“Bakha picked up the packet and moved away. Then he opened it and took out a cigarette. He recalled that he had forgotten to buy a box of matches. He was too modest to go back, as though some deep instinct told him that as a sweeper-lad, he should show himself in people’s presences as little as possible. For a sweeper, a menial to be seen smoking constituted an offense before the Lord” (42).
Anand, Mulk Raj. Untouchable. London, England: Penguin Books, 1940. Print.
This moment, among many others, features Anand’s use of excessive clarifications of caste distinctions, representing Bakha’s hyperawareness of his own class and his subordinate relation to other characters in the novel, something he perceives through aesthetics and standards created by his society and forces him to understand himself solely in terms of his relationship to others.
“There was Regent’s Park. Yes. As a child he had walked in Regent’s Park–odd, he thought, how the thought of childhood keeps coming back to me–the result of seeing Clarissa, perhaps; for women live much more in the past than we do, he thought. They attach themselves to places; and their fathers–a woman’s always proud of her father” (55).
Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1925. Print.
Virginia Woolf utilizes the stream of consciousness method throughout her work, Mrs. Dalloway, as a means of providing insight into her characters’ thought processes. As seen through this excerpt, much of the novel focuses on events that occurred to the characters in the past and shaped the way they view their lives and circumstances in the present.
“‘The proper stuff of fiction’ does not exist; everything is the proper stuff of fiction, every feeling, every thought; every quality of brain and spirit is drawn upon; no perception comes amiss.”
Woolf, Virginia. “Modern Fiction.” In The Common Reader, 154. San Diego, CA: Harcourt, 1925.
I couldn’t agree more with this essay, and this summarizing quote. For me, this idea that fiction is what you make it and not what you’re told it is, is one that I struggle with. Not that I don’t stand behind it to the fullest, but, as I intend to teach creative writing classes someday, I’ve been finding it difficult to decide how I can teach a craft that comes from the heart and soul rather than a defined method or period of time. Of course there will never quite be an answer to my woes, but it’s great to know that my viewpoint is shared by so many I admire.
“Consider the matter from a scientific or a metaphysical point of view, and you will find that I am right. For what is Nature? Nature is no great mother who has borne us. She is our creation. It is in our brain that she quickens to life. Things are because we see them, and what we see, and how we see it, depends on the Arts that have influenced us. To look at a thing is very different from seeing a thing. One does not see anything until one sees its beauty. Then, and then only, does it come into existence.”
Wilde, Oscar. “The Decay of Lying.” In Intentions. New York: Brentano’s, 1905. page 40-41. Internet
This idea that nature is our creation, and not the other way around, really blew my mind. It makes complete sense on so many levels. I find it particularly relevant to my studies at the moment as I’m taking a class on Sensation and Perception, and have been spending a great deal of time contemplating how we perceive the world around us. How much of it is a construct of our mind, and how much, if any, is a universal reality? While I’d been thinking that one of the most important factors that push us to certain perceptions are our life experiences , I can see how Art appears to be a large, if not the largest, subset of those experiences. This was a fantastic reading!