“‘I’ll give it to you!’…and flung himself vigorously, violently down on to Mrs. Filmer’s area railings” (Woolf 78).

I read this book back in 2018 for another class, so this second read has been quite a refresher, especially this quote. This moment comes at a turning point in the novel, in which we see the heartbreaking culmination of Septimus’ struggles throughout the story, as we see how the war and his friend’s passing had an effect on him. He was meant to be taken away to a psychiatric home by Sir William, but Septimus clearly had different plans. He was afraid of what his fate would be at the psychiatric home, as he felt that society was out to get him due to his emotional absence. At the same time, though, he didn’t want to die, so it’s more of a “what other choice do I have?”, as in dying is better than whatever he was to face if taken away.

Joyce, “Artist”

“He was alone. He was unheeded, happy and near to the wild heart of life. He was alone and young and wilful and wildhearted, alone amid a waste of wild air and brackish waters and the seaharvest of shells and tangle and veiled grey sunlight and gayclad lightclad figures of children and girls and voices childish and girlish in the air.”

Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Oxford University Press, 2000.

Here, art is used to fill the imagination with the sorrows of loneliness. As a reader, I can breathe the waste of wild air and feel the brackish waters as if I’m the young, wilful lonely man. I can even hear the voices of children filling the air. It’s details like this that allow the reader to not only immerse themselves into the world but to actually fill the shoes of the character(s).

“a response so absolute”

“A response so absolute, such a glimpse of a definite result and such a sense of credit, worked together in his mind and, producing a strange connotation, slowly altered and transfigured his despair. The sense of cold submersion left him—he seemed to float without an effort.”

I chose this quote because of its symbolism, as it aids the story’s value for artistry. The imagery being highly detailed here and elsewhere throughout the short story helps to flesh out the ordeals and struggles of artistry. This was a difficult text to comprehend but a welcome challenge, I appreciated all of the imagery, it helped to bring the short to life in my head.

[posted for Neil P. by AG]