[ilds] RG Justine 1.12 -- mirrors, Cohen, Jamais de la vie

Marc Piel marcpiel at interdesign.fr
Fri Apr 27 14:27:20 PDT 2007

Has anyone developped the idea that "Cohen" is 
inspired by Eve's family????
Marc Piel

william godshalk wrote:

> Thanks, Charlie, very good posting. On mirrors, Cirlot, A Dictionary of 
> Symbols, has an interesting roundup of interpretations, among which is: 
> "it is a symbol of the imagination -- or of consciousness -- in its 
> capacity to reflect the formal reality of the visible world." WLG
>>> But why does the narrator (or Durrell, if you wish), begin this 
>>> important sequence of mirrors with Cohen's face reflected in a 
>>> barroom mirror? Why not begin with Justine's cubist observation?
>>> WLG
>>     "As I was leaving I caught a glimpse of him in one of the long
>>     mirrors, his head bowed as he stared into the wineglass" (1.12)
>> Look into thy "glass" (image / drink / hour glass).  As with 
>> Pursewarden squirting his drink upon the mirror, time, drink, and 
>> mirrors.  Again, these all might be taken as the common, recurrent 
>> references funding LD's work--especially the poetry, where mirrors and 
>> glasses abound.
>>     ON MIRRORS [from Collected Poems: 1931-1974 (1985), Faber and Faber]
>>     You gone, the mirrors all reverted,
>>     Lay banging in the empty house,
>>     Redoubled their efforts to impede
>>     Waterlogged images of faces pleading.
>>     So Fortunatus had a mirror which
>>     Imperilled his reason when it broke;
>>     The sleepers in their dormitory of glass
>>     Stirred once and sighed but never woke.
>>     Time amputated so will bleed no more
>>     But flow like refuse now in clocks
>>     On clinic walls, in libraries and barracks,
>>     Not made to spend but kill and nothing more.
>>     Yet mirrors abandoned drink like ponds:
>>     (Once they resumed the childhood of love)
>>     And overflowing, spreading, swallowing
>>     Like water light, show one averted face,
>>     As in the capsule of the human eye
>>     Seen at infinity, the outer end of time,
>>     A man and woman lying sun-bemused
>>     In a blue vineyard by the Latin sea,
>>     Steeped in each other's minds and breathing there
>>     Like wicks inhaling deep in golden oil.
>>     1955/1954
>> On Cohen:  Darley is "haunted by this old man" (1.12), and rightfully 
>> so.  Cohen becomes the narrator's dopplegänger in the text, shadowing 
>> him pas, present, and future, presaging the sadness of the cast-off 
>> lovers to come, including Darley--cf. his late realization, "And in a 
>> little time perhaps, if she should call on me or I on her?" (2.5).  
>> For my own part I increasingly appreciate the sense of "an 
>> extraordinary feeling of intimacy" that the narrator confesses here.  
>> Somehow Cohen humanizes the narrator and the book, reminding us that 
>> one step to the left or the right and we all appear with "the clumsy 
>> air of a trained seal grappling with human emotions" (1.12). 
>> Dante Gabriel Rossetti's use of mirrors in the House of Life sonnet 
>> sequence to overlay "Old Love" and "New Love" is also in my mind as a 
>> reader.  "How they met themselves," using axes to cut down each other. 
>> . . .
>> And yes:  later on, as he is dying at the hospital, Cohen sings a few 
>> bars of "a small popular song which had once been the rage of 
>> Alexandria, Jamais de la vie" (2.5).
>> CLS
>>Charles L. Sligh
>>Department of English
>>Wake Forest University
>>slighcl at wfu.edu <mailto:slighcl at wfu.edu>
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