Texts in Time
Great Gatsby 1925
Sonnets From the Portuguese 1850
“Old Time; that greatest and longest established spinner of all. His work is noiseless and his hands are mute”
EBB: Victorian domestication of Death- Sonnet 1
• With the volte comes energy and movement as death comes to life in the form of a “shadow across me”. The “mystic shape did move” as it drew EBB “backward by the hair”. The prevalence of death in Victorian society is further demonstrated by it being given a voice, a privilege denied even to most women. He whispers, “guess who holds thee” as he exerts mastery of the idealised image of the weak Victorian women.
The Great Gatsby: Fear of Death
• 110 motor vehicle crashes a day.
• WWI left a mark on society (death rates)
• Spanish influenza
• Jazz age hysteria towards death reflected through Gatsby’s pre-occupation with time.
• Tony Tanner writes, “Gatsby’s concern with time, its arrestability, recuperability and repeatability is obsessive”
• In the novel when asked “whose house” the party was being held at a bystander replied at “Trimalchio’s; a very rich man who has a clock and a uniformed trumpeter in his dining hall to keep telling him how much of his life is lost and gone.”
• Gatsby has but one physically clumsy moment throughout the course of the novel is this ironically has to do with the almost breakage of a clock, the end of time.
• As Gatsby lent his face against a “defunct mantelpiece clock”, “It began to tilt dangeoursly at the pressure of his head”. Only for Gatsby to then “catch it with trembling hands”.
• Through Gatsby’s conscious choice to catch the clock, thus preventing the destruction of time, he invites his own decline.
• This seemingly small ocurence foreshadows Gasby’s later decision to protect Daisy from blacme for myrtle’s murder thus causing his own death.
• Intertextual reference to the well known figure of medieval indulgence reinforces Gatsby’s obsession with the Trimalchian fear of...