Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Colourful Ambiguous Symbolism

The concluding sentence of Mirkheim:

"Above the cliffs, a few eastern clouds turned red." (1)

This is mixed symbolism. Red is a colour of sunsets. Something is ending. But these are eastern clouds. This is a morning. Something is beginning. Yet again, red in the morning is a warning...

The entire novel, particularly in its last few pages, has shown us endings. The Polesotechnic League, hailed with the phrase "...the world's great age begins anew..." in an earlier volume, is now in terminal decline. (2) The old team had been reassembled but not as before:

"And so we fare forth again, we three and our ship, like our young days come back...except that this time our mission is not into the hopeful yonder." (3)

The main characters comment on the end of an era.

Adzel: "...those were good years. Were they not? I will miss my partners." (4)

Chee: "We can't go home to what we left when we were young; it may still be, but we aren't, nor is the rest of the cosmos...We enjoyed the trader game as long as that lasted." (5)

Van Rijn: "...maybe we will lead a little expedition quite outside of known space, for whatever we may find...A universe where all roads lead to roaming. Life never fails us. We fail it, unless we reach out." (6)

Falkayn: "...I can look for a place to begin afresh." (7)

And that fresh beginning is in the following story where Falkayn's grandson grows up with winged Ythrians in Falkayn's colony of Avalon.

(1) Anderson, Poul, Mirkheim, London, 1978, 218.
(2) Anderson, Poul, Trader To The Stars, St Albans, Herts, 1975, p. 7.
(3) Mirkheim, p. 34.
(4) ibid., p. 216.
(5) ibid., pp. 217-218.
(6) ibid., p. 215.
(7) ibid., p. 212.

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