A Literary Year – December: “Faintly falling, falling faintly…”

This is just an experiment: I was thinking I would start a few new categories – A Literary Year, and a Musical Year. Anna is away, in Rome (and I’m so envious), so I don’t know if she’ll play, but it’s always been something that interested me a lot, the course of the year, and how it affects my perception of things; – of art, in particular.I’ve sometimes made up little lists, i.e. “Arias in the course of the year” with an aria to match each month, and I thought it’d be fun to share the results of such lists here on the blog. Perhaps you will find that you agree with me in my choices, or perhaps you’ll have another suggestion – in each case I’d love to hear about it in the “comments”. Who knows, maybe I’ll end up adding new works to my lists! I’d like that.

I figured in this category, I’d bring a quote that reminds me of the particular month.  This first quote is a very famous one, and thus, one might argue, I’m not contributing with much new by bringing it here, but I still want to bring it, because it is my conviction that this particular passage could never be quoted too often. The quote in question is the ending of James Joyce’s “The Dead”, which is my favourite work of prose ever. It takes place in January, more specifically on the Night of the Three Kings, but it always reminded me of December. The image of the faintly falling snow, the languid rhythm of the prose, the sudden and painful lucidity of Gabriel’s vision, the omnipresence of Death, the thickness of the night, and the helplessness of the snowflakes falling into the Shannon waves; it is so incredibly moving to me, and seems to appropriate for this the darkest month of the year, when the insistent little comma of solstice urges us on through the dusk and the cold. I remember being 19 and sitting in a car with my first serious boyfriend, on the night of the Feast of Stephen. It was towards the end of our relationship, and I knew I was going to end things with him, and there in the passanger seat, I felt the pain of the knowledge that I was going to have to end this relationship that I had thought I was going to have forever, as I was watching the snowflakes falling onto the front window of the car, and I thought of “The Dead”. “Snow was general all over
Ireland” I murmured with that streak of over-dramatization that is so typical of teenage girls. “What’s that?” said my boyfriend, and I said “Nothing.” and smiled at him and broke up with him a couple of days later. But all over-dramatization aside, “The Dead” has always comes to my mind in the most poignant times of my life; always when I have the most significant realization, and always in December.

But I’ll leave the word to Joyce now, and his wonderful, subtly tragic character Gabriel Conroy:

A few light taps upon the pane made him turn to the window. It had begun to snow again. He watched sleepily the flakes, silver and ark. falling obliquely against the lamplight. The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward. Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over
Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling intot he dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.”



December 9, 2006. A Literary Year, Literature, The course of the year.

One Comment

  1. Lucia replied:

    Ԛue tal,
    Est bɑstante Ƅien el articulo. Aguno de los artiϲulos nno
    me gսstaron tanto, pero en general sߋn bastante interesantes.

    Un saludo

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