‘It is evening. Supper is over.We have left the small, cold dining room, we have come back to the sitting room where there is a fire. All is usual. I am sitting at my writing table which is placed across a corner so that I am behind it, as it were, and facing the room. The lamp with the shade is alight; I have before me two large books of reference, both open, a pile of papers…All the paraphernalia, in fact, of an extremely occupied man. My wife, with her little boy on her lap, is on a low chair before the fire.’
The pulse of this opening is slow, careful and fastidious. The narrator is disassociated from his wife and child. Yet there is also a strange lyricism here; we recognise the universality of claustrophobia and sense the suffocation endured on all sides? Is the speaker ‘browsing; through his escape options? Or inhabiting a private world where the conventionaliuty of the present ceases to affect/infect him? Like DHLawrence, KM sees socially sanctioned relationships as deathly?
The Woman in Black
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