v o l v e d i n the quest f o r knowledge, s i n c e he i s t r y i n g t o d i s ^ cover the reasons behind the manuscript's t r a n s l a t i o n ; he i s t r y i n g t o understand human behaviour, even i f t h a t behaviour i s merely " s i g n i f i e d " by the b r i e f t e x t o f the i n s c r i p t i o n . While Nick may be termed a "seeker of knowledge", h i s e f f o r t s t o " i n t e r p r e t " those "seemingly meaningless g y r a t i o n s " 20 are o f t e n met w i t h l e s s than complete success. The f a c t t h a t he proposes a v a r i e t y o f p o s s i b l e e x p l a n a t i o n s f o r human behaviour ( P r i s c i l l a ' s departure from the Cafe R o y a l ) , and a l l o w s A Question o f Upbringing, p. 2. 80 f o r numerous r e a d i n g s of t e x t s (the images of the t r a n s l a t o r , the s i g n i f i c a n c e o f Gwinnett's e p i g r a p h ) , suggests t h a t knowledg 21 i s a t best u n c e r t a i n . F u r t h e r , w h i l e N i c k ' s r e c o g n i t i o n o f the " p l u r a l i t y o f the t e x t " i s onl y "suggested" by such "reading he does acknowledge, a t times, h i s i n a b i l i t y t o know people. When he i s s u r p r i s e d by the a c t i o n s o f o t h e r s , which I s o f t e n , h i s attempts t o understand those a c t i o n s sometimes l e a v e him d o u b t f u l about the extent t o which h i s p e r c e p t i o n s o f people a c c u r a t e l y r e f l e c t t h e i r p e r s o n a l i t i e s . Hence, i n The K i n d l y  Ones, when Nick l e a r n s t h a t General Conyers i s t o marry M i s s Weedon, Stringham's former "watchdog", he r e c o g n i z e s t h a t h i s knowledge of a l l t h r e e c h a r a c t e r s i s e s s e n t i a l l y l i m i t e d t o "unimportant" matters, even though he had thought h i m s e l f t o be c l o s e t o both Conyers and Stringham, and t o have had a good understanding o f M i s s Weedon's c h a r a c t e r . ( p . 2 1 7 ) . S i m i l a r l y , i n At Lady M o l l y ' s , Nick f i n d s another p r o s p e c t i v e marriage t o be unfathomable, when he wonders why M i l d r e d Haycock should want t o marry Widmerpool: Such an i n a b i l i t y t o as s e s s p h y s i c a l a t t r a c t i o n or community of i n t e r e s t i s , of course, common enough. Where the o p p o s i t e sex i s concerned, e s p e c i a l l y i n • r e l a t i o n t o marriage, the workings of the i m a g i n a t i o n , o r knowledge of the i n d i v i d u a l s themselves, a re overwhelmed by the s u b j e c t i v e approach. . . . I r e c o r d these s p e c u l a t i o n s . . . t o emphasise the d i f f i c u l t y i n understanding, even remotely, why people behave as they do. (p. 6 7 ) In "Anthony Powell and the I l l u s i o n o f P o s s i b i l i t y , " Contemporary L i t e r a t u r e , 17 ( 1 9 7 6 ) , 2 3 4 , Thomas Wilcox says, "His L P o w e l l ' s j o n l y a b i d i n g c o n v i c t i o n i s t h a t many t h i n g s are p o s s i b l e where human beings are concerned and t h a t " c a t e g o r i c a l knowledge' or a b s o l u t e c e r t a i n t y i s t h e r e f o r e i m p o s s i b l e . " 81 While Nick seems t o r e l a t e t h i s i n a b i l i t y t o know another person t o matters concerning l o v e and marriage, the " s u b j e c t i v e approach" which undermines such knowledge i s e q u a l l y evident i n h i s other "readings", whether the " s u b j e c t " i s Uncle G i l e s , T r a p n e l , or P r i s c i l l a L o v e l l . In t h i s sense, Nick can " i n t e r -p r e t " another person, thereby c o n s t r u c t i n g h i s or her c h a r a c t e r , but t h i s does not n e c e s s a r i l y mean t h a t he knows them; what he knows i s h i s p e r c e p t i o n of t h a t c h a r a c t e r , not the c h a r a c t e r i t s e l f , and, t h e r e f o r e , h i s knowledge i s u n c e r t a i n . In essence, 22 Nick knows h i s own i m a g i n a t i v e c o n s t r u c t i o n . In one i n s t a n c e , Nick e x p l i c i t l y admits the extent t o which the " s u b j e c t i v e approach" determines h i s understanding of another person's c h a r a c t e r , thereby acknowledging h i s c o n s t r u c t i o n of a " f i c t i o n " . E s s e n t i a l l y , he comes to t h i s c o n c l u s i o n because he f i n d s t h a t he has been i g n o r a n t of c e r t a i n f a c t s , which has l e d him t o "misread" t h a t person, so t h a t the c h a r a c t e r he.has p e r c e i v e d e x i s t s o n l y i n h i s i m a g i n a t i o n . At the same time, s i n c e the n a r r a t o r does not a l e r t us t o t h i s i n s t a n c e of "mis-r e a d i n g " u n t i l t h a t p o i n t i n the n o v e l when he h i m s e l f d i s c o v e r s In Remembrance of Things Past, t r a n s . C. K. S c o t t M o n c r i e f f and Terence K i l m a r t i n (New York: Random House, 1981), V o l . I, p. 20, Proust w r i t e s , "Even the simple a c t which we d e s c r i b e as 'seeing someone we know' i s t o some extent an i n t e l l e c t u a l p r o c e s s . We pack the p h y s i c a l o u t l i n e of the person we see w i t h a l l the n o t i o n s we have a l r e a d y formed about him, and i n the t o t a l p i c t u r e of him which we compose i n our minds those n o t i o n s have c e r t a i n l y the p r i n c i p a l p l a c e . In the end they come t o f i l l out so completely the curve of h i s cheeks, to f o l l o w so e x a c t l y the l i n e of h i s nose, they blend so harmon-i o u s l y i n the sound of h i s v o i c e as i f i t were no more than a t r a n s p a r e n t envelope, t h a t each time we see the f a c e or hear the v o i c e i t i s these n o t i o n s which we r e c o g n i s e and t o which we l i s t e n . " 82 i t , we p a r t i c i p a t e w i t h young Nick i n h i s c o n s t r u c t i o n of t h a t " f i c t i o n " . That i s , because our c o n s t r u c t i o n o f the n o v e l ' s c h a r a c t e r s i s based on N i c k ' s " r e a d i n g " of them, h i s "mis-r e a d i n g " i n f l u e n c e s , t o some extent, our understanding o f those c h a r a c t e r s . In t h i s sense, because we see so much of the no v e l through N i c k ' s "eyes", when we are not otherwise d i r e c t e d by the n a r r a t o r , we tend t o accept N i c k ' s e v a l u a t i o n s as our own. Hence, when Nick i s f o r c e d t o acknowledge the extent t o which he has c o n s t r u c t e d another person's c h a r a c t e r , he f o c u s s e s our a t t e n t i o n on the c r e a t i v e c o n t r i b u t i o n s t h a t a reader makes t o a t e x t , thereby a l l u d i n g t o the c r e a t i o n of f i c t i o n i t s e l f . In The Acceptance World, N i c k s f i n d s i t d i f f i c u l t to d e s c r i b e Jean Duport without i n v o k i n g the s u b j e c t i v i t y o f h i s own percep-t i o n s (p. 1 3 4 ) . As wit h T r a p n e l , mere p h y s i c a l d e s c r i p t i o n seems i n s u f f i c i e n t , but t o go "beneath the s u r f a c e o f the t e x t " to d i s c o v e r her e s s e n t i a l p e r s o n a l i t y , would be t o r e f l e c t h i s own p e r s p e c t i v e on t h a t p e r s o n a l i t y , r a t h e r than Jean h e r s e l f . Hence, he remarks, But d e s c r i p t i o n of a woman's outward appearance can h a r d l y do more than echo the terms of a f a s h i o n paper. T h e i r nature can be caught on l y i n a r e f r a c t i v e beam, as w i t h l i g h t p a s s i n g through water: the r a y s of ch a r a c t e r f o c u s s e d through the person w i t h whom they are i n t i m a t e l y a s s o c i a t e d . Perhaps, t h e r e f o r e , I alone was r e s p o n s i b l e f o r what she seemed t o me. To another man - Duport, f o r example - she no doubt appeared - indeed, a c t u a l l y was - a d i f f e r e n t woman. Accordi n g t o Nick, Jean's nature can only be "caught" as i t i s processed through h i s p e r c e p t i o n s , and, t h e r e f o r e , he i s " r e s p o n s i b l e " f o r how she .appears t o him. To someone e l s e , those 83 "rays of c h a r a c t e r " , being "focussed through" a d i f f e r e n t p e r s p e c t i v e , would n e c e s s a r i l y produce the appearance of a " d i f f e r e n t woman". In t h i s sense, Nick c o n s t r u c t s Jean's c h a r a c t e r on the b a s i s of how she appears t o him, wh i l e someone e l s e , l i k e Duport, doing the same, would c o n s t r u c t what appears t o be a d i f f e r e n t c h a r a c t e r . F u r t h e r , not only would Jean "appear" t o be a d i f f e r e n t woman t o the two men, but she would "be" d i f f e r e n t , so t h a t appearances and r e a l i t y would seem t o be i n d i s t i n g u i s h a b l e i n such a case. Thus, a c c o r d i n g t o Nick, Jean i s e s s e n t i a l l y two women: the one as p e r c e i v e d by h i m s e l f , and the one as p e r c e i v e d by Duport, s i n c e her c h a r a c t e r does not so much " e x i s t " i n i t s e l f , a t l e a s t from t h e i r p e r s p e c t i v e , as i t i s the product o f her obs e r v e r s ' c o n s t r u c t i o n . Using the analogy o f the t e x t , Nick and Duport would "read" the same " t e x t " , but they would c o n s t r u c t d i f f e r e n t "works". N i c k ' s understanding of the obs e r v e r ' s r o l e i n the c o n s t r u c -t i o n of c h a r a c t e r i s f u r t h e r demonstrated when he i s fac e d w i t h Jean's c o n f e s s i o n t h a t she has had an a f f a i r w i t h her ex-brother-in-law, Jimmy S t r i p l i n g . Even though t h i s occurred b e f o r e her involvement w i t h Nick, such a " f a c t " f o r c e s him t o re-examine h i s p e r c e p t i o n s of both Jean and S t r i p l i n g , and t o acknowledge the extent t o which h i s i m a g i n a t i o n c o n t r i b u t e d t o h i s under-standing o f the woman he once l o v e d : When you are i n l l o v e w i t h someone, t h e i r l i f e , p a s t , present and f u t u r e , becomes i n a c u r i o u s way p a r t of your l i f e ; and y e t , a t the same time, s i n c e two separate human e n t i t i e s i n f a c t remain, you merely c a r r y your own p r e j u d i c e s i n t o another person's imagined e x i s t e n c e ; not even i n t o t h e i r ' r e a l ' e x i s t e n c e , because on l y they themselves can estimate 84 what t h e i r ' r e a l ' existence has been. (p. 143) Hence, the f e e l i n g of having l i v e d "one l i f e " with another person i s merely the r e s u l t of a personal "prejudice", since each person's existence i s a separate en t i t y . Nick i s not Jean, and, therefore, he can only "imagine" what her l i f e might be l i k e , on the basis of what he knows, or thinks he knows, of her. In t h i s sense, the " r e a l i t y " of Jean's l i f e i s beyond the reach of Nick's perceptions, so that he must "imagine" that l i f e , thereby creating a " f i c t i o n " . Nick advances such a theory, ostensibly because he find s that he did not know the " f a c t s " of Jean's l i f e (her a f f a i r with S t r i p l i n g ) , and, therefore, he "misread" her, but even with such information, he could s t i l l only "imagine" even that aspect of her "existence". In t h i s sense, even i f he had known of the a f f a i r , h i s perception of Jean might, indeed, would, have been d i f f e r e n t , but i t would s t i l l be h i s perception of r e a l i t y , rather than r e a l i t y i t s e l f , so that " h i s " Jean would s t i l l be the product of h i s construction. Nick's suggestion that he and Duport probably perceive a " d i f f e r e n t " Jean i s an i r o n i c foreshadowing of Duport's subse-quent r e v e l a t i o n that she has also had an a f f a i r with Jimmy Brent (The Kindly Ones, p. 178). On the basis of such knowledge (Duport i s also aware of the " S t r i p l i n g connection"), Duport c e r t a i n l y has h i s own, unique, perception of h i s wife's character, one very much at odds with that of Nick, so that the two men do indeed perceive a " d i f f e r e n t " Jean, at least before Nick learns the " f a c t s " . When he i s so enlightened, Nick i s forced to "reread" h i s r e l a t i o n s h i p with Jean, now perceiving 85 her from an a l t e r e d p e r s p e c t i v e : "There was n o t h i n g l i k e f a c i n g f a c t s . They blew i n t o the f a c e hard, l i k e a s t i f f , e x h i l a r a t i n g , d e c i d e d l y g r i t t y breeze" (p. 1 7 9 ) . Even though by t h i s time, Nick has married I s o b e l T o l l a n d , he n o n e t h e l e s s blames Duport f o r a l t e r i n g h i s p a s t , s i n c e f o r him t h a t past now has a d i f f e r e n t "meaning": "I suddenly found what I had regarded as immutable - the not e n t i r e l y unsublime past - roughly reshaped by the rude hands of Duport" (p. 180). Of course, the past has not changed; what has changed i s N i c k ' s p e r c e p t i o n of t h a t past, so t h a t the " r e a l i t y " of h i s r e l a t i o n s h i p w i t h Jean has not a l t e r e d , but o n l y how he "imagined" t h a t r e l a t i o n s h i p t o have been. In t h i s sense, the past i s indeed "immutable", but the way i n which Nick has "regarded" i t i s not, and, t h e r e f o r e , Duport does not "reshape" h i s t o r y ; r a t h e r , i t i s Nick h i m s e l f who must "reshape" h i s p e r s p e c t i v e on t h a t h i s t o r y . Hence, j u s t as the woman Nick has known i s not Jean, but h i s c o n s t r u c t i o n of her, the past t h a t Nick has "regarded as immutable" i s not " r e a l i t y " , but h i s c o n s t r u c t i o n of t h a t r e a l i t y . These " f a c t s " about Jean's r e l a t i o n s h i p s w i t h the two Jimmies are not r e v e a l e d by the n a r r a t o r , or even suggested, j i n t i l t h a t p o i n t i n the n a r r a t i v e where Nick h i m s e l f i s t o l d . 23 J These " f a c t s " , i n c i d e n t a l l y , a l s o f o r c e Nick to see h i m s e l f i n a new, and somewhat u n f l a t t e r i n g , l i g h t . I t i s not only t h a t he has been a " f o o l " , but t h a t being one of a t r i o of l o v e r s , he must have been i n some way a k i n t o the o t h e r s , at l e a s t i n Jean's p e r s p e c t i v e : " I f her l o v e r s were h o r r i f y i n g , I too had been of t h e i r o rder. That had t o be admitted" (p. 1 8 0 ) . T h i s i s the same k i n d of " s e l f - i d e n t i f i c a t i o n " t h a t Nick p e r c e i v e s w i t h Uncle G i l e s and St. John C l a r k e , which tends t o undercut h i s otherwise r a t h e r n e g a t i v e p o r t r a i t s of them. 86 Hence, u n l i k e h i s i n i t i a l p e r c e p t i o n s of Widmerpool, we do not know from the beginning t h a t N i c k ' s p e r c e p t i o n of Jean i s i n any way n a i v e or l a c k i n g i n i n s i g h t ; r a t h e r , we are as s u r p r i s e d as he i s when Jean confesses the t r u t h , and when Duport r e v e a l s even more. Consequently, we are f o r c e d t o "reshape" our own p e r s p e c t i v e on N i c k ' s r e l a t i o n s h i p w i t h Jean, so t h a t , l i k e him, we have t o " r e c o n s t r u c t " Jean's c h a r a c t e r , as w e l l as r e - e v a l u a t e Nick h i m s e l f . Thus, N i c k ' s p e r c e p t i o n of Jean, both b e f o r e and a f t e r he l e a r n s the " f a c t s " , i s the f o u n d a t i o n upon which we p e r c e i v e her, so t h a t Nick's'Jean i s e s s e n t i a l l y our own. Of course, we may see her more i m p e r s o n a l l y , or o b j e c t i v e l y , than does Nick, f o r we o c c a s i o n a l l y have d i r e c t access t o scenes i n which we "hear" what she says, and "see" what she does, but we are n o n e t h e l e s s as i n f l u e n c e d by N i c k ' s " r e a d i n g " of her as we are by those scenes, e s p e c i a l l y because we are giveni.no evidence i n them which might i n v a l i d a t e , or undercut, t h a t " r e a d i n g " . In t h i s sense, N i c k ' s p e r c e p t i o n of Jean, h i s c o n s t r u c t i o n of her c h a r a c t e r , i s one of the " s i g n i f i e d f a c t s " of Powell's t e x t , and, t h e r e f o r e , l i k e the r e s t of N i c k ' s " i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s " , i t forms the b a s i s upon which we c o n s t r u c t our " r e a l i z a t i o n " of t h a t t e x t . Hence, as r e a d e r s , we read N i c k ' s "reading", or i n t e r p r e t h i s " i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s " , thereby c r e a t i n g the "work" t h a t i s Powell's Dance. I f Nick can indeed be c h a r a c t e r i z e d as a "reader", which seems evident, then r e a d i n g i t s e l f can be considered as a theme 37 o f P o w e l l ' s n o v e l . Whether Nick reads a c t u a l t e x t s (the commission, the i n s c r i p t i o n , Gwinnett's epigraph, and the hymns and b i b l i c a l passages of the Thanksgiving S e r v i c e ) , or observes c h a r a c t e r s and events ( T r a p n e l , Widmerpool, B e t t y Templer, P r i s c i l l a L o v e l l , and M i l l y A n d r i a d i s ' p a r t y ) , he engages i n a p r o c e s s of i n t e r p r e t a t i o n which goes beyond mere d e s c r i p t i o n , so t h a t what we get i s not simply a n a r r a t i v e about a c e r t a i n group of people, doing c e r t a i n t h i n g s , i n a g i v e n time and p l a c e . On the c o n t r a r y , we are presented w i t h o n e f c h a r a c t e r ' s experience of those people and events, something t h a t i s 25 n e c e s s a r i l y the product of an i n d i v i d u a l p e r s p e c t i v e . As a f i r s t - p e r s o n n a r r a t o r , Nick can o n l y r e l a t e what he p e r c e i v e s about the world around him, but Powell seems t o f o c u s on the nature of those p e r c e p t i o n s when he c o n s t r u c t s a n a r r a t o r who A c c o r d i n g t o Richard M i l l e r , i n h i s i n t r o d u c t i o n t o S/Z, Barthes maintains " t h a t a l l t e l l i n g m o d i f i e s what i s being t o l d , so t h a t what l i n g u i s t s c a l l the message i s a parameter of i t s performance. Indeed, h i s [ B a r t h e s ' ] c o n v i c t i o n of r e a d i n g i s t h a t what i s t o l d i s always the t e l l i n g " (p. x i ) . In " F i c t i o n as I n t e r p r e t a t i o n / I n t e r p r e t a t i o n as F i c t i o n , " i n The Reader i n the  Text, pp. 1 6 3 - 7 0 , Naomi Schor d i s t i n g u i s h e s between the " i n t e r -p r e t e r " , or the " i n t e r p r e t i n g c r i t i c " , and the " i n t e r p r e t a n t " , who i s the " i n t e r p r e t i n g c h a r a c t e r " : " v i a the i n t e r p r e t a n t the author i s t r y i n g t o t e l l the i n t e r p r e t e r something about i n t e r -p r e t a t i o n " . Some c r i t i c s do not " i n t e r p r e t " N i c k ' s r o l e as t h a t of an " i n t e r p r e t a n t " , l i k e R i c h a r d Jones, who, i n "Anthony Powell's Music: Swansong of the M e t r o p o l i t a n Romance," The  V i r g i n i a Q u a r t e r l y Review, 52 ( 1 9 7 6 ) , 3 5 8 , deems N i c k ' s " t r u e v o c a t i o n " to be a " c h r o n i c l e r of a s p e c i a l i z e d group of people". 2*5 Powell h i m s e l f says, i n h i s i n t r o d u c t i o n t o H i l a r y S p u r l i n g ' s Handbook, "The n a r r a t o r , N i c h o l a s J e n k i n s , i s merely a v e h i c l e f o r e x p r e s s i n g how people and happenings st r u c k him d u r i n g a p e r i o d of some s i x t y y e a r s ; matters on which the o p i n i o n of h i s l i s t e n e r s may d i f f e r . " He uses the term " l i s t e n -e r s " because he views the n o v e l as a s t o r y " t o l d over the d i n n e r -t a b l e , r a t h e r than as recorded h i s t o r y " (p. v i i ) . 88 spends so much of h i s (and our) time contemplating t h a t world. T h i s i s not t o suggest, however, t h a t Nick t h e r e f o r e becomes the c e n t r a l c h a r a c t e r i n the n o v e l , who "exposes" h i m s e l f through 26 h i s " r e a d i n g " . By f o c u s s i n g on h i s n a r r a t o r ' s i n t e r p r e t a t i v e t e n d e n c i e s , Powell does not so^much h i g h l i g h t N i c k ' s c h a r a c t e r , as he does the nature of i n t e r p r e t a t i o n i t s e l f . In t h i s sense, by p r e s e n t i n g us w i t h a n o v e l i n which the n a r r a t o r may be c h a r a c t e r i z e d as a "reader", Powell suggests t h a t the n a r r a t i v e i s concerned, t o some extent, w i t h the prod u c t s of i n t e r p r e t a -t i o n . As a "reader", Nick uses the i n t e r p r e t a t i v e p r o c e s s i n order to reach some understanding of the people and events he observes, and t h i s suggests t h a t Powell r e l a t e s the a c t of i n t e r p r e t a t i o n t o a p a r t i c u l a r concept of knowledge. In h i s e f f o r t s t o get to know the people he meets, t o understand the nature of t h e i r p e r s o n a l i t i e s , Nick t r i e s t o "reach below the s u r f a c e o f the t e x t " , whether i t be a person's p h y s i c a l appearance or h i s a c t i o n s , so t h a t he may f i n d the "hidden essence" of human c h a r a c t e r . Yet, i n so doing, he b r i n g s h i s own s u b j e c t i v e p e r s p e c t i v e t o bear on the person he i s "r e a d i n g " , so t h a t any "knowledge" he o b t a i n s i s not " f a c t " , but h i s p e r c e p t i o n o f t h a t " f a c t " . Hence, know-ledge, i a t b e s t , i s coloured by the ob s e r v e r ' s " i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s " ; ^ R i c h a r d Jones says t h a t J e n k i n s "confounds" h i s "tr u e v o c a t i o n " . . . wit h the v o c a t i o n of a P r o u s t " (p. 35$). I f t h i s i s so, then i t i s Powell, and not Nick, who so "confounds" N i c k ' s r o l e i n the n o v e l , but I suggest t h a t Jones h i m s e l f "confounds" t h a t r o l e by i g n o r i n g the e f f e c t t h a t N i c k ' s " i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s " have on the n a r r a t i v e . Nick i s not so much an " h i s t o r i a n " , as he i s a v e h i c l e of p e r s p e c t i v e . 89 i t i s the product of the " r e a d e r ' s " c o n s t r u c t i o n , r a t h e r than an o b j e c t i v e g a t h e r i n g of " f a c t s " . F u r t h e r , because one can o n l y "imagine" the nature of another's e x i s t e n c e , one can never "know" the r e a l i t y of t h a t e x i s t e n c e , and, t h e r e f o r e , Nick can t r y t o p e r c e i v e someone e l s e ' s experiences, but he cannot experience them h i m s e l f , so t h a t , u l t i m a t e l y , he can o n l y r e l a t e h i s 27 c o n s t r u c t i o n of t h a t experience. Because he r e c o g n i z e s the s u b j e c t i v e l i m i t a t i o n s of h i s own p e r s p e c t i v e , as n a r r a t o r , Nick acknowledges t h a t much of h i s " r e a d i n g " i s only t e n t a t i v e ; he can s p e c u l a t e on the nature of someone's c h a r a c t e r , d e l i n e a t e p o s s i b l e "meanings o f the t e x t " , and c r e a t e images t h a t may " r e - p r e s e n t " r e a l i t y , but s i n c e these ^ i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s " are the products of h i s c o n s t r u c t i o n , they are o n l y " p o s s i b i l i t i e s " , and, t h e r e f o r e , r e s p e c t the " p l u r a l i t y of the t e x t " . Hence, f o r Nick (and one suspects, P o w e l l ) , such " r e a d i n g s " , and the knowledge he d e r i v e s from them, are not d e f i n i t i v e ; t h e r e i s always another aspect t o be considered, another p e r s p e c t i v e to be a p p l i e d (such as t h a t of Uncle G i l e s ) , so t h a t one's p e r c e p t i o n s may change, thereby r e s u l t i n g i n a new " i n t e r p r e t a t i o n " . Thus, the search f o r knowledge i s an ongoing p u r s u i t , never e n t i r e l y s a t i s f i e d , sometimes confounded by e r r o r or l a c k of i n s i g h t , which f o r c e s the observer, or "reader", t o r e - e v a l u a t e t h a t ' In Speech and Phenomena, pp. 3 8 - 9 , D e r r i d a contends, "When I l i s t e n t o another, h i s l i v e d experience i s not present to me ' i n person*, i n the o r i g i n a l . . . . the s u b j e c t i v e s i d e of h i s experience, h i s consciousness, i n p a r t i c u l a r the a c t s by which he g i v e s sense t o h i s s i g n s , are not immediately and p r i m o r d i a l l y present t o me as they are f o r him and mine are f o r me." 90 which he has come t o accept, and thus, acknowledge i t s u n c e r t a i n t y . Hence, through h i s c r e a t i o n of Nick, both as character^-and n a r r a t o r , Powell i l l u s t r a t e s the impact t h a t an observer, or "reader", has on the o b j e c t observed. Whether he reads a c t u a l t e x t s or observes c h a r a c t e r s and events, i t i s Nick who, through h i s i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s and o b s e r v a t i o n s , produces the "meaning" of the " t e x t " and " c r e a t e s " the nature of the o b j e c t b e f o r e him. In t h i s sense, even though Nick bases h i s " r e a d i n g " on the "textual'-f a c t s " , whether they be the i n f o r m a t i o n concerning the t r a n s -l a t i o n of the Sheik's manuscript, as worded i n the i n s c r i p t i o n from The Arab A r t of Love, or the p h y s i c a l c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of X. T r a p n e l , i t i s h i s a c t s of c o n s t r u c t i o n which produce the image of t h e t r a n s l a t o r and the c h a r a c t e r of the n o v e l i s t ; as a "reader", Nick " r e a l i z e s " the " t e x t " , thereby t r a n s l a t i n g i t i n t o the "work". Hence, Nick i s not only the "author" of the memoir, but a l s o the " c r e a t o r " of the c h a r a c t e r s and events he r e l a t e s , by v i r t u e of h i s " i n t e r p r e t a t i o n " of them. J u s t as a reader c r e a t e s the "work" by i n t e r p r e t i n g the t e x t , so too does Nick 2Q " c r e a t e the dance" t h a t i s h i s world by " r e a d i n g " t h a t world. To the extent t h a t Nick does indeed " c r e a t e " the c h a r a c t e r s and events he observes, through h i s " r e a d i n g " of them, he i s pi) Donald G u t i e r r e z w r i t e s , "Powell's use of a p a r t i c i p a n t -and-witness n a r r a t o r suggests the process of becoming as a b a s i c moral v a l u e " (p. 1&). 2<7" A c c o r d i n g to G u t i e r r e z , " J e n k i n s , i n a sense, i s t h i s world [the world he d e s c r i b e s ] ; he i s i t s poet of 'maker'" (p. 2 4 ) , w h i l e Thomas Wilcox i s more adamant: "The n o v e l i s J e n k i n s , and J e n k i n s i s the n o v e l " (p. 2 2 7 ) . 91 e s s e n t i a l l y i n v o l v e d i n the c r e a t i o n of f i c t i o n i t s e l f . In t h i s sense, the image of the t r a n s l a t o r , the c h a r a c t e r s of Uncle G i l e s and Queen V i c t o r i a , and the "meaning" of Gwinnett's epigraph and the t e x t s o f the Thanksgiving S e r v i c e are a l l " l i t t l e f i c t i o n s " which Nick has c o n s t r u c t e d . S i m i l a r l y , the c h a r a c t e r s of T r a p n e l , Widmerpool, B e t t y Templer, and P r i s c i l l a L o v e l l , not t o mention a l l of the other people whom Nick "reads", are presented t o us as " i n t e r p r e t e d " through the agency of N i c k ' s p e r c e p t i o n s , and, as the prod u c t s of t h a t p a r t i c u l a r form of c o n s t r u c t i o n , a re e q u a l l y " f i c t i t i o u s " c h a r a c t e r s . Hence, while Uncle G i l e s and T r a p n e l , f o r i n s t a n c e , do e x i s t w i t h i n the f i c t i o n a l context of the n o v e l , and, t h e r e f o r e , have p a r t i c u l a r p e r s o n a l i t i e s , t h e i r c h a r a c t e r s are e s s e n t i a l l y d e l i n e a t e d f o r us by Nick, so t h a t what we get i s not so much Uncle G i l e s and T r a p n e l , but N i c k ' s c o n s t r u c t i o n of them, and, i n t h i s sense, we get " f i c t i o n s " . T h i s i s not to suggest t h a t N i c k ' s p e r c e p t i o n s of such c h a r a c t e r s are " f a l s e " , but onl y that they are i m a g i n a t i v e c r e a t i o n s , and, t h e r e f o r e , not " f a c t " . N i c k ' s c r e a t i o n o f such " f i c t i o n s " r e f l e c t the nature of the no v e l as a whole: Dance i s not a " s l i c e of l i f e " , nor i s i t a " m i r r o r " o f t h a t l i f e ; r a t h e r , i t i s a " r e - p r e s e n t a t i o n " o f t h a t " m i r r o r image", or an account 3 1 of one person's "experience of r e a l i t y " . In t h i s sense, N i c k ' s 3 0 Max Byrd, "'Reading' i n Great E x p e c t a t i o n s , " PMLA, 91 ( 1 9 7 6 ) , 2 6 0 . 3 1 J . H i l l i s M i l l e r , "Three Problems of F i c t i o n a l Form: F i r s t - P e r s o n N a r r a t i o n i n David C o p p e r f i e l d and Huckleberry F i n n , " i n E x p e r i e n c e i n the Novel, ed. Roy Harvey Pearce (New York: Columbia U n i v e r s i t y Press, 1 9 6 8 ) , p. 27. 92 account i s " r e a l i s t i c " t o him, because i t concerns h i s experience of t h a t " r e a l i t y " , but t h a t experience i n c o r p o r a t e s w i t h i n i t h i s a c t s of f i c t i o n a l c o n s t r u c t i o n , j u s t as a r e a d e r ' s experience o f a n o v e l i n c l u d e s the f i c t i o n s he h i m s e l f c o n s t r u c t s through h i s i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of the t e x t . Hence, one might say t h a t Powell, through h i s n a r r a t o r , c r e a t e s " f i c t i o n s w i t h i n f i c t i o n s " , t hereby i l l u s t r a t i n g the c r e a t i o n of f i c t i o n i t s e l f . J M i l l e r , "Three Problems", p. 44. In " H i s Master's Voice? The Q u e s t i o n i n g of A u t h o r i t y i n L i t e r a t u r e , " i n The  Modern E n g l i s h Novel, ed. G a b r i e l J o s i p o v i c i (London: Open Books, 1976), p. 118, Jeremy Lane says, "The f i c t i o n i t s e l f i s the p r o c e s s of becoming, a being w i t h no s e c u r i t y i n the assumed p o s s e s s i o n of t r u t h but i n c e s s a n t l y i n search of t r u t h . . . denying t r u t h ' s p o s s e s s i b i l i t y , p e r p e t u a l l y a f f i r m i n g i t s p o s s i b i l i t y . " 93 Bibliography-Primary Sources Powell, Anthony. A Question o f Upbringing: A Novel. London: Heinemann, 1 9 5 1 . . A Buyer's Market: A Novel. London: Heinemann, 1 9 5 2 . . The Acceptance World: A Novel. London: Heinemann, 1 9 5 5 . . At Lady M o l l y ' s : A Novel. London: Heinemann, 1 9 5 7 . . Casanova's Chinese Restaurant: A Novel. London: Heinemann"! I960. . The K i n d l y Ones: A Novel. London: Heinemann, 1 9 6 2 . . The V a l l e y o f Bones: A Novel. London: Heinemann, 1964. . The S o l d i e r ' s A r t : A Novel. London: Heinemann, 1966. . The M i l i t a r y P h i l o s o p h e r s : A Novel. London: H e i n emanrTJ 1968. . Books Do F u r n i s h a Room: A Novel. London: Heinemann"! 1971. . Temporary Kings: A Novel. London: Heinemann, 1973. . Hearing Secret Harmonies: A Novel. London: H e i n emanrTJ 1975. Secondary Sources: N a r r a t i v e Form i n Dance Barber, M i c h a e l . "Anthony Powell: The A r t of F i c t i o n L XVIII." P a r i s Review, 20, No. 73 (1978), 45-79. 94 B e r g o n z i , Bernard. "Anthony Powell: 9/12." C r i t i c a l Q u a r t e r l y , 11 ( S p r i n g 1 9 6 9 ) , 7 6 - 8 6 . B i r n s , Margaret Boe. "Anthony Powell's Secret Harmonies: Music i n a Jungian Key." The L i t e r a r y Review, 2 5 , No. 1 (198*1), 8*0-92. Brennan, N e i l . Anthony P o w e l l . New York: Twayne Publ, 1974. Egan, M i c h a e l . "Anthony Powell's Danse Macabre." Cambridge  Review, 90 (1968*), 18*9-91. G u t i e r r e z , Donald. 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