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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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THE  "THINGS REAL AND IMAGINED": 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 in  THE  FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES Department o f E n g l i s h  We a c c e p t  this  thesis as  to the required  THE  standard  UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH April  ©  conforming  Judith  Rosalyn  COLUMBIA  1935 Beckett,  19#5  In p r e s e n t i n g  this thesis in p a r t i a l  f u l f i l m e n t of  requirements f o r an advanced degree at the  the  University  o f B r i t i s h Columbia, I agree t h a t the L i b r a r y s h a l l make it  freely  a v a i l a b l e f o r reference  and  study.  I  further  agree t h a t p e r m i s s i o n f o r e x t e n s i v e copying of t h i s f o r s c h o l a r l y purposes may  be granted by the head o f  department o r by h i s or her  representatives.  understood t h a t copying or p u b l i c a t i o n o f t h i s for  financial  gain  English  The U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h 1956 Main Mall Vancouver, Canada V6T  1Y3  Date  DE-6  (.3/81)  A p r i l 23,  19^5  Columbia  my  It is thesis  s h a l l not be allowed without my  permission.  Department of  thesis  written  ii  Abstract  A n t h o n y P o w e l l ' s A Dance t o t h e M u s i c o f Time i s a "fictional the As  memoir" i n w h i c h t h e  e v e n t s and such, the  characters s t o r y has on  that  and a  primary focus. narrator,  novel  Nick's r o l e i n the  n a r r a t i v e , and,  Powell has  not  only  novel,  or point  the  those  by  he  into focus  examines the  that  and  has  perceptions the  nature  nature  narrator,  r o l e has  a  and  also  describing his  character  effect that  employ  specific,  o f view, but  t h i s brings  both as  life.  therefore,  chosen t o  establishing a  Hence, t h i s p a p e r  attempts to d e l i n e a t e  seem t o be  the  o b s e r v e s , and  perspective.  would  on  thereby  describes  i n which Nick r e l a t e s h i s  consume much o f n o v e l  w o r l d he  that  impact  Nick Jenkins,  observed throughout h i s  of the  narrative voice,  that narrator  of  has  e v e n t s , b u t . t h e way  considerable  individual,  he  primary focus  first-person  of the  characters  narrator,  on  of  and  the  novel  as a whole. Essentially, in  effect,  thereby  Nick  can  " i n t e r p r e t s " the  be  characterized  characters  contributing h i s imagination  Whether he  constructing  not  only  to their  describes,  "construction".  interpreting  and  effectively Nick  subjecting "rereading"  his^own "reading" previous  to  scrutiny,  "interpretations".  nature of the  that  "meaning-  i s i n t e r e s t e d i n more t h a n mere d e s c r i p t i o n :  d e s i r e s to understand the  Nick  "signs",  " c a u s e s " , t r a n s l a t i n g t e x t s i n t o i m a g e s and  ideas,  "reader",  e v e n t s he  who,  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  i n which a reader i n t e r p r e t s a t e x t :  thereby  a "reader"  r e a d s a c t u a l t e x t s o r o b s e r v e s human b e h a v i o u r ,  e n g a g e s i n an  bearing"  and  as  As  a  he  p e o p l e 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  e v e n t s he w i t n e s s e s ,  the s i g n i f i c a n c e of the  so a s t o f o r m a k i n d  of pattern  which would  r e v e a l t h e c e n t r a l themes o f an a g e .  I n so d o i n g , he d o e s n o t  m e r e l y r e l a t e "what h a p p e n s " , t h e r e b y  " p u t t i n g up a m i r r o r "  his  past;  he a l s o d e s c r i b e s  the  n a r r a t i v e d o e s n o t so much p r e s e n t  NickVs perception  of  h i s experience of that "reality",  as they apply therefore,  "reading"  a  other  the nature of the reading  to the creation of f i c t i o n .  r e s u l t s i n the construction  words,  process,  so t h a t  specific  especially  of r e a l i t y ,  of that  reality,  narrative,  thereby  constructing  Nick's  i n fact,  fiction.  the f i c t i o n of a novel  and  "fictions".  "reality",  but a " r e c o n s t r u c t i o n "  Nick,  and,  considered  of the characters  u l t i m a t e l y he c r e a t e s  perception  creates  In essence,  b e c a u s e he d o e s n o t p r e s e n t  "reconstruction"  reader  i s f o u n d e d on  t o t h e r e l a t i o n s h i p between r e a d e r and t e x t ,  e v e n t s he o b s e r v e s , In  as i t presents  the products of h i s " i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s " are  in relation  so t h a t  reality.  N i c k ' s c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n as a "reader" theories regarding  past,  to  n o r even of h i s  "creates" h i s Hence,  just  as a  by i n t e r p r e t i n g i t s t e x t ,  so t o o d o e s N i c k p r o d u c e f i c t i o n b y " i n t e r p r e t i n g " t h e w o r l d is  portraying.  Thus, i n h i s " s e a r c h  e f f o r t s to understand the world world,  so t h a t  observer's,  knowledge would  or "reader's",  f o r knowledge",  a r o u n d him, N i c k seemuto  construction  in his  "creates"  be t h e p r o d u c t  he  that  of the  - i n essence; a  fiction.  iv  Contents  Abstract  i i  Preface  v  Chapter I  1  Chapter I I  33  Chapter I I I  63  Bibliography  93  V  Preface  In h i s a r t i c l e e n t i t l e d  "Technique as D i s c o v e r y " , Mark  Schorer examines "the uses of p o i n t of view not only as a mode o f dramatic d e l i m i t a t i o n , but more p a r t i c u l a r l y , of thematic 1 definition."  The i d e a t h a t a study of form, or "technique",  might h e l p t o 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 b a s i s of t h i s paper. "sequence-novel",  Anthony Powell's  A Dance t o the Music  twelve-volume  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 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 c h a r a c t e r s and events he has observed over a span of some s i x t y y e a r s .  While the primary f o c u s o f the n o v e l seems  t o be those c h a r a c t e r s and events, one must a l s o c o n s i d e r the e f f e c t t h a t the n a r r a t i v e "technique" has on t h a t primary f o c u s . In t h i s paper, I examine the nature of the n a r r a t i v e by c h a r a c t e r i z i n g Nick as a "reader" who world around him, but who  not only observes the  " i n t e r p r e t s " t h a t world, thereby  c o n t r i b u t i n g h i s c r e a t i v e i m a g i n a t i o n to i t s c o n s t r u c t i o n . Nick can be so c h a r a c t e r i z e d , one  If  can then c o n s i d e r " r e a d i n g " as  a theme of the n o v e l , e s p e c i a l l y as i t might r e l a t e t o the c r e a t i o n of f i c t i o n  itself.  The primary f o c u s of the paper i s on the nature of N i c k ^ s " i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s " : what he reads ( t e x t s , c h a r a c t e r s ) , how (misreads, r e r e a d s ) , and why  he reads ( s e a r c h f o r  he reads  knowledge),  "Technique as D i s c o v e r y , " Hudson Review, 1 (194&), 67-37; r p t . i n The Theory of the Novel, ed. P h i l i p S t e v i c k (New York: The Free P r e s s , 1967), p. 67.  vi  as w e l l as t h e 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 a s n a r r a t o r and  c h a r a c t e r h a s on t h o s e length,  interpretations.  i t i s impossible t o cover  "reading";  every  sufficient  examples which I  the various aspects of the  i n t e r p r e t a t i v e process i n which Nick  form.  instance of Nick's  t h e r e f o r e , I have chosen s p e c i f i c  c o n s i d e r i l l u s t r a t e most f u l l y  be  Due t o t h e n o v e l ' s  i n d u l g e s , and w h i c h  t o i n d i c a t e the general nature  F u r t h e r , w h i l e I have r e l i e d ,  should  of the narrative  t o some e x t e n t , on c u r r e n t  theories regarding the a c t i v i t y  o f r e a d i n g , a s a d v a n c e d by  Tzvetan  and R o l a n d  Todorov, Wolfgang I s e r ,  my a i m h a s n o t b e e n t o p r e s e n t reader.  e l u c i d a t e my  and, i n examining  among  i t , used  r a t h e r , I have theory t o  thesis.  must a c k n o w l e d g e , however, t h e h e l p t h a t t h e s e  critical  t h e o r i e s have been i n t h e f o r m u l a t i o n o f t h i s paper. some u n d e r s t a n d i n g  of the reading process  h a v e s u b j e c t e d t h e n o v e l t o my p a r t i c u l a r or  "reading".  "reader this  itself, form  Without  I could not  of interpretation  Hence, I must a c k n o w l e d g e a s w e l l my own r o l e a s  of the text",  p a p e r i s my  i n c o r p o r a t e s both experience  others  construct of the  I have n o t a p p l i e d t h e n o v e l t o t h e o r y ;  begun w i t h t h e t e x t ,  I  a thorough  Barthes,  w h i c h , i f I s t a n d b y my t h e s i s ,  means t h a t  " a c t o f c o n s t r u c t i o n " , and, t h e r e f o r e , an e x a m i n a t i o n  o f P o w e l l ' s n o v e l and my  of that novel, essentially  Anthony P o w e l l , A Question Heinemann, 1 9 5 1 ) , p . 2.  i t  "things real  of Upbringing  and  imagined"  (London:  1  Chapter  I  When Nick J e n k i n s reads the terms of h i s u n c l e ' s commission i n t o the army, i n The K i n d l y Ones, he c o n t i n u e s a p r o c e s s of i n t e r p r e t a t i o n , i n which G i l e s ' c h a r a c t e r i s d e f i n e d and d e l i n e a t e d . H a v i n g p r e v i o u s l y d e s c r i b e d some of h i s encounters w i t h the o l d man,  and  e x p l a i n e d how  he i s p e r c e i v e d by the  J e n k i n s f a m i l y ( e s p e c i a l l y N i c k ' s f a t h e r ) , Nick has a l r e a d y begun t o e s t 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  t h a t the commission p r o v i d e s an o p p o r t u n i t y f o r f u r t h e r 2 character a n a l y s i s .  Hence, Nick t r i e s t o augment h i s under-  s t a n d i n g of h i s u n c l e ' s p e r s o n a l i t y by comparing the e x p e c t a t i o n s of  the commission w i t h G i l e s '  By l o o k i n g c l o s e l y a t the way  subsequent performance of duty. t h a t Nick reads, however,  one  can i d e n t i f y some of the b a s i c elements of the r e a d i n g p r o c e s s itself,  e s p e c i a l l y those which c h a r a c t e r i z e the r e l a t i o n s h i p  between reader and t e x t .  I f one  can d e s c r i b e j u s t what Nick  does when he reads the commission, one fully  can understand  more  the nature of h i s r o l e as a reader, and a p p r e c i a t e the  impact In  t h a t he has on the t e x t . order t o examine the way  t h a t Nick reads the  one must f i r s t d i s t i n g u i s h the t e x t i t s e l f  commission,  from N i c k ' s r e a d i n g  Anthony Powell, The K i n d l y Ones (London: Heinemann, 1962), pp. 157-9. 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 . 2 .;We are f i r s t i n t r o d u c e d t o Uncle G i l e s , and get some i d e a of h i s c h a r a c t e r , when he v i s i t s Nick a t school i n order t o t a l k about "The T r u s t " , i n A Question of Upbringing, pp. 15-25.  2  of  i t .  This  i s not  difficult,  narrative  takes: portions  quotation  marks, i n t e r s p e r s e d  considering  of the  a  standard  the  form presented  to  document  text  commission, N i c k itself;  he  of  creates  one  so t h a t  individual.  something t h a t  " r e a l i z e s " , or  it is into  into  the  i t , however, r e l a t e s  to Uncle G i l e s ,  the  i t becomes a T h u s , by  goes beyond  " c o n v e r t s " the  by-  The  i s commissioned  rank i n s e r t e d  the  off  f o r m a document, i n t h a t  Nick's reading  specifically  set  commentary.  a n y o n e who  personal m i s s i v e addressed to the  Nick's  army, w i t h U n c l e G i l e s ' name and  spaces p r o v i d e d .  form that  document's t e x t ,  by  commission i s e s s e n t i a l l y a pro  the  text  reading the  i n t o what  3 may text  be  termed the  itself,  for  marks; r a t h e r , only  in his  letter thereby  so  text.^"  i s the In  d o i n g , he  creative  the  the  the  quotation  r e s u l t of h i s  existing inter-  i n t e r p r e t i n g the  commission i s a  addressed to Uncle G i l e s ) , Nick creating  in  alter  e n t i t y which, though  t h i s s e n s e , by  imagining that  does not  i t i s , enclosed  p r o d u c e s a new  imagination,  t h i s case,  In  i t remains as  he  a c t i o n with the (in  "work".  text  personal  " r e a l i z e s " that  text,  "work".  A c c o r d i n g t o W o l f g a n g I s e r , i n " I n t e r a c t i o n between T e x t and R e a d e r , " i n The R e a d e r i n t h e T e x t , ed. Susan R. S u l e i m a n and I n g e 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 University P r e s s , 198*0), p. 106, " t h e l i t e r a r y work h a s two p o l e s , w h i c h we m i g h t c a l l t h e a r t i s t i c and t h e a e s t h e t i c : t h e a r t i s t i c p o l e i s t h e a u t h o r ' s t e x t , and t h e a e s t h e t i c i s t h e r e a l i z a t i o n a c c o m p l i s h e d by t h e r e a d e r . " ^ I n "From Work t o T e x t , " i n T e x t u a l S t r a t e g i e s , e d . J o s u e V. H a r a r i ( I t h a c a , New Y o r k : 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, R o l a n d B a r t h e s d e s c r i b e s t h e r e a d e r ' s a c t i v i t y a s " p l a y i n g t h e T e x t a s one p l a y s a game",.and t h a t t h e g o a l i s t o "re-produce the Text", or to "complete" i t , r a t h e r than to "interpret" i t .  3  Not  o n l y does Nick  imagine  p e r s o n a l l y to Uncle G i l e s , h e r s e l f has w r i t t e n name o f V i c t o r i a ,  it.  and  that  b u t he  the  commission  a l s o imagines that  And,  and  though  form,  the  since i t i s addressed  i n so d o i n g , he  to Uncle  facts"  from  creates a f i c t i o n a l  t h e document i s , i n f a c t ,  "signified  the  S i n c e t h e document i s w r i t t e n  N i c k r e a d s i t a s i f i t were a p e r s o n a l l e t t e r subject,  i s directed  merely  of the text  read  commission  i n such a f a s h i o n ,  s u c h an of the  Sovereign to  situation.  a standardized  (Victoria addressing  imagines, N i c k does not  itself;  also  i n c o r p o r a t e s the c r e a t i v e  pro forma  n o t have b e e n i n t e n d e d t o  Thus, d e s p i t e t h e f i c t i o n a l  text  imagination.  his interpretation  I n t h i s way,  document  be  i s based elements  Nick  the  on t h a t t e x t , of the  "realizes",  ( t h e t e x t ) by  aspects  "misread"  but i t  reader's  or "converts", the  interpreting  it,  p r o d u c i n g a p e r s o n a l m i s s i v e f r o m Queen V i c t o r i a (the  In other  t h e t e x t , n e v e r t h e l e s s , i s open t o  interpretation. s i t u a t i o n he  may  i n the  Giles,  U n c l e 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 . words, w h i l e t h e  Queen  thereby t o Uncle  Giles  "work"). This f i c t i o n a l  situation,  addresses Uncle G i l e s , proceeds  to read the  o f p e r s o n who d o e s so by  i n w h i c h t h e Queen  personally  i s t h e f o u n d a t i o n upon which  commission.  would produce  characterizing  He  b e g i n s by  Nick  imagining the  t h e w o r d s o f t h e document, and  the language  of the t e x t .  a d d r e s s e s U n c l e G i l e s a s " T r u s t y and w e l l - b e l o v e d " ,  The  kind  he  Queen  extends  " S i g n i f i e d f a c t s " i s a t e r m u s e d by T z v e t a n T o d o r o v i n " R e a d i n g a s C o n s t r u c t i o n , " i n The R e a d e r i n t h e T e x t , p. 7 3 .  4  her "Greeting",  and remarks  i n your Loyalty,  Courage  of her "especial  and good C o n d u c t " .  Trust  and C o n f i d e n c e  Such w o r d s  provoke  t h i s a n a l y s i s from Nick:  T r u s t y a n d w e l l b e l o v e d were n o t t h e t e r m s i n w h i c h h i s own k i t h a n d k i n h a d t h o u g h t o f U n c l e G i l e s f o r a l o n g t i m e now. I n d e e d , t h e Queen's g o o d - h e a r t e d n e s s i n h e r s e l f g r e e t i n g h i m so warmly was a s t o u c h i n g a s h e r e r r o r o f judgement was s t a r t l i n g . There was s o m e t h i n g p o s i t i v e l y i n g e n u o u s i n s i n g l i n g o u t Uncle G i l e s f o r the repose of confidence, accepting him so w h o l l y a t h i s own v a l u a t i o n . No d o u b t t h e Queen h a d b e e n b a d l y a d v i s e d i n t h e f i r s t i n s t a n c e . She must h a v e d b e e n v e x e d a n d d i s a p p o i n t e d , ( p . 157)  f  To N i c k , " t h e g r e a t that  rolling  p h r a s e s " o f t h e commission  suggest  t h e Queen i s "warm" and " f r i e n d l y - even t o t h e p o i n t o f  intimacy",  so t h a t h e r " g o o d - h e a r t e d n e s s "  Being  such a p e r s o n ,  she w o u l d  no d o u b t  disappointed  a t Uncle G i l e s '  her f o r c e s .  This reading of the text  understanding of the text mean, i n t h e s e n s e t h a t  i s " t o u c h i n g " ( p p . 157h a v e been  poor performance  itself.  personally  a s an o f f i c e r i n  does n o t i n v o l v e an  N i c k knows what t h e w o r d s  he u n d e r s t a n d s t h e " s i g n i f i e d  facts"  ( t h e Queen e x p r e s s e s c o n f i d e n c e i n U n c l e G i l e s ) ,  b u t he a l s o  derives certain  which,  c o n n o t a t i o n s from those " f a c t s " ,  endow t h e Queen w i t h a p a r t i c u l a r imagines V i c t o r i a such a c h a r a c t e r important  e x p r e s s e d i n t h e words o f t h e t e x t .  Victoria  Nick  he s e e s It i s  o u t , however, t h a t w h i l e t h e Queen may h a v e  i n t h e s e n s e t h a t V i c t o r i a was i n d e e d t h e Queen  when G i l e s was c o m m i s s i o n e d , describes  In effect,  t o b e "warm" and " f r i e n d l y " b e c a u s e  to point  been " r e a l " ,  personality.  i n turn,  exists only  the character that Nick  i n h i simagination.  i s not t h e h i s t o r i c a l  "fact",  In this  here  sense, N i c k ' s  n o r i s she t h e " V i c t o r i a "  i n t h e t e x t o f t h e commission; creation, of  constructed  the text.  p r o d u c e s such a p o r t r a i t ,  standing not  she i s N i c k ' s  by h i s i n t e r p r e t a t i o n ,  I t i s Nick's  This reading  rather,  reading  or "realization",  o f t h e commission  and n o t t h e t e x t  fictional  that  itself.  of the text also incorporates Nick's  of h i s uncle's personality.  " T r u s t y and w e l l b e l o v e d "  time Nick  reads  sentiment  i s , i n fact,  N o t o n l y was t h e o l d man  by h i s f a m i l y , a t l e a s t  t h e commission, b u t N i c k Giles'  suggests  by t h e  that  t h a t t h e Queen "must h a v e b e e n  and  i s assuming t h e f a c t  failed  to f u l f i l l  Nick  vexed  that h i s uncle  t h e commission's e x p e c t a t i o n s , which,  p o s s i b l y t r u e , i s n o t t o be f o u n d "reads  such a  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 disappointed",  under-  i n the text.  Hence,  i n t o " t h e c o m m i s s i o n h i s own u n d e r s t a n d i n g  though Nick  of Giles'  life  and p e r s o n a l i t y , something which i s n o t d e r i v e d from t h e  text  he i s r e a d i n g .  Uncle  Giles,  The document, i n f a c t ,  o r o f t h e Queen; i t i s N i c k ' s  p r o d u c e s t h e two c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n s . and do  says l i t t l e reading  of  of i t that  He'j " c r e a t e s " U n c l e  Giles  t h e Queen, i n t h e s e n s e t h a t t h e c h a r a c t e r s he d e s c r i b e s not exist  i n the text.  W h i l e t h e commission  includes the  names o f " V i c t o r i a " and " G i l e s D e l a h a y J e n k i n s " , delineate their characterizing expectations  personalities;  constructs those  context  who, by  t h e l a n g u a g e o f t h e t e x t , and s u p p l y i n g t h e  o f Uncle  Queen V i c t o r i a  rather, i t i s Nick  i t does not  Giles'  subsequent performance o f duty,  p e r s o n a l i t i e s f r o m t h e names h e r e a d s .  and U n c l e  G i l e s do e x i s t  o f t h e n o v e l , and, i n t h i s  Hence  within the f i c t i o n a l  sense, they  are not product  6  o f N i c k ' s i m a g i n a t i o n , but t h e reading the either  c o m m i s s i o n do n o t  i n the  "reality"  c h a r a c t e r s he exist  d e s c r i b e s when  outside of h i s imagination,  of the f i c t i o n a l  world,  or i n the  text  itself. As N i c k another  "fact"  description that  continues to peruse  Giles  has  i n t h e t e x t w h i c h l e a d s him  of Uncle  Giles'  character.  i s t o h o l d the rank  understanding  t h e document, he  t h a t he may  o f "2nd  t o augment h i s  The  improbable,  h i s u n c l e had  so " d i s a p p o i n t i n g " and  and  a s an  officer.  I n o r d e r t o answer t h a t  various possible  reasons  behind  not  estimation that  I f G i l e s was  " v e x i n g " t o h i s S o v e r e i g n , why  made a C a p t a i n ?  indeed  T h i s would  f o r Nick's  indeed  was  question, Nick  h i s uncle's  the  s i n c e he  " C a p t a i n J e n k i n s " , he  i f i t were n o t  been a f a i l u r e  states  Lieutenant", with  must h a v e r e c e i v e d some k i n d o f p r o m o t i o n . seem t o o  commission  a c h i e v e a h i g h e r rank,  a l w a y s b e e n known t o N i c k a s  comes u p o n  he imagines  promotion:  P e r h a p s s u c h an o p p o r t u n i t y had n o t a r i s e n so i m m e d i a t e l y as might have been expected; perhaps U n c l e G i l e s had assumed t h e h i g h e r r a n k w i t h o u t r e f e r e n c e t o t h e Queen. C e r t a i n l y he was a l w a y s s t y l e d ' C a p t a i n ' J e n k i n s , so t h a t t h e r e must h a v e been a t l e a s t a presumption o f a once h e l d c a p t a i n c y o f some s o r t , however ' t e m p o r a r y ' , 'acting' 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 N i c k promotion,  he  i s ignorant of the r e a l i s a b l e t o imagine  w h i c h m i g h t be a c c u r a t e . the p o r t r a i t  of Uncle  t h e y assume t h a t  circumstances behind  various p o s s i b i l i t i e s ,  Certainly,  they are i n keeping  G i l e s t h a t N i c k has  the promotion  was  the  each  of  with  a l r e a d y drawn, s i n c e  e i t h e r put  o f f f o r some t i m e ,  7  of l i t t l e  importance,  imagining  such p o s s i b i l i t i e s ,  he  i s reading.  The  o r even a c q u i r e d " u n o f f i c i a l l y " .  "fact"  Nick  seems t o s t r a y f r o m  of Uncle G i l e s '  promotion,  w h a t e v e r c i r c u m s t a n c e s , i s n o t t o be f o u n d even though  i t i s suggested  commission  itself.  rank  h i s understanding (being  styled  The his  Hence, t h o u g h  i n v o l v e s an u n d e r s t a n d i n g  (Uncle G i l e s '  kind  comparing  o f "2nd of Giles'  i n the  extraneous  so  that  material  of the t e x t u a l  the  "facts"  Lieutenant"), i t also incorporates c h a r a c t e r and  subsequent  experience  "Captain Jenkins"). of r e a d i n g to which Nick of Uncle G i l e s '  subjects the  performance  the f i n a l  commission  segment o f t h e t e x t . " e x e r c i s e and  i n good O r d e r " f , a n d ;  well  The  commission,  of duty to  illustrated  Nick to  text  under  Nick's reading of  document's e x p e c t a t i o n s , i s f u r t h e r  o f f i c e r must  the  by  commission,  as a f u t u r e p o s s i b i l i t y ,  N i c k ' s r u m i n a t i o n s , once a g a i n , i n v o l v e beyond t h e t e x t  Yet,  discipline"  when he  considers  states that  h i s men,  "command them t o Obey" him,  summarize h i s u n c l e ' s f a i l i n g s a s an  the  and  the  "keep them this  leads  officer:  U n c l e G i l e s , i t must be a g r e e d , had n o t r i s e n t o t h e occasion. So f a r a s l o y a l t y t o h e r s e l f [ t h e Queen] was c o n c e r n e d , he had b e e n h e a r d on more t h a n one occasion to r e f e r to her as 'that o l d T a r t a r at O s b o r n e ' , t o e x p r e s s w i t h o u t 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 o f government. H i s Conduct, i n t h e army o r o u t o f i t , c o u l d n o t p o s s i b l y be d e s c r i b e d a s Good. . . . T h e r e r e m a i n e d U n c l e G i l e s ' s Courage. T h a t , so f a r a s was known, r e m a i n e d u n t a r n i s h e d , a l t h o u g h - a g a i n so f a r a s was known n e v e r p u t t o any p a r t i c u l a r l y s e v e r e t e s t . (p. 15&)  In fact,  a c c o r d i n g t o N i c k , t h e o n l y command t h a t U n c l e G i l e s  seen f i t t o obey, was  "the  charge  t o command h i s s u b o r d i n a t e s  had  8  to  obey h i m " .  These a s p e c t s o f G i l e s '  command" and " i r r i t a b i l i t y  character, h i s " w i l l to  of disposition",  are not derived  from t h e t e x t o f t h e commission; r a t h e r ; t h e y  are Nick's  perceptions of h i suncle's personality, already a part of h i s consciousness, (p. of  159). Without Uncle  such  previous "interpretations",  Giles, Nick's reading  different. Jenkins", his  w h i c h he a p p l i e s t o h i s r e a d i n g o f t h e t e x t  That  i s , i fNick  or "readings"  o f t h e c o m m i s s i o n w o u l d be v e r y  d i d n o t know " G i l e s  Delahay  i f he h a d n o t 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  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 a s an o f f i c e r ,  he w o u l d n o t be a b l e t o make any c o m p a r i s o n s between and  p e r f o r m a n c e , and he w o u l d n o t r e a d t h e t e x t a s he d o e s .  Similarly, Jenkins",  behind  i f Nick  d i d n o t know t h a t G i l e s was c a l l e d  t h e r e w o u l d be no n e e d t o i m a g i n e t h e  a promotion, i f Nick  have t a k e n  place.  He d o e s n o t r e a d understanding  circumstances  d i d n o t s u p p o s e a n y such  Hence, N i c k  promotion  brings to h i s reading a  knowledge o f elements which a r e n o t c o n t a i n e d  and  "Captain  t h e t e r m "2nd L i e u t e n a n t " w o u l d n o t i n i t i a t e a n y  questions;  to  expectations  i n the text  itself.  i n a vacuum; r a t h e r , he a p p l i e s h i s k n o w l e d g e of h i suncle's  commission, t h e r e b y  character to h i s reading of the  augmenting, a s opposed t o merely  understand-  ing ,tithessense o f t h e t e x t . When N i c k  has f i n i s h e d  does not cease  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 ,  in  effect,  he " r e a d s "  In fact,  however,  he  validity  to "read".  r e a d i n g t h e commission,  h i s own r e a d i n g .  o f t h e way i n w h i c h he r e a d s  he c o n t i n u e s t h e p r o c e s s  Nick  questions the  t h e c o m m i s s i o n when he  9  suggests  that perhaps " f a c i l e  i r o n y , might  "go t o o f a r " ( p . 1 5 9 ) .  compare t h e e l o q u e n t Giles'  i r o n y " , indeed,  any k i n d o f  I t i s easy  f o r him t o  e x p e c t a t i o n s o f t h e document w i t h  Uncle  s u b s e q u e n t p e r f o r m a n c e o f d u t y when he h a s t h e a d v a n t a g e  o f h i n d s i g h t , b u t N i c k w o n d e r s how he h i m s e l f w o u l d measure up to  such  expectations.  upon t o j o i n any  He knows t h a t he w i l l  soon be  t h e army, and he i s u n s u r e t h a t he w i l l  b e t t e r than  d i d h i suncle,  so t h a t p e r h a p s a  between e x p e c t a t i o n s and p e r f o r m a n c e i s u n j u s t .  called succeed  comparison Here,  Nick  seems t o r e c o g n i z e t h e way i n w h i c h 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 reading:  i f he h a d r e a d t h e c o m m i s s i o n w i t h o u t  h i s u n c l e performed much d i f f e r e n t , own f u t u r e .  a s an o f f i c e r ,  the f u t u r e , just  h i s r e a d i n g would have been  success,  or lack thereof, w i l l  a s a t one t i m e  essential  he d o e s n o t r e a s s e s s h i s p o r t r a i t  successful officer.  such  not  What N i c k  references to Giles*  the i r o n i c  suggest.  which  of G i l e s as a  Since the text  a c t u a l performance o f duty,  H i s reading i s erroneous failure  on U n c l e  less  q u e s t i o n s i s t h e methodology  document t h a t N i c k ' s i n t e r p r e t a t i o n  connote any such list  Yet, t h i s recognition  perception of h i s uncle's  w h i c h he e m p l o y s t o r e a d t h e c o m m i s s i o n . no  Giles'  t h a t he h i m s e l f h a s on h i s r e a d i n g o f t h e t e x t  does not a l t e r N i c k ' s  than  be d e c i d e d i n  t h e terms o f Uncle  c o m m i s s i o n had y e t t o be " d i s a p p o i n t e d " .  character;  how  perhaps as i n c o n c l u s i v e as h i s "reading" of h i s  Nick's  o f t h e impact  knowing  i t i s  o f i t would  because t h e t e x t Giles'  contains  part, being  does not simply a  of expectations; rather, i t i s Nick's reading of i t creates the irony.  commission i t s e l f ,  Hence,-; N i c k  "reads" twice over: t h e  and h i s i n t e r p r e t a t i o n  of that  commission.  10  Looking  closely  at the d i r e c t i o n that Nick's  t a k e h i m , one d e t e c t s a movement judgement o f U n c l e one.  His initial  military  Giles,  o f a somewhat r i d i c u l o u s  manages t o poke f u n a t G i l e s *  q u e s t i o n h i s "good" c o n d u c t  incompe-  v a n i t y , arrogance,  and d e v o t i o n  t o duty,  and  and  Even G i l e s '  pen-  f o r command, t h e one s t r i c t u r e h e seems t o h a v e o b e y e d , i s  characterized little the  temperate,  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  d e n i g r a t e any p r o m o t i o n he may h a v e r e c e i v e d . chant  harsh  c a r e e r a r e r a t h e r humorous, b u t h i s u s e o f " f r i v o l o u s "  Nick  egotism,  from t h e immediate, r a t h e r  t o w a r d s a more c o n s i d e r e d ,  i r o n y does produce a p o r t r a i t tent.  ruminations  i n a negative l i g h t .  Essentially,  f u n a t t h e expense o f h i s u n c l e ;  extent  t o w h i c h he i s s e r i o u s a b o u t  seems t o r e c o g n i z e t h a t even  such  on  h i s p r e s e n t a t i o n o f Uncle  Giles'  he  s o f t e n s h i s tone  such  one m i g h t  a  question  a reading, y e t , Nick  "frivolity"  has a d i r e c t  impact  c h a r a c t e r , and, t h e r e f o r e ,  of h i s ironic  r e g a r d i n g h i s own f u t u r e c o n d u c t ,  s t a n c e , and h i s  suggest  an awareness  o f a common bond between u n c l e and nephew t h a t t e m p e r s judgements.^  i s having  a s he r e c o n s i d e r s h i s a p p r o a c h t o t h e t e x t .  H i s doubts about t h e v a l i d i t y concern  indeed,  Nick  previous  S i n c e t h e terms o f t h e commission a r e 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 o f a common bond w i t h h i s u n c l e i s s i m i l a r t o h i s previous admission of a " k i n s h i p " with the n o v e l i s t , S t . J o h n C l a r k e , whom he t e n d s t o d e n i g r a t e a s a writer. I n C a s a n o v a ' s C h i n e s e R e s t a u r a n t ( L o n d o n : Heinemann, I 9 6 0 ) , p . 82, N i c k d e s c r i b e s C l a r k e ' s n o v e l s a s " t r i v i a l , u n r e a l , v u l g a r , b a d l y p u t t o g e t h e r , i d i o u s l y [ s i c ] p h r a s e d and ' i n s i n c e r e ' " , b u t he a l s o r e m a r k s , "was n o t S t J o h n C l a r k e s t i l l a p e r s o n more l i k e m y s e l f t h a n anyone s i t t i n g r o u n d t h e t a b l e LNick's inlaws]? T h a t was a s o b e r i n g t h o u g h t . He, t o o , f o r l o n g e r y e a r s , had e x i s t e d i n t h e i m a g i n a t i o n , even t h o u g h t h i s i m a g i n a t i o n l e d h i m ( i n my e y e s ) t o a w o r l d 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  "ideal", fulfill the  and,  t h e r e f o r e , u n a t t a i n a b l e , Uncle  them i s n o t  circumstances  ( p . 159).  o f h i s u n c l e , but portrait.  In a  with Giles'  T h i s does not  by  experience, Nick  so t h a t  A close commission  now  he  i s viewed  but  with  examination  only the  performs  process that  f o r a c a r e e r as a B r i t i s h Nick  i s an a c t i v e  preting, so t h a t  i n the  the text  facts"  sense  itself  does not  that  he  does not  (the requirements  officer);  something  specific,  he  and document,  reader's  commission, N i c k  registers simply necessary  analyzing, inter-  p e r s p e c t i v e to the  beyond t h a t  text.  That  change when i t i s i n t e r p r e t e d , i t  "work"), which i s a c c o m p l i s h e d  Victoria  and  "work".  And,  Uncle  text,  i s , while  n o n e t h e l e s s becomes t h e b a s i s o f a c o n s t r u c t i v e a p p a r a t u s  Nick t r a n s l a t e s the  does  i s not a p a s s i v e onlooker.  "processer" of the t e x t :  produces  commission,  character.  characterizes a  c o n t r i b u t i n g h i s k n o w l e d g e and he  army  sympathy.  when r e a d i n g t h e  In reading the  "consume" t h e t e x t ,  i t s "signified  some  Giles'  i n h i s mind what i t " s a y s " , o r "means"; he understand  that  of Nick's reading of h i s uncle's  a c t i o n s that Nick  a l s o the fundamental  simply  portrait  p e r s p e c t i v e , which, i n  to " r e - i n t e r p r e t " Uncle  interaction with a text. not  the  i n w h i c h he r e a d s t h e  i n t o t h e army r e v e a l s n o t  individual,  alter  under  changes h i s p e r s p e c t i v e o f  N i c k r e - e v a l u e s t h e n a t u r e o f h i s own l e a d s him  inevitable  to  equating h i s f u t u r e career i n the  Hence, by r e c o n s i d e r i n g t h e way  turn,  but  failure  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 o f  sense,  past  t h e o l d man,  only understandable,  Giles'  by t h e r e a d e r .  In t h i s  (the  sense,  c o m m i s s i o n i n t o h i s p o r t r a i t s o f Queen Giles,  thereby  s i n c e t h e s e two  converting the t e x t  into  c h a r a c t e r s , a s d e s c r i b e d by  the Nick,  12  do n o t in  exist  outside of h i s imagination (either  "reality"),  product Uncle  they are, i n f a c t ,  h i s "creations",  of h i s i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of the  G i l e s are  i n the text,  commission.  or The  or  the Queen  " c o n s t r u c t s " , i n t h e p s y c h o l o g i c a l sense  of  and the  word, b e c a u s e t h e y a r e h e r e  d e s c r i b e d , not as t h e y a r e  (they are  " r e a l " within the f i c t i o n a l  c o n t e x t o f t h e n o v e l ) , but  as  p e r c e i v e s them t o be; sense,  they are also  "constructions", i n  b e c a u s e t h e y a r e c o n s t r u c t e d by t h e r e a d e r  Nick  Todorov's  ( N i c k ) as  he  7 i n t e r p r e t s the t e x t . c o m m i s s i o n ) by  Thus, N i c k  (the p o r t r a i t s of V i c t o r i a  his  i n v o l v e s the  Nick  t h e o l d man's d e a t h ,  The  he  Along with the  Uncle  creating the  i s a part of  character, Nick's reading of  other  glances at the t i t l e ,  c o m m i s s i o n when,  takes inventory of G i l e s ' commission, N i c k  Nick  ( p . 160).  personal  inscription referring  and  proceeds  to  The  a s C o n s t r u c t i o n , " p.  word  73.  this  sixteenth-  "interpret"  to-the French t r a n s l a t o r :  i n t h e F r e n c h Army i n A l g e r i a " .  merely  source of  (a French v e r s i o n of the o r i g i n a l  century Arabic manuscript),  entitled  Arab A r t of  Though he  c o n c e n t r a t e s on t h e  the  after  f i n d s a book,  S h e i k N e f z a o u i o r The  Love, which a r o u s e s h i s c u r i o s i t y  English translation  "work"  Giles).  d i s c o v e r s the  Perfumed Garden o f t h e  "Reading  (the  c o n s t r u c t i o n o f images which r e p r e s e n t  w o r d s on t h e p a g e .  effects.  and  thereby  N i c k ' s r e a d i n g o f h i s u n c l e ' s commission  c o n s t r u c t i o n of G i l e s '  texts  the t e x t  c o n t r i b u t i n g h i s k n o w l e d g e , p e r c e p t i o n s , and  perspective to h i s reading of i t ,  While  "realizes"  a "Staff  "interpret" i s  the Officer  13  a p p r o p r i a t e , b e c a u s e N i c k d o e s more t h a n j u s t u n d e r s t a n d the i n s c r i p t i o n says.  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 processed: the t r a n s l a t o r stationed i n Algeria, reading.  i s F r e n c h , i n t h e army, and  but t h i s i s not t h e f u l l  extent of Nick's  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 , "Staff  so t h a t t h i s  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  particular  environment.  Essentially, Nick's a c t i v i t i e s  the expansion of those " s i g n i f i e d f a c t s " . stipulates  what  certain  unknown a involve  The i n s c r i p t i o n  f a c t s , b u t 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 why i s he t h e r e , a n d what i s he d o i n g ?  i s t h e man,  More i m p o r t a n t l y , t h e s e  d e t a i l s , t h o u g h t o some e x t e n t l i m i t e d b y t h e t e x t ,  are the  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 inscription i s a creative 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 i m a g i n e t h e t r a n s l a t o r a t w o r k on t h e S h e i k ' s m a n u s c r i p t : I pictured t h i s French S t a f f O f f i c e r s i t t i n g at h i s desk. The s u n 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 b y 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 c o a t e e and s c a r l e t p e g - t o p p e d t r o u s e r s b u t t o n i n g u n d e r t h e b o o t , he w o r e a p o i n t e d moustache and i m p e r i a l . B e s i d e h i m 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, the white 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 sabre. ( p . 160) The i m a g e 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 rendering of the  i n s c r i p t i o n , but as h i s d e s c r i p t i o n  T o d o r o v , pp.  6£-9.  illustrates,  t h e image  14  c o n t a i n s d e t a i l s not found clothing, are  the sun-filled  not f a c t s that  inscription;  i n the text  itself.  The man's  room, and t h e p a i n t i n g s  on t h e w a l l  N i c k u n d e r s t a n d s s i m p l y by r e a d i n g t h e  indeed,  i t d o e s n o t r e f e r t o them a t a l l ; r a t h e r ,  t h e y a r e f i g m e n t s o f N i c k ' s i m a g i n a t i o n w h i c h he b r i n g s reading not  of the text.  inconsistent  effectively period,  Y e t , a t t h e same t i m e , t h e s e d e t a i l s a r e  with the textual  the  " f a c t s " ; indeed, they a r e  d e t e r m i n e d by t h e t e x t :  t h e contemporary p a i n t i n g s ,  Nick's reading of the text plays  and t h e A r a b  text,  i n that  words o f t h e 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  however, i s c o n t r o l l e d b y t h e t e x t ;  on  the m i l i t a r y uniform  indicates the creative  i n the " r e a l i z a t i o n " of that  particular  of the  setting.  Hence,  r o l e that  he  he t r a n s l a t e s  image.  That  image,  N i c k may c r e a t e t h e  d e t a i l s o f t h e "scene", but those d e t a i l s a r e based  the text's  "signified  Nick's construction merely  to h i s  "painting  facts". o f t h i s image, however, g o e s b e y o n d  a picture".  t r a n s l a t o r p h y s i c a l l y ^ wearing d e s k , b u t he a l s o experience.  supplies  Not only  d o e s he i m a g i n e t h e  certain clothes  and s e a t e d a t a  t h e man's p e r s o n a l i t y  I t i s n o t enough t h a t  and p a s t  t h e Frenchman t r a n s l a t e d t h e  S h e i k ' s m a n u s c r i p t ; N i c k w a n t s t o know why, and so he i m a g i n e s the  circumstances that  l e d t o the act of t r a n s l a t i o n .  I n a sense,  N i c k e x p a n d s h i s p o r t r a i t b y " i n t e r p r e t i n g " t h e image t h a t himself  has  he  created:  He was a b s o l u t e l y d e t a c h e d , a man who h a d t a s t e d t h e s e n s u a l p l e a s u r e s o f t h e Second E m p i r e and T h i r d R e p u b l i c t o t h e i r d r e g s , i n d e e d , come t o N o r t h A f r i c a t o e s c a p e s u c h i n s i s t e n t b a n a l i t i e s . Now, he was e x a m i n i n g 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, w i t h the parched wind blowing i n from the d e s e r t , he had found a k i n d r e d s p i r i t i n the Sheik N e f z a o u i , t o whose s i x t e e n t h - c e n t u r y A r a b i c he was determined t o do j u s t i c e i n t h e language o f Racine and V o l t a i r e . (p. 1 6 0 ) N i c k has come a l o n g way from merely understanding t h e t e x t o f the i n s c r i p t i o n .  Here, he psychoanalyzes h i s t r a n s l a t o r : he has  f l e d t h e " s e n s u a l p l e a s u r e s " of P a r i s i a n s o c i e t y , and come t o North A f r i c a t o contemplate t h a t l i f e i n " a b s o l u t e calm" by studying and t r a n s l a t i n g t h e S h e i k ' s t r e a t i s e .  Thus, the a c t o f  t r a n s l a t i o n becomes not j u s t a " f a c t " (as i n t h e t e x t ) , but an event motivated by t h e o f f i c e r ' s c h a r a c t e r and past experience, 9  i n essence, t h e e f f e c t of a s p e c i f i c  cause.  One might  contend  t h a t Nick, being a w r i t e r , i s merely i n d u l g i n g i n t h e p r a c t i c e of h i s a r t , attempting a k i n d o f c h a r a c t e r study t h a t might  form  p a r t o f a n o v e l , but here Nick i s " r e a d i n g " , not " w r i t i n g " , and, i n t h i s sense, h i s a c t i v i t i e s a r e a c o n s t r u c t i v e expansion o f 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 d e l i n e a t i o n o f  c e r t a i n " f a c t s " , has, through t h e agency o f N i c k ' s i m a g i n a t i v e i n t 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  t r a n s l a t e s t e x t i n t o image, thereby producing t h e "work", which, i n t h i s case, i s t h e t r a n s l a t o r ' s c h a r a c t e r . Having  conjured up t h i s image, Nick acknowledges t h a t i t  i s o n l y one o f many p o s s i b l e images t h a t could be d e r i v e d from the t e x t .  And, i n so doing, he i m p l i c i t l y r e c o g n i z e s the  c r e a t i v e a s p e c t s o f h i s own r e a d i n g .  Nick undercuts t h e image's  r e a l i t y , o r admits i t s f i c t i o n a l i t y , when he remarks, Todorov's  " c a u s a l c o n s t r u c t i o n " , pp. 7 4 - 5 .  "Perhaps  16  that  p i c t u r e was  t o t a l l y w i d e o f t h e mark: t h e r e a l i t y  (pp. 1 6 0 - 1 ) .  another  one"  perhaps  t h e t r a n s l a t o r was  minutes  between f a m i l y o b l i g a t i o n s t o devote  translation"; been  perhaps  stationed  a s he  a f a m i l y man,  he was  Nick  had  energy  construction", on t h e f i r s t  lack the  image.  he h a s  imagination.  though  the f i r s t  I n any  so t h a t from the  he  can  i n turn,  conceived  creative  possibilities  image a p p e a l s more  c a s e , by a d v a n c i n g more t h a n  Nick demonstrates  that  the text  L i m i t e d o n l y by  c r e a t e h i s images w i t h  each o f h i s c o n c e i v e d t r a n s l a t o r s same t e x t w i t h o u t  indeed  t o echo N i c k ' s  the f o l l o w i n g  open t o 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 . facts",  none a r e  expended much o f h i s  perhaps  image o f t h e t r a n s l a t o r ,  "signified  had  translated Arabic  Perhaps,  image, so t h a t  same t h o r o u g h n e s s ;  h i s romantic  t o h i s "beloved  imagines these p o s s i b i l i t i e s  explores other interpretations,  "causal  one  and  "images":  stealing precious  "Rimbaud's f a t h e r " , who  as e l a b o r a t e l y as the f i r s t  to  then o f f e r s other p o s s i b l e  i n North A f r i c a ,  (p. l 6 l ) .  manuscripts  He  quite  the  some f r e e d o m ,  c a n be c o n s t r u c t e d  being "erroneous".  Nick  i n the  to  y e t , w h i l e none o f them may  "true",  i n the i n s c r i p t i o n ,  sense t h a t  i s aware  t h a t h i s images a r e " f i c t i o n s " , be f o u n d  t h e y a r e n o n e t h e l e s s a l l o w e d f o r by t h e  Having  exhausted  Nick proceeds " s i n c e r e and  his interest  i n t h e book's  t o scan t h e chapter t i t l e s , scholarly" treatise,  b u t he  is  and  they are  not be  text."^ inscription  read p a r t s of  d o e s so o n l y  the  "idly".  ^ A c c o r d i n g t o B a r t h e s , i n "From Work t o T e x t , " p. t h e t e x t " a c h i e v e s p l u r a l i t y o f m e a n i n g , an i r r e d u c i b l e plurality".  76,  17  In f a c t ,  he s a y s l i t t l e  acknowledge t h e S h e i k ' s no  o f t h e book's contents, "good" a d v i c e  except t o  (p. l 6 l ) . Here, t h e r e i s  c o n s t r u c t i o n o f i m a g e s , n o r even a n a n a l y s i s o f t h e t r e a t i s e ,  only a r e c o g n i t i o n of i t s rather oppressive nature.  Nick  his  that  lack of interest  "Disinclination  i n t h e book i t s e l f when he s a y s  t o continue  reading I recognised  unwillingness to face facts", result  of h i s "inferiority",  "sociological" to  the nature  Nick's  concerns,  but while i n light  he s e e s t h i s a s t h e  one c o u l d r e l a t e h i s l a c k o f i n t e r e s t  of the text i t s e l f .  because i t r e f e r s t o a preceding  The i n s c r i p t i o n  event  can be " r e c o n s t r u c t e d " by t h e r e a d e r  i s essentially  being a c o l l e c t i o n  that  "referential  inspires  discourse",  ( t h e t r a n s l a t i o n ) which  (Nick) i n h i s imagination.  On t h e o t h e r hand, j u d g i n g by t h e c h a p t e r itself  as a basic  of the translator's  creative energies i s e s s e n t i a l l y  treatise  admits  titles  quoted, t h e  "non-referential discourse",  o f maxims a b o u t l o v e and t h e r e l a t i o n s h i p  between men and women, b e c a u s e i t d o e s n o t r e f e r t o a p r e c e d i n g event  a s such."'"'*"  concerned  with  elucidation  As a s o c i o l o g i c a l  t h e examination  study,  o f human  the treatise i s  conduct,  and t h e  o f g e n e r a l t r u t h s , so t h a t t h e r e a d e r  to  agree with  an  event.  i t s findings,  Further,  i s left  either  or disagree, but not t o r e c o n s t r u c t  even i f t h e S h e i k ' s  "study"  i s , i n reality,  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 nonetheless pretation,  demands l i t t l e on t h e r e a d e r ' s  T o d o r o v , pp. 63-9.  imaginative part.  construction, or i n t e r -  Thus, w h i l e  the inscription  IS  a l l o w s N i c k t o c r e a t e a n image ( o r t h r e e ) o f t h e t r a n s l a t o r , the t r e a t i s e  e v o k e s no s u c h  c a n o n l y be u n d e r s t o o d ,  construction  and, t h e r e f o r e , i t  o r "consumed", b u t n o t i n t e r p r e t e d  creatively. Nick's reading of the book's inscription in  itself,  an e f f e c t  on h i s p e r c e p t i o n o f U n c l e G i l e s , b u t  s i n c e t h e book i s one o f G i l e s ' relate  possessions, Nick t r i e s too  i t to h i s uncle's character.  t h e book, and why d i d he c h o o s e  "perhaps"  t h e book r e m i n d e d  Hence, w h i l e  or "possibly"  Whether o r n o t t h e s e  e s p o u s a l o f them i n d i c a t e s t h a t perception of Uncle G i l e s '  He s u g g e s t s  i t was u s e d  the treacherous paths of love suppositions are correct,  Nick's  he i s o n c e a g a i n r e f i n i n g h i s  character, i n t h i s  c a s e , by  delineating  i s not u n l i k e N i c k ' s approach  for  that  a s some k i n d o f  o f b o o k s he r e a d .  translator's  Nick  he d o e s t r y t o . c o n s t r u c t t h e  characterizing the kind personality  obtain  U n c l e G i l e s o f t h e women he had  "handbook" t o g u i d e h i m t h r o u g h 162).  did Giles f i r s t  h i s uncle's attraction to i t .  known i n h i s l i f e ,  (p.  Why  t o keep i t ?  c c e a s e s i t o "interpret" the text, reasons behind  does n o t have,  T h i s method o f to the  c h a r a c t e r , where he i n t e r p r e t s t h e man's p r e f e r e n c e  the Sheik's  study as a r e j e c t i o n  of the Parisian  "canons o f  12 sensuality".  Having  a radical",  Nick  affirmation  of that  a l r e a d y d e f i n e d U n c l e G i l e s a s "a b i t o f  s e e s h i s p o s s e s s i o n o f t h e book a s a n aspect o f h i s personality:  " 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 a r e 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  there  was  no  stait-laced  reason to [ s i c ] as  s u p p o s e U n c l e G i l e s t o h a v e become more  he  grew o l d e r "  concludes h i s consideration put  the  volume a s i d e  has  yet  to  finish  He  can  Giles. his  to  of  and  h i s d e l i b e r a t i o n s on  " i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s " are or  this  the  his initial  not  and  book, o r  on  and,  rather,  thus,  says,  "I  suggests that  reading,  definitive;  "rereading",  When N i c k  A r a b A r t A o f L o v e he  reconsider",  "reconsider"  to re-evaluation,  The  162).  (p.  he  Uncle therefore,  they are  open  a different inter-  pretation. Nick's reading illustrates  the  translation  of t e x t  the is  kind  inscription a  of the of  inscription  i n t e r p r e t a t i o n that  i n t o image.  says,  so t h a t  however,  images, but  the  discovery  of to  Gwinnett's biography  entitled  Death's-Head  ornament, t h o u  shell  involves  text.  Another  i n v o l v e the  "meaning". decipher of the  of  Love  the  i s , N i c k u n d e r s t a n d s what  the  In  translator  example  i l l u s t r a t e s a d i f f e r e n t kind  sequence, N i c k t r i e s  Russell  Arab A r t  h i s " p i c t u r e " of the  p r e t a t i v e p r o c e s s which does not  the  That  c r e a t i v e augmentation of the  h i s reading,  f r o m The  of  inter-  construction the  final  n o v e l i s t X.  Swordsman, w h i c h r e a d s ,  of  volume  epigraph found  o f d e a t h , / Once t h e  of  of  in  Trapnel,  "My  bright  study's face  of  my  13 betrothed t o be  lady".  Upon r e a d i n g  "ambiguous", and  considering  the  various  he  the  t r i e s to  epigraph,  clarify  Nick proclaims  that  p o s s i b l e meanings behind  ambiguity the  words  by of  * Anthony P o w e l l , H e a r i n g S e c r e t 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 .  it  20  the text.  I n t h i s c a s e , t h a t " m e a n i n g " l i e s n o t so much i n t h e  words themselves, biography.  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  Why d i d he c h o o s e s u c h a n 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 h i m , and f o r t h e book's subject? uncover  What d o e s i t mean? this  The way i n w h i c h N i c k t r i e s t o  "meaning" i l l u s t r a t e s n o t o n l y h i s d e s i r e t o  unravel a mystery,  t o understand  t h a t which  i s obscure, 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 o n t h e t e x t he i s reading. Nick's d i f f i c u l t y  i n understanding the epigraph's  s i g n i f i c a n c e i s n o t due t o i g n o r a n c e so much a s 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 w e r e 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 m e a n i n g t h e y seemed t o become" (p. 7 1 ) . Tourneur's text),  He u n d e r s t a n d s  t h a t t h e epigraph i s a q u o t a t i o n from  The R e v e n g e r ' s T r a g e d y ( a " s i g n i f i e d f a c t " o f t h e  a n d he k n o w s t h a t i n t h e p l a y , "My s t u d y ' s o r n a m e n t "  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 s p e a k e r , t o surmise t h e connection t o Gwinnett's s k u l l t h a t topped  so t h a t N i c k i s a b l e  "study", being t h e  Trapnel's walking 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  to appreciate.  Hence, N i c k  remarks:  The l i n e s c o u l d b e r e g a r d e d a s , s a y , 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 h a d b e e n 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 s p o k e n b y T r a p n e l , b y 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 b e t w e e n a u t h o r a n d s u b j e c t ( G w i n n e t t a n d 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 person o f Pamela Widmerpool,  21  i s t h e main cause  o f such a m b i g u i t y ,  f a m i l i a r with those r e l a t i o n s h i p s , the epigraph obscure.  and s i n c e N i c k i s  he f i n d s t h e s i g n i f i c a n c e o f  A s a r e a d e r , he b r i n g s h i s own k n o w l e d g e  o f p e o p l e and e v e n t s t o h i s i n t e r p r e t a t i o n ledge that ambiguity  d e r i v e s n o t so much f r o m  the text  i n w r i t i n g t h e book? Pamela?  indicate that  "Did revenge  I f so, Gwinnett's  Widmerpool?"  a s from  play:?some  revenge  on whom?  Such m u s i n g s on N i c k ' s  part  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, peculiar  itself,  Hence, e v e n t h e s o u r c e o f t h e q u o t a t i o n  d o e s n o t c l e a r up N i c k ' s c o n f u s i o n :  Trapnel?  know-  a n o t h e r r e a d e r may n o t h a v e , a n d , t h e r e f o r e , t h e  Nick's reading of i t .  part  of the text,  i n turn,  a r e the product  o f h i s own  knowledge o f t h e c i r c u m s t a n c e s s u r r o u n d i n g t h e  r e l a t i o n s h i p s o f the people involved. knows t o o much t o b e a b l e t o p r o d u c e of the text, Having  so t h a t failed  In this a single  he c a n o n l y s u g g e s t  sense,  interpretation  possibilities.  t o come t o a n y c o n c l u s i o n a b o u t  s i g n i f i c a n c e , Nick l e a v e s t h e matter  Nick  the epigraph's  f o r a t i m e , b u t he  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 t h e t e x t . a d i s c u s s i o n w i t h N i c k and E m i l y B r i g h t m a n ,  soon  Later, i n  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 a n o t h e r book, t o be e n t i t l e d The Gothic  Symbolism  Stagecraft  of Mortality  ( p . 99).  suggesting that playwrights,  i n t h e Texture o f Jacobean  He e x p l a i n s h i s i n t e r e s t  i n t h e s u b j e c t by  T r a p n e l h a d much i n common w i t h t h e J a c o b e a n  and, t h e r e f o r e ,  extension o f the biography. regarding Gwinnett's  that  t h e new work w o u l d be a n  Nick  responds  to this  remark,  p e r c e p t i o n o f T r a p n e l , by r e l a t i n g  i t to  22  t h e ambiguous e p i g r a p h :  "This offered  the  Death's-Head  epigraph introducing  when G w i n n e t t  Swordsman".  passage  from  explanation of h i s choice of t i t l e  "'emphasises t h a t but t h i s  Similarly,  r e c e i v e s t h e Magnus D o n n e r s P r i z e f o r t h e  b i o g r a p h y , he q u o t e s a n o t h e r an  y e t another reason f o r  Death,  does not s a t i s f y  Tourneur's  play as  and e p i g r a p h ( i t  as well as L i f e ,  can have i t s b e a u t y ' " ) ,  Nick:  The a u d i e n c e , m y s e l f i n c l u d e d , s u p p o s i n g he was g o i n g t o e l a b o r a t e t h e meaning o f t h e q u o t a t i o n , draw some a n a l o g y , w a i t e d t o c l a p . Whatever s i g n i f i c a n c e he a t t a c h e d t o t h e l i n e s , t h e y remained unexpounded. ( p . 106) Thus, w h i l e Gwinnett  explains 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 maintains that l i n e s remain  "unexpounded".  f o r him, t h e  Whatever t h e o r i g i n a l  of the quotation f o r the "writer"  (Gwinnett  not a c t u a l l y w r i t t e n ,  as a reader, Nick  t h e words),  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 The if  epigraph, therefore,  i t i s n o t so f o r G w i n n e t t ,  instance at least,  having  remains and t h i s  in this  i t i s t h e r e a d e r , and n o t t h e t e x t  itself,  c o m p l i c a t e d r e l a t i o n s h i p s between G w i n n e t t ,  t h e Widmerpools, a s might  ambiguity.  I f N i c k h a d n o t known, o f T r a p n e l , and  be t h e c a s e w i t h o t h e r r e a d e r s ,  Lhe w o u l d n o t h a v e f o u n d t h e e p i g r a p h so o b s c u r e ;  a m b i g u i t y w o u l d h a v e b e e n c l e a r e d up by  explanation.  even  suggests that,  the  result  must  ambiguous t o N i c k ,  i s responsible f o r that  any  chosen, i f  of the text.  who  perhaps  significance  Yet,- e v e n t h a t  perhaps  Gwinnett's  p o s s i b i l i t y would n o t n e c e s s a r i l y  i n a single interpretation  of the text.  Gwinnett  knows  23  a s much a b o u t t h e  complicated  i n v o l v e d a s d o e s N i c k , and of the  t h a t two  thereof, w i l l In t h i s a  yet, they  quotation i n different  guarantee  similar  ways,  readers with the  come t o t h e  sense,  r e l a t i o n s h i p s i n w h i c h he interpret  the  so t h a t t h e r e i s no same k n o w l e d g e , o r l a c k  e q u a l knowledge does not  Hence, even t h o u g h  i n general, essentially,  remains t e n t a t i v e ; epigraph that  of Gwinnett's  ambiguity  obscure  i f the text  contribute  commemorating t h e  another  illustration  circumstances  an  efforts to resolve  to h i s confusion.  end  of the  Thus, t h e t e x t  i n w h i c h he  reads are  epigraph,  a s he  passages of the  i m a g i n a t i v e , a s he  both  Service at  is  St.  S e c o n d W o r l d War,  of h i s i n t e r p r e t a t i v e  is  technique.The  somewhat d i f f e r e n t commission, the  from  inscription,  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 biblical  "reading" to  i s ambiguous, a s  Nick's  surrounding h i s reading of the  the  Nick  i t i s h i s reading that  of the Thanksgiving  Paul's,  and  in  p r i m a r i l y b e c a u s e N i c k ' s r e a d i n g o f i t makes i t s o .  Nick's description  those  itself  biography,  text.  necessarily result  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 with Gwinnett's the audience  significance  same c o n c l u s i o n r e g a r d i n g a  p e r s p e c t i v e on t h e t e x t .  was  to the  service  selected  and  i s e q u a l l y c o n s t r u c t i v e and  translates texts into  t r i e s t o d i s c o v e r "meaning".  hymns  Essentially,  series 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  images,  Nick  tries,  and  indulges i n a and  fails,^:to  ^ A n t h o n y P o w e l l , The M i l i t a r y P h i l o s o p h e r s ( L o n d o n : 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 t o t h i s work a p p e a r i n t h e t e x t .  24  understand by  authorial  relating  pursues  intention;  thereby  of poetry. textual  "meaning"  t h e v a r i o u s t e x t s t o h i s wartime e x p e r i e n c e ;  a chain of associations,  another,  i n w h i c h one t e x t  he  recalls  l e a d i n g t o a s h o r t d i g r e s s i o n on t h e s u b j e c t  By t h e end o f t h e s e r v i c e , N i c k ' s p e n c h a n t f o r  i n t e r p r e t a t i o n h a s l e d h i m a l o n g way f r o m  t e x t s themselves,  and t h i s  clearly  of h i s n a r r a t i v e technique. past  he c o n s t r u c t s h i s own  "reality"  the original  i l l u s t r a t e s the very  nature  He i s n o t o n l y r e - p r e s e n t i n g a  (the service),  but a l s o h i s experience  of that  reality. Initially, dragons", relation  from  assailed  ponders the phrase  itself,  The p h r a s e  England  late  but i n c o n n e c t i o n w i t h h i s wartime  recalls  f o r h i m t h e V . l . bombs t h a t  i n t h e war, and t h i s ,  c o n s t r u c t i o n o f a n image: " L o o k i n g  through  t h e n i g h t , one t h o u g h t  speaking, difficult, almost  l e s s remote than  i n turn,  solidifies  b a c k on t h e V . l ' s f l y i n g  o f dragons as, p h y s i c a l l y  f o r m e r l y " ( p . 222).  What o n c e was  i f n o t i m p o s s i b l e , t o c o n j u r e up i n a n image, i s now  palpable i n Nick's  separate,  "the h a b i t a t i o n o f  t h e t e x t o f I s a i a h 35, b u t h e d o e s s o , n o t i n  to the text  experience.  his  Nick  image.  I n t h i s way, N i c k ' s  text  ("the h a b i t a t i o n  into  a n image o f d r a g o n s ;  (the V . l ' s ) ,  o f another,  interpretation  o f dragons") i s not d i r e c t l y  which then  o f h i s own image.  i m a g i n a t i o n , by v i r t u e  of the  translated  r a t h e r , he r e c a l l s a " r e a l "  image  provides a basis f o r the construction  Hence, b e c a u s e o f h i s e x p e r i e n c e w i t h t h e  " t w e n t i e t h - c e n t u r y dragons",  Nick  i s better able to  what I s a i a h ' s d r a g o n s m i g h t h a v e b e e n  like:  imagine  25  P r o b a b l y t h e y l i v e d i n c a v e s and came down f r o m t i m e t o time t o t h e banks o f a r i v e r o r l a k e t o d r i n k . The g r o u n d 'where e a c h lay'-' w o u l d , o f c o u r s e , be s c o r c h e d by f i e r y b r e a t h s , t h e i r t a i l s t o o , no d o u b t , g i v i n g o u t f i r e t h a t made t h e w a t e r h i s s and steam, t h e sedge become c h a r r e d , ( p p . 222-3)  T h i s image, fictional yet,  the  c r e a t e d by N i c k ' s i m a g i n a t i o n , i s t h e  " p i c t u r e " t h a t he  constructed of the  p r o c e s s i s somewhat d i f f e r e n t .  (controlled  by t h e t e x t  The  of the i n s c r i p t i o n )  same k i n d  translator,  translator's i s based  on  k n o w l e d g e o f c o n t e m p o r a r y f a s h i o n ( t h e man's u n i f o r m ) , graphical  surroundings  (Arabian desert),  and  his  Sheik's t r e a t i s e ) .  The  commonly a s s o c i a t e d w i t h t h e  (tails,  t h e r e f o r e , based  fire),  and,  i s nonetheless triggered allows Nick  another  of the t e x t ,  having  "knowledge",  one.  Thus,  Nick's  been d e t e r m i n e d  o f t h e bombs, i s d e p e n d e n t on an  image o f t h e d r a g o n s t h u s  by  his  e x p e r i e n c e he  has  on k n o w l e d g e  c o n s t r u c t e d may  not  N i c k , w o u l d n o t h a v e been p o s s i b l e i f i t were n o t  The remainder men"  who  of the  primary  "real"  Nick does not  be  be  according to f o r the  image.  f o c u s o f N i c k ' s r e a d i n g , however, i s t h e  of the b i b l i c a l will  alone.  appear t o  so i n f l u e n c e d , b u t t h e a c t o f c o n s t r u c t i o n i t s e l f ,  recollection  while  image ( t h e V . l ' s ) w h i c h  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 The  geo-  creatures  on a k i n d o f  to construct h i s f i c t i o n a l  interpretation vision  by  Nick's  interested  image o f t h e d r a g o n s ,  composed o f d e t a i l s  image  interpretation  o f c h a r a c t e r ( t h e k i n d o f p e r s o n a l i t y t h a t w o u l d be i n the  of  passage which r e f e r s t o the  a b l e t o w a l k on t h e  translate text  into  "way  "wayfaring  of h o l i n e s s " .  image; r a t h e r , he  tries  Here, to  26  d e c i p h e r i t s meaning.  And,  i t i s precisely  i s ambiguous t h a t N i c k  i s intent  on  because the  passage  interpreting i t :  Not a l l t h e l a t e r p r o m i s e s o f t h e p r o p h e c y were e a s i l y comprehensible. An i n t e n s e , m y s t e r i o u s beauty pervaded the o b s c u r i t y of the t e x t , i t s a s s u r a n c e s a l l t h e more m a g i c a l f o r b e i n g enigmatic. (p. 223)  Just  as Nick  epigraph,  does not  here  he  Who  ''fools",  are they  so t h a t t h e  "way"  will  be  open t o them?  so t h a t N i c k  and  appeals to Nick, And  it  "magical" q u a l i t y  phrase  cannot  "wayfaring  t e x t , who  men",  to discover a single  valid, reaches only  and,  s u r e what t h e  of  the  text  o f t h e p r o p h e c y , and  epigraph, as  of  and,  this  "readings".  the o b s c u r i t y i s not  so  i t i s by N i c k ' s r e a d i n g o f i t ;  comprehend I s a i a h ' s " d e f i n i t i o n "  " c r e a t e s " the  to leave the  i n which  i n that i t allows for a variety  by t h e t e x t ,  i s N i c k who  i s not  Each  i n i t s o b s c u r i t y , creates the  y e t , as w i t h Gwinnett's  much p r o d u c e d  be  s i m p l y b e i n g warned a g a i n s t  p r o p h e c y i s worded,  "mysterious"  of  phrase  o r a r e t h e y meant t o  i s c o n s i s t e n t w i t h t h e way  Hence, t h e t e x t ,  Gwinnett's  meanlby t h e  these p o s s i b i l i t i e s  "means".  of  t h e i n t e n d e d meaning  does the author  are they  contrasted with fools; foolishness,  significance  does not understand  I s a i a h ' s prophecy. " w a y f a r i n g men":  comprehend t h e  t h e r e f o r e , i t i s he,  "magic" o f t h e p r o p h e c y .  interpretation  and  of  the  not  the  Having  of the phrase,  Nick  failed chooses  q u e s t i o n open, r e c o g n i z i n g t h a t e a c h " r e a d i n g " i s t h e r e f o r e , none i s n e c e s s a r i l y  o n l y one  "fairly"  "correct".  c o n c l u s i o n a b o u t t h e p r o p h e c y , and  e v i d e n t : "One  t h i n g was  fairly  clear,  He  even t h a t i s the  fools,  27  whoever t h e y were, must keep o f f t h e h i g h w a y " ( p . 223). Having phrase  failed  t o determine  what I s a i a h meant by t h e  " w a y f a r i n g men", N i c k p r o c e e d s t o a p p l y i t t o h i s own  experience with i n d i v i d u a l characters:  T a k i n g t h e war p e r i o d , l i m i t i n g t h e f i e l d t o t h e army, one h a d met q u i t e a f e w w a y f a r i n g men. Biggs h i m s e l f was e s s e n t i a l l y n o t o f t h a t c a t e g o r y : B i t h e l , p e r h a p s : Odo S t e v e n s , c e r t a i n l y . Borrit? ( p . 223) N i c k knows what t h e p h r a s e means t o him, i f n o t t o I s a i a h , a n d , t h e r e f o r e , he c l a s s i f i e s t h o s e among h i s a c q u a i n t a n c e s i n t h e army who  seem t o f i t t h e d e s i g n a t i o n .  meant by t h e p h r a s e , N i c k meaning o f t h e p r o p h e c y , does n o t proceed prescribed  by I s a i a h .  primarily  passage and  however, i s l e f t  as a p o s s i b l e  Isaiah,  n o r t o t h e "way o f h o l i n e s s " ,  so t h a t N i c k  The  i s f o l l o w e d by a n o t h e r  shifts h i s interpretative  f o c u s , so t h a t ,  F u r t h e r , when he c o n s i d e r s t h e c h a r a c t e r o f B o r r i t " w a y f a r i n g " man, N i c k  i s reminded  couple i n Spain that  loses interest  l o n g , o r t o what  him.  and t h i s  b e i n g o n l y one o f a s e r i e s o f " r e a d i n g s "  t h e honeymooning  construct  as Nick  he d o e s n o t h a v e t h e t i m e t o i n d u l g e i n f u r t h e r  speculations.  about  inconclusive,  due t o t h e c i r c u m s t a n c e s i n w h i c h he r e a d s .  t o which Nick  effect,  The  I n o t h e r w o r d s , he d o e s n o t r e l a t e t h e  hymns w h i c h make up t h e s e r v i c e ,  "text", in  from  s u p p l i e s h i s own "meaning".  t o a p p l y h i s " w a y f a r i n g men" t o t h e f a t e  men t o I s a i a h ' s " f o o l s " , is  W h a t e v e r I s a i a h may h a v e  i n t h e prophecy.  of the story  Borrit  Y e t , no m a t t e r  extent, Nick reads t h e prophecy,  h i s own "meaning" b e c a u s e  And, b e c a u s e  the text  the text  had t o l d him, how  he i s a b l e t o  d o e s n o t do i t f o r  i s thus indeterminate, i t allows  28  f o r numerous p o s s i b l e  interpretations.  When N i c k 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 it  a f f e c t s h i s subsequent  Once a g a i n , he that  about  Victory way,  i s unsure  sex t o o ?  Service?  response  I f so, why  B l a k e was  obscurity,  suggestion that  other t e x t s that  were we  be a b o u t  associations,  and  sex l e a d s him  i n w h i c h he  recalls  summons up m e m o r i e s o f J e a n  from the  "Arrows o f d e s i r e "  i n turn,  Duport."^  numerous  from  i n the  phrase  i n the form  by a r a t h e r  (or, at least,  Poe's  Ultimately,  s e r v i c e as a whole, but t h e  Hence, B l a k e ' s t e x t  a  free-for-all  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  route.  into  evokes Pope's  c a r r i e s N i c k a l o n g way  image, a l b e i t ,  to  the  o f a s i m i l a r theme;  i s the connecting l i n k  of Jean's  in his  B l a k e ' s "Arrows o f  e p i t a p h ; Cowley's c o n c e p t i o n of "Love's  certainly  the  as I s a i a h ;  f o c u s on t h e theme o f l o v e .  chain of associations  i t at  a s he d i d I s a i a h ' s p r o p h e c y ,  i n dreams" r e c a l l s Poe's t r e a t m e n t text  "Was a l l  A l t h o u g h N i c k does not attempt  d e s i r e " b r i n g s t o mind C o w l e y , who, poetic  singing  as impenetrable  t h e hymn m i g h t  chain of l i t e r a r y  "Jerusalem".  o f t h e meaning o f t h e t e x t :  more s o " ( p p . 223-4).  penetrate that  t o t h e hymn  "Jerusalem", phrase  chain.  is finally  one  this  In a solidified  circuitous  phrase  of i t ) i s  IS  ' The hymn " J e r u s a l e m " i s d e r i v e d f r o m B l a k e ' s poem M i l t o n , and s h o u l d n o t be c o n f u s e d 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 J e r u s a l e m . W h i l e J e a n m i g h t seem somewhat o u t o f p l a c e i n s u c h a l i s t o f t e x t s , N i c k s a y s t h a t he o f t e n u s e d t o t h i n k o f P o e ' s v e r s e when he was w i t h h e r , so t h a t , i n a s e n s e , h i s e x p e r i e n c e with her i s associated with a t e x t .  29  translated  into  an  image, b u t u n l i k e t h e image o f t h e  translator,  17 it  i s c o n s t r u c t e d by an  It  i s important  not  intricate  to note,  association  however, t h a t  inherent i n the t e x t s themselves,  of other  texts.  these a s s o c i a t i o n s i n that  they are  are  not  a l l u s i o n s p l a n t e d by t h e a u t h o r s f o r t h e r e a d e r t o r e c o g n i z e ; rather,  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 that  produces  such a s s o c i a t i o n s . "^ If little it  N i c k ' s " r e a d i n g " o f t h e hymn " J e r u s a l e m "  seems t o  c o n n e c t i o n w i t h t h e theme o f t h e T h a n k s g i v i n g S e r v i c e ,  i s nonetheless  consistent with the text  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 the  situation,  may  be  better  i t i s i n no way illustrated  by  be  ("Arrows o f  "incorrect".  examining  an  This  earlier  distinction passage i n  P h i l o s o p h e r s , when N i c k  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  Headquarters  i n the Netherlands,  (p.  l3l).  aid  o f a huge map,  text  describes his v i s i t  near the  end  of the  with  Tactical war  As Montgomery e x p l a i n s t h e t r o o p movements, w i t h Nick's  him of h i s t o r i c a l  distracted  desire"),  inappropriate, given  The M i l i t a r y  remind  have  by  other  eye f a l l s battles,  on a few  and  he  the  place-names which  soon f i n d s h i m s e l f  thoughts:  As B a r t h e s s a y s , " E v e r y t e x t , b e i n g i t s e l f t h e o f a n o t h e r t e x t , b e l o n g s t o t h e i n t e r t e x t u a l " , p.  inter77.  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, N i c k r e c a l l s a C o w l e y t e x t w h i c h he f e e l s r e f u t e s , r a t h e r t h a n c o n f i r m s , P o p e ' s s e n t i m e n t s , so t h a t , p r e s u m a b l y , Pope i s n o t alluding to that particular text. And, e v e n i f t h a t t e x t i s i n d e e d an example o f P o p e ' 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 , N i c k " r e a d s " i t i n a way n o t i n t e n d e d by t h e a u t h o r , so t h a t , i f he h a s n o t e x a c t l y m i s s e d t h e a l l u s i o n , Nick has nonetheless " r e j e c t e d " i t .  30  As t h e eye t r a v e l l e d n o r t h w a r d , i t f e l l on Z u t p h e n , where S i r P h i l i p S i d n e y had s t o p p e d a b u l l e t i n t h a t c h a r g e a g a i n s t t h e A l b a n i a n c a v a l r y . . . . One f e l t him L S i d n e y ] e s s e n t i a l l y t h e k i n d o f s o l d i e r V i g n y h a d i n mind when w r i t i n g o f t h e man who, l i k e a monk, s u b m i t t e d h i m s e l f t o t h e m i l i t a r y way o f l i f e , b e c a u s e he t h o u g h t i t r i g h t , r a t h e r t h a n b e c a u s e i t a p p e a l e d t o him. ( p p . 181-2)  Perhaps Nick military than  feels  life,  some a f f i n i t y  being himself a  ambition,  but,  i n any  seems f a r removed f r o m  f o r Sidney's  soldier  by  supposed view  circumstance,  case, h i s contemplation  the  contemplation  s o m e t h i n g f o r w h i c h t h e map  i s intended,  o f war,  the kind of  at l e a s t  itself  does not  nition  of i t that  essentially Rochester, with the to  the  Nick  which, i n t u r n , l e a d s to the  s o l d i e r he m i g h t h a v e b e e n . a l l u d e t o Sidney,  The  retracing  their  e t e r n a l war.  Further, just  "Jerusalem"  l e a d s him  the V i c t o r y  S e r v i c e , here  connexion  but  they are  18*2-3).  related  i n which  figures,  same b a t t l e g r o u n d s , f i g h t i n g  t o o , h i s "musings" l e a d (p.  Returning t o the Thanksgiving  do  I t i s a s i f he  as Nick's i n t e r p r e t a t i o n  war"  as  have n o t h i n g t o  to ponder the r e l a t i o n s h i p  between s e x and  recog-  as w e l l  same b a t t l e a s t h e s e h i s t o r i c a l  steps over the  place-name  h i s " r e a d i n g " i s not  ("forgotten c o n f l i c t s " )  f i n d s h i m s e l f a t t h a t moment ( p p .  Were engaged i n t h e  consideration of  r e f e r e n c e s t o Sidney,  c o n t e x t o f Montgomery's b r i e f i n g , o f war  poet's  so t h a t i t i s N i c k ' s  d ' A r t a g n a n , and M a r l b o r o u g h , may  circumstances  Sidney  by Montgomery.  Though t h e  sparks h i s ruminations,  erroneous.  rather  o f t r o o p movements,  F o r N i c k , however, t h e name " Z u t p h e n " r e c a l l s t h e experience  of  of  an  of  between sex to  "the  18*3). Service, Nick  focusses h i s  and  31  interpretative  a t t e n t i o n t o t h e " t e x t " o f t h e n a t i o n a l anthem.  I n a s e n s e , he " r e v i e w s " t h e l y r i c s perspective  of a twentieth-century  by s u b j e c t i n g them t o t h e critic:  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 , n o t muchornamented by i m a g i n a t i o n n o r s u b t l e t y o f t h o u g h t and p h r a s e o l o g y , t h e w o r d s p o s s e s s e d a t t h e samje t i m e a k i n d o f depth, an u n p r e t e n t i o u s expression o f s e n t i m e n t s s u i t e d somehow t o t h e moment. ( p . 226)  This material,  e s p e c i a l l y t h e second v e r s e ,  o b s c u r e v i s i o n s o f B l a k e and I s a i a h . cloaked  by " t h e v e r b i a g e  is  curious,  which a  on i t s p o s s i b l e  seems t o h i m e n t i r e l y a p p r o p r i a t e  "meaning".  the e r a o f the composition  patriotism,  f o r the times,  century.  Nick  further no  consideration:  less  This  however, i s i m m e d i a t e l y u n d e r c u t by a "Such a m e n t a l p i c t u r e o f t h e p a s t  doubt l a r g e l y u n h i s t o r i c a l , indeed  while  supposes  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 m i n d " ( p . 227). of the past,  despite  must h a v e b e e n " o u t w a r d l y  s q u e a m i s h " t h a n h i s own, an e r a when " h y p o c r i s y  "reading"  He  and " s u b t l e t y o f t h o u g h t and p h r a s e o l o g y " ,  " o r n a m e n t s " so p r i z e d i n t h e t w e n t i e t h that  and, t h e r e f o r e , i t  however, a b o u t t h e anthem's u n a b a s h e d  lack of "imagination"  l i k e the  I t speaks d i r e c t l y , un-  of high-thinking",  does n o t a l l o w N i c k t o s p e c u l a t e  i s nothing  totally  t h e anthem may be u n d e r s t o o d w i t h o u t  was  illusory".  a n a l y s i s as a  Thus, simple  c e l e b r a t i o n o f p a t r i o t i s m , N i c k n o n e t h e l e s s 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 energies era,  a t t h e same t i m e r e c o g n i z i n g  erroneous. the  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,  Ultimately, like  that that  " p i c t u r e " may be  he comes t o t h e c o n c l u s i o n  the present,  past  that  perhaps  was e q u a l l y open t o some k i n d o f  32  "thraldom", The kind He  though perhaps  way  i n which Nick  of a d i f f e r e n t "reads" these  i s an a c t i v e  into  i n that  and  demonstrates  "meaning-bearing"  has  interpretations. illustrate  observed)  that  text. the  words the  p u t a " m i r r o r " up  to r e a l i t y ;  of that  Thus, he  gathered  service.  He  service,  and,  determines  t h e r e , and  event  does not list  t h e r e f o r e , he  (both the i n t e r e s t i n g  service,  experience  church, nor  uninteresting so t h a t  Jean  Duport  parts:  "The  t h e r e f o r e , f o r us,  part  of the  the  the  Hence,  h a v e n o t h i n g t o do  as r e a d e r s of h i s n a r r a t i v e ,  the  Arch-  h i s perception of ( p . 223).  the the  throughout  they are nonetheless a part of i t i n Nick's  and,  effect,  contrary, h i s experience of  o f anyone e l s e p r e s e n t and  also  i n the novel.  describes h i s  describe the  unique,  the v a r i o u s s e l e c t i o n s from  bishop u n e n t h r a l l i n g l y preached"),  w h i l e C o w l e y , Pope, Poe,  service  i n c l u d e s h i s thoughts and  and  his particular,  as i t happened, i n  r a t h e r , he  d e s c r i b e s , on t h e  i s unlike that  events  of h i s narrative technique  simply d e s c r i b e the  reality.  knowledge o f t h e  Nick's ruminations during the  the very nature  does not  service  the  Further, 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  c h a r a c t e r s he  event  t r a n s l a t e s the  of  i d e a s , which approximate  " r e a d i n g " , w a r t i m e e x p e r i e n c e , and  people  subjects a  creative f o r c e i n the " r e a l i z a t i o n "  i t i s h i s "reading" that  i m a g e s and  "work".  the  "texts"  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  texts,  He  nature.  with  view,  equally a  experience.  N i c k ' s p r o c e s s o f i n t e r p r e t a t i o n m i r r o r s , t o some e x t e n t , 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 : h e r e a r e a t l e a s t t h r e e s t a g e s t h r o u g h w h i c h t h e s e a r c h f o r knowledge p a s s e s 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  II  While Nick Uncle G i l e s ,  and  c o m m i s s i o n and essentially  c o n s t r u c t s the the  the  texts.  he  techniques  T h i s can  be  texts of  the is  i n w h i c h he " i n t e r p r e t s "  subject  w h i c h he  the  Victoria,  i n t e r p r e t a t i v e process  T h a t i s , when N i c k tends to  o f Queen  reading  that  a n a l o g o u s t o t h e way  characters,  "reading"  t r a n s l a t o r by  inscription,  p h y s i c a l phenomena. and  characters  observes c e r t a i n events  them t o t h e  same k i n d  a p p l i e s to h i s perusal  d e m o n s t r a t e d by  of  of a c t u a l  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.  Essentially, by  Trapnel,  Nick  i n B o o k s Do  attempts to " i n t e r p r e t " Trapnel's  analyzing h i s physical t r a i t s ,  understand h i s character, constructs that same k i n d  the  c o m m i s s i o n and  suggesting "texts", fictional  but  c l o t h i n g , and  i n the 2  character himself.  the  process In  the  inscription:  he,  so d o i n g ,  context  scrutinizing  of the  h i s own  novel, Nick  t o know" t h e n o v e l i s t , o r  this  be  in  so a s  to  fact,  Nick  employs  applies to  interpreting "signs",  causes, i n v o k i n g h i s knowledge d e r i v e d  as w e l l as  personality  manner,  o f i n t e r p r e t a t i v e a p p r o a c h t h a t he  "getting can  F u r n i s h a Room.  from  other  "reading".  Within  engages i n the  process  "constructing reality",  s e e n a s a n a l o g o u s t o t h e way  i n which a  the of and  reader  -i  A n t h o n y P o w e l l , B o o k s Do F u r n i s h a Room ( L o n d o n : Heinemann, 1971), p. 10~5~* A l l further references to t h i s appear i n the 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, "perception i s a constructive act".  work  34  comes t o know t h e h o w e v e r , t h e way that  characters of a novel. that Nick  "reads" Trapnel suggests the  an o b s e r v e r , o r " r e a d e r " , h a s Upon f i r s t  meeting  form  and  and  noting specific  style of dress: " t a l l ,  "a v o i c e b o t h deep and wearing  on t h e o b j e c t  a walking  dark, with a  stick  (pp. 105-6).  s e e , r e c o g n i z e , and  d e s c r i b e them a s f e a t u r e s ,  knows what a b e a r d ,  c o a t , and  sees, j u s t  commission, t h i s way,  and  the  "signified  These  sense,  cane a r e ,  a s he u n d e r s t a n d s  "facts"  e n t i t i e s which form  language  physical  i n that Nick  can  or objects.  He  the language  and  thus,  "understands" of h i s uncle's  that  a r e a d e r who  who  and  are analogous  In to  understandable  "speaks"  to the observer,  i s familiar with  the  t h e r e f o r e can i n t e r p r e t i t s the  "language"  of Trapnel's physical  can p r o c e e d t o a n a l y z e i t .  Nick's description of p h y s i c a l t r a i t s ;  visible,  a "language"  "meaning", N i c k u n d e r s t a n d s and  heavy c o a t ,  so t h a t he  of T r a p n e l ! s appearance  Hence, l i k e  of a text,  appearance,  body";  the t r a n s l a t i o n of the Sheik's manuscript.  t h e w o r d s on a p a g e : p h y s i c a l ,  or "reader".  facts",  to  beard";  emaciated  s u i t " and  phenomena a r e , i n a  what he  observed.  features of  harsh"; a "spare, almost  a "pale ochre-coloured t r o p i c a l  carrying  impact  T r a p n e l , N i c k t r e a t s h i s appearance  a r a t h e r lengthy examination, physical  Most i m p o r t a n t l y ,  o f T r a p n e l i s more t h a n j u s t  a  listing  a s w i t h h i s image o f t h e 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 J e a n P i a g e t ' s t e r m f o r c o n s t r u c t i o n b a s e d on s e n s o r y 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 t h a n on t e x t u a l i n f o r m a t i o n . Though t h e i n d i v i d u a l d e t a i l s o f c o n s t r u c t i o n may be d i f f e r e n t , t h e two p r o c e s s e s , a s a w h o l e , a r e n o n e t h e l e s s a n a l o g o u s , p. 81.  35  t r i e s to i n t e r p r e t the Trapnel's a r e not  physical characteristics,  m e r e l y d e t a i l s t o be  sake; r a t h e r , t h e y character,  are  indicative  "symbolized  facts",  Hence, T r a p n e l ' s RAF  greatcoat",  of  exhibitionist",  as w e l l as h i s garments,  as  and  noted f o r t h e i r  expressions  therefore, they  shape o f a  crowd.^  In f a c t ,  Nick  symbolic  r e p u d i a t i o n of  can  stick  "tropical  ( w i t h i t s knob  i s determined to  i n t e r p r e t s Trapnel*s  are  interpreted. suit",  "crudely  s k u l l " ) suggest to Nick  who  own  of a c e r t a i n  They  be  (uncommon a t t h e t i m e ) ,  walking  i n the  appearance.  o f t h e man's p e r s o n a l i t y .  beard and  that  understood  s e e n by N i c k  and,  carved "an  c h a r a c t e r behind  the  stand  out  character in a  appearance as  a  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 c a u s e d by t h e s t i c k , was o f t h e E i g h t e e n - N i n e t i e s , t h e d e c a d e n c e ; p u t t i n g t h i n g s a t 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 o f c u r r e n t l y p o p u l a r male modes . . . (p. 106) Indeed, T r a p n e l ' s  "personal  "exaggerated", t h a t Nick a  represent  Trapnel's  (pp.  105-7).  appearance as  he  i n t e r p r e t s those  "facts"  singular  chooses t o  Thus, N i c k  surface  physically certain underlying  therefore,  i s so  i s s u r p r i s e d when he  "temperate" p i n t of b i t t e r  components o f T r a p n e l ' s  superstructure"  "facts"  to  drink  views  the  which  character t r a i t s , i n order  and  and,  construct  personality.  Nick's  examination of Trapnel  e x t e n d s beyond t h e  overall  ^ When N i c k i s o u t f i t t e d i n h i s army u n i f o r m f o r t h e f i r s t t i m e , he comments, " c l o t h e s , i f n o t t h e w h o l e man, are a l l a r g e p a r t o f him", i n The S o l d i e r ' s A r t ( L o n d o n : Heinemann, 1 9 6 6 ) , p. 3 .  36  impression  of e c c e n t r i c i t y .  He  t h e n o v e l i s t ' s a p p e a r a n c e and  p i c k s out  individual  manner, w h i c h he  considers to  p h y s i c a l manifestations of p e r s o n a l i t y t r a i t s , experience. an  Nick  indication  of c e r t a i n aspirations:  o b v i o u s l y took implied, (p.  106).  he  i n the  c o a t was  though u n j u s t i f i e d ,  Trapnel's but  sees T r a p n e l ' s p o s s e s s i o n  Not  such  or  of the pride  see  evidence  a garment, i n d e e d ,  c o n s i d e r e d an  "ex-officer",  be  coat  as  Trapnel an  status"  "pride" i n i t is  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  w i s h e s t o be  RAF  ex-officer of  of  past  c e r t a i n l y n o t u n t a i n t e d by  aspiration to  o n l y does Nick  sporting of  "The  aspects  "obvious", Trapnel  an a s p i r a t i o n  that  5  Nick  deems " u n j u s t i f i e d " .  novelist's  S i m i l a r l y , Nick  "reads  " g r u f f n e s s o f manner" a p s y c h o l o g i c a l  into"  the  defence  mechanism: The f a c t t h a t h i s demeanour s t o p p e d j u s t s h o r t o f b e i n g a g g r e s s i v e was no d o u b t i n t h e main a f o r m 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 , a l m o s t o f 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, w h i c h were d a r k brown t o b l a c k . They g a v e t h e c l u e t o T r a p n e l h a v i n g b e e n t h r o u g h a h a r d t i m e a t some s t a g e o f h i s l i f e , e v e n when one was s t i l l unaware how d a n g e r o u s l y - anyway how u n c o m f o r t a b l y - he was i n c l i n e d t o l i v e . ( p p . 107-8)  Thus, i n N i c k ' s interpretation securities, eyes.  view, T r a p n e l ' s hard-edged p e r s o n a l i t y (an in itself)  even " f e a r " ,  i s a facade and  Even T r a p n e l * s beard  this  to  cover deeper i n -  i s e v i d e n t by  "hints"  "reading" h i s  o f wartime e x p e r i e n c e  in  ^ N i c k l e a r n s "much l a t e r " t h a t t h e RAF c o a t was a g i f t f r o m L i n d s a y Bagshaw, b u t much o f t h i s " r e a d i n g " o f T r a p n e l i s from t h e mature n a r r a t o r ' s p o i n t o f view.  37  submarines, r a t h e r than a t a s t e f o r e x o t i c f a s h i o n (p. 105). In each o f these cases, Nick p e r c e i v e s e x p r e s s i o n s o f T r a p n e l ' s c h a r a c t e r i n h i s p h y s i c a l , and s a r t o r i a l , makeup; they a r e "implied",  " h i n t e d a t " , o r "given a c l u e t o " , and y e t , i t i s  Nick who s u p p l i e s these " i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s " .  In f a c t ,  Trapnel's  appearance, as d e s c r i b e d by Nick, i s not e x p r e s s i v e o f h i s c h a r a c t e r , but o f N i c k ' s p e r c e p t i o n o f t h a t c h a r a c t e r . N i c k ' s " r e a d i n g " o f T r a p n e l i s not s o l e l y based p h y s i c a l " s i g n s " thus e x h i b i t e d .  on t h e  J u s t as h i s c o n s t r u c t i o n o f  Uncle G i l e s , when r e a d i n g t h e commission, i s i n f l u e n c e d by p r e v i o u s " i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s " o f t h e o l d man, N i c k ' s view o f T r a p n e l i s a f f e c t e d by c e r t a i n e x p e c t a t i o n s .  L i n d s a y "Books-do-  furnish-a-room" Bagshaw has r e l a t e d some o f T r a p n e l ' s h i s t o r y t o Nick, so he i s prepared f o r an "odd-raan-out", but Nick has a l s o read T r a p n e l * s n o v e l , and t h i s has produced  h i s own  assumptions: Even without Bagshaw's note o f c a u t i o n , I had come prepared f o r T r a p n e l t o t u r n 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 t h e author i s concerned, and Camel Ride t o t h e Tomb, whatever i t s q u a l i t i e s as a n o v e l , had a l l t h e marks of having been w r i t t e n by a man who found d i f f i c u l t y i n g e t t i n g on w i t h t h e r e s t o f t h e world. (p. 104) Nick a l r e a d y expects Trapnel t o be something o f an non-conformist, someone who does not "get on" w i t h t h e world i n g e n e r a l , and, t h e r e f o r e , h i s examination  o f t h e n o v e l i s t ' s appearance seems  In Temporary Kings (London: Heinemann, 1973), p. 20, Nick g i v e s a s i m i l a r , though b r i e f e r , " r e a d i n g " o f R u s s e l l Gwinnett, i n which he m a i n t a i n s t h a t t h e man's t h i n bones and. s a l l o w s k i n "suggested" h i s American n a t i o n a l i t y .  3*  t o be  a confirmation of the  these  e x p e c t a t i o n s have r e s u l t e d  Trapnel's novel. Trapnel's  Nick  has  c h a r a c t e r by  earlier  postulation.  from the r e a d i n g  already, to  i n t e r p r e t i n g what he  she  "wrote"),  thereby  when N i c k process reads  whereby N i c k  the  of Uncle has  meets T r a p n e l .  Nick  relating  already experienced  having  e x p a n d s , o r augments, h i s  i n person  previously defined  however, i s e s s e n t i a l l y text  and  of  the he  portrait-  t h e t e x t o f t h e document t o what  of G i l e s  "reading" Trapnel  "texts"  c h a r a c t e r when  (or through  i n person.  the  same.  i n the  The  now  anecdote);  novelist's  augments t h a t  interpretative  In both  he  opposite  something o f the  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 v i e w by  the of  seen a s a r e v e r s a l  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 d e v e l o p s direction:  b a s i s of  the a i d of other  T h i s c a n be  (not  the process  constructs h i s uncle's  commission. G i l e s by  on t h e  text:  constructed  has w r i t t e n  initiating  i n t e r p r e t a t i o n that continues with  importantly,  of a r e a l  some e x t e n t ,  u n l i k e h i s e v a l u a t i o n o f Queen V i c t o r i a , commission  More  cases, Nick  " i n t e r p r e t s " p h y s i c a l phenomena i n o r d e r t o  process,  reads  the  understand  character. Having noted a p p e a r a n c e , and  the  "signified  i n t e r p r e t e d the  f a c t s " of Trapnel's p h y s i c a l "symbolized  proceeds to question h i s d e s c r i p t i o n he  i n the  questions h i s i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s of the  i n s c r i p t i o n ; ' ' He  w o n d e r s i f he  has  facts", same way  Nick i n which  c o m m i s s i o n and  presented  the  a "true" picture  of h i s subject: P e r h a p s 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 - a s so o f t e n when f a c t s a r e a c c u r a t e l y r e p o r t e d - i s a t t h e same t i m e m o r a l l y u n f a i r . ''Facts' - a s T r a p n e l h i m s e l f ,  3 9  t a l k i n g a b o u t w r i t i n g , was l a t e r t o p o i n t o u t - a r e a f t e r a l l o n l y on t h e 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, h i d d e n , much more l i k e l y t o be i m p o r t a n t , i s e a s i l y omitted, (p. 1 0 7 ) ;  The  " f a c t s " of Trapnel's  p h y s i c a l appearance, being  s u p e r f i c i a l phenomena, a r e n o t of h i s character,  and,  merely  necessarily a true indication  therefore,.may paint  an  "unfair" picture  7 o f t h e man. factually that  In N i c k ' s "accurate",  view, t h e  n o n e t h e l e s s s u g g e s t s an  i s rather deceptive:  ludicrous,  a kind  indeed,  question  Trapnel's and  may  appearance are  be  "prejudiced  "unfair" portrait  could  In t h i s  his  superficial  be  elements.  the  sense, i f the they are  absurdity  to  him."  those  "below",  possibility "facts"  only  of  superficial, so t h a t  an  drawn. question  h i s a n a l y s i s o f what i s  phenomena o f T r a p n e l ' s  i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of the  "subjective"  attempt to reach  though  a l l but  i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of  subjective presentation",  A l t h o u g h N i c k does not "below" the  h i s own  "accurate",  by  of  somehow c l u n g  nonetheless recognizes  erroneous "reading".  aspect  s p i t e o f much t h a t was  h i s a n a l y s i s i s an  t o what i s " h i d d e n " , he o f an  "In  of inner d i g n i t y s t i l l  While N i c k does not "facts",  d e s c r i p t i o n of Trapnel,  n o v e l i s t ' s character  J u s t as h i s i r o n i c  "superstructure", i s affected  presentation  of  by the  I n o t h e r v o l u m e s o f Dance, N i c k c o n s i d e r s t h e d i f f i c u l t y o f c o n v e y i n g " t h e i n n e r t r u t h o f t h e t h i n g s o b s e r v e d " 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. I n The A c c e p t a n c e W o r l d ( L o n d o n : Heinemann, 1 9 5 5 ) , p. 3 3 , he s u g g e s t s t h a t d e s p i t e t h e 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 m i g h t a l s o c a p t u r e " h i s f i n a l e s s e n c e " ; and i n The K i n d l y Ones, p. 1 5 , he r e m a r k s t h a t " o v e r s t a t e m e n t and u n d e r s t a t e m e n t " o f t e n e x p r e s s t h e 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 his  suitability  Giles' military  career  ( o r , more a c c u r a t e l y ,  f o r that career) i l l u s t r a t e s the role that the  reader's perspective plays 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 Trapnel*s p e r s o n a l i t y suggests that to  the observer  undercut  h a s on t h e o b j e c t o b s e r v e d .  him.  tries  appearance  not from T r a p n e l , but from N i c k ' s  By t r y i n g  topprobe  accentuates  the "subjectivity" of h i s description;  Nick  he d o e s n o t  t h e " 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  Hence, j u s t  as the character o f Uncle  nephew's i n t e r p r e t a t i o n  "readings",  sense,  G i l e s i s the product  o f t h e c o m m i s s i o n , among  so t o o i s T r a p n e l ' s  constructive imagination. in this  i snot  beneath  surface, i n order t o i l l u m i n a t e the " r e a l " Trapnel,  present  perception  r a t h e r , i t i s N i c k who a p p l i e s t h a t t e r m , and t h u s ,  t h a t p e r s p e c t i v e , t o what he s e e s .  his  While Nick  I n o t h e r words, T r a p n e l ' s appearance i n i t s e l f  "absurd";  the  impact  the "ludicrous" aspects of Trapnel's  they d e r i v e , i n f a c t , of  the  "fact". of  other  character the product  of Nick's  T r a p n e l * s p h y s i c a l .-appearance i s n o t ,  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 ,  Nick's  p e r c e p t i o n 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 t  of  Trapnel's  c h a r a c t e r , i s a n 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 a p p e a r a n c e .  I n t h i s way, N i c k ' s  demonstrates the extent  "reading" of Trapnel  t o w h i c h he i s r e s p o n s i b l e f o r t h e  I n S p e e c h a n d Phenomena and O t h e r E s s a y s o n H u s s e r l ' s T h e o r y o f S i g n s , t r a n s . D a v i d B. A l l i s o n ( E v a n s t o n , I l l i n o i s : N o r t h w e s t e r n U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1973)» pp. 36-7, J a c q u e s D e r r i d a . w r i t e s , "Even f o r h i m who f i n d s s o m e t h i n g d i s c u r s i v e i n a n o t h e r person's gestures, the i n d i c a t i v e manifestations of the other are not thereby transformed i n t o expressions. I t i s he, t h e i n t e r p r e t e r , who e x p r e s s e s h i m s e l f a b o u t them."  41  aspects  t h a t make up t h e n o v e l i s t ' s c h a r a c t e r .  exists within the f i c t i o n a l has  a specific  revealed  in this  of the novel,  i s the product  When N i c k the Sheik's  inscription  conjures  of h i s "reader's"  into a fictional  facts",  scene.  He r e c o g n i z e s  i n a certain situation), Nick  will  often  with  reading  image t h u s c o n s t r u c t e d  i s a "fiction",  process  when " r e a d i n g "  X.  i n that  Trapnel's  i n order  And, w h i l e t h e i t i s Nick's  i n t h e sense t h a t i t Here, t h e  i n which Nick  indulges  appearance, f o r i n s t e a d o f  systematically analyzing the s u p e r f i c i a l subject,  one.  of the subject.  i s unlike that  (like the  up a n o t h e r image, w h i c h i s  creation, i t i s also a f i c t i o n  interpretative  image ( a  a s opposed t o a t e x t  conjure  d e r i v e s from a " f a l s e " reading  of texts, f o r  scenes o f c h a r a c t e r s .  a "real"  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 "  imaginative  this  This construction of  to Nick's  i s , e v e n when he i s p r e s e n t e d  inscription),  that  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 n o t  a l s o o c c u r s when he o b s e r v e s p a r t i c u l a r  person  construction.  by t h e l i m i t a t i o n s o f t h e t e x t ' s  i m a g e s , however, i s n o t c o n f i n e d  That  p e r c e p t i o n s , and,  m a n u s c r i p t , he t r a n s l a t e s t h e t e x t o f t h e  necessarily a representation of r e a l i t y .  it  he i s  up t h e image o f t h e t r a n s l a t o r w o r k i n g  image, though, r e s t r i c t e d "signified  of Nick's  Trapnel  and t h u s ,  scene a t l e a s t ,  t o us through the mediation  therefore,  on  character,  context  While  to construct  features of h i s  character, Nick  almost  uncons-  c i o u s l y t r a n s l a t e s what he s e e s i n t o h i s own i m a g e s , w h i c h a r e only l a t e r episodes  perceived  as character analyses.  By e x a m i n i n g  o f image c o n s t r u c t i o n , one c a n e s t i m a t e  these  the effect  42  that  a p e r c e i v e r has  significance In  on t h e p e r c e i v e d , and,  of N i c k ' s r o l e as a v e h i c l e o f  A Buyer's Market,  p a r t y a r e b e i n g conducted by  when N i c k and  the  therefore,  the  perspective. Walpole-Wilson  t h r o u g h t h e dungeons o f  Stourwater  S i r Magnus D o n n e r s , N i c k becomes s e p a r a t e d f r o m t h e o t h e r s , 6  and  comes upon W i d m e r p o o l p e e r i n g t h r o u g h a g r i l l e d  The  s u r p r i s e o f s u c h an  enclosed about  encounter,  window.  as w e l l as the dark  and  s u r r o u n d i n g s , p r o m p t s N i c k t o f a n t a g i z e f o r a moment  h i s f r i e n d ' s unexpected  appearance.  as strange as i t i s i n r e a l i t y ,  Widmerpool's presence,  becomes even more so i n N i c k ' s  imagination: I t was a v i s i o n o f W i d m e r p o o l , i m p r i s o n e d , t o a l l o u t w a r d a p p e a r a n c e s , i n an u n d e r g r o u n d c e l l , f r o m which o n l y a s m a l l g r a t i n g gave a c c e s s t o t h e 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 t h e f a t e t h a t must be h i s , t h u s immured, w h i l e I r a c k e d my b r a i n , f o r t h e same b r i e f i n s t a n t o f a l m o s t u n b e a r a b l e a n x i e t y , t o c o n j e c t u r e what c r i m e , o r d e r e l i c t i o n o f d u t y , he must h a v e committed t o s u f f e r s u c h treatment a t the hands o f h i s t y r a n t . ( p . 204)  At  first,  agency"),  Nick but  encounters only a voice  even when he r e c o g n i z e s t h a t  Widmerpool, t h e a c t u a l b a r r e d window, d o e s n o t indeed,  sight  o f t h e man,  immediately  i t p r o d u c e s what N i c k t e r m s  f r o m human  i t belongs to  peering through  the  explain h i s presence; a "nameless  N i c k r e g i s t e r s "in h i s mind t h e p h y s i c a l appearance  ("isolated  "facts"  apprehension". o f Widmerpool' s  ( h i s f a c e b e h i n d t h e b a r s , somewhat shadowed by  the  ^ A n t h o n y P o w e l l , A B u y e r ' s M a r k e t (London: Heinemann, 1 9 5 2 ) , 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 a p p e a r i n the text.  42a  darkness  o f t h e d u n g e o n ) , b u t he  i n t e r p r e t s those  i m a g i n i n g t h a t Widmerpool Viss?imprisoned i n a c e l l kind  of crime.  N i c k t r a n s l a t e s what he  Widmerpool) i n t o a v i s i o n t h a t even though  i t i s based  involves the  on  " f a c t s " byf o r some  sees (the " r e a l "  exists only i n h i s imagination,  "fact".  Here, N i c k ' s " r e a d i n g "  c o n s t r u c t i o n o f image f r o m  image, a s o p p o s e d  image f r o m t e x t , w h i c h i s e s s e n t i a l l y t h e t r a n s l a t i o n reality  into  image o f  to  of  fiction.  What N i c k t e r m s h i s " s u b c o n s c i o u s f a n t a s i e s o f t h e m i n d " , are triggered  by t h e u n e x p e c t e d  sight  o f Widmerpool, but  are c o n d i t i o n e d , or p a r t l y determined, of  something  beyond t h e " r e a l "  image  by N i c k ' s  they  recollection  itself:  P e r h a p s S i r Magnus's a l l u s i o n t o t h e a p p r o p r i a t e t r e a t m e n t o f ' g i r l s who d o n ' t b e h a v e ' . . . h a d , f o r some u n a c c o u n t a b l e r e a s o n , r e s u l t e d i n t h e c o n j u r a t i o n o f t h i s s p e c t r e , a s t h e image seemed t o be, t h a t t o o k f o r m a t t h a t moment b e f o r e my eyes. ( p p . 204-5) Having  heard  S i r Magnus speak o f 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, N i c k a s s o c i a t e s a . s u c h t r e a t m e n t w i t h W i d m e r p o o l ' s presence, which,  at t h i s point,  i s otherwise unexplainable.  N i c k ' s image o f W i d m e r p o o l i n c a r c e r a t e d d e p e n d e n t on o t h e r f a c t o r s t h a n j u s t moment.  I t i s important  in a cell  what he  i s thus  sees at  t o n o t e , however, t h a t t h i s  that recognition  of the p o s s i b l e  c a u s e s b e h i n d N i c k ' s image d o e s n o t o c c u r a t  the time  encounter;  insight. almost  of the  When N i c k  rather,  i t i s t h e mature n a r r a t o r ' s  s e e s W i d m e r p o o l , he  u n c o n s c i o u s l y ; i t i s an i m m e d i a t e  c o n j u r e s up  h i s image  impression, of  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 only  brief on  43  looking his  back, t h a t N i c k endeavours t o o f f e r  "spectre".  Hence, i t i s on  that  he  may  incident,  the  object  observed  that  (his "spectre"),  of the  "outrageous" can  fantasy.  examining h i s response t o  between t h e object  the  w a k i n g mind  explain h i s imaginative  and  explanation  reconsideration  w i t h Widmerpool t h a t N i c k d e s c r i b e s " i n c r e d i b l e " assumptions t h a t  an  By  encounter  and  make, i n  order  "rereading"  i t , Nick  ( W i d m e r p o o l ) and  for  distinguishes  h i s perception  thereby focussing  the  on  the  of  element  of  perspective. Whereas N i c k r e c o g n i z e s imagination  plays  i n the  the  part  construction  that  of the  thereby acknowledging i t s " u n r e a l i t y " , Widmerpool i s not declare to  the  absurdity  "rational  from the  not  even r e m o t e l y  (p.  205).  suggests, that  interpretation.  He  "absurd a b e r r a t i o n " , it  had  outside  cell  of Nick's  t o the  includes  outrageous.  may  not  be  i n prison,  Widmerpool's c o n f e s s i o n  least  and  thus,  altogether  i n h i s own  and,  a  is  t h a t he  yet,  "false" an  "because  indeed, the  soon a p p e a r s i n the  notion  less  p h y s i c a l sense has  suggests that  is  imagination  i t in his narrative  of prisoner  expenses f o r Gypsy J o n e s ' a b o r t i o n committed, a t  reverts  deems h i s image o f W i d m e r p o o l t o be but  to  presence of h i s f r i e n d ,  " m i s r e a d i n g " i s not  i s a kind  word, b u t  him  s o o n a s he  castle,  some r e l a t i o n t o what f o l l o w e d " ,  He  As  of the  "misread" the  t h a t Widmerpool  the  dungeons l e a d s  that  comes t o u n d e r s t a n d t h a t W i d m e r p o o l  confined  N i c k has  i n the  t r a n s l a t o r ' s image,  his realization  of h i s imaginings.  t h o u g h t " , he  s p e a k i n g t o him  a s he  incarcerated  h i s ;creative  paid he  of  the  has  m i n d , a " c r i m e " f o r w h i c h he  is  44  being punished  (pp.  207-9).  In t h i s  sense,  i n Nick's imagination, while f a c t u a l l y appropriate  Widmerpool's presence the o u t s i d e of the  castle,  i n t e r p r e t a t i o n may, image may  in fact,  albeit  be u l t i m a t e l y  valid  but N i c k ' s  capture the  that  a window, such "correct",  Ones, when he  because A  accurate  physical  picture  essence  of Widmerpool's  i s unaware a t t h i s p o i n t .  "facts",  such  Upon m e e t i n g  but  " a b e r r a t i o n ' . ' i n The  B e t t y Templer, P e t e r ' s  image.  "terrified"  she h a s  t o be  just  so " d a z e d "  emerged f r o m  Kindly  company o f S i r Magnus a t  evokes another  appears  i n so  image.  w i f e , N i c k ' s immediate i m p r e s s i o n o f h e r  imagines  an  "subconscious  he m i s i n t e r p r e t s t h e  i s once a g a i n i n t h e  (p. 115).  She  on  Nick's "misreading" nonetheless r e s u l t s i n a  experiences another  Stourwater  an  i s actually  c o n s t r u c t s an a p p r o p r i a t e , t h o u g h f i c t i o n a l ,  Nick  be  "reading" of  he  be a f a c t u a l l y  of which Nick  interpretation;  doing,  eyes,  "false",  something  I n t h i s way,  constructed  c h a r a c t e r i z e t h e man's i n n e r c o n f l i c t .  o f what i s b e f o r e N i c k ' s  situation,  i n that  peering through  d e s c r i p t i o n o f W i d m e r p o o l may  fantasies",  anguish  Hence, w h i l e N i c k ' s  i s erroneous,  cell  i n a c c u r a t e , may  " r e - p r e s e n t a t i o n " of the mental  Widmerpool i s s u f f e r i n g .  that  the  and  the  second  fanciful  that  Nick  dungeons:  C o u l d i t be t h a t B e t t y T e m p l e r , w i t h h e r h u s b a n d ' s c o n n i v a n c e - an e x p l a n a t i o n o f T e m p l e r ' s u n e a s y a i r had b e e n i m p r i s o n e d i n t h e c o u r s e o f 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 s t r a n g e whims? Of c o u r s e , I d i d n o t 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 t h e g r o t e s q u e n o t i o n p r e s e n t e d i t s e l f .  Just  as Widmerpool i s " i m p r i s o n e d "  i n Nick's imagination, i f  45  o n l y f o r a moment, so t o o i s B e t t y T e m p l e r .  Unlike Nick's  " r e a d i n g " o f W i d m e r p o o l , 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,  fictional,  image; a t l e a s t N i c k  n o t d e s c r i b e one, b u t such a n image i s n o n e t h e l e s s his  musings.  fictional Nick  S i r Magnus'  b e h a v e " , and t h e p r e v i o u s t o u r  t h e dungeons o f S t o u r w a t e r ,  Betsy's c o n d i t i o n .  agitation,  image, o f s u c h  And, o n c e a g a i n , t h e a s s o c i a t i o n w i t h  r e f e r e n c e t o " g i r l s who d o n ' t  of  f o r Betsy's  evokes t h e i m p r e s s i o n , i f not t h e d e t a i l e d  through  s u g g e s t e d by  By c o n s t r u c t i n g a p o s s i b l e r e a s o n , w h i c h i s a s  a s Widmerpool's i n c a r c e r a t i o n ,  "rompings".  does  influence Nick's  Even though Nick  immediately  "reading" recognizes  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 " m i s r e a d i n g " o f t h e woman, h i s e r r o r l i e s , n o t i n p e r c e i v i n g t h e "signified  facts"  ( h e r u n e a s i n e s s and f e a r ) ,  the reason  f o r those  Notwithstanding notion",  "facts". the fantastic  nature o f Nick's  so w i d e o f t h e mark. "imprisoned",  partly  sadistic,  L i k e Widmerpool,  i n t h e sense  rompings",  evident, at least  t h a t h e r marriage  t o Peter  T h i s becomes  r e c o u r s e t o o b v i o u s f a n t a s y , i n an  to discover the real  source o f h e r " t e r r o r " .  why P e t e r m a r r i e d h e r ( d i d he want a l e s s t h a n b r i g h t ,  first  appears  t o N i c k , a s he c o n t i n u e s t o examine t h e  woman's manner, w i t h o u t  "devotee",  i s not  she m i g h t be s e e n a s  be a r a t h e r " p u n i s h i n g " e x p e r i e n c e f o r h e r .  attempt  "grotesque  t h e i d e a t h a t B e t t y Templer h a s been s u b j e c t e d t o  "some p a r t l y h i g h - s p i r i t e d ,  to  but i n i n t e r p r e t i n g  He wonders adoring  who w o u l d n o t r u n o f f w i t h a n o t h e r man, a s d i d h i s  w i f e , M o n a ? ) ; he s p e c u l a t e s on t h e k i n d o f l i f e  such a  46  m a r r i a g e had and  probably  nervous wife  tendency to on t h e the  brought about f o r the  ( P e t e r ' s enjoyment o f  stray);  and  he  brink of i n s a n i t y : (p. 121).  situation"  social  comes t o t h e "That,  essentially occasions,  at l e a s t ,  was  my  Nick's  idea), Betty's reluctance to  the  h u s b a n d and  elicits  " r o m p i n g s " may Peter  and  least,  not  only mild be  while  S i r Magnus h a v e i n d e e d  to unconscious  cruelty.  Nick's  imagination,  mental  suffering  Betty's  f e a r may  her  initially  represented,  up  party. be  to  Betty, not  i n such a  both  very  have undergone in  a form  of  "reading" not,  as f a r  dungeons of S t o u r w a t e r ) ,  speaking,  Anne  that  at the  does experience Hence, N i c k ' s  from  Such  s i t u a t i o n a t t h a t moment c o u l d w e l l  metaphorically  pose  exit  "Lust" with  (she has  of  exaspera-  don't behave", as  incorrect  i n the  tearful  125-33).  she may  f o r " g i r l s who  during the  of her  While  is  (incidentally,  i t seems e v i d e n t  subjected  she n o n e t h e l e s s  know, b e e n c h a i n e d  "inner truth"  but  his  reading  them p r o v o k e s  concern((pp.  "sadistic",  the punishment r e s e r v e d  we  t h e i r host,  join  room, a f t e r w a t c h i n g P e t e r ' s p o r t r a y a l o f  Umfraville,  own  L a t e r , when t h e p a r t y d e c i d e s  S e v e n D e a d l y S i n s f o r S i r Magnus' camera  i n her  and  conclusion that Betty  as the  tion  shy  but  of as the  be  vision.  I n A B u y e r ' s M a r k e t , p. 138, N i c k ' s " r e a d i n g " o f S i r Magnus D o n n e r s and M r s . |_"kaby"] Wentworth c o n t a i n s t h e same k i n d o f image c o n s t r u c t i o n a s h i s " r e a d i n g " o f W i d m e r p o o l and B e t t y Templer. S e e i n g them e n t e r a room, l o o k i n g none t o o p l e a s e d w i t h each o t h e r , N i c k i s reminded of t h e k i n d o f p i c t u r e s , t h e n 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 i m a g i n e s t h e p a i r a s Adam and E v e l e a v i n g t h e G a r d e n o f E d e n : " t h i s i m p r e s s i o n b e i n g so v i v i d t h a t I a l m o s t e x p e c t e d them t o be f o l l o w e d t h r o u g h t h e d o o r 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." H e r e , t h e " r e a l " image o f t h e c o u p l e p r o d u c e s t h e 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, w h i c h , subsequently, i s " u n r e a l i z e d " . ±  u  47  While  these  episodes i n d i c a t e N i c k ' s tendency  imagination  comparatively free r e i n ,  interesting  aspect of h i s character, they a l s o  that he  an o b s e r v e r h a s  response  frightened  on t h e o b j e c t o b s e r v e d .  o f an  and  t o what he  "reading" of the  confused,  sees.  scene  He  suggest  e s s e n t i a l l y h i s own  an  cases Nick results  the  creation;  i n one  on t h e  N i c k d e s c r i b e s what  sees, t h a t  " r e a d i n g " may  the  s u r f a c e phenomena. unconscious,  which i s n e i t h e r v o l u n t a r y nor same e l e m e n t s  c o n s t r u c t what he W i d m e r p o o l may  I t also sees.  "misreading" of the  In both  cases,  a spontaneous  i l l u s t r a t e s how  an  o f them g o e s b e y o n d  such a d e s c r i p t i o n ,  elements  creation.  at l e a s t  o f h i s own  on t h e  subjected to  Nick's reaction  observer  B e t t y , he  as e x h i b i t i n g  some k i n d o f  and  can  s e e s a man  torment.  and  certain  Nick's perception  includes those  Hence, when N i c k  sees something  s u r f a c e ; he  deliberate  sense, w h i l e B e t t y Templer  be d e s c r i b e d o b j e c t i v e l y  that  i t does c o n 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,  W i d m e r p o o l and  nonetheless  "inner truth"  c a l c u l a t e d , but  In t h i s  sees,  themselves,  o f c o n s t r u c t i o n w h i c h mark h i s more  of t e x t s .  form  F u r t h e r , though i n both  interpretation  seem a l m o s t  o f what he  sees, which, i n  "misreads"  just  instance, i n the  "facts"  image.  in a fairly  Templer  i n t h e o t h e r i n s t a n c e , by  f o r what he  what he  impact  also describes h i s  equally f i c t i t i o u s  e x i s t s beneath  reading  he  an  presents h i s reader with h i s  image, w h i c h , t h o u g h b a s e d  suggest  but  B e f o r e him:  imaginings-possible causes  the  thus, i l l u s t r a t e  s e e s , w h e t h e r W i d m e r p o o l l o o k i n g i n a window o r B e t t y  looking  is  and  to allow h i s  encounters  o t h e r t h a n what i s t h e r e , imprisoned  and  a woman  43  The  most t y p i c a l  kind  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 d e t e r m i n e actions. is  Having,  t o some e x t e n t , come t o know t h a t  faced with a situation  immediately  self-explanatory,  One example o f s u c h  it  i n light  itself  numerous p o s s i b l e  response  seems s i m p l e  to Priscilla's  into"  to allow f o r a process.  Nick's  i s essentially  another a c t o f construc-  l i k e h i s r e a d i n g o f t h e e p i g r a p h and t h e t e x t s ofam  i s a l s o an attempt  a part  "reads  departure, h i s ruminations concerning the  the Thanksgiving Service, It  ( p . 142).  enough, N i c k  o f meaning" i n t h e i n t e r p r e t a t i v e  which,  Priscilla  e x p l a n a t i o n s which h e i g h t e n i t s importance  r e a s o n s f o r ,her a c t i o n s , tion,  i n The S o l d i e r ' s A r t ,  so s u d d e n l y  i n h i s m i n d , and i l l u s t r a t e s h i s t e n d e n c y "plurality  o f what he d o e s know.  why h i s s i s t e r - i n - l a w ,  should leave the Cafe Royal  the action  Nick  a n d , t h e r e f o r e , he g o e s t o some  " r e a d i n g " c a n be f o u n d  where N i c k t r i e s t o u n d e r s t a n d  While  person,  i n which h i s o r h e r a c t i o n s a r e not  l e n g t h t o examine t h o s e a c t i o n s ,  Lovell,  the reasons f o r a character's  i n v o l v e s t h e d i s c o v e r y o f "meaning".  to interpret  her personality,  of h i s construction of character.  comes t o a f i n a l  The f a c t  and, t h e r e f o r e , that  conclusion regarding her behaviour only  he n e v e r 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 a p p e a r i n t h e t e x t . O t h e r e x a m p l e s o f t h i s k i n d o f " r e a d i n g " c a n be f o u n d i n A B u y e r ' s M a r k e t , p p . 111-12, where N i c k p o n d e r s on t h e r e a s o n b e h i n d S i l l e r y ' s p r e s e n c e 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 A c c e p t a n c e W o r l d , where he w o n d e r s why S t r i n g h a m i s g e t t i n g m a r r i e d ( p p . 197-3), why W i d m e r p o o l makes h i s s p e e c h a t t h e O l d Boy D i n n e r , and why L e B a s g r e e t s t h a t s p e e c h a s he d o e s , b y s u c c u m b i n g t o a s t r o k e ( p p . 194-6). Most o f t h e s e e p i s o d e s a r e much b r i e f e r t h a n 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 p a r t u r e , b u t h i s g o a l i s t h e same: t o d i s c o v e r t h e "meaning" b e h i n d s u c h actions.  49  the n o t i o n that of  Priscilla,  in this  scene,  i s partly  N i c k ' s c r e a t i v e imagination, i n that her  the  product  character i s describ-  ed a s i t i s p e r c e i v e d f r o m h i s p e r s p e c t i v e . The  e v e n t s l e a d i n g up  to P r i s c i l l a * s  Cafe Royal are fraught with to  d e p a r t u r e from  some a n x i e t y f o r N i c k , who  t h e r e s t a u r a n t t o meet h e r h u s b a n d , C h i p s L o v e l l ,  soon f a c e d w i t h numerous o t h e r e n c o u n t e r s :  w i t h Hugh  the  has  come  b u t who  is  Moreland  i  and  Audrey M a c l i n t i c k ,  Stevens  (pp.  106-43).  as w e l l as P r i s c i l l a Nick  c h a r a c t e r s , each  involved with  someone i n t h e g r o u p ,  " i n t e r p r e t a t i o n " of the  Moreland, Stevens,  now  r e l a t i o n s h i p w i t h N i c k , he characters i n a has l e f t about the  single  L o v e l l has Stevens  enter the restaurant, Nick  because of  with a l l four even though just  (p. 10&),  "reads"  her  told  Lovell Nick  so t h a t  when  Priscilla*s  s u c h k n o w l e d g e i n mind:  T h u s , i n N i c k ' s mind a t l e a s t , a b l e a t t h e p r o s p e c t o f an "old love"  involved with  c h a i n , and,  rather trying,  h i s wife's relationship with  demeanour w i t h  an  i n the  affects  once i n l o v e w i t h  at present  f i n d s h i s encounter  evening  relationships  t h i s knowledge  Priscilla,  and  before the others a r r i v e .  couple  and  scene.  link  Odo  o f whom h a s b e e n , o r i s c u r r e n t l y ,  married to L o v e l l ,  i s the recurring  her l o v e r ,  i s aware o f t h e t a n g l e d  between t h e s e  his  and  (Moreland),  Priscilla  evening and  i n the  seems n o t t o o  uncomfort-  company o f h e r  her b r o t h e r - i n - l a w , but,  as  lover, the  50  scene  develops, Nick-inbtices that  complete, (pp.  especially  131-2).  s e l v e s be  provokes  f o r an  a f t e r her  fathomed.  "real"  suggestion that  At f i r s t , off  and  b e g s o f f by  "on"  so  and  complaining finds  easily  consistent with  the events of the  examines t h e p o s s i b i l i t y  (p. 142).  remark a b o u t  he  that  in itself,  I t i s much more l i k e l y  h e r f e a r o f an a i r r a i d chord  both  evening.  Priscilla  considers t h i s  although t h i s ,  s t r u c k an a l r e a d y t e n s e  for that  She  w h i c h w o u l d be  s e e s i t ) and  probable",  possibility  Stevens' had  than  does not  s u g g e s t s numerous f a c t o r s w h i c h m i g h t  ( a s he Nick  i n them-  l e a v e s (without Stevens), Nick  i n s e a r c h o f h e r husband, but  dramatic its  she  i s i n town  safety of c i v i l i a n s  reason f o r her departure i s not  explain her actions, her p e r s o n a l i t y  Lovell  a b l i t z m i g h t be  the  (pp. 137-8).  after  H e n c e , he  i s not  s u r p r i s e s , t h a t might  a g e n e r a l d i s c u s s i o n about  o f a headache, but  ease  early departure, P r i s c i l l a  s o l d i e r s d u r i n g t h e war  that the  t e l l s her that  I n s p i t e o f such  reason  leave u n t i l  a f t e r he  Priscilla's  went  "more does not  that  being  i n her nerves, but  deny  Odo  unwarranted the  reasons  t e n s i o n seem m u l t i p l e t o N i c k : P o s s i b l y t h i s n e r v o u s s t a t e stemmed f r o m some m i n o r 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 f o r m e a r l i e r i n t h e e v e n i n g s u g g e s t e d t h a t she was b e g i n n i n g t o t i r e o f S t e v e n s , o r f e a r e d he m i g h t be t i r i n g o f h e r . On t h e o t h e r hand, t h e h e a d a c h e , t h e t h o u g h t o f h e r l o v e r ' s d e p a r t u r e , c o u l d e q u a l l y have u p s e t her; w h i l e t h e presence of the r e s t of the party at the t a b l e , the news t h a t h e r h u s b a n d was i n L o n d o n , a l l h e l p e d t o discompose her. R e a s o n s f o r h e r b e h a v i o u r were a s 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 instance. ( p . 143)  Priscilla  c o u l d have l e f t  f o r one,  a few,  or a l l of these  reasons,  51  indeed,  f o r none o f them, b u t N i c k d o e s n o t a t t e m p t  field.  He  "real"  he  causes of P r i s c i l l a * s  know t h e what he of the  recognizes that  "truth",  so t h a t  can o n l y c o n j e c t u r e as t o t h e b e h a v i o u r , and  each p o s s i b i l i t y  t h a t he m i g h t remains  perceives of P r i s c i l l a ' s personality, evening's  events  t o narrow the  (as w e l l  a l l o w s f o r a number o f d i f f e r e n t  and  as her response  never  valid.  Given  h i s "reading" t o them),  "interpretations"  of  Nick  her  departure, thereby, m e t a p h o r i c a l l y speaking, acknowledging "plurality  of the t e x t " .  express to Nick  Most i m p o r t a n t l y , P r i s c i l l a ' s  some k i n d  o f "meaning",  so t h a t  her  e x p l a n a t i o n ( t h e headache) would  Hence, N i c k u n d e r s t a n d s  the  b u t he  also  "interprets" that  significance,  at least  "fact",  i n h i s own  As w i t h h i s " r e a d i n g " o f X. Templer,  c o n s t r u c t e d by h e r "signified  T r a p n e l , W i d m e r p o o l , and  the i n d i v i d u a l  N i c k , however, d e s c r i b e s more t h a n mere  consist  of  a c t i o n s of "facts".  of the evening i n c l u d e s h i s "reading" of a l l the  to the  company.  o f P r i s c i l l a * s demeanour and  T h u s , N i c k a t t r i b u t e s t o h e r an  n e s s o f h i s u n c e r t a i n t y about his table:  character i s  departures of the characters involved,  p e r s o n s p r e s e n t , most e s p e c i a l l y response  the  I f N i c k were t o d e s c r i b e t h e  c o n v e r s a t i o n s t h a t t a k e p l a c e , and  each p e r s o n .  Betty  departure from  f a c t s " o f t h e e v e n i n g , h i s n a r r a t i v e would  t h e numerous a r r i v a l s and  His account  (her departure),  i t acquires a  the extent t o which her  "reader".  suggest.  mind.  Nick's consideration of P r i s c i l l a ' s  Cafe Royal demonstrates  the  so t h a t  actions  departure  s i g n i f i e s more t h a n h e r  " f a c t " o f t h e event  the  inviting  h e r and  Stevens to  " O b v i o u s l y t h e t h o u g h t s g o i n g t h r o u g h my  her  awarejoin  head were  as  52  clear  a s d a y t o h e r " ( p . 1 3 1 ) ; he s u g g e s t s t h a t  behaviour towards Audrey M a c l i n t i c k Priscilla", for  who was "no d o u b t  Stevens,  another"  Stevens;*;  i s "perhaps  unwilling  displeasing to  t o admit  to herself  one woman was, a t l e a s t up t o a p o i n t ,  ( p . 1 3 6 ) ; a n d he i n t e r p r e t s h e r c o m p l a i n t  as the r e s u l t  o f some s o r t  that,  a s good a s o f a headache  of petulance:  I i m a g i n e d t h a t , h a v i n g d e c i d e d a mistake:;;had b e e n made i n a l l o w i n g h i m [ S t e v e n s ] t o j o i n o u r t a b l e , she h a d now s e t t l e d on a d i s p l a y o f b a d t e m p e r a s t h e b e s t means o f g e t t i n g h i m away. (p. 139) In  each  case, Nick a s c r i b e s  w o r d s and a c t i o n s , character. ter,  so t h a t  some k i n d  o f meaning t o  Priscilla's  t h e y become e x p r e s s i o n s o f h e r  I n so d o i n g , he d o e s n o t so much r e v e a l t h a t  a s 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  characPriscilla  may l e a v e t h e r e s t a u r a n t f o r a number o f r e a s o n s , N i c k ' s r e v e a l s only those reasons that p o s s i b l e , which,  he h i m s e l f i m a g i n e s t o be  once a g a i n , a r e t h e p r o d u c t o f h i s " r e a d i n g " .  T h e s e r e a s o n s may be b a s e d Stevens,  on " f a c t "  (her relationship  with  h e r k n o w l e d g e o f h e r h u s b a n d ' s r e t u r n t o L o n d o n , and  her a g i t a t i o n ) , tations",  but they are Nick's c o n s t r u c t i o n s ,  and, t h e r e f o r e ,  While  Nick p r i m a r i l y  or "interpre-  h i s creations. s u b j e c t s t h e t e x t s he r e a d s , and t h e  p e o p l e he o b s e r v e s , t o h i s own p a r t i c u l a r at  account  form  of interpretation,  t i m e s he i n v o k e s o t h e r p e r s p e c t i v e s , o r p o i n t s o f v i e w ,  might  c o n t r a s t w i t h , o r enhance, h i s own.  offering  s i m p l y h i s own r e s p o n s e  That  i s , instead of  t o a person o r event, Nick  sometimes p r e s e n t what he t h i n k s a n o t h e r  which  will  c h a r a c t e r ' s response  w o u l d be i f he or: she were p r e s e n t t o w i t n e s s . w h a t  he h i m s e l f  53  observes.  A p r i m e example o f t h i s  perspective the  can  be  scene a t M i l l y  Giles'  e y e s (pp.  i m p a c t t h a t an  the  different  Nick  observer  be  altered perspective.  party from a viewpoint  event  i s not  pervades the  himself;  that perspective  would have p e r c e i v e d  Nick's Todorov  Nick  the  i f he  product  i s not,  had  "second-level  c o n s t r u c t s what he  event,  now  same t i m e , perspective  reference to  appropriate  in reality,  his  perceived  as n a r r a t o r ,  At t h e  eyes,  so t h a t  f r o m what he  that Nick's  perception  his  Uncle  uncle's  provided  by  Giles  o f what U n c l e G i l e s  been p r e s e n t  of Nick's  d e s c r i p t i o n of the  calls  may  f r o m one  h i s own,  n a r r a t i v e , i n s p i t e of the  rather, i t i s Nick's  therefore,  not  vantage of h i n d s i g h t .  sense, w h i l e  also  using Uncle G i l e s '  f r o m what he,  to recognize  only  o b s e r v e d , but  derived  only d i f f e r e n t  also different  however, i t i s i m p o r t a n t  In t h i s  By  Uncle  demonstrates not  can  p e r c e i v e s from the  viewpoint,  he  interpretations that  time, but  Giles.  so d o i n g ,  has  describes  i t were, t h r o u g h  object  account o f the  still  In  as  the  examines the  at the  Andriadis' party,  on  v i r t u e o f an  another  i n A B u y e r ' s M a r k e t , when N i c k  96-101).  the  by  found  appropriation of  at the  party,  and,  construction.  party  i s an  illustration  c o n s t r u c t i o n " , w h e r e i n one  i m a g i n e s w o u l d be  another  o f what character  character's  12 T h e s e e p i s o d e s s h o u l d n o t be c o n f u s e d w i t h what may be t e r m e d " s e c o n d - h a n d n a r r a t i v e s " , w h e r e i n N i c k i s t o l d o f an i n c i d e n t , o r a c h a r a c t e r ' s e x p e r i e n c e s , w h i c h he i s n o t p r e s e n t t o w i t n e s s , s u c h a s M a l c o l m C r o w d i n g ' s a c c o u n t o f X. T r a p n e l ' s " a p o t h e o s i s " i n t h e Hero o f A c r e Pub ( T e m p o r a r y K i n g s , 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 with Scorpio Murtlock's c u l t (Hearing Secret H a r m o n i e s , pp. 1 6 2 - 7 0 ) . "Second-hand n a r r a t i v e s " a r e n o t r e l a t e d t o u s f r o m N i c k ' s p e r s p e c t i v e , e v e n t h o u g h he comments on them.  54  construction own  of a f a c t .  Hence, N i c k v i e w s t h e p a r t y f r o m h i s  J  perspective ("first-level  i n c o r p o r a t e s what he  construction"),  same e v e n t ,  adopts  s u c h an a p p r o a c h  i f herwere present to observe  G i l e s would have seen  because  "latent  t o t h e "momentary e n t h u s i a s m s "  may  Uncle G i l e s '  be b e y o n d  also  c o n c e i v e s w o u l d be h i s u n c l e ' s p e r c e p t i o n  of the  overlooked.  b u t he  he  thinks that  it.  Nick  perhaps  Uncle  i m p e r f e c t i o n s " w h i c h he,  owing  o f a new  e x p e r i e n c e , might  have  s t a n d a r d s r e g a r d i n g human b e h a v i o u r  "earthly" fulfillment  (not u n l i k e the  "ideal"  e x p e c t a t i o n s o f 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  standards:  i n applying those  T o o l o o k a t t h i n g s t h r o u g h U n c l e G i l e s ' s eyes would n e v e r h a v e o c c u r r e d t o me; b u t - s i m p l y a s an exceptional expedient f o r attempting to preserve a sense o f p r o p o r t i o n , a s t a t e o f 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 a d v a n t a g e o u s - t h e r e may h a v e b e e n s o m e t h i n g t o be s a i d f o r b o r r o w i n g , o n c e i n a way, s o m e t h i n g f r o m U n c l e G i l e s ' s method o f a p p r o a c h . ( p . 96)  N i c k r e c o g n i z e s t h a t h i s own somewhat l i m i t e d ,  the  p e r s p e c t i v e on t h e p a r t y may  subjectivity  inherent i n  i n t e r p r e t a t i o n b e i n g a b a r r i e r t o "a therefore, present w o u l d be  he  "borrows"  equally  N i c k ' s view,  but  subjective,  and  individual  s e n s e o f p r o p o r t i o n " , and,  h i s uncle's point  a wider p i c t u r e of the p a r t y .  o f view  i n order to  Uncle G i l e s ' observations  not always  t h e y would p r o v i d e a k i n d  "acceptable" i n of balance f o r the  young man's p e r s p e c t i v e , t h e r e b y p r o d u c i n g , i f n o t an account,  then perhaps  In "Reading  be  a more i n t e r e s t i n g  as C o n s t r u c t i o n , " p.  one.  79.  objective  55  Nick's  use o f Uncle G i l e s as another "reader  if  one c a n e q u a t e t h e p a r t y  by  the observer,  scene w i t h  a t e x t , which i s "read"  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 N i c k  y o u n g man a t t h e p a r t y ,  time,  i t i s only  as the  and a s t h e mature n a r r a t o r o f t h e n o v e l .  E v e n t h o u g h he s a y s t h a t he h a d i n d e e d the  of the text",  thought o f h i s u n c l e a t  on l o o k i n g b a c k , a s n a r r a t o r , t h a t  subjects the party t o Uncle G i l e s '  s c r u t i n y (p. 100).  a d m i t s t h a t he w o u l d n e v e r h a v e c o n s i d e r e d v i e w on t h e p a r t y a t t h a t t i m e ,  Nick He  imposing h i s u n c l e ' s  so t h a t N i c k  i s not only r e -  c o n s t r u c t i n g t h e s c e n e t h r o u g h t h e v e h i c l e o f h i s memory, b u t he  i s a l s o e x a m i n i n g h i s own i m p r e s s i o n s  h i s younger party  Nick  now r e c o g n i z e s  Unlike  that the "text" of the  i s , a n d 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 b y  re-viewing different Nick  self,  a s a y o u n g man.  i t through h i s uncle's v i e w o f t h e same e v e n t .  now p e r c e i v e s  the party  e y e s , he c a n p r e s e n t  a  T h i s i s not t o suggest  i n a substantially  different  that way  ( a s i d e f r o m t h e c h a n g e s b r o u g h t byotime;) , t f o r ' h i s > i m p r e s s i p n s o f i t r e m a i n ; r a t h e r , by " b o r r o w i n g " a d i f f e r e n t he can  can " s e e " t h e p a r t y present  i n a different  o f young N i c k ,  three  Hence, t h e  p e r s p e c t i v e s on t h e same e v e n t :  t h e m a t u r e n a r r a t o r , and t h e n a r r a t o r ' s  of Uncle G i l e s '  perspective.  are t h e product  o f t h e same c o n s c i o u s n e s s  essentially the perceptions perspectivesis thus  ;  Y e t , because these  o f one man.  the result  n a r r a t o r ) and i m a g i n a t i o n viewpoint).  perspective,  way, a n d , t h e r e f o r e , he  more t h a n one a c c o u n t o f t h e p a r t y .  narrative provides  of time  (Nick's  al  that conception  perspectives  (Nick's), they a r e The a l t e r i n g o f (young N i c k  and t h e  construction of h i s uncle's  56  Nick reacted  p r e f a c e s h i s account  o f how U n c l e  t o M i l l y ' s p a r t y by f i r s t  present  a t t h e Huntercombes'  had proceeded b e f o r e t h e p a r t y .  i n t r o d u c t i o n t o Uncle  Giles'  have  e s t a b l i s h i n g t h e o l d man's  o p i n i o n s regarding t h e kind o f people dance, t o which N i c k  G i l e s would  This  views i s an e x 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 h i m , a n d , t h e r e f o r e , c a n be s e e n a s another It  "building  block" i n the construction of Giles'  a l s o p r o v i d e s a background t o t h e forthcoming  Uncle  Giles'  uncle  i n h i s account  indeed,  a t t i t u d e s that Nick  of the party.  anyone e l s e , w o u l d p r o b a b l y  between t h e two s o c i a l people  presentation of  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 r t h e more p a r t i c u l a r  t o be f o u n d  events,  character.  foundation  ascribes to h i s  And, a s N i c k  admits,  Giles,  p e r c e i v e no d i f f e r e n c e  c e r t a i n l y not i n the kind o f  there:  He [ U n c l e G i l e s ] w o u l d , f o r example, h a v e d i s m i s s e d t h e H u n t e r c o m b e s ' d a n c e a s one o f t h o s e f o r m a l o c c a s i o n s t h a t he h i m s e l f , a s i t were b y d e f i n i t i o n , found w h o l l y unsympathetic. Uncle G i l e s disapproved on p r i n c i p l e o f anyone who c o u l d a f f o r d t o l i v e i n B e l g r a v e S q u a r e . . . e s p e c i a l l y when t h e y were, i n a d d i t i o n , b e a r e r s o f what he c a l l e d ' h a n d l e s t o t h e i r names' . . . . I t was t o a n y f o r m o f 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 t o o k t h e 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 t h e o w n e r s h i p o f l a n d was combined w i t h any s u g g e s t i o n o f p u b l i c s e r v i c e . . . ( p . 97)  Thus, U n c l e  Giles'  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 w o u l d be  f o u n d e d 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 w e a l t h , have i t , p r i n c i p l e s a c q u i r e d t h r o u g h vations, "text",  so t h a t , i n a s e n s e ,  a lifetime  and t h o s e  o f such  who  obser-  h i s "reading" of the party, or  w o u l d depend on p r e v i o u s  "interpretations".  Uncle  i n N i c k ' s view, would n o t approach t h e scene i n a detached  Giles, and  57  o b j e c t i v e f r a m e o f mind; r a t h e r ; he w o u l d b r i n g h i s b e l i e f s about In  people  i n g e n e r a l t o / b e a r on t h i s p a r t i c u l a r  a s i m i l a r way, N i c k t o o i s b r i n g i n g  Uncle  G i l e s t o bear  perspective,  h i s past  "text".  "knowledge" o f  on t h e c o n s t r u c t i o n o f t h e o l d man's  so t h a t G i l e s '  views a r e the product  of Nick's  "reading" of h i s uncle's "reading". N i c k does d e s c r i b e t h e p a r t y from such a s t h e i n t e r i o r of  o f t h e h o u s e , and t h e p h y s i c a l  a f e w g u e s t s , and t h i s a l l o w s f o r a c o m p a r i s o n  p o i n t s o f view. and  h i s own p e r s p e c t i v e ,  For instance, Uncle  whereas N i c k h i m s e l f senses t h a t  " i n f u s e d w i t h an u n d e r c u r r e n t consciousness of c o n f l i c t i n g "intimidating"  (pp. 9$-9).  that  such  "frivolity" i s chilly  e g o i s m s " , w h i c h he f i n d s r a t h e r In t h i s  "reading", especially  penetrating analysis,  noted,  pervades the  o f extreme c o o l n e s s , a  case, Uncle  t h e p a r t y a t m o s p h e r e seems t o be t h e r e s u l t superficial  o f t h e two  G i l e s would have  d e s p i s e d , t h e atmosphere o f " f r i v o l i t y "  scene,  appearance  and t h i s  i n light  sensitive  sense o f  o f a n i m m e d i a t e and o f N i c k ' s more  suggests that,  U n c l e G i l e s w o u l d be a l e s s t h a n  Giles'  i n Nick's  observer.  view,  On t h e  o t h e r hand, a s a " r e a d e r " , N i c k goes beyond t h e " s u r f a c e o f t h e text",  w h e t h e r o r n o t he " i n t e r p r e t s "  the i n d i v i d u a l threads that "frivolity".  correctly,  combine t o f o r m  Hence, h i s i n i t i a l  or "stiffness",  occasional  " e x o t i c i s m " , which undercuts  99).  For Nick,  t h e appearance o f  p e r c e p t i o n o f an o v e r a l l  formality,  (p.  and i d e n t i f i e 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 b s e r v i n g t h e scene  the general t o the p a r t i c u l a r :  superficial  o f an  appearances  i n v o l v e s a movement  i t moves f r o m  the general  from  sense  53  of  "frivolity",  details parts, Nick  through  a n a p p r e c i a t i o n o f t h e more  ( " c o n f l i c t i n g .egoisms"), o r "patches  to therecognition of individual  of singularity"  i s a more a c u t e  superficial,  (pp. 9 9 - 1 0 0 ) .  "reader" than Uncle  nephew's c o n s t r u c t i o n , w o u l d n e v e r and  specific  In this  sense,  G i l e s , who, i n h i s  advance beyond t h e i n i t i a l ,  interpretation.  Nick's description  o f t h e o l d man w i t h t h e e y e - g l a s s , a n d  t h e b l a c k man t o whom he i s t a l k i n g ,  i s another  illustration of  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 t h e c o n s t r u c t i o n of  character.  i s Uncle  U n l i k e t h e account  G i l e s who i n t e r p r e t s a p p e a r a n c e a s a n e x p r e s s i o n o f  character, while Nick assumes t h a t b o t h "official a  "white  essentially  r e s e r v e s judgement.  a s s e m b l a g e " , b e c a u s e one i s w e a r i n g  coat, with  "exaggeratedly  On t h e o t h e r hand, U n c l e  b l a c k man's p r e s e n c e approved  b e c a u s e "he w o u l d  o f guests o f A f r i c a n descent  would have been t h e w h i t e  m e d a l s he i s w e a r i n g .  just  lapels"  Piccadilly,  t o attend  Milly's at the  c e r t a i n l y n o t have being  invited  t o a party t o  E q u a l l y o f f e n s i v e t o Uncle  gentleman, by v i r t u e o f t h e  According t o Nick,  h i s uncle  d i s p l a y o f m e d a l s t o be v u l g a r , and p r o b a b l y in  pointed  G i l e s would have b a l k e d  which he h i m s e l f had been b i d d e n . " Giles  s p o r t s an  According t o Nick's notions o f s a r t o r i a l propriety,  n e i t h e r man w o u l d h a v e worn s u c h a t t i r e party.  some  " m i n i a t u r e s " and  enamel a n d g o l d " c r o s s , w h i l e t h e o t h e r  100).  Nick  g e n t l e m e n have come t o M i l l y ' s p a r t y f r o m  "elaborately waisted" (p.  o f X. T r a p n e l , however, h e r e i t  considered t h e  dishonest  ('"Won 'em  I s h o u l d n ' t w o n d e r ' " ) , and, t h e r e f o r e , he w o u l d  d i s m i s s e d t h e man w i t h  contempt.  Thus, w h i l e N i c k  "reads" the  have  59  p h y s i c a l appearances of the description (except him)  by  o f them, w i t h o u t  men  any  i n order  reference  t o enhance h i s  to t h e i r p e r s o n a l i t i e s  i m p l i c a t i o n ) , Uncle G i l e s (or Nick's  employs i t as  a very  two  n a r r o w and  Uncle G i l e s '  a way  to define,  restrictive  and  judge,  supposed i n t e r p r e t a t i v e approach t o t h e  f u r t h e r evident  of  champagne, waged between a b e a r d e d man In Nick's  uncle's  critical  character,  when N i c k d e s c r i b e s t h e  opinion,  of  but  in  fashion.  is  tiara.  construction  t h i s w o u l d be  party  b a t t l e over a b o t t l e and  a woman w e a r i n g  further material  a  for his  eye:  H e r e , t h e r e f o r e , were a s s e m b l e d i n a s i n g l e g r o u p a s i t were o f b a r o q u e s c u l p t u r e come a l l a t o n c e t o l i f e - three c l a s s e s of object a l l equally abhorrent t o U n c l e G i l e s ; t h a t i s t o say, champagne, b e a r d s , and t i a r a s : e a c h 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 o f l i f e f o r w h i c h he c o u l d f i n d no good t o say . . . (p. 101) To  Giles,  b e a r d s 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 ,  t i a r a s and w h i c h he are,  i s predisposed  like  view,  champagne r e p r e s e n t  the  a  "guilty  to accept.  opulence", n e i t h e r  Beards,  champagne, and  kind  of l i f e  and  tiaras  This kind  of  a t t i t u d e s which oppose h i s  own  "radical" beliefs.  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  symbolic  w h e r e i n h i s s t y l e o f d r e s s was  nineteenth  of  o l d man's m e d a l s , p h y s i c a l o b j e c t s w h i c h , i n h i s  symbolize the  Trapnel,  while  century,  orary  life.  a s an  a i d f o r the  and  thus,  Unlike Nick's  interpretative  deemed t o be  symbolic  "reading",  construction  observation  a  of  X.  that  repudiation of  of  the  contemp-  however, w h i c h i s employed  character,  i s used not  interpretation i s  Uncle G i l e s *  only  to define  kind  of  character,  60  but  to  judge t h a t  character  morally  as w e l l .  u n l i k e N i c k , U n c l e G i l e s w o u l d h a v e t a k e n one "baroque  sculpture",  components, and,  estimated  That,  would r e a c t  t o the  i n any  case,  i s how  s c e n e , i f he  Nick  were t h e r e  Nick's "borrowing" of Uncle G i l e s ' f o r m s an follow,  introduction, in i t s e l f , at  reference  considerable to the  narrator's level", Nick's  so t h a t  Nick  (p.  154).  invokes the  his overall  of the  those of the will  impression  "read"  imagines h i s  uncle  to witness i t .  (pp.  "reading"  scenes i s no  that further  101-51).  perceive  the  at the  meet h i s u n c l e  continues  of the  ceased t o  party  y o u n g man  metaphor o f the  superficial  The  event r e v e r t s t o the on we  later  B e f o r e he  the  i n which t h e r e  from t h i s p o i n t  t h o u g h he  look-^at  approach to  t o the  o l d man's p e r s p e c t i v e  eyes (both  narrator), party  length,  reconstruction  sense,  i t s p h y s i c a l and  i n r e j e c t i n g i t s "meaning",  altogether.  In t h i s  mature  "first  party  party  through  and  the  after leaving  the  h i s n a r r a t i v e , however,  tapestry  i n order  to  summarize  scene:  Although these r e l a t i v e l y exotic embellishments to t h e s c e n e o c c u r r e d w i t h i n a framework on t h e whole commonplace enough, t h e s h i f t i n g g r o u p s o f t h e 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 o f moving w i t h i n the a c t u a l c o n f i n e s of a p i c t u r e or t a p e s t r y , i n t o t h e d e p t h s o f w h i c h t h e p e r s o n a l i t y o f e a c h new a r r i v a l had t o be a u t o m a t i c a l l y amalgamated . . . (p. 101) Here, N i c k r e c o g n i z e s of people, the  that,  t h o u g h he  i s only  some more i n t e r e s t i n g t h a n o t h e r s ,  looking and  that,  e x p e r i e n c e i s "commonplace enough", h i s p e r c e p t i o n  s c e n e i n some way  t r a n s f o r m s i t i n t o an  becomes a m o v i n g  " p i c t u r e or t a p e s t r y " .  "illusion", And,  at a  group  therefore, of  the  so t h a t i t  while t h i s  descrip-  61  t i o n 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 t h e movement o f t h e g r o u p s  scene.  in fact, In a  b e f o r e him  scene,  and  not the  "creates" the i l l u s i o n  sense, N i c k ' s v i s i o n  " c o n f i n e s " i t , so t h a t  (Nick says t h a t  "created" the i l l u s i o n ) ,  Nick's perception of the t h a t he,  scene  i t i s nonetheless  scene  itself,  so  by o b s e r v i n g t h a t  "frames"  the p i c t u r e  the  the party, or  or "tapestry" i s  '' '^y<xl:±?i :  formed.  R e t u r n i n g t o t h e m e t a p h o r o f t h e r e a d e r , he t r a n s l a t e s  the  "image" o f t h e p a r t y i n t o a " t e x t " , whose m e t a p h o r i s t h e "tapestry" It  (from the L a t i n  "textere",  meaning " t o w e a v e " ) .  i s t h u s N i c k , t h e o b s e r v e r o r " r e a d e r ' , who 1  individual vehicle  "threads", or d e t a i l s of the  scene,  takes the and,  o f 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 f o r m  illusory  tapestry,  or "text",  thereby reversing the  t i v e p r o c e s s i n w h i c h he t r a n s l a t e s U n c l e G i l e s * the i n s c r i p t i o n or  from  The  Arab  A r t of Love i n t o  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 product  of construction.  response he had  what N i c k — the  the  the  interpreta-  commission  fictional  and  images,  scenes. W h i l e N i c k d e s c r i b e s some o f t h e  if  through  That  at M i l l y ' s party  perspective i s nonetheless a  i s , we  t o t h e p a r t y , n o r do we  scene  do n o t g e t t h e o l d man's  g e t what he w o u l d h a v e p e r c e i v e d ,  b e e n p r e s e n t a t t h e t i m e ; r a t h e r , we  are presented  i m a g i n e s h i s u n c l e w o u l d p e r c e i v e , i f he had  spot.  Thus, U n c l e G i l e s  cannot  be t e r m e d  "a k i n d  been of  with on  second-  l* i "From Work t o T e x t , " p. 73, B a r t h e s u s e s t h e m e t a p h o r of t h e "network" t o d e s c r i b e t h e t e x t , which a l s o s u g g e s t s t h e image o f i n d i v i d u a l components (my " t h r e a d s " ) a r r a n g e d , o r " c o n s t r u c t e d " , t o f o r m t h e " n e t " (my " t a p e s t r y " ) . 1  n  62  string narrator" in this  scene,  because, i n f a c t ,  he  does not  15 "narrate" anything. X.  U n l i k e Malcolm Crowding's s t o r y  T r a p n e l , or D e l a v a c q u e r i e * s account  the A n d r i a d i s p a r t y i s not  recounted  Nick.  does not  In t h i s  perspective;  he  sense,  Nick  c o n s t r u c t s i t from  h i s k n o w l e d g e o f t h e man  and  of R u s s e l l  any  h i s own  "read the t e x t " , Nick, uncle, thereby  By  in fact,  contributing  The  o l d man  on  may  since i t i s Nick's Hence,  instance of  i m a g i n i n g how  creation  the  Nick's  h i s uncle  g i v e s h i s own  to the  by  i m a g i n a t i o n , based  a r e h i s own.  d e s c r i p t i o n o f t h e p a r t y becomes a n o t h e r construction of character.  but  "borrow" h i s u n c l e ' s  h i s character.  "readings" presented  Gwinnett,  by U n c l e G i l e s ,  i n d e e d h a v e r e a c t e d i n s u c h a manner, b u t narrative,  about  would  "reading" of h i s  of h i s character.  James T u c k e r , i n The N o v e l s o f A n t h o n y P o w e l l - ( L o n d o n : M a c m i l l a n , 1 9 7 6 ) , pp. 11-12, u s e s t h e t e r m t o descrrb'e U n c l e 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 s u r r e n d e r h i s p o i n t o f view, h i s judgement, t o G i l e s f o r a w h i l e " , y e t , a t t h e same t i m e , he r e c o g n i z e s t h a t i t i s N i c k "who gives u s what he t a k e s t o be G i l e s ' s way o f j u d g i n g m a t t e r s " . I s u g g e s t t h a t N i c k " s u r r e n d e r s " n o t h i n g , b e c a u s e w h i l e we may g e t U n c l e G i l e s ' supposed view, i t i s t h e p r o d u c t o f 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 , o f h i s p o i n t o f v i e w . In t h i s sense, N i c k ' s "reading" of G i l e s ' "reading" i s s t i l l Nick's "reading". 5  63  Chapter  III  Looking is  evident  and  c l o s e l y at these  that  e v e n t s he  character having  he  has  a  significant  o b s e r v e s , and  i n the  little  novel,  he  e f f e c t on  witnesses, which,  episodes of Nick's "reading",  the  the  p e o p l e he  narrative  I t i s not  itself.  he  s e l e c t s those  characters  by  c o n t r o l l i n g the  content  "tells"  characters  perceptions of the  and  One  might  a first-person narrator  perceives,  but  narrator.  Whatever t h e  Hence, one structure:  t h e n one  whieh help  must ask  consider  "histoire",  i s the  way  that  t o determine the  the  he  on  the  of the  tale",  wishes to r e l a t e , also that  reception  only  Powell  the  of i t .  important i n order  chose t o use  part to  be  such  a  he  must t a k e i n t o a c c o u n t  basic  narrative  elements of the  story i t s e l f ,  s t o r y i s told.**"  While the  "discours",  and  of  Nick's  r e l a t e what  two  there-  experience  presenting  i t a f f e c t s the  nature of the  events  impact  "teller  how  which i s the  role,  a  suggest t h a t  why  a  As  becomes an  can  r e a s o n , one  must r e c o g n i z e 1  as  a f f e c t s our  perspective  As  him.  n a r r a t i v e , but  realistic,  and  considerable  e v e n t s he  of the  characters  secondary  e f f e c t on  e v e n t s , p r i m a r i l y by  as a whole.  narrative voice,  a  so much o f h i s n a r r a t o r ' s  o f them, t h a t  novel  and  the  interprets.  merely that  his tale  Because Powell i n c l u d e s those  has  on  meets, o r t h e  i n t u r n , have l i t t l e however, he  i n w h i c h he  t e x t s he  seems t o p l a y  "narrator-reader",  way  impact  i t  that itself.  narrative  "discours",  "histoire" from the  may  author's  I n L i n g u i s t i c s and The N o v e l ( L o n d o n : M e t h u e n and Co., 1 9 7 7 ) , p. 7 9 , Roger F o w l e r c i t e s t h e s e t e r m s as d e r i v a t i o n s o f 1  the  R u s s i a n d i s t i n c t i o n between "form" and  "content"  64 point  o f view, t h e " d i s c o u r s " has a g r e a t  "histoire", author  from t h e reader's  p o i n t o f view.  must n e c e s s a r i l y be a r e a d e r  as w e l l as Powell),  d e a l o f i m p a c t on t h e Further,  since the  o f h i s own n a r r a t i v e ( N i c k ,  t h e importance o f examining a  "discours"  c a n n o t be o v e r e m p h a s i z e d .  which Nick  r e l a t e s h i s s t o r y , a n d , t h e r e f o r e , t h e way i n w h i c h  Powell  In t h i s  novel's  c o n s t r u c t s h i s novel, has a profound  s e n s e , t h e way i n  effect  on o u r u n d e r -  2 standing to the  of the narrative.  Hence, i n o r d e r  " r e a l i z e " the text of Powell's  n o v e l , we must u n d e r s t a n d  "discours" a f f e c t s the novel's It  extent  o r i n many c a s e s ,  how  "histoire".  i s by e x a m i n i n g t h e e p i s o d e s  "reading",  f o rus, as readers,  of Nick's  "misreading",  constructive  t h a t one c a n s e e t h e  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 o f t h e  narrative.  I f , a s I have suggested,  p r e t a t i o n s t o t h e t e x t s he r e a d s , c h a r a c t e r s and e v e n t s factual  account  happens.  contributes h i s inter-  and h i s p e r c e p t i o n s t o t h e  he o b s e r v e s ,  then  what we g e t i s n o t j u s t  o f what h a p p e n s , b u t N i c k ' s  perception  a  o f what  I n oteher w o r d s , b e c a u s e o f t h e " f o r m " o f t h e n a r r a t i v e ,  we c a n v i e w t h e n o v e l how N i c k  Nick  f r o m two a n g l e s :  p e r c e i v e s what o c c u r s ,  what a c t u a l l y  whether a t t h e time o r i n r e t r o -  spect.  Y e t , b e c a u s e t h e f o r m e r i s so i n t r i c a t e l y  latter,  our reading  "reading".  of the'novel  I n t h i s way, N i c k ' s  o c c u r s , and  connected t o t h e  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 p e r s p e c t i v e on c h a r a c t e r s and  2 N i c k h i m s e l f r e m a r k s on t h e e f f e c t t h a t a n a r r a t o r h a s on h i s n a r r a t i v e , a n d , c o n s e q u e n t l y , on h i s r e a d e r , o r " l i s t e n e r " , i n A t L a d y M o l l y ' s ( L o n d o n : Heinemann, 1 9 5 7 ) , p p . 2 1 2 - 1 3 , when he d e s c r i b e s h i s r e s p o n s e t o C h i p s 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 y o u s t o r i e s a b o u t t h e i r r e l a t i o n s , p i c t u r e s b e g i n a t l a s t t o form i n t h e mind, t i n g e d a l w a y s i n c o l o u r s used by t h e n a r r a t o r " .  65  events h e l p s t o determine novel it  i s as  concerned,  i s with that  on  through  i t s own  the  i f n o t more so, w i t h N i c k ' s e x p e r i e n c e  o f t h e o t h e r c h a r a c t e r s , even t h o u g h t h e y  command i t s p r i m a r y mediated  o u r p e r c e p t i o n o f them, so t h a t  focus.  Because  seem t o  so much o f t h e n o v e l i s ,  the n a r r a t o r ' s consciousness, that  significance,  being a p a r t of the  vehicle  takes  " t e x t " t h a t we  read.  T h u s , 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 the  " t e x t s " he  t h a t we  "reads", they are nonetheless  r e a d , and,  w h i c h we  Though s u c h novel,  "realization"  as Powell p r e s e n t s l o n g scenes  those  scenes  which a f f e c t  are  events  facts"  n o t make up  i n w h i c h we  (where N i c k  have  upon  the  entire  direct  says l i t t l e ) ,  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  o u r r e a d i n g o f them.^  text  of Powell's novel.  i n s t a n c e s o f " r e a d i n g " do  a c c e s s t o c h a r a c t e r s and  from  included i n the  t h e r e f o r e , they are " s i g n i f i e d  c o n s t r u c t our  as  even  ruminations,  For instance, a f t e r  Nick  James T u c k e r w r i t e s , " P e r s p e c t i v e on what h a p p e n s i s a s i m p o r t a n t t o him [ P o w e l l ] a s what h a p p e n s " ( p . 9 7 ) ; F r a n c i s Wyndham, i n " N o v e l s , " E n c o u n t e r , 1 9 ( S e p t . 1 9 6 2 ) , 7 5 , s a y s 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 t h e 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 c o n s t a n t and e s s e n t i a l t o t h e 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 C o m e d i a n s ( B l o o m i n g t o n : I n d i a n a U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1 9 6 3 ) , p. 1 3 3 , c o n t e n d s t h a t t h e ^ n o v e l " d e v e l o p s 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 a s N i c k ' s r e s p o n s e t o them t h a n a s i n d e p e n d e n t entities." ^ 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 a s A c h i e v e m e n t i n Anthony P o w e l l ' s Music o f Time," E n g l i s h S t u d i e s i n A f r i c a , 1 4 (Mar. 1 9 7 1 ) , 32, " e v e r y i n c i d e n t i s s a t u r a t e d by t h e 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 t h e m a t u r e n a r r a t o r ' s mind subdue a l l t h e a c t i o n . The method i n t h e sequence i s not p r i m a r i l y d r a m a t i c but r e f l e c t i v e " . Dan McLeod, i n " A n t h o n y P o w e l l : Seme N o t e s on t h e A r t o f t h e Sequence N o v e l , " Studies i n the Novel, 3 ( 1 9 7 1 ) , 53-61, n o t i c e s that Nick r e f r a i n s f r o m s u c h " 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 s c e n e , o r more p r o m i n e n t a s a c h a r a c t e r , s u c h a s i n The Soldier's Art.  66  c o n s t r u c t s what he Andriadis' patches  t h i n k s Uncle  p a r t y , i n A Buyer's Market, the  of conversation with  among o t h e r s , and  constantly reflects  of  their  in  B o o k s Do  novelist past  Similarly,  to  and  we  "hear"  their  plays l i t t l e  source  form  extent,  Sillery,  i n such  c o n s i d e r i n g the each  talk,  nature  other  Trapnel's  part  the  something of h i s (pp.  109-10).  of h i s novel's t i t l e  o u r own.  He  Hence, w h e t h e r o r n o t  one  narrative voice.  where  actions,  personalities, as w e l l ,  Ride  Hence,  c h a r a c t e r s i n scenes,  so t h a t  he  thereby  they  "reads"  controlling,  reading of i t .  must t a k e The  the nature  i n t o account  distinction  of the novel's c u  the d u a l i t y  between N i c k  as  of  and,  Nick's  consume so much o f t h e n o v e l a s  the b a s i s of the t e x t , our  ( Camel  h i s f a m i l y background.  constantly presented  order to consider f u l l y  "discours",  role  conversation, or "witness" t h e i r  correctly, Nick's ruminations  In  Deacon, and  d e s c r i b e s X.  construct for ourselves t h e i r  help t o determine  certain  unfolds i n  r e l a t i o n s h i p s with  access to other  " i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s " are  effectively  by  Milly  r e l a t e s h i s conversation with  contemplating  have d i r e c t  therefore,  do,  of  c o n t i n u e 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 -  t h e Tomb), and  can  Mr.  secondary  a f t e r Nick  i n which Nick  h i s s t o r y about t h e  w h i l e we  scene  Bagshaw, i n w h i c h T r a p n e l r e c o u n t s  d o e s , however, ing  their  F u r n i s h a Room, he  and  life,  plays a  on t h o s e who  p e r s o n a l i t i e s and  101-51).  Stringham,  though Nick  he  (pp.  G i l e s would have thought  ;  the  the.mature  ^ H e r e , N i c k r e f l e c t s on t h e n a t u r e o f S t r i n g h a m ' 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 p r e s e n c e a t t h e p a r t y ( p . I l l ) , and Mr. D e a c o n ' s c h a r a c t e r ( p . 1 1 7 ) , among o t h e r t h i n g s .  to to  a  67  narrator already  of the  novel,  been noted  and  i n my  "borrows" Uncle G i l e s ' Andriadis' party, must be  considered  "reader"  i s t o be  young man  at the  rather,  but  as a c h a r a c t e r  e x a m i n a t i o n o f t h e way  perspective  t h i s a p p l i c a t i o n of a  understood p a r t y , who the  Similarly,  Templer;  behind  Priscilla  t h e young N i c k the  inscription,  n a r r a t o r , who  Thanksgiving  Andriadis' him,  and  w h e t h e r by  consciousness  the  texts  of the  novel,  an  "reader".  As  in effect,  the  case,  commission,  s e l e c t i o n s from  c h a r a c t e r s and  and  causes  each  the  events  Lovell,  and  " i n t e r p r e t " the m a t e r i a l s  he,  the  the  In  (the  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  the mature n a r r a t o r i s a l s o a  such  possible  Cafe Royal.  Templer, P r i s c i l l a  p a r t y ) , does indeed  Nick,  "eyes";  supplies  muses on t h e  from the  S e r v i c e ) , or observing  ( T r a p n e l , Widmerpool, B e t t y  a  " a b e r r a t i o n s " of Widmerpool  n a r r a t o r who  epigraph,  Milly  perspective"  chooses t o adopt  i s engaged i n p e r u s i n g  the  "double  has  he  scene o f  so " b o r r o w s " h i s u n c l e ' s  Lovell's exit  who  i n which  Hence, i t i s n o t  i t i s t h e n a r r a t o r who  i t i s the  novel,  c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n as  fully.^  p o s s i b l e r e a s o n s f o r young N i c k ' s Betty  i n the  to describe the  further i f Nick's  i t i s Nick,  approach.  Nick  Milly  before  "meaning",  but  controlling  "rereads"  a l l of  the  I n "The H e r e s y o f N a t u r a l i s m , " i n Handbook t o A n t h o n y P o w e l l ' s M u s i c o f Time ( L o n d o n : Heinemann" 1 9 7 7 ) , 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 , " I n d e e d , J e n k i n s h i m s e l f may be s e e n . . . 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 t h e r e a d e r s e e s much o f t h e a c t i o n i n t h e e a r l y v o l u m e s a s i t were i n d o u b l e f o c u s , t h r o u g h t h e e y e s o f t h e n a r r a t o r and s i m u l t a n e o u s l y t h r o u g h t h e e y e s o f h i s n a i v e younger s e l f . " F o r a more t h o r o u g h s t u d y o f t h i s d u a l i t y , see D o n a l d G u t i e r r e z , "The D o u b l e n e s s o f A n t h o n y P o w e l l : P o i n t o f V i e w i n A Dance t o t h e M u s i c o f T i m e, " U n i v e r s i t y o f D a y t o n Review, 14 ( 1 9 8 0 ) , 1 5 - 2 7 .  68  texts,  characters,  thereby  and e v e n t s t h a t he o n c e v i e w e d  s u b j e c t i n g them t o a " s e c o n d  _Since  the narrator  "first  hand",  reading".  i s l o o k i n g b a c k on t h e c h a r a c t e r s a n d  e v e n t s he h a s o b s e r v e d o v e r a g r e a t  many y e a r s ,  he i s a b l e t o  r e - e x a m i n e t h a t w h i c h he once o b s e r v e d a s a young man, and t o this  extent,  previous  he " r e r e a d s "  " i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s " o f them.  from a d i f f e r e n t and  this  In t h i s  t h o s e " t e x t s " , a s w e l l a s H i s own  perspective,  H e r e , however, N i c k  a l t e r e d b y a g e , t i m e and k n o w l e d g e ,  often r e s u l t s i n a different sense, t h e n a r r a t o r  "reads"  kind  Nick i s able on  a l s o changes.  of "interpretation".  t h e same " t e x t s " , b u t f o r a  second t i m e , and s i n c e h i s p e r s p e c t i v e w h i c h he " r e a d s "  h a s c h a n g e d , t h e way i n  With t h e advantage o f h i n d s i g h t ,  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 o n c e  t h e s p o t ) t o what h a s s i n c e o c c u r r e d ,  Hence, w h i l e  v i e w o f M i l l y ' s p a r t y might be i n a d e q u a t e ,  the  narrator thinks that  while  t o h i s own p e r s p e c t i v e  i n a cell,  conjures  a s a y o u n g man.  image.  a fact  the  a l l the "signified  facts"  Similarly,  he p a i d  image  f o r Gypsy J o n e s '  knows t h e i n d i v i d u a l a s p e c t s  the " f i r s t  reading",  and " i n t e r p r e t i n g " them on  b a s i s o f what he knows a t t h e t i m e .  already  "a sense  i s unaware when he c o n s t r u c t s t h e  I n t h i s way, y o u n g N i c k p r o v i d e s  registering  back,  i t i s t h e n a r r a t o r who r e l a t e s t h a t  o f which Nick  that  up t h e image o f W i d m e r p o o l  t o Widmerpool'susubsequentfadmrssWomthat abortion,  on l o o k i n g  such an approach would p r o v i d e  i t i s y o u n g N i c k who  incarcerated  t o the past  young N i c k would n e v e r have t h o u g h t  his  of proportion"  observed  o r what he h a s s i n c e  come t o know, a n d , t h e r e f o r e , he s e e s them i n r e l a t i o n as a whole.  "reads"  The n a r r a t o r ,  however,  o f e a c h " t e x t " , and t h u s ,  69  his  " r e a d i n g " t a k e s i n t o account the scene as a whole, as 7  viewed i n r e t r o s p e c t . T h i s c h a r a c t e r i s t i c o f the " r e r e a d e r ' s " p e r s p e c t i v e i s evident when one whole.  c o n s i d e r s the nature of the n a r r a t i v e as a  As n a r r a t o r , Nick t r i e s t o form a u n i f i e d , and  compre-  h e n s i b l e , whole out o f the mass o f d i v e r s e , and o f t e n seemingly unconnected, d e t a i l t h a t make up the substance t h a t some k i n d o f " p a t t e r n " emerges. deemed the p r o v i n c e o f any author, reader, who,  of h i s past,  so  While t h i s e f f o r t may  be  i t i s a l s o the aim of the  on second r e a d i n g , t r i e s t o r e l a t e the  c h a r a c t e r s and  individual  events, not o n l y t o each other, but to the "work"  as a whole, sbeasitol'id"eht£fy:irecuri?ihg t h e m e s l i n t h e v n a r r a t i v e . ' In "The Reading of F i c t i o n a l T e x t s , " i n The Reader i n the Text, pp. 94-5, K a r l h e i n z S t i e r l e says t h a t the f i r s t r e a d i n g of a t e x t i s c o n t r o l l e d by i t s " l i n e a r s t r u c t u r e " , which g r a d u a l l y u n f o l d s f o r the reader, w h i l e the second r e a d i n g i s determined by a " r e t r o s p e c t i v e view" o f the complete t e x t , which produces "conceptual p e r c e p t i o n " : "The second r e a d i n g thus l e a d s from the quasi-pragmatic r e c e p t i o n producing i l l u s i o n [ f i r s t r e a d i n g ] t o a r e c e p t i o n of f i c t i o n as such, s i n c e i t i s only then t h a t the f a b r i c a t e d c h a r a c t e r of f i c t i o n i s s u b j e c t e d to the r e a d e r ' s c r i t i c a l judgement." In "The A u t o b i o g r a p h i c a l Novel and The Autobiography," Essays i n C r i t i c i s m , 9 (1959), 143, Roy P a s c a l w r i t e s t h a t the author "must a l s o g i v e a s p e c i a l p a t t e r n to h i s whole s t o r y , o r g a n i s e i t round a dominant m o t i f , so t h a t with the p a r t i c u l a r i d e n t i t y of o c c u r r e n c e s t h e r e emerges another, more g e n e r a l identity." S i m i l a r l y , Northrop Frye, i n "The Four Forms o f F i c t i o n , " i n The Theory of the Novel, p. 35, says, "Most autob i o g r a p h i e s a r e i n s p i r e d by a c r e a t i v e , and t h e r e f o r e f i c t i o n a l , impulse t o s e l e c t o n l y those events and experiences i n the w r i t e r ' s l i f e t h a t go t o b u i l d up an i n t e g r a t e d p a t t e r n . " According t o Robert K. M o r r i s , i n The Novels of Anthony Powell ( P i t t s b u r g h : U n i v e r s i t y of P i t t s b u r g h P r e s s , 1968), p. 109, " T h i s concern o f r e l a t i n g cause and e f f e c t , o f d e s c r y i n g the f i g u r e i n the c a r p e t , of prodding or p r e s s i n g the past i n shape i s t h a t of the n a r r a t o r - h e r o , N i c h o l a s J e n k i n s . "  70  In f a c t ,  t h a t wish t o form a p a t t e r n  the w r i t e r ' s "reading" the  c a n be seen a s a r e s u l t o f  o f h i s own t e x t .  T h a t i s , by r e c o g n i z i n g  n e e d f o r s u c h a p a t t e r n t o be drawn i n t h e f i r s t  author i s e f f e c t i v e l y  place, the  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  reading.  N i c k a c k n o w l e d g e s t h i s d e s i r e f o r p a t t e r n s when he  describes  t h e way he once l o o k e d  him.  a s a young boy b e f o r e  w i s h t o s e e B i l l s o n and B r a c e y married  around  W o r l d War I , he d e s c r i b e s h i s  (two o f t h e f a m i l y  a s "some i d e a o f a r r a n g i n g  i n a neat p a t t e r n "  (p. 18).  And a g a i n ,  used t o imagine e x i s t e d , and which disparate  elements o f l i f e ,  hate, pleasure "illusion"  and p a i n .  servants)  t h e w o r l d , a s t h e n known t o  Nick ponders t h e seemingly "separate  a  and t h e w o r l d  I n T h e K i n d l y Ones, when t h e n a r r a t o r r e c a l l s h i s  experiences  me,  at l i f e  i n A Buyer's Market,  c o m p a r t m e n t s " w h i c h he  contained  the essentially  s u c h a s work and p l a y ,  He now deems t h i s  l o v e and  concept t o be an  b e c a u s e he h a s come t o v i e w s u c h e l e m e n t s a s p a r t s o f  whole: As t i m e g o e s o n f » o f c o u r s e , t h e s e s u p p o s e d l y d i f f e r e n t w o r l d s , i n f a c t , draw c l o s e r , i f n o t to e a c h o t h e r , t h e n t o some p a t t e r n common t o a l l ; so t h a t , a t l a s t , d i v e r s i t y b e t w e e n them, i f i n t r u t h e x i s t e n t , seems t o be a l m o s t i m p e r c e p t i b l e e x c e p t i n a f e w c r u d e and e x t e r i o r ways: u n t h i n k a b l e , a s f o r m e r l y a p p e a r e d , any s i n g l e consummation o f c a u s e and e f f e c t . (p. 159)  What N i c k o n c e c o n s i d e r e d elements o f l i f e each o t h e r  "pattern  past,  viewing  and o f t e n  unconnected,  when he was y o u n g , a r e now s e e n i n r e l a t i o n t o  - different,  That  t o be i n d i v i d u a l ,  y e t j o i n e d i n some k i n d  common t o a l l " i s r e v e a l e d  as Nick  i t from t h e vantage o f h i n d s i g h t ,  of pattern. "rereads" the so t h a t he c a n  71  a p p r e c i a t e t h e "shape" t h a t  and  holds together t h e v a r i o u s events q  c h a r a c t e r s he h a s o b s e r v e d . Much o f t h e n a r r a t o r ' s " r e r e a d i n g " c a n a l s o be s e e n a s a n  attempt  to correct  h i s own p r e v i o u s " m i s r e a d i n g " .  a y o u n g man, N i c k o f t e n through  "interprets"  ignorance or lack  narrator,  of insight,  he r e c o g n i z e s t h o s e  At times, Nick  particular  and, t h e r e f o r e , a s  e r r o r s and t r i e s t o " c o r r e c t "  This i sespecially when N i c k  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 , from an e s s e n t i a l l y  in  noticeable  i n the early  e n c o u n t e r s W i d m e r p o o l , whom and whom he c o n t i n u e s t o v i e w  " 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  that world  behind.  Hence, when B a r b a r a  "the k i n d  Nick  o f man p e o p l e p o u r  sugar on" ( p . 7 4 ) .  Despite t h e  on a c a r e e r i n b u s i n e s s , N i c k  r e g a r d s h i m i n immature t e r m s ,  r e c o g n i z e s t h e inadequacy  dance,  says t o T o m p s i t t t h a t Widmerpool i s  t h a t W i d m e r p o o l h a s embarked  still  they  Goring  sugar o v e r Widmerpool's head a t t h e Huntercombes'  A Buyer's Market,  fact  o r by s u g g e s t i n g  o f h i s y o u t h f u l p e r s p e c t i v e , a s he r e c o u n t s a  volumes o f t h e sequence,  pours  them.  i n d i c a t e s h i s " m i s r e a d i n g " by i n s e r t i n g h i s  incident.  have both l e f t  i s , as  e r r o n e o u s l y , whether  m a t u r e a w a r e n e s s o f f a c t s n o t known a t t h e t i m e , the inadequacy  That  but a s n a r r a t o r , he  o f such a p e r s p e c t i v e :  q This i s not unlike h i s vision of M i l l y Andriadis' party, i n w h i c h h e p e r c e i v e s t h e i n d i v i d u a l g u e s t s moving b e f o r e h i m a s a k i n d o f " t a p e s t r y " , a n o v e r a l l p a t t e r n i n t o w h i c h e a c h new element i s "amalgamated". I n t h e f i n a l pages o f H e a r i n g S e c r e t H a r m o n i e s , t h e p a s s a g e f r o m B u r t o n ' s Anatomy o f Melancholy"! w h i c h e x p r e s s e s t h e c o n t i n u a l r a m p a g i n g o f human e v e n t s , c a n be seen a s a n a p p r o p r i a t e "summary" o f N i c k ' s n a r r a t i v e ; i n d e e d , 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 , w h i c h may s u g g e s t a r e c u r r i n g theme o f f i c t i o n i t s e l f : t h e n a t u r e o f human e x i s t e n c e ( p p . 2 7 1 - 2 ) .  72  T o m p s i t t l o o k e d d i s a p p r o v i n g and r a t h e r c o n t e m p t u o u s . I t h o u g h t a t t h e t i m e t h a t h i s g l a n c e had r e f e r e n c e to Widmerpool. I c a n now see t h a t i t was d i r e c t e d , a l m o s t c e r t a i n l y , t o w a r d s my own r e m a r k , w h i c h he must h a v e r e g a r d e d , i n some r e s p e c t s j u s t l y , a s a n a n s w e r i n a d e q u a t e t o h i s q u e s t i o n . L o o k i n g b a c k on t h i s exchange, I h a v e no d o u b t t h a t T o m p s i t t had a l r e a d y r e c o g n i z e d a s e x i s t i n g i n W i d m e r p o o l some p o t e n t i a l t o w h i c h I was m y s e l f s t i l l a l m o s t t o t a l l y b l i n d . . . (p. 7 4 )  Tompsitt  a c c e p t s Widmerpool a s a person  Nick's response Tompsitt  however, N i c k knows t h a t  "potential"  that  he had y e t t o p e r c e i v e  i n W i d m e r p o o l w h i c h he now assumes T o m p s i t t  the time,  As that  perceived  and w h i c h he h a s s i n c e come t o a c c e p t h i m s e l f , so  he q u 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 . ^  r e c o g n i z e s t h e inadequacy therefore,  so t h a t  even i f ; he may n o t " l i k e " him,  does n o t d i s m i s s Widmerpool, a s does young N i c k .  narrator,  at  i s insufficient;  o f some i n t e r e s t ,  Hence,  Nick  o f h i s p r e v i o u s " r e a d i n g s " , and,  he i s a b l e t o p o i n t them o u t , e v e n a s he p r e s e n t s  them. Often apparent, part The  such  instances of "misreading" are not  as the narrator w i l l  immediately  n o t p o i n t them o u t u n t i l  that  o f t h e n a r r a t i v e where he h i m s e l f became aware o f them. opportunity f o r Nick t o discover h i s "misreading" g r a d u a l l y  I n A Q u e s t i o n o f U p b r i n g i n g , p . 134, W i d m e r p o o l h i m s e l f t e l l s N i c k , " ' I t d o e s n ' t do t o r e a d t o o much . . . . Y o u g e t t o look at l i f e with a f a l s e p e r s p e c t i v e ' " . 11 N i c k 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 " m i s r e a d i n g s " i n r e g a r d t o Widmerpool. I n A Q u e s t i o n o f U p b r i n g i n g , p. 1 5 2 , N i c k s a y s , " I s t i l l saw h i m [ W i d m e r p o o l J o n l y i n t h e c r u d e , and i n a d e q u a t e , t e r m s w i t h which.I had a c c e p t e d him a t s c h o o l " ; i n A B u y e r ' s M a r k e t , p . 5 9 , he a d m i t s , " A t t h a t t i m e I s t i l l h a d v e r y l i t t l e i d e a o f 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  is  allowed  folding  f o r by  the  the  serial  e v e n t s and  characters Nick  length of time, p l o t s the characters.  Hence, N i c k  expand them, o r life.  situations,  as o f t e n r e p e a t i n g  observes over a  i s able to r e a f f i r m past  of  great same  "readings",  o f t e n t u r n i n g up  i n new  behaviour,  un-  each c h a r a c t e r r e - e n t e r s  characters,  or involved  past  n o v e l , w h i c h , by  c o n t i n u a l reappearance of the  " c o r r e c t " them, a s  This repetition  expected  form of the  in  un-  r e l a t i o n s h i p s , but  just  c o n t i n u a l l y f o r c e s Nick  to  r e f i n e h i s c o n s t r u c t i o n o f t h e i r p e r s o n a l i t i e s , sometimes the  help  o f new  applying  a new  information,  p e r s p e c t i v e , b r o u g h t a b o u t by  a w a r e n e s s o f human c h a r a c t e r tion  does not  simply  even t h o u g h t h e continue  t o do  alities,  but  he  be  and  the  Nick's  i s not  i n e l e g a n t " , a s he  to perceive that  i n Widmerpool, but aspects  pp.  he  interest.  and  a "difference".  takes  "coherent looking will  form" i n  comic awkwardness and  H e n c e , by  matters i n which Nick  the  end  of the  Nick's  "comfortless  never win  Throughout the  a l s o comes t o a p p r e c i a t e  politics,  may  same p e r s o n -  novel,  (A Nick  power o f  will  more p o s i t i v e  o f h i s p e r s o n a l i t y , s u c h a s p e r s e v e r a n c e and  business  construction,  a t t i t u d e towards  empty r o a d ,  3-4).  of past  repeti-  them c h a n g e s , : so t h a t what/ .  t r a i n s f o r r a c e s he  of Upbringing,  continues  an  by  a growth i n h i s  e x h i b i t the  case of N i c k ' s  along  with  Those c h a r a c t e r s  a "sameness", b u t  When W i d m e r p o o l f i r s t  often  Thus, t h i s  in a reiteration  p e r s p e c t i v e on  i s running  Question  behaviour.  same t h i n g s , and  seen i n t h e  Widmerpool. mind, he  result  and  same c h a r a c t e r s r e a p p e a r .  often perceives  T h i s can  s i n c e g a r n e r e d , but  his  himself  n o v e l , when N i c k  a knack f o r has  little  hears  that  74  Widmerpool h a s d i e d w h i l e '"I'm  running  another  "race"  (and e x c l a i m i n g ,  l e a d i n g , I'm l e a d i n g now'"), t h e r e c u r r i n g image i s n o n e -  12 theless different. ing  this repetitive  I t i s not just  a c t t h a t have a l t e r e d ,  of  i t , b e c a u s e now h i s u n d e r s t a n d i n g  is  b a s e d on a l i f e t i m e  perspective", Nick  i n this  surround-  but Nick's  o f Widmerpool's  of "readings";  perception character  the "schoolboyish-  s e n s e , h a s " m a t u r e d " t o t h e p o i n t where  can a p p r e c i a t e t h e complexity  sympathize w i t h  the circumstances  o f t h e man's c h a r a c t e r , and  h i s a l l t o o human a s p i r a t i o n s t o " w i n h i s f i n a l  race". By  characterizing the role  "rereader",  one c a n a p p r e c i a t e t h e v e r y n a t u r e  Nick's  account  events  he h a s observed  and,  i n this  past.  of h i s a s s o c i a t i o n with  sense,  the years  a life",  of h i s narrative.  t h e many c h a r a c t e r s a n d c a n be t e r m e d a "memoir", a "reproduction" of the  i n t o t o o much d e t a i l  about t h e c r e a t i v e  o f memory i t s e l f , t h e a u t o b i o g r a p h y ,  what J . H i l l i s M i l l e r of  over  i ti s essentially  Without going  aspects  of the narrator as a kind of  o r memoir, i s  d e f i n e s as t h e " s u b j e c t i v e r e c o n s t r u c t i o n  i n which t h e n a r r a t o r " r e c r e a t e s " t h e l i f e  Hearing  he h a s  S e c r e t H a r m o n i e s , pp. 2 6 5 - 9 .  13 As Dan McLeod s a y s , " W h i l e P o w e l l 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 v i e w s o f c h a r a c t e r , t h e c h a r a c t e r s t h e m s e l v e s do n o t change a t a l l " ( p . 5 3 ) . I n S/Z, t r a n s . R i c h a r d M i l l e r (New Y o r k : H i l l and Wang, 1 9 7 4 ) , p . 1 6 , B a r t h e s m a i n t a i n s , "Those who f a i l t o r e r e a d a r e o b l i g e d t o r e a d t h e same s t o r y everywhere". W i t h o u t a change i n p e r s p e c t i v e , a r e a d e r w i l l a l w a y s l o o k f o r t h e same t h i n g s i n most t e x t s , and p r o b a b l y f i n d them. A s e c o n d r e a d i n g a l l o w s f o r , i f n o t f o r c e s , s u c h a change, so t h a t t h e r e a d e r w i l l p e r c e i v e a t l e a s t d i f f e r e n t a s p e c t s o f t h e same s t o r y . J  75  experienced. it  As s u c h , he d o e s n o t r e - e x p e r i e n c e  occurred,  n o r even a s i t a p p e a r e d t o o c c u r  "re-presents" initial  that  experience  translator  experience itself.  as best  that  l i f e as  t o h i m ; r a t h e r , he  he c a n b y r e f l e c t i n g  Hence, j u s t  as Nick's  on t h e  image o f t h e  i s a "re-presentation" of the text of the inscription  (enhanced by t h e 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 t h r o u g h h i s memory, he " r e - p r o d u c e s "  imagination),  the "presence" o f h i s  past,  15 a s he p e r c e i v e s membering  i t t o have been.  Yet,while  the act of r e -  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  s i n c e what i s remembered i s no l o n g e r  "present",  i n c l u d e s w i t h i n i t b o t h what h a p p e n e d and N i c k ' s what h a p p e n e d . A Question and  This i s clearly  of Upbringing,  and i m a g i n e d "  contains both t h e " r e a l " (Nick's perception is  not those  of past  young N i c k ' s  perception of  s t a t e d by t h e n a r r a t o r  early i n  falling  s t i m u l a t e i n h i m " t h e memory o f  (p. 2). In t h i s  s e n s e , h i s memory  (what h a p p e n e d ) and t h e " i m a g i n e d "  of that r e a l i t y ) .  creative aspects  events,  t h a t memory  when he s a y s t h a t t h e snow  t h e men w o r k i n g i n t h e r o a d  things real  in itself,  The " i m a g i n e d " ,  of the narrator's  therefore,  "re-presentation"  w h i c h i s encompassed w i t h i n memory i t s e l f , b u t  perceptions,  or " i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s " , a t the time.  Thus, t h e n a r r a t i v e c o n t a i n s  both t h e " r e a l "  and t h e "imagined",  ^ T h e Form o f V i c t o r i a n F i c t i o n ( N o t r e Dame, I n d i a n a : U n i v e r s i t y o f N o t r e Dame P r e s s , 1968J, p . 1 8 . 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 T h a c k e r a y ' s H e n r y Esmond, w h i c h 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 w h i c h , i n c i d e n t a l l y , " N i c k r e a d s d u r i n g t h e war i n The V a l l e y o f B o n e s ( L o n d o n : Heinemann, 1 9 6 4 ) , p p . l68"-8"0. IS  I n S p e e c h a n d Phenomena, D e r r i d a d e s c r i b e s t h e image and memory a s t h e " r e p r o d u c t i o n o f a p r e s e n c e , even i f t h e p r o d u c t 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. J  76  which, i n t u r n , a r e processed by t h e r e c o n s t r u c t i v e a c t o f remembrance. If  t h e n a r r a t o r ' s r o l e as a " r e r e a d e r " i s c h a r a c t e r i z e d by  a d e s i r e t o r e c o n s t r u c t t h e p a s t , both " r e a l and imagined",  into  some k i n d o f p a t t e r n which r e v e a l s t h e p e r c e i v e d themes o f an e r a , N i c k ' s r o l e as a " r e a d e r " i s e s s e n t i a l l y c h a r a c t e r i z e d by h i s d e s i r e t o "know".  He i s c u r i o u s about t h e world around him,  e s p e c i a l l y i n r e g a r d t o human c h a r a c t e r and behaviour, and, t h e r e f o r e , he i s c o n s t a n t l y t r y i n g t o d e f i n e p e r s o n a l i t i e s and c h a r a c t e r i z e human a c t i o n s and a t t i t u d e s ; i n e f f e c t , t o understand 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 o f h i m s e l f , but of  those around him.  He i s not i n t e r e s t e d i n d e s c r i b i n g h i s own  a c t i o n s , f e e l i n g s , o r m o t i v a t i o n s ; indeed, we a r e t o l d l i t t l e of his  p u r s u i t s , except t h a t which we l e a r n through h i s a s s o c i a t i o n  w i t h other c h a r a c t e r s , or by way o f an a s i d e . H e n c e ,  we a r e  g i v e n t h e "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 w i t h Jean Duport, h i s marriage  t o I s o b e l T o l l a n d , and t h e s o c i a l  f u n c t i o n s he a t t e n d s - but only i n so f a r as they r e l a t e t o h i s primary " o c c u p a t i o n " as an o b s e r v e r . t r a v e l t o Venice f o r a l i t e r a r y his  I n t h i s sense, Nick may  conference, and d e s c r i b e some o f  a c t i v i t i e s t h e r e , but t h e primary f o c u s o f t h e t r i p i s not  Nick, but t h e other c h a r a c t e r s he meets, such as Gwinnett, t h e  Powell h i m s e l f has remarked, " I r e a l l y t e l l people a minimum o f what my n a r r a t o r f e e l s . . . because I have no t a l e n t f o r t h a t p a r t i c u l a r sort o f s e l f - r e v e l a t i o n " , i n M i c h a e l Barber's "Anthony Powell: The A r t o f F i c t i o n , " P a r i s Review, 20 ( S p r i n g 1978), 67. Nick r e v e a l s h i m s e l f through h i s consciousness not-ithrough h i s emotions.  77  Widmerpools, and L o u i s Glober his  (Temporary Kings,  pp. 1-179). >Even  i n t i m a t e r e l a t i o n s h i p w i t h Jean (he does not d i s c u s s h i s  marriage) i s r e l a t e d more as the p e r c e p t i o n of a r e l a t i o n s h i p , r a t h e r than h i s r e l a t i o n s h i p , as he tends t o analyze e c t u a l l y , and  i t intell-  almost t o t a l l y i g n o r e s i t as an emotional  exper-  17 ience.  Nick  i s more i n t e r e s t e d i n o t h e r s than he i s i n h i m s e l f ,  and much of h i s time and understand those ambitions,  imagination  i s spent  i n t r y i n g to  c h a r a c t e r s , by " i n t e r p r e t i n g " t h e i r  interests,  p h i l o s o p h i e s , 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 t o "know" them. One  e x p l a n a t i o n f o r N i c k ' s f o c u s on other  w i t h i n the f i c t i o n a l context n o v e l i s t , and, lives. life,  And as he  study of human  never l e a r n much about t h i s aspect of h i s  seems as r e t i c e n t about i t as he i s about the  of h i s a c t i v i t i e s . over the course to  of the n o v e l , i s t h a t he i s a  t h e r e f o r e , concerned with the  y e t , we  characters,  We  know t h a t he p u b l i s h e s a number of  of h i s l i f e ,  contents, much l e s s t h e i r t i t l e s .  o p p o r t u n i t y t o know t h e i r We  accept  t h a t he has w r i t t e n  them ( o t h e r c h a r a c t e r s o f t e n r e f e r t o them), but Nick  The  o n l y book to which we  novels  but he never d e s c r i b e s h i s e f f o r t s  w r i t e them, nor do we have any  c o n s i d e r s them of l i t t l e  rest  obviously  i n t e r e s t , at l e a s t to h i s n a r r a t i v e . are g i v e n even l i m i t e d access i s h i s  work on Robert Burton, e n t i t l e d Borage and H e l l e b o r e , and t h i s i s mentioned o n l y as the reason  even  f o r N i c k ' s r e t u r n to  ' See f o r i n s t a n c e N i c k ' s d e s c r i p t i o n 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  university,  and,  thus a point of departure f o r h i s  description  of h i s meeting  with  Sillery,  subsequent  S h o r t , and  Ada  Leint-  18 wardine. role  N i c k ' s c a r e e r as a n o v e l i s t ,  as a w r i t e r ,  Powell  seems l i t t l e  and,  consequently,  more t h a n a d e t a i l ,  i n o r d e r t o g i v e h i s n a r r a t o r something  the p a r t i e s ,  v i s i t s t o country houses,  and  i n c l u d e d by  t o do  than h i s r o l e t a k e n up  i n between  t r a v e l s abroad  assumes t h e a u t o b i o g r a p h i c a l c o n n e c t i o n t o P o w e l l ' s Hence, N i c k ' s r o l e  as the bulk  with h i s " i n t e r p r e t a t i v e "  by  engaging  to  some u n d e r s t a n d i n g Hence, when N i c k  observations.  In t h i s  Nick attempts  human c h a r a c t e r and  way,  t o come  behaviour.  r e a d s h i s u n c l e ' s commission,  i t i s not  just  i n order to d e s c r i b e the personal possessions that  left  behind,  but  prominent  of the n a r r a t i v e i s  i n the process of "reading", about  (one  profession).  a s a " r e a d e r " seems t o be much more  as a w r i t e r ,  his  Giles  t o d i s c o v e r what t h o s e p o s s e s s i o n s h a v e t o 19  "tell"  him  about  h i s uncle's character.  7  Similarly,  by  ex-  18  B o o k s Do F u r n i s h a Room, pp. 1 - 2 6 . Nick's reference to B u r t o n a l s o forms a backdrop t o h i s sense o f t h e post-war w o r l d , i n ^ w h i c h t h e 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 u n d e r c u t by a d e s i r e t o do n o t h i n g . Nick's r e t u r n to 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 b a c k w i t h i t what he t e r m s " t h e c r u s h i n g m e l a n c h o l y of t h e u n d e r g r a d u a t e condition". ^ I t m i g h t 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 N i c k a s a " v o y e u r " who l i v e s h i s l i f e v i c a r i o u s l y t h r o u g h t h e a c t i o n s o f o t h e r s . I n C a s a n o v a ' s C h i n e s e R e s t a u r a n t , p. 1 5 5 , N i c k r e s p o n d s t o t h e 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 M o r e l a n d , by commenting, " T h a t odd f e e l i n g o f e x c i t e m e n t b e g a n t o s t i r w i t h i n me a l w a y s p r o v o k e d by news o f o t h e r p e o p l e ' s a d v e n t u r e s i n l o v e ; a c c o m p a n i e d a s e v e r by a s e n s e o f s a d n e s s , o f 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 nothing else 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, t h e f i r s t s u g g e s t i o n o f a " f e e l i n g " i s q u i c k l y s u c c e e d e d by t h e c o n t e m p l a t i o n of f e e l i n g s , t h e r e b y 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 .  79  amining him  t h e f i g u r e o f X. T r a p n e l , N i c k d o e s n o t s i m p l y d e s c r i b e  physically,  rather,  he t r i e s  so a s 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 " ; t o come t o some u n d e r s t a n d i n g r e g a r d i n g t h e  novelist's personality. t h e hymns a n d b i b l i c a l not  F u r t h e r , though passages  o f t h e T h a n k s g i v i n g S e r v i c e do  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 , t h e y  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 and,  therefore,  reading the  h i s d e l i b e r a t i o n s on  sought  a s e a r c h f o r some k i n d  of the inscription  clearest  indication  essentially  of the text  f o r " t h e meaning o f t h e t e x t " ,  from  o f knowledge.  The A r a b  o f h i s wish  A r t o f Love i s , perhaps,  t o "know", f o r i t i s h e r e  f o r i t s own s a k e .  That  i s , h i s translation  i n t o t h e image o f t h e t r a n s l a t o r  with h i s consideration o f Uncle G i l e s '  h a s n o t h i n g t o do  character, nor with  o f a n y o t h e r c h a r a c t e r he m e e t s , a n d , t h e r e f o r e , action  seemingly.unmotivated  construction involved  itself.  Nick's  i t s t a n d s a s an  by any o t h e r impetus  Y e t , a t t h e same t i m e , N i c k  i n t h e quest f o r knowledge,  but t h e a c t o f i s still  s i n c e he i s t r y i n g  cover t h e reasons behind t h e manuscript's t r a n s l a t i o n ; trying  t o understand  merely  " s i g n i f i e d " by t h e b r i e f  While  human b e h a v i o u r ,  N i c k may be t e r m e d  text  that  even i f t h a t  to d i s ^ he i s  behaviour i s  of the inscription.  a "seeker o f 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  gyrations"  20 a r e o f t e n met w i t h l e s s t h a n he p r o p o s e s behaviour  a variety  complete  of possible  success.  The f a c t  that  e x p l a n a t i o n s f o r human  ( P r i s c i l l a ' s d e p a r t u r e f r o m t h e C a f e R o y a l ) , and a l l o w s  A Q u e s t i o n o f U p b r i n g i n g , p . 2.  80  f o r numerous r e a d i n g s o f t e x t s  ( t h e images o f t h e t r a n s l a t o r ,  the  epigraph), suggests that  significance  o f Gwinnett's  knowledg  21 is the he  at best uncertain. "plurality  Further, while Nick's recognition of  of the text"  i s only "suggested"  does acknowledge, a t t i m e s , h i s i n a b i l i t y  When he i s s u r p r i s e d h i s attempts  "reading  t o know p e o p l e .  by t h e a c t i o n s o f o t h e r s , w h i c h I s o f t e n ,  t o understand  d o u b t f u l about  by such  t h o s e a c t i o n s sometimes l e a v e h i m  t h e extent t o which h i s p e r c e p t i o n s o f people  accurately reflect  their  personalities.  Ones, when N i c k l e a r n s t h a t Weedon, S t r i n g h a m ' s  former  General  H e n c e , i n The K i n d l y  Conyers i s t o marry  Miss  "watchdog", he r e c o g n i z e s t h a t h i s  knowledge o f 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,  e v e n t h o u g h he h a d t h o u g h t  close t o both  C o n y e r s and S t r i n g h a m ,  understanding  o f M i s s Weedon's c h a r a c t e r . ( p . 2 1 7 ) .  i n At Lady M o l l y ' s , N i c k be u n f a t h o m a b l e ,  h i m s e l f t o be  and t o h a v e h a d a good  f i n d s another  Similarly,  p r o s p e c t i v e marriage t o  when he w o n d e r s why M i l d r e d H a y c o c k  s h o u l d want  t o marry Widmerpool: Such a n i n a b i l i t y t o a s s e s s p h y s i c a l a t t r a c t i o n o r community o f i n t e r e s t i s , o f c o u r s e , common enough. Where t h e o p p o s i t e s e x i s c o n c e r n e d , e s p e c i a l l y i n • r e l a t i o n t o marriage, t h e workings o f t h e imagination, o r knowledge o f t h e i n d i v i d u a l s t h e m s e l v e s , a r e overwhelmed b y t h e s u b j e c t i v e a p p r o a c h . . . . I r e c o r d t h e s e s p e c u l a t i o n s . . . t o emphasise t h e 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 , even r e m o t e l y , why p e o p l e b e h a v e a s they do. (p. 6 7 )  I n "Anthony P o w e l l and t h e I l l u s i o n o f P o s s i b i l i t y , " C o n t e m p o r a r y L i t e r a t u r e , 1 7 ( 1 9 7 6 ) , 2 3 4 , Thomas W i l c o x s a y s , " H i s 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 a r e p o s s i b l e where human b e i n g s a r e c o n c e r n e d and t h a t " c a t e g o r i c a l knowledge' o r 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  person to matters concerning  inability  l o v e and  t o know a n o t h e r  marriage, the  "subjective  a p p r o a c h " which undermines such knowledge i s e q u a l l y  evident  his  Giles,  other  Trapnel,  "readings", or P r i s c i l l a  whether the Lovell.  p r e t " another person, thereby but  t h i s does not  and,  In t h i s  sense, Nick  can  c o n s t r u c t i n g h i s or her  n e c e s s a r i l y mean t h a t he  knows i s h i s p e r c e p t i o n itself,  "subject" i s Uncle  of that  "intercharacter,  knows them; what  c h a r a c t e r , not  the  in  he  character  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 In  the  one  imaginative  instance, Nick  explicitly  admits the  extent  " s u b j e c t i v e approach" determines h i s understanding  person's character, "fiction".  to  thereby  Essentially,  f i n d s t h a t he him  construction.  has  he  comes t o t h i s  "misread" that person, e x i s t s only  since the  n a r r a t o r does not  reading" u n t i l  of  another  so t h a t t h e  alert  c o n c l u s i o n because  certain facts,  i n h i s imagination.  that point  of  which  acknowledging h i s c o n s t r u c t i o n of  been i g n o r a n t  perceived  to  us  character At  to t h i s  i n the novel  which has  the  he led  he.has  same t i m e ,  instance  when he  a  himself  of  "mis-  discovers  I n Remembrance o f T h i n g s P a s t , t r a n s . C. K. S c o t t M o n c r i e f f and T e r e n c e K i l m a r t i n (New Y o r k : Random House, 1 9 8 1 ) , V o l . I , p. 20, P r o u s t w r i t e s , "Even t h e s i m p l e a c t w h i c h we d e s c r i b e a s ' s e e i n g someone we know' i s t o some e x t e n t an i n t e l l e c t u a l process. We p a c k t h e p h y s i c a l o u t l i n e o f t h e p e r s o n we see w i t h a l l t h e n o t i o n s we h a v e a l r e a d y f o r m e d a b o u t him, and i n t h e t o t a l p i c t u r e o f him w h i c h we compose i n o u r m i n d s 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 . I n t h e end t h e y come t o f i l l o u t so c o m p l e t e l y t h e c u r v e o f h i s c h e e k s , t o f o l l o w so e x a c t l y t h e l i n e o f h i s n o s e , t h e y b l e n d so harmoni o u s l y i n t h e sound o f h i s v o i c e a s i f i t were no more t h a n a t r a n s p a r e n t e n v e l o p e , t h a t e a c h t i m e we see t h e f a c e o r h e a r t h e v o i c e i t i s t h e s e n o t i o n s w h i c h we r e c o g n i s e and t o w h i c h we l i s t e n . "  82  it,  we p a r t i c i p a t e w i t h young N i c k  "fiction".  That  characters reading"  i n h i s construction  i s , because our c o n s t r u c t i o n  i s based  on N i c k ' s  "reading"  i n f l u e n c e s , t o some e x t e n t ,  characters.  In t h i s  of that  of the novel's  o f them, h i s " m i s -  our understanding  o f those  s e n s e , b e c a u s e we s e e so much o f t h e n o v e l  t h r o u g h N i c k ' s " e y e s " , when we a r e n o t o t h e r w i s e d i r e c t e d b y t h e narrator,  we t e n d t o a c c e p t N i c k ' s e v a l u a t i o n s  Hence, when N i c k i s f o r c e d has  constructed  attention text,  t o acknowledge t h e extent  another person's character,  on t h e 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  The A c c e p t a n c e W o r l d , N i c k s f i n d s  Jean Duport without  invoking  (p. 1 3 4 ) . As w i t h  a r e a d e r makes t o a  insufficient, discover  itself.  i tdifficult  the subjectivity  Trapnel,  t o w h i c h he  he f o c u s s e s o u r  thereby a l l u d i n g t o the creation of f i c t i o n In  tions  a s o u r own.  to describe  o f h i s own p e r c e p -  mere p h y s i c a l d e s c r i p t i o n seems  b u t t o go " b e n e a t h t h e s u r f a c e  of the text" to  h e r e s s e n t i a l p e r s o n a l i t y , w o u l d be t o r e f l e c t  perspective  on t h a t  h i s own  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 r e m a r k s , But d e s c r i p t i o n o f a woman's o u t w a r d a p p e a r a n c e c a n h a r d l y do more t h a n echo t h e t e r m s o f a f a s h i o n p a p e r . T h e i r n a t u r e c a n be c a u g h t o n 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: t h e r a y s o f c h a r a c t e r f o c u s s e d t h r o u g h t h e p e r s o n w i t h whom t h e y 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 a l o n e was r e s p o n s i b l e f o r what she seemed t o me. To a n o t h e r man - D u p o r t , f o r example - she no d o u b t a p p e a r e d - i n d e e d , a c t u a l l y was - a d i f f e r e n t woman.  According  t o Nick, Jean's nature  can only  processed through h i s perceptions, "responsible"  be " c a u g h t " a s i t i s  and, t h e r e f o r e ,  f o r how she .appears t o h i m .  he i s  To someone e l s e ,  those  83  "rays  of character",  being  "focussed  through" a  different  p e r s p e c t i v e , would n e c e s s a r i l y produce t h e appearance o f a "different character else, to  woman".  In this  like  Duport, doing  t h e same, w o u l d  character.  " a p p e a r " t o be a d i f f e r e n t different,  essentially  the  much " e x i s t " product  the  t e x t , Nick  tion  at least  o f her observers'  understanding  Jean's confession  involvement with perceptions  the  extent  standing  appears  Jean  t o Nick,  "read"  that  Nick,  Jean  by h i m s e l f , and  since her character from t h e i r  seem t o be  d o e s n o t so  perspective, Using  as i t i s  t h e analogy o f  t h e same " t e x t " , b u t t h e y  "works". of the observer's  role  i n the construc-  i s f u r t h e r d e m o n s t r a t e d when he i s f a c e d she h a s h a d a n a f f a i r  Jimmy S t r i p l i n g .  his  Thus, a c c o r d i n g  construction.  and Duport would  of character  in-law,  n o t o n l y would  someone  woman t o t h e two men, b u t she w o u l d  by D u p o r t ,  construct different Nick's  c o n s t r u c t what  two women: t h e one a s p e r c e i v e d  i n itself,  the  Further,  i n such a case.  one a s p e r c e i v e d  would  Jean's  so t h a t a p p e a r a n c e s and r e a l i t y w o u l d  indistinguishable is  constructs  on t h e b a s i s o f how s h e a p p e a r s t o h i m , w h i l e  be a d i f f e r e n t  "be"  sense, Nick  Even though t h i s  with  with  her ex-brother-  occurred  before her  such a " f a c t " f o r c e s him t o re-examine  o f b o t h J e a n a n d S t r i p l i n g , and t o a c k n o w l e d g e  t o which h i s i m a g i n a t i o n  o f t h e woman he once  c o n t r i b u t e d t o h i s under-  loved:  When y o u a r e 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 , p r e s e n t a n d f u t u r e , becomes i n a c u r i o u s way p a r t o f y o u r l i f e ; and y e t , a t t h e same t i m e , s i n c e two s e p a r a t e human e n t i t i e s i n f a c t r e m a i n , y o u m e r e l y c a r r y y o u r own p r e j u d i c e s i n t o a n o t h e r p e r s o n ' s i m a g i n e d e x i s t e n c e ; n o t even i n t o t h e i r ' r e a l ' e x i s t e n c e , because o n l y they themselves can estimate  84  what t h e i r  ' r e a l ' e x i s t e n c e has been.  (p.  Hence, the f e e l i n g of having l i v e d "one l i f e " w i t h person i s merely the r e s u l t  143)  another  of a p e r s o n a l " p r e j u d i c e " , s i n c e  each person's e x i s t e n c e i s a separate e n t i t y .  Nick i s not Jean,  and, t h e r e f o r e , he can o n l y "imagine" what her l i f e might be l i k e , on the b a s i s of what he knows, or t h i n k s 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 N i c k ' s p e r c e p t i o n s , so t h a t he must "imagine" t h a t thereby c r e a t i n g a " f i c t i o n " .  life,  Nick advances such a t h e o r y ,  o s t e n s i b l y because he f i n d s t h a t he d i d not know the " f a c t s " of Jean's l i f e  (her a f f a i r w i t h S t r i p l i n g ) , and, t h e r e f o r e , he  "misread" her, but even w i t h such i n f o r m a t i o n , he could only "imagine"  even t h a t aspect of her " e x i s t e n c e " .  still  In t h i s  sense, even i f he had known of the a f f a i r , h i s p e r c e p t i o n 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 p e r c e p t i o n of r e a l i t y , r a t h e r than r e a l i t y i t s e l f , so t h a t " h i s " Jean would s t i l l  be the product of h i s c o n s t r u c t i o n .  N i c k ' s s u g g e s t i o n t h a t he and Duport  probably p e r c e i v e a  " d i f f e r e n t " Jean i s an i r o n i c foreshadowing quent r e v e l a t i o n t h a t Brent  of Duport's  subse-  she has a l s o had an a f f a i r w i t h Jimmy  (The K i n d l y Ones, p. 178).  On the b a s i s of such knowledge  (Duport i s a l s o aware of the " S t r i p l i n g c o n n e c t i o n " ) , Duport c e r t a i n l y has h i s own,  unique, p e r c e p t i o n of h i s w i f e ' s  c h a r a c t e r , one very much a t odds w i t h t h a t o f N i c k , so t h a t the two men  do indeed p e r c e i v e a " d i f f e r e n t " Jean, at l e a s t b e f o r e  Nick l e a r n s the " f a c t s " .  When he i s so e n l i g h t e n e d , Nick i s  forced to "reread" h i s r e l a t i o n s h i p  w i t h Jean, now  perceiving  85  her  from  facts.  an a l t e r e d  p e r s p e c t i v e : "There  They b l e w i n t o t h e f a c e h a r d ,  decidedly g r i t t y  breeze"  N i c k has m a r r i e d  I s o b e l T o l l a n d , he  for altering different  h i s past,  "meaning":  immutable - t h e n o t by t h e r u d e not  altered, been. way  but  o n l y how  In t h i s  sense,  i n which N i c k has  Duport who  "reality"  does not  must  a s t h e woman N i c k  but  he  found  p a s t now  what I had  (p. 180).  Of  a  regarded  as  reshaped  course, the past  "imagined"  that  "regarded"  past,  not  "immutable", but  the  i t i s n o t , and, t h e r e f o r e ,  history;  known i s n o t  rather, i t i s Nick himself  Jean,  "regarded  history.  Hence,  just  but h i s c o n s t r u c t i o n o f  as immutable" i s not  h i s construction of that Jean's  has  has  r e l a t i o n s h i p t o have  reality.  r e l a t i o n s h i p s with the  J i m m i e s a r e n o t r e v e a l e d by t h e n a r r a t o r , o r even that  time,  Duport  has  past - roughly  the past i s indeed  These " f a c t s " about  jintil  exhilarating,  of h i s r e l a t i o n s h i p w i t h Jean  her, t h e past t h a t Nick has "reality",  that  h i s p e r s p e c t i v e on t h a t has  stiff,  facing  changed i s N i c k ' s p e r c e p t i o n o f t h a t  "reshape"  "reshape"  a  n o n e t h e l e s s blames  e n t i r e l y unsublime  changed; what h a s  nothing l i k e  E v e n t h o u g h by t h i s  s i n c e f o r him  hands of Duport"  so t h a t t h e  like  (p. 1 7 9 ) .  "I suddenly  was  two  suggested,  p o i n t i n t h e n a r r a t i v e where N i c k h i m s e l f i s t o l d .  23 T h e s e " 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 N i c k t o 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 o n l y t h a t he h a s b e e n a " f o o l " , b u t t h a t b e i n g one o f a t r i o o f l o v e r s , he must h a v e b e e n i n some way a k i n t o t h e o t h e r s , a t l e a s t i n J e a n ' s p e r s p e c t i v e : " I f h e r l o v e r s were h o r r i f y i n g , I t o o had b e e n o f t h e i r o r d e r . T h a t had t o be a d m i t t e d " ( p . 1 8 0 ) . T h i s i s t h e same k i n d o f " s e l f - i d e n t i f i c a t i o n " t h a t N i c k p e r c e i v e s w i t h U n c l e G i l e s and S t . J o h n C l a r k e , w h i c h t e n d s t o u n d e r c u t h i s o t h e r w i s e r a t h e r n e g a t i v e p o r t r a i t s o f them. J  86  Hence, u n l i k e h i s i n i t i a l know f r o m way he  the beginning  naive or l a c k i n g i s when J e a n  even more.  p e r c e p t i o n s o f W i d m e r p o o l , we  t h a t N i c k ' s p e r c e p t i o n of Jean  i n insight;  r a t h e r , we  confesses the t r u t h ,  Consequently,  we  and  are as  is in  any  surprised  as  are f o r c e d t o "reshape"  our  own  so t h a t , l i k e  him,  have t o " r e c o n s t r u c t " J e a n ' 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 himself. a f t e r he  Thus, N i c k ' s p e r c e p t i o n o f J e a n ,  l e a r n s the  perceive her, may  does N i c k ,  f o r we  w h i c h we  sense,  i s essentially  she  s a y s , and  scenes,  especially invalidate,  Of  character,  i s one  therefore,  like  of the  the r e s t  t h e b a s i s u p o n w h i c h we Hence, a s r e a d e r s , we "interpretations",  of Nick's  she d o e s , b u t  we  "reading" of her as  we  a r e giveni.no  read Nick's  evidence  that "reading".  h i s c o n s t r u c t i o n of  f a c t s " of Powell's "interpretations",  c o n s t r u c t our  thereby  in  or undercut,  "signified  than  scenes  b e c a u s e we  N i c k ' s p e r c e p t i o n of Jean,  In  her  text,  and,  i t forms  " r e a l i z a t i o n " of that  "reading", or i n t e r p r e t  creating the  and  we  o u r own.  access to  " s e e " what  a s i n f l u e n c e d by N i c k ' s  them w h i c h m i g h t  this  before  i s t h e f o u n d a t i o n upon w h i c h  o c c a s i o n a l l y have d i r e c t  " h e a r " what  those  both  see h e r more i m p e r s o n a l l y , o r o b j e c t i v e l y ,  are nonetheless a r e by  "facts",  so t h a t N i c k ' s ' J e a n  c o u r s e , we  in  not  when D u p o r t r e v e a l s  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 J e a n , we  do  text.  his  "work" t h a t i s P o w e l l ' s  Dance.  I f Nick  can  indeed  seems e v i d e n t , t h e n  be  c h a r a c t e r i z e d as a "reader",  reading i t s e l f  can be  which  c o n s i d e r e d a s a theme  37  of Powell's  novel.  commission, the and  biblical  process  inscription,  events  Lovell,  Gwinnett's  epigraph,  and  get  group of people, On  experience  the  the  or  hymns  observes  ( T r a p n e l , Widmerpool, B e t t y  Templer,  Milly  engages i n a  i s not  doing  Andriadis' party),  he  description,  simply a n a r r a t i v e about a  certain  c e r t a i n t h i n g s , i n a g i v e n time  c o n t r a r y , we  of those  and  Service),  o f i n t e r p r e t a t i o n w h i c h g o e s b e y o n d mere  so t h a t what we  place.  reads a c t u a l t e x t s (the  passages of the Thanksgiving  c h a r a c t e r s and Priscilla  Whether N i c k  people  are presented and  events,  with  and  one character's f  something t h a t i s 25  n e c e s s a r i l y the product first-person  n a r r a t o r , Nick  about the world nature  o f an  a r o u n d him,  individual  perspective.  can  o n l y r e l a t e what he  but  Powell  o f t h o s e p e r c e p t i o n s when he  As  a  perceives  seems t o f o c u s on  constructs a narrator  the who  A c c o r d i n g t o R i c h a r d 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, B a r t h e s m a i n t a i n s " 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 b e i n g t o l d , so t h a t what l i n g u i s t s c a l l t h e message i s a p a r a m e t e r o f 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 a l w a y s t h e t e l l i n g " ( p . x i ) . I n " F i c t i o n a s 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 a s F i c t i o n , " i n The R e a d e r i n t h e T e x t , pp. 1 6 3 - 7 0 , Naomi S c h o r d i s t i n g u i s h e s between t h e " i n t e r p r e t e r " , o r t h e " i n t e r p r e t i n g c r i t i c " , and t h e " i n t e r p r e t a n t " , who i s t h e " i n t e r p r e t i n g c h a r a c t e r " : " v i a t h e i n t e r p r e t a n t t h e a u t h o r 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 pretation". Some c r i t i c s do n o t " i n t e r p r e t " N i c k ' s r o l e a s t h a t o f an " i n t e r p r e t a n t " , l i k e R i c h a r d J o n e s , who, i n " A n t h o n y P o w e l l ' s M u s i c : Swansong o f t h e 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 " t o be a " c h r o n i c l e r o f a s p e c i a l i z e d g r o u p o f p e o p l e " . 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 to 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 m e r e l y a v e h i c l e f o r e x p r e s s i n g how p e o p l e and h a p p e n i n g s s t r u c k him d u r i n g a p e r i o d o f some s i x t y y e a r s ; m a t t e r s on w h i c h t h e o p i n i o n o f h i s l i s t e n e r s may d i f f e r . " He u s e s t h e t e r m " l i s t e n e r s " b e c a u s e he v i e w s t h e n o v e l a s a s t o r y " t o l d o v e r t h e d i n n e r t a b l e , r a t h e r than as r e c o r d e d h i s t o r y " (p. v i i ) .  88  s p e n d s so much o f h i s ( a n d o u r ) t i m e  contemplating that  world.  T h i s i s n o t t o s u g g e s t , however, t h a t N i c k t h e r e f o r e becomes t h e central  c h a r a c t e r i n t h e n o v e l , who  "exposes"  h i m s e l f through  26 his  "reading".  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 , P o w e l l d o e s n o t so^much h i g h l i g h t a s he d o e s t h e n a t u r e o f i n t e r p r e t a t i o n  Nick's character,  itself.  In t h i s  sense,  by p r e s e n t i n g u s w i t h a n o v e l i n w h i c h t h e n a r r a t o r may be characterized  as a "reader", Powell  is  t o some e x t e n t , w i t h t h e p r o d u c t s o f i n t e r p r e t a -  concerned,  suggests that  the narrative  tion. As a " r e a d e r " , N i c k u s e s t h e i n t e r p r e t a t i v e p r o c e s s i n o r d e r to reach  some u n d e r s t a n d i n g o f t h e p e o p l e and e v e n t s he o b s e r v e s ,  and  suggests that  this  to a particular  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  concept  o f knowledge.  In h i s e f f o r t s t o get to  know t h e p e o p l e he m e e t s , t o u n d e r s t a n d personalities,  N i c k t r i e s t o " r e a c h below t h e s u r f a c e o f t h e t e x t " ,  w h e t h e r i t be a p e r s o n ' s that in  the nature of t h e i r  he may f i n d  physical  t h e "hidden  a p p e a r a n c e o r h i s a c t i o n s , so  essence"  o f human c h a r a c t e r . Y e t ,  so d o i n g , 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 b e a r on  t h e p e r s o n he i s " r e a d i n g " , so t h a t i s not "fact", ledge, i a t  a n y " k n o w l e d g e " he o b t a i n s  but h i s p e r c e p t i o n o f that  "fact".  b e s t , i s c o l o u r e d by t h e o b s e r v e r ' s  Hence, know-  "interpretations";  ^ R i c h a r d Jones says t h a t J e n k i n s "confounds" h i s " t r u e vocation". . . with the v o c a t i o n of a Proust" (p. 35$). I f t h i s i s s o , t h e n i t i s P o w e l l , and n o t N i c k , who so " c o n f o u n d s " N i c k ' s r o l e i n t h e 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 t h e 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 " h a v e on t h e n a r r a t i v e . N i c k i s n o t so much a n " h i s t o r i a n " , a s he i s a vehicle of perspective.  89  it  i s the  product  of the  objective gathering "imagine" the the  reality  perceive  "reader's"  of " f a c t s " .  nature  of that  c o n s t r u c t i o n , r a t h e r than  Further,  of another's existence, existence,  and,  one  can  but  so t h a t , u l t i m a t e l y , he  he  can  cannot  can  only  n e v e r "know"  therefore, Nick  someone e l s e ' s e x p e r i e n c e s ,  them h i m s e l f ,  b e c a u s e one  an  can  t r y to  experience  only r e l a t e  his  27 construction  of that  experience.  B e c a u s e he  s u b j e c t i v e l i m i t a t i o n s o f h i s own  perspective,  a c k n o w l e d g e s t h a t much o f h i s " r e a d i n g " can  speculate  possible  he  one  reality,  but  of  t e x t " , and  respect  suspects,  the  "plurality  Powell),  such  d e r i v e s f r o m them, a r e n o t  another aspect applied  (such  t o be  may  change, t h e r e b y  the  search  satisfied,  f o r k n o w l e d g e i s an  observer,  or  only  of the  he  delineate  images t h a t  may  "possibilities",  text".  "readings",  Hence, f o r  and  there  the  i n a new  so t h a t  and, Nick  i s always to  one's  be  perceptions  "interpretation".  ongoing p u r s u i t , never e r r o r or lack of  "reader",  the  knowledge  another perspective  sometimes c o n f o u n d e d by  which f o r c e s the  are  of Uncle G i l e s ) ,  resulting  Nick  ^ i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s " are  definitive;  considered,  as t h a t  i s only t e n t a t i v e ;  create  since these  the  as n a r r a t o r ,  someone's c h a r a c t e r ,  of h i s c o n s t r u c t i o n , they  therefore, (and  the nature  "meanings o f t h e  "re-present" products  on  recognizes  Thus,  entirely  insight,  to re-evaluate  that  ' I n S p e e c h and Phenomena, pp. 3 8 - 9 , D e r r i d a c o n t e n d s , "When I l i s t e n t o a n o t h e r , h i s l i v e d e x p e r i e n c e i s n o t p r e s e n t t o me ' i n p e r s o n * , i n t h e o r i g i n a l . . . . t h e 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 w h i c h he g i v e s s e n s e t o h i s s i g n s , a r e n o t i m m e d i a t e l y and p r i m o r d i a l l y p r e s e n t t o me a s t h e y a r e f o r him and mine a r e for me."  90  w h i c h he h a s  come t o a c c e p t , and  t h u s , acknowledge i t s  uncertainty. Hence, t h r o u g h h i s c r e a t i o n o f N i c k , b o t h a s c h a r a c t e r ^ - a n d narrator,  P o w e l l i l l u s t r a t e s t h e impact  "reader", has  on t h e o b j e c t o b s e r v e d .  t e x t s or observes  c h a r a c t e r s and  h i s i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s and the this  " t e x t " and sense,  facts", lation from  that  an  observer,  Whether he r e a d s  " c r e a t e s " t h e n a t u r e o f t h e o b j e c t b e f o r e him.  e v e n t h o u g h N i c k b a s e s h i s " r e a d i n g " on t h e  a s worded i n t h e  Arab A r t o f Love, or t h e p h y s i c a l  "reader", Nick  trans-  inscription  c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of  the character of the n o v e l i s t ;  "realizes"  the  t h e "work".  Hence, N i c k  but a l s o t h e  " c r e a t o r " of the  "text",  i s not  "work" by  as  X.  image  a  thereby t r a n s l a t i n g  i t into  o n l y t h e " a u t h o r " o f t h e memoir,  c h a r a c t e r s and  o f h i s " i n t e r p r e t a t i o n " o f them.  creates the  In  "textual'-  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  o f t h e t r a n s l a t o r and  by v i r t u e  through  o b s e r v a t i o n s , p r o d u c e s t h e "meaning" o f  of the Sheik's manuscript,  Trapnel,  actual  e v e n t s , i t i s N i c k who,  w h e t h e r t h e y be t h e i n f o r m a t i o n c o n c e r n i n g t h e  The  or  interpreting  the text,  e v e n t s he Just  as a  relates, reader  so t o o d o e s N i c k 2Q  " c r e a t e the dance" t h a t To t h e and  i s h i s w o r l d by  extent t h a t N i c k does indeed  e v e n t s he  observes, through  "reading" that  world.  "create" the characters  h i s " r e a d i n g " o f them, he  is  pi) Donald G u t i e r r e z w r i t e s , " P o w e l l ' s use o f a p a r t i c i p a n t a n d - w i t n e s s n a r r a t o r s u g g e s t s t h e p r o c e s s o f becoming as a b a s i c m o r a l v a l u e " ( p . 1&). " A c c o r d i n g t o 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 w o r l d [ t h e w o r l d he d e s c r i b e s ] ; he i s i t s p o e t o f 'maker'" ( p . 2 4 ) , w h i l e Thomas W i l c o x 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 t h e n o v e l " ( p . 2 2 7 ) . 2<7  91  essentially  involved i n the creation of f i c t i o n  itself.  s e n s e , t h e image o f t h e t r a n s l a t o r , t h e c h a r a c t e r s G i l e s and Queen V i c t o r i a , epigraph "little  f i c t i o n s " which Nick  Lovell,  of Trapnel,  perceptions,  Widmerpool, B e t t y  Similarly, the  T e m p l e r , and P r i s c i l l a p e o p l e whom N i c k  "reads",  t o u s a s " i n t e r p r e t e d " through t h e agency o f N i c k ' s and, a s t h e p r o d u c t s  construction,  are equally  U n c l e G i l e s and T r a p n e l , fictional  Service area l l  has constructed.  n o t t o mention a l l o f t h e other  are presented  of Uncle  and t h e "meaning" o f G w i n n e t t ' s  and t h e t e x t s o f t h e T h a n k s g i v i n g  characters  In t h i s  context  personalities,  "fictitious" f o r instance,  of the novel,  their  of that p a r t i c u l a r characters. do e x i s t  Hence,  while  within the  a n d , t h e r e f o r e , have  characters are essentially  form o f  particular  delineated f o r us  by N i c k ,  so t h a t what we g e t i s n o t so much U n c l e G i l e s and  Trapnel,  but Nick's  get of  "fictions".  c o n s t r u c t i o n o f them, a n d , i n t h i s  T h i s i s not t o suggest t h a t N i c k ' s  such c h a r a c t e r s a r e " f a l s e " ,  but only  creations,  and, t h e r e f o r e , n o t " f a c t " .  "fictions"  reflect  not it  a "slice  the nature  of l i f e " ,  that they Nick's  of the novel  "mirror  perceptions are imaginative  c r e a t i o n o f such  a s a w h o l e : Dance i s  nor i s i ta "mirror"  i s a "re-presentation" of that  s e n s e , we  of that l i f e ;  rather,  image", o r an a c c o u n t  31  o f one p e r s o n ' s " e x p e r i e n c e  Max B y r d , (1976), 260. 3  0  of r e a l i t y " .  "'Reading' i n Great  In t h i s  Expectations,"  sense,  Nick's  PMLA, 9 1  J . H i l l i s M i l l e r , " T h r e e P r o b l e m s o f 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 D a v i d C o p p e r f i e l d and H u c k l e b e r r y F i n n , " i n E x p e r i e n c e i n t h e N o v e l , e d . Roy H a r v e y P e a r c e (New Y o r k : Columbia U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1 9 6 8 ) , p. 2 7 . 3  1  92  account  i s "realistic"  experience within  that  of that " r e a l i t y " ,  because i t concerns but  i t h i s a c t s of f i c t i o n a l  experience through  t o him,  incorporates  construction, just  as a  reader's  o f a n o v e l i n c l u d e s t h e 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  his interpretation  Powell,  fictions",  that experience  his  through  thereby  of the t e x t .  Hence, one  might  say  h i s narrator, creates " f i c t i o n s within  illustrating  the  creation of f i c t i o n  itself.  M i l l e r , " T h r e e P r o b l e m s " , p. 44. In "His Master's Voice? The Q u e s t i o n i n g o f 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 N o v e l , ed. G a b r i e l J o s i p o v i c i ( L o n d o n : Open B o o k s , 1 9 7 6 ) , p. 118, J e r e m y L a n e s a y s , "The f i c t i o n i t s e l f i s t h e p r o c e s s o f b e c o m i n g , a b e i n g w i t h no s e c u r i t y i n t h e 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 s e a r c h o f 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 possibility." J  93  Bibliography-  Primary  Sources  P o w e l l , Anthony. A Question o f U p b r i n g i n g : A Novel. Heinemann, 1 9 5 1 . .  A Buyer's Market: A Novel.  London:  .  The A c c e p t a n c e W o r l d : A N o v e l .  .  A t Lady M o l l y ' s : A N o v e l .  London:  Heinemann,  1952.  1 9 5  London:  Heinemann,  5. London:  Heinemann,  1957. . Casanova's Chinese Heinemann"! I960.  Restaurant: A Novel.  .  The K i n d l y Ones: A N o v e l .  .  The V a l l e y  .  The S o l d i e r ' s A r t : A N o v e l .  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Wang, 1 9 7 4 7  Trans.  Trans.  Richard M i l l e r .  New  Richard  Miller.  York: H i l l  and  B e r t h o f f , Warner. " F i c t i o n , H i s t o r y , M y t h : N o t e s Toward t h e D i s c r i m i n a t i o n o f N a r r a t i v e Forms." I n The I n t e r p r e t a t i o n o f N a r r a t i v e . E d . M o r t o n W. B l o o m f i e l d . C a m b r i d g e , Mass: H a r v a r d U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1 9 7 0 , pp. 2 6 3 - 8 7 . B o o t h , Wayne C. " D i s t a n c e and P o i n t o f View: An E s s a y i n Classification." Essays i n C r i t i c i s m , 11 ( 1 9 6 1 ) , 60-79. Rpt. i n The N o v e l : Modern E s s a y s i n C r i t i c i s m . Ed. Robert Murray Davis. New J e r s e y : P r e n t i c e - H a l l I n c . , 1 9 6 9 , pp. 172-8*4. . Chicago Byrd,  The R h e t o r i c o f F i c t i o n . Press, 1961.  Max. "'Reading' i n Great 259-65.  Chicago:  Expectations."  U n i v e r s i t y of PMLA, 9 1  (1976),  96  Derrida, Jacques. 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