My Man and Other Critical Fictions
(On Joseph Conrad's Nostromo)
I. There remained only that obscure phrase, windows of the beloved Antonia. He beheld all his precipices above an imaginative existence, rascally crucible, life of her throat, power of resistance from his dignity. He had persuaded himself, but something far had seized upon the tail of his own stare, which stream of treasure rising from the whole quiet gulf of subjectiveness, could not face her. The few stars left, silver escort strangely smooth as my new state, floated upon his somber surrender of the lands of pitch. But he, he murmured, of reason or politics. Martin Decoud had needed to counter reverend persons in England. He might have known these Gothic remnants, overhung by dry haze. I don’t feel the pitiless enthusiasms of the Porvenir. I am passionate for a correct impression of his passionate devotion, manifestations of a too intelligently sympathetic terror. And then Decoud spoke in French, of abandoned darkness in which the Great Isabel, too idealistic to look for him in all sleeping profoundly, to find his account too remote, began to think of an abyss. Yes. His very words, loose sheets of her wonder, paper for such knowledge, that of heavy gilt at a gallop, the mountain passes with no wind, exasperated almost to insanity your keeping, my many moods. He turned away. This resolution expressed all of us, the balconies along the world without faith hurrying into action, that dense night. When his voice ceased, your work-- which has always been the enormous stillness, without light or sound, an enemy, as the saying is-- made me stay here. Speculators, too. Their sweep of the hat and cracking of whips, the only proper style of uttering balderdash, was considered good counsel and courage. Curse on all imaginative weakness, tragic farce. The thing sticks in the ranks without detracting from the mould; expression was scooped out artistically, survival of enormous rocks taken advantage of. An advocate of the forefathers in morions and peine d’oro girls died away down the black depth upright between his legs. I have only one murmur of assent; the souls freed of paradise, gone forth into the streets of a cruel caricature, cared for me.
II. To feel himself, Decoud lay on naked crags of compromises with his panting. All his active and impalpable works, light and melted in the Madonna with the quick upward glance, pleased her immensely. He ruminated, and the rocks corrupted his judgment. Nostromo can do the tea service, his humble salute, his love for fatigued condescension-- With a smile to her of the ceiling, the utterly incomprehensible Decoud had analyzed fearlessly all in a second the true English canvas nailed on again. He drank light of failure. In the great sala, her power standing straddle-legged was so complete that evenings he devoted to hurling himself, clatter and clank, had not survived. And all exertion, all passions, including land, sea, sky, the pedestal of forest behind the high wall of the city, depicted the perfect form stopping abruptly, to smoke and doze behind a tree.
III. Don Jose’s hopes, tugging at the inception of idols without sense, folded on the correct thing, society. Only his weapon, the end of the closed door, had secured her away out of convents behind a high destiny. He stuck to it, held before his fair fame of motives and the crumbling loves, of revolution, the homage of worshippers. The white sense of unreality lifted his arm in a flush of heat. At night, the plume, the coppery English figure that drifted, a will haunted, riding far ahead, day after day, admitted him to a declamation. Have you paper, with the only solid thing, my frankness? A long course of revolutions, a love song in hair twisted as though it were her even voice, had prevented him from a personal risk. Don Carlos’s mission seemed senseless. Don Jose Avellanos had gone forth-- in the inward trembling of a principle. He had the strangest blessing, of consent. Even his hand dared to think of Antonia. She, the most anxious portal of the cathedral, bordered on the miraculous. This was the nearest measure of his discontent for venturers just landed off the coverlet; his schoolgirl of the very edge of the tea table, waved it away and withdrew. Then he shuddered a bit, like a powerful drug. Passion stood for chances of failure.
IV. The only thing running round the room, his dutiful affection, had indeed explained angles to Antonia. For masks and garlands about his mouth, and a fixed idea floating helpless, stretched out on her with his body of clouds, the sabre standing, genius, he worked himself up in the little sidelong glance at Antonia-- What was the use of torn and extremely languid darkness, in which braying operatic human breasts tremble, upon the this and that-- Don Martin (whose disdain of common romance derived from tampering openly with his thoughts) spoke well, but his letters—
V. Here was a man, wandering very well; keep me here all day long, maintain a turmoil of Decoud, the zest of a connoisseur turned against manliness with a great eloquence, but self-respect. And you forget that sometimes he could charm, replace the SILVER MINE. This was why he was ready to have let me go, he thought. He imagined himself aware to what point a gesture of a new state makes the world go at all. And "Martin, you will fall slowly into the most sceptical heart there in our midst." "Yes, the noise, dear," he said lightly; "Ah, par exemple!"