Friday, 3 June 2016

Lead And Leaves

The following passage is copied from here.

There may be some textual evidence that the demons are not really at large. When Domenico wondered why an angel conjured by the white magicians appeared headless:
“The leaden skies returned him no answer.” 29

And when Hess suggests that they are all insane, he does so “…in a leaden monotone.” 30
Does Hess’ leaden monotone confirm that Domenico’s leaden skies are part of a collective hallucination? The word “leaden” seems significant. Blish would have known that he used it twice and that, by doing so, he linked an inner state, insanity, to an outer appearance, an unanswering sky. However, the Goat’s swallowing of the hysterically incredulous Hess seems even more significant, a decisive statement that demons are real.

I quote this passage because it discusses James Blish's double use of the word "leaden." When a competent writer reuses a word or phrase, he knows that it will resonate with the reader. Poul and Karen Anderson once again refer to "dead leaves":

"Eochaid looked away, into darkness. 'This is no real home for me,' rustled from him, like dead leaves blowing. 'If I must become a roofless wanderer again, or die, after striking Niall down, why, its joyous I'd go to my doom.'"
-The Dog And The Wolf, Chapter XVII, section 2, p. 337.

Eochaid looks into darkness and contemplates his death and doom. So the darkness is not merely physical. His proximity to death is emphasized by the reference to dead leaves. His voice sounds like their rustling sound. He is being identified with, or is sinking into, a dead part of nature. Although our old friend, the wind, is not directly mentioned, it is clearly blowing the leaves.

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