LITERATURE: Black Swan Green – Technique

A couple of real nice exposures of change of attitude and time by Mitchell, keeping the descriptions fairly close yet far enough apart to denote a difference in Jason’s first and second visits to Madame Crommelynck:

Inside smelt of liver and soil.  A velvet staircase sliced sunlight across the hall.  A blue guitar rested on a sort of Turkish chair.  A bare lady in a punt drifted on a lake of water lilies in a gold frame.  The "solarium" sounded ace. (p. 143)

Jason and the Madame discuss poetry and the term beauty.  She is demanding of one thing from him, that he speak what’s on his mind and say it honestly.  On his second visit, this is his description of her home:

The stairway needed fixing.  A knacked blue guitar’d been left on a broken stool.  In a gaudy from a shivery woman sprawled in a punt on a clogged pond.  Once again, the butler led me to the solarium.  (I looked "solarium" up.  It just means "an airy room." (p. 151)

The mystery of the visit, the anticipation, has been taken away after the first meeting has established the woman’s interest in his poems.  Oddly, he does away with his lyrical description and replaces it with a more honest view, doing just as the woman had suggested as far as overdoing the elaborate use of adjectives for imagery.

And here’s another goodie:

I’d got ‘The Old Man and the Sea’ by Ernest Hemingway from the school library, just ’cause Madame Crommelynck’d mentioned him.  (The introduction said the book’d made Americans burst into tears when it was read on the radio.  But it’s just about an old guy catching a monster sardine.  If Americans cry at tht, they’ll cry at anything.) (p. 151)

We’re seeing an immediate influence on Jason, a change coming about as he is recognized as a poet–something no one else knows since he uses a pseudonym and the poetry is being published locally by the vicarage.  But the old woman has been reading the poems and forwarding them on, and has evidently seen something in Jason worth nurturing.

This entry was posted in LITERATURE and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.