[ilds] RG 1.6 -- the narrator meets Justine

slighcl slighcl at wfu.edu
Sun Apr 29 13:42:45 PDT 2007

/Beata Beatrix/!  I am excited about your post.  It raises some basic 
issues--not only of reading and interpretation--but also of the 
textual-bibliographical history of the /Quartet/.

You write that:

>     The narrator plays tricks on the reader. A couple of times in the
>     beginning he mentions Justine, but he goes on to discuss Melissa.
>     The woman "walking idly towards the town in her white sandals"
>     "yawning" is not Justine, but Melissa who has just woken up from
>     her afternoon nap, because she works at night.

I agree about the indeterminacy of the women and how they shade into 
each other like mirages--like Alex seen from the sea upon approach.  
Bill Godshalk and I have been talking about that indeterminacy for 
several years now.  Perhaps Jamie can pull our old postings from 2003 so 
we will not repeat too much? 

But in short your observation--and it is helpful and acute in 
itself!--must take us to asking, what text of /Justine /you are using?


              All early Fabers (1957 - 1962) will leave the flux and
              indeterminacy open, letting you interpret that woman in
              1.10 as /perhaps /being Melissa.  After all, Melissa has
              been colored as an "afternoon" presence in 1.4, the
              section with a little "coloured stall" with its ices.


              All post-1962 Faber /Justine /printings will follow the
              single volume additions and corrections, where that line

                  "This is the hour least easy to bear, when from my
                  balcony I catch an unexpected glimpse of her walking
                  idly towards the town in her white sandals, still half
                  asleep.  Justine!" (1.10)

                + You write again that

>                   Only at 1.10 starting "I have had many glimpses of
>                   her" does the narrator start describing Justine.

                  Here I think that you mean 1.11, but again your post
                  brings out the differences in the text.  The 1957
                  Faber does read "many such glimpses of her"; the 1962
                  reads "many such glimpses of Justine."

The differences, Beatrice, as you already know from our old 
conversations in Cincinatti & Corfu & from your own writings, makes a 
"world" of difference for how the reader experiences these first 
glimpses of Alex and her women.  Both the 1957 and 1962 versions of 
/Justine /are legitimate and represents LD's method in the particular 
historical moment.   Both need preserving in the record--they are 
"possible" /Justines/.  But I for one will always enjoy the open 
possibilities of the 1957-1962 printings.  (American Dutton/Penguin 
printings are based on the earliest available plates, so they persist 
with the indeterminacy.) I have been asking for a long time why LD moved 
to isolate and specify the women.  As a reader who has learned a great 
deal about reading among indeterminacies from the /Quartet/, I would 
have counseled him otherwise.  As an editor, I hold on to the historical 

So what text are you reading from these days, Beatrice?  And while we 
are talking, what text does the Greek translator follow?--or (here to 
Marc) what did the French translator use?  How about Aurora Bernardez 
(Julio Cortazar's wife)--which version does she follow in the those 
wonderful Spanish translations?

Why should we only have one perspective!


Charles L. Sligh
Department of English
Wake Forest University
slighcl at wfu.edu

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