The Making of the Reader: Language and Subjectivity in by David Trotter
By David Trotter
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Additional info for The Making of the Reader: Language and Subjectivity in Modern American, English and Irish Poetry
Fresca is a jingling somersaulting cyclone in direct line of descent from Benda's countess, entirely made up of cultural odds and ends. She denies repose, threatening not so much the virginity of occasional Prufrocks - although there is that danger- as the very principle of a poised and compact sensibility. The opening line of 'A Game of Chess' alludes to Antorry and Cleopatra, partly because the woman whose hair spreads out in fiery points is a caricature Cleopatra, but also perhaps because Shakespeare's play had recently got caught up in the struggle between 'plastic' and 'musical' sensibilities.
Are we hearing the voice of a narrator, or the voice of a conscience which wants to observe its empirical self in action and to see how far short of an ideal image that self has fallen? It may be the latter, I think, judging by the way the stanza parodies a moment in Paradise Lost (Book 4, 465-71). Eve describes how a mysterious voice advised her to stop staring at herself in a lake and search for Adam: . there had I fixed Mine eyes till now, and pined with vain desire, Had not a voice thus warned me, What thou seest, What there thou seest fair creature is thyself, With thee it came and goes: but follow me, And I will bring thee where no shadow stays Thy coming, and thy soft embrace ...
Sexuality, which might have been thought a realm outside or prior to social structure, and perhaps even the ground of a reconstituted subjectivity, proves as schematised an experience as any other. Different classes, that is to say, entertain and abide by different representations of sexuality. In 'A Game of Chess' the behaviour of the woman whose hair spreads in fiery points 42 The Making of the Reader contrasts sharply with the bluntness and the scarred fertility of the women in the pub. By 1921 an issue which sharpened the contrast even further birth control - had become a topic of widespread concern and debate.