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By Cyrus R. K. Patell (auth.)
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Extra resources for Cosmopolitanism and the Literary Imagination
To render it comprehensible, he adopts the literary strategy of personifying it: “The moon had spread over everything a thin layer of silver—over the rank grass, over the mud, upon the wall of matted vegetation standing higher than the wall of a temple, over the great river I could see through a sombre gap glittering, glittering, as it flowed broadly by without a murmur. ” Upriver, at the Central Station, he describes having listened as one of the Company’s men “jabbered about himself” and having wondered “whether the stillness on the face of the immensity looking at us two were meant as an appeal or as a menace.
60 Meanwhile, modernist literature itself has been subject to the process of petrification that sometimes accompanies “classic” status. Take, for example, the pareddown style of Ernest Hemingway, once thought to be revolutionary and new, which was so influential and widely copied that it now seems to be banal. Sometimes the literary reader must work to regain the original horizon of questioning in order to understand the full range of a text’s meanings: past, present, and future. Occasionally, the emergence of a subsequent text enables us to reread the classic with fresh eyes.
OTHELLO ’Tis true, there’s magic in the web of it. A sibyl that had numbered in the world The sun to course two hundred compasses, In her prophetic fury sewed the work; Crossing Boundaries of Culture and Thought 39 The worms were hallowed that did breed the silk, And it was dyed in mummy, which the skilful Conserved of maidens’ hearts. DESDEMONA Indeed! Is’t true? OTHELLO Most veritable; therefore look to’t well. 58–78) One could argue that Othello is here engaging in a little Iagoesque trickery and that he doesn’t actually believe in the witchcraft he’s describing.