[ilds] RG 1.6 -- the narrator meets Justine

Michael Haag michaelhaag at btinternet.com
Sat Apr 28 18:51:26 PDT 2007

This entire run, from 1.10 to 1.16, is beautifully worked around two of 
Cavafy's poems, indeed it is imbued with Cavafy associations.  First in 
1.10 there is 'the afternoon sun', which is a Cavafy poem, and a few 
lines down Darley goes to his balcony where he catches sight of 
Justine, a reference picked up again at the end of 1.15 when Justine 
quotes 'In the Evening' -- both 'The Afternoon Sun' and 'In the 
Evening' being exquisite poems of loss, of love affairs long since 
gone, of memory transmuted into place.


On Sunday, April 29, 2007, at 01:25  am, william godshalk wrote:

> When the narrator gives his lecture on "the native poet of the city," 
> he notes that "one solitary student of the passions and the arts" sits 
> in the back of the hall, "her legs crossed in a mannish attitude" 
> (1.16). But he apparently does not recognize her as Justine.
> But the narrator has made it quite evident that he knows Justine by 
> sight. From his balcony he catches sight of her "walking idly towards 
> the town in her white sandals." At another time, perhaps, she "passes 
> below" his "window, smiling as if at some private satisfaction" 
> (1.10). He further claims that he had "many such glimpses of her at 
> different times, and of course I knew her well by sight long before we 
> met (1.11). He claims that anyone who earns more than 200 pounds a 
> year relinquishes all anonymity in Alexandria -- and he recounts some 
> of the times he has seen her. To make matters doubly clear that the 
> reader gets the point, the narrator writes: "I knew them [Justine and 
> Nessim] by sight many months before we actually met -- as I knew 
> everyone in the city" (1.16).
> Surely there's a mystery here. The narrator insists that he knows 
> Justine by sight, and then, when he sees her at his lecture, he 
> doesn't seem to recognize her. Why not?
> And when Justine gets him home, she races to Nessim "like a gun-dog" 
> metaphorically dropping the narrator at Nessim's feet, wagging her 
> tale. "She had achieved me" (1.16). The narrator comments: "I did not 
> know for what purpose I had been brought here" (1.16).
> In Justine does the narrator and the reader ever know the "purpose"?
> WLG_______________________________________________
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