The Postmaster; the Narrator & Ratan

” ‘Well, Ratan,’ perhaps he would begin, ‘do you remember anything of your mother?’ That was a fertile subject. Ratan partly remembered, and partly didn’t … She called to mind a little brother that she had – and how on some bygone cloudy day she had played at fishing with him on the edge of the pond, with a twig for a make-believe fishing-rod. Such little incidents would drive out greater events from her mind.”

Tagore, Rabindranath. The Postmaster. Macmillan, 1918, page 161.

Hurston & The Person We Think We Are Meant to Be

“So when we looked at de picture and everybody got pointed out there wasn’t nobody left except a real dark little girl with long hair standing by Eleanor. Dat’s where Ah wuz s’posed to be, but Ah couldn’t recognize dat dark chile as me, So Ah ast, ‘where is me? Ah don’t see me.’ … But before Ah seen de picture Ah thought Ah wuz  just like the rest” (Hurston 31).

Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. HarperCollins, 2004.


The Maltese Falcon: Spade

“What are you going to do about it?”
Page 69

Hammet, Dashiel. The Maltese Falcon. Alfred A. Knopf, 1930.

In this Chapter VIII coversation with the detectives Dundy and Polhaus in the doorway to his apartment, Spade shows that he’s willing to say anything and act comittedly on impulse if it is necessary to further his interests. The elaborate story which he makes up justifying how Cairo and Miss O’Shaughnessy came to be in his apartment is a clever powerplay: but Spade is threatening his fellow investigators on a whim to protect a girl he hardly knows or truly cares about, simply because it suits his current mood and motivations. Sam Spade is ambivalent and arbitrary, and this makes his moral character fickle and highly questionable: his position as the story’s protagonist creating a similarly ambivalent moral attitude.

Faulkner’s Strange Idioms

“They would risk the fire and the earth and the water and all just to eat a sack of bananas” (Faulkner 140).

Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying. Vintage International, 1990.

This quote, from Tull’s chapter privately criticizing the stubborn determination of Anse and Dewey Dell to see Addie across the flooded river and buried as per her wishes, is interesting. The book keeps commenting on the value of death: the respect that should be owed the dead, what hold they should have on the lives of the living. Anse feels indebted to the mother and seems “bent” on making his shortcomings up to her retroactively, Dewey Dell simply having an emotional attachment, Jewel feeling it somewhat distantly, even as a thing of obligation, needing some coercion, and Darl, who seemed to love Addie, feels that she has passed out of existence, that she is no longer his mother anymore, no longer “is.” Though they all experience it differently, nevertheless the family unites to bury the mother, but in Tull’s eyes, the whole pursuit, not only foolhardy because of the mortal danger of the storm, seems an extravagance anyway, neither practical nor especially worthy (like a “sack of bananas”).

Mrs. Dalloway #1

“But often now this body she wore (she stopped to look at a Dutch picture), this body, with all its capacities, seemed nothing — nothing at all. She had the oddest sense of being herself invisible; unseen; unknown; there being no more marrying, no more having of children now, but only this astonishing and rather solemn progress with the rest of them, up Bond Street, this being Mrs. Dalloway; not even Clarissa any more; this being Mrs. Richard Dalloway” (Woolf 35).

Mrs. Dalloway as a character reminds me a bit of Miss Brill, from the short story “Miss Brill” by Katherine Mansfield (though without the self-delusion). She seems to lose herself to her thoughts, both those of the past and the present, and suggests that she finds diversity and vitality in her life by walking about and observing people.


Woolf, Virginia. Everyman’s Library. Alfred A. Knopf, 1993.

eISBN: 978-0-307-55807-7

Portrait: Too Young to Contemplate Existence?

“Stephen Dedalus is my name,

Ireland is my nation,

Clongowes is my dwellingplace

And heaven my expectation

… That was he: and he read down the page again. What was after the universe? Nothing(Joyce 12).

Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Oxford University Press, 2000. Edited with an Introduction and Notes by Jeri Johnson


The Middle Years: Living Documents, Dead Authors

“He lived once more into his story and was drawn down, as by a siren’s hand, to where, in the dim underworld of fiction, the great glazed tank of art, strange silent subjects float” (James 337).

James, Henry. “The Middle Years.” Henry James: Complete Stories 1892-1898, Library of America, 1996, pp. 335–355.

Writing is bound up in its own world but the affect is transformative; what has already been written lives again as we read, and what may have originally been meant by the author is made into something new with each new reading.  It’s a kind of infinity.