A Human Eye: Essays on Art in Society, 1997-2008 by Adrienne Rich

By Adrienne Rich

Throughout greater than 3 many years Adrienne Rich’s essays were praised for his or her lucidity, braveness, and variety of matters. In A Human Eye, wealthy examines a various number of writings and their position in prior and current social problems and modifications. past literary theories, she explores from many angles how the humanities of language have acted on and been formed by way of their creators’ worlds.

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Extra resources for A Human Eye: Essays on Art in Society, 1997-2008

Sample text

Fre´de´ric strained to remember those eyes without success. But the dream had already seized him; it seemed to him that he was harnessed at Arnoux’s to the pole of a fiacre, and that the Marshal, straddling him, was eviscerating him with her golden spurs. (pp. 183–184) The initial chain which links together women, luxury, and “all that constitutes Parisian existence” is a small indication that the masked ball has been conceived as an exemplary instance of the life of the metropolis, with all its excitements and seductions and sensory agitation.

I suspect that Dickens did not altogether plan such unity—certainly not the way that Joyce, with his colored pencils and charts, mapped out the network of motifs for Ulysses—but rather was carried along by the powerful momentum of his integrative imagination. Let us first consider an instance of a simile that has a strictly local function. The narrator of Our Mutual Friend is describing the neighborhood, at the meeting point of Kent and Surrey, where Bradley Headstone’s school and a companion school for girls are located: They were in a neighborhood which looked like a toy neighborhood taken in blocks out of a box by a child of particularly THE REALISM OF METAPHOR 49 ) incoherent mind, and set up anyhow; here, one side of a new street; there, a large solitary public-house facing nowhere; here, another unfinished street already in ruins; there, a church; here, an immense new warehouse; there, a dilapidated old country villa; then, a medley of black ditch, sparkling cucumber-frame, rank field, richly cultivated garden, brick viaduct, arch-spanned canal, and disorder of frowsiness and fog.

Catalogues of this sort, of course, are a staple of nineteenth-century realism, and in fact they figure prominently in the panorama of urban demolition in Zola’s The Chase to which I have referred. A small clue to the Dickensian difference in the handling of the realist catalogue may be detected in the flaunted paradox of “another unfinished street already in ruins” (behind which could lie a subliminal memory of Job 3:14, which reads, in the King James Version, “With kings and counselors of the earth, which build desolate places [more literally, “ruins”] for themselves”).

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