Sunday, 14 October 2012

The Golden Slave

In Poul Anderson's The Golden Slave (New York, 1980), two slaves, the Cimbrian male Eodan and the Greek female Phryne, converse. Suddenly, Eodan says of their owner, " 'He took my wife.' " (p. 40) Appropriately, there is then a long pause in the conversation before Eodan resumes, "'Well...Enough of that...' " (p. 41).

During that pause, Anderson gives us the kind of well-observed detail that enriches his texts:

"The wind mourned about the house, wailed in the portico and rubbed leafless branches together. Another rain-burst pelted the roof." (p. 41)

We are standing in the kitchen of the villa with the slaves, hearing the wind and the rain. In fact, here Anderson uses the literary "Pathetic Fallacy," the pretense that the elements reflect human feelings, mourning and wailing for Eodan's loss. I think that this is also an "Objective Correlative," objective conditions expressing subjective feelings?

Anderson as always describes the changing seasons. After the wind and rain:

"Each day the sun stood higher; each day a new bird-song sounded in the orchard. One morning fields and trees showed the finest transparent green, as if the goddess had breathed on them in the night. And then at once, unable to wait, the leaves themselves burst out and the orchard exploded in pale fire." (p. 45)

Rereading Anderson gives the opportunity to pause on these details instead of rushing ahead to find out how Eodan escapes from slavery.

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