Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Forget the slightly twee characters, or even the highly convoluted stories: what really hold a dickens novel together is the patchwork of deaths, that construct it.
Take for example Nicholas Nickleby. This is a story suspended between two rather distinct deaths:That of the elder Nicholas Nicklebly and the young Ralph.The plot arises as a consequence the former and as the path towards he latter. This double take of death as legacy or path s the repeated (if a different sense) in the case of Arthur Brice and Smike. The latters death allows or better defines how Madeline will marry Nicholas (it is therefore a death with myriad consequences), while the latter death, of Smike is a point which the entire novel build up to. Every knows that Smike ill die, the problem is always ho long will it take.
Death rules in two ways I overhangs a novel and individuals are caught up in the legacy of how someone died, and the reaction to that death - or else is marks the point that the action must lead. that is the point beyond all escape, the point which gets closer and closer, as a thing inevitable, and yet unknowable until it happen. A double take Dickens repeats in Bleak house (lady deadwood death is the point build up to, while her husbands death or the miser's death are point from which the plot spins); or again in tale or to cities ( the death of the child run over by Evermond or of the family of Madame Defarge, an the death of Sidney Carton) or even Great expectations (the death of Pip's parents, the death of his second father Magwitch).
Relatively rarely this double of death is caught in the same act of dying: So the death of Paul Dombey is at once a point everyone knows will happen, a point the story fizzles rather quickly towards, but also the legacy,which overhangs the rest of the book : in the same book another option is also investigated: the death might be aborted or falls. Dombey nearly kills himself (which would have been the culmination of the story), while the' hero' returns from the dead (he was thought drowned, and yet was not).
Nor need these death be very far apart, or even in a logical order. In Nicolas Nickleby The death of mr Dorrit is clearly point the story has lead (even though the path was hidden). The man ruined by wealth,comes to the end that ruin brings him. The death of the Banker, which ruins the Dorit fortune is clearly a death which matter, which is defined in legacy. But this legacy a legacy which sweeps up Dorrit's fortune in it, interupts the 'Legacy; that mr Dorrit;s death would otherwise create. His death is then robbed of it own legacy or another is replaced by another death another legacy. His dying then although not at the end of the novel is made o be an end. his death marks the end of wealth, and is mingled in the legacy of run that follows the death of the Banker Murdle.

Death can be then complex and yet rules life in two ways: life is either the legacy of a death. It s it is that which comes after- that which lives in the legacy of dying. To live is therefore to be surrounded by death. One lives, one acts as a momument - an element caught or suspended between differing deaths. What one is and how one lives is defined within this patchwork of legacies of different way of dying.
Alternatively death is the final point every life runs to. It is the last act. The faltering point of novel or a being. The point beyond which and from which evrything is forever different. The point then the lot twists and turns towards.
Death rules not because in either case these are simple the death of folk. it is not characters that make the death, do much as the act of dying sweeps the characters along of force them to sing a new song. Death as an event , beyond the mind, makes mind bend towards its direction. Nor are these deaths exactly singular events: the death of Smike and the Ralph Nickleby are caught up in each other, as are the death of Murdle and Mr Dorrit (or the deaths of Riderhood and much earlier the Gaffer). A death does not need then to be simple. My and your dying might become one,. That is they might infuse legacy (the of The Madame Defare's sister and he death of the child are all markers on the path to the guillotine). Or one death might be seen as merely a path to another (anotehr will be a local point of it own all the same: The death of Smike leads to the death of Ralph Nickelby.
Death id not necessarily singular. it has a an effect. It build towards itself or demands a legacy, it has a past r a future but never simply alone. Other dying are also their. It might then be a necro-archy, bur it is never the one death that governs. I might snuff it alone, by a dy always and at each point with other around m, or I ought to.
Death is the point i live within or the point I am gathered towards: it is the dead labour of a machine or the ghost that haunts society, the ghost of a death to come - a revolution. Death in its two voices it is political, and Marx is one the apostles of that politics.

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