Monday, October 13, 2008

'Odalisque' by PF Jeffery (DFL's comments on Chapter 31)

Chapter 31 – Lessons

Lessons in and out of the schoolroom. Lessons for the characters in the plot, lessons for the plot-masters and -mistresses themselves and lessons for the readers. One wonders sometimes who are the puppets and who the puppeteers in this highly complex interaction of narration and narration-receipt (complex without being difficult even to the least experienced of readers, I guess).

The reader follows the quick-fire pecking-order of other interactions -- father and daughter, mother and daughter at a distance of separation, slave and person, person and person, slave and slave, teacher and student, time and punishment, female and male, Goddess and Goddess icon, jewel thief and ‘loose cannon’, love and submission.

Some passages in this chapter:

It was in line with her insistence that it was my inner being that enslaved me, rather than the presence or absence of a harness.

Lisa-Louise’s voice sank too low for me to catch the words, Barguin giggled. Dedicating the image to Our Lady of the Lamp as I worked, absorbed me into prayer. Naturally, the first requests I had for she embodied in the new image concerned Tuerquelle. Feeling the goodness of the goddess surround me, I felt that my alarm for my daughter’s safety was ill-founded – the alarm echoed by the menacing dreams of the night before.

(I didn’t fully follow the sense of the bit I’ve put in bold).

“Father,” I began, “you remember mother’s jewel boxes? You were kind enough to send them to me.”
“Of course I remember them, girl. It was only yesterday. I know you’re just a female, without a man’s capacity for abstract thought, but there’s no need to ask quite such stupid questions.”

My return to Surrey was an increasingly urgent issue. The images of Tuerquelle and my mistress called me – neither of them long absent from my thoughts. The ache where my daughter should have been had not lessened, and was not likely to ameliorate until our reunion. At the same time, all but demonic figures rendered staying in Lundin intolerable – my father, Miss Miles, the as yet vague outline of a future husband.

Wasn’t ‘Fetcha’ (mentioned in this chapter) called ‘Fech’ before?

Word docs of the actual chapters are freely available to readers of this blog.

The links to all Chapter comments by me are HERE


Anonymous said...

Thank you for that.

It is true that, in Chapter 29, Mrs Clay had charge of two slaves called Fech and Carri. But, in Chapter 28, he had charge (amongst others) of one called "Fetcha". After mulling over the matter, I think that Fech and Fetcha are two different slaves. Elsewhere in the book, we find that some names (Fuquibelle comes to mind) are given to several (probably many) different slaves. "Fech" and "Fetcha" are clearly variants on the same name -- a name (in several variants) which was probably given quite commonly to slaves earmarked for running errands etc..

To explain your query over this sentence:

"Naturally, the first requests I had for she embodied in the new image concerned Tuerquelle."

1. "the first requests" = Tuerqui's first prayers requesting boons of the new image

2. "she embodied in the new image" = Our Lady of the Lamp, the goddess

3. "concerned Tuerquelle" = the prayers concerned Tuerquelle

I hope that's now clear.

Nemonymous said...

Should not the 'for' be omitted OR en dashes placed after 'had' and 'image'?

No still can't fathom it, I'm afraid, even with those changes.

Anonymous said...

Point taken - wise Mr Lewis - the en dashes you suggest are now inserted.