Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Cinder Buggy - part 19 - Chapters XXXI and XXXII; Sir John Edward Millais; Daguerreotype

Click here for Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18 of my review of The Cinder Buggy.

The mystery from Chapter XXX appears to deepen in Chapter XXXI.  Certain questions are answered, while other questions may never be answered. 

Garrett uses (in Chapter XXXI) the concept of the gatekeeper (without using that term). He describes an employee that manages to separate her boss from his other employees - thus exercising increased control over his affairs.

The term "daguerreotype" (p. 274)  refers to an old style of photography, the use of which is consistent with the timeline for the earlier chapters of the book. 

Chapter XXXII provides the escalation of the Thane-Agnes relationship.  Garrett describes this escalation in a way that was very reminiscent of the relationships in Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. The similarity is based on the fact that the relationship escalated as a result of industrial activity.  One needs to read the actual passages to appreciate the meaning of my explanation. 

Garrett supplements his descriptions with the following wisdom:

In his power with ideas man is dimly admirable to woman; in his power over circumstances he inspires her with trust; in his power over people he satisfies her taste for grandeur; but in his power over elements,  - in that aspect he wrecks her completely, for she is herself an element.  In that moment he is god-like; she cannot comprehend him.
(p. 280).

Garrett writes that a pencil sketch by Sir John Everett Millais caught the spirit of the moment - "Marrying and Giving in Marriage at the Deluge."  (p. 280).  Millais was a 19th century illustrator.  I could not find more information about that particular sketch.  One of Millais' paintings was entitled "Esther," thus indicating that Millais' influence upon Garrett extended beyond a single drawing.

Click here for Part 20.


Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Cinder Buggy - part 18 - Chapters XXVIII, XXIX, XXX; the conflict appears to end.

Click here for Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17 of my review of The Cinder Buggy.

In Chapters XXVIII through XXX, Cinder Buggy increases in intensity. 

Chapter XXVIII, Garrett continues the story of the dawn of the steel age, as the main characters grow their business:

Steel wire was indispensable to the steel age.  There were bridges  to be cast in the air like cobwebs, chasms to be spanned, a thousand giants to be snared in their sleep with threads of steel wire, single, double, or twisted by hundreds into cables.  Enough of them would make a rope strong enough to halt the world in its flight if one end could be made fast in space.  There could never have been a steel age without steel wire.  But the steele age required first of all steel rails to run on . . . . [p. 244]. 

When other people were thinking railroad building had been overdone he said it had not really begun.  He imagined the possibility that the locomotive would double in size.

It did. Then it doubled again.  It could not have done so without steel rails under its feet, and if it had not doubled and then doubled again this now would be a German world.  Democracy even then was shaping its weapons for Armageddon through men who knew nothing about it.  They were free egoists, seeking profit, power, personal success,  everyone attending to his own greatness.  Never before in the world had the practise of individualism been so reckless, so purely dynamic, so heedless of the Devil's harvest.  Yet it happened, - it precisely happened, - that they forged the right weapons.  It seems sometimes to matter very little what men think.  They very often do the right thing for wrong reasons.  It seems to matter even less why they work.  All that the great law of becoming requires is that men shall work.  They cannot go wrong really.  They cannot make wrong things.  The pattern is foreordained.  [pp. 245-246].
Garrett writes metaphorically and with an eye on the long arc of history. In these two sections covering parts of 3 pages, Garrett helps the reader to see the entire Earth and a fifty year historical timeline.  In these few lines, Garrett imagines possibilities that never occurred and consequences that were never imagined. 

The essays that Garrett inserts into his stories are the most thought provoking portions of his books.   When he returns to the specifics of his plot, the plot remains fixed on the action and does not provide much detail to explore the eloquont metaphors and prose of the essay portion of Chapter XXVIII.  Cinder Buggy, like Garrett's other novels, was written before the New Deal.  There was less of an urgent need for Garrett to focus his essays into a spirited advocacy of individualism and freedom or to explore these themes by integrating the plot to a degree that later appears in the Randian novels. 

Chapter XXVIII also features another discussion of how the characters financed a corporation in such a way that would bore the writiers (and possibly readers or viewers) of modern business based fiction.  But the discussion works, advances the plot and is interesting in the context of the plot.

Chapters XXIX and XXX see the return of the main characters to New Damascus.

The mystery of the Thane-Agnes marriage is revealed.  Garrett often presented plot points with narrative explanation instead of with dialogue.  Reading the dialogue in the Randian novels gives us an idea of the true potential of the Garrett novels.  Integrating more dialogue between Agnes and Thane might have provided for a more thorough exploration of their story.

I will be vague here so as to avoid plot spoilers.  The main conflict of Cinder Buggy appears to come to an end in Chapters XXVIII - XXX.  While one mystery appears to be resolved, another one appears to begin in Chapter XXX.  Regardless of how far the new potential mystery goes, the discussion in this Chapter fosters a deeper appreciation of factories and their importance to all of our lives.  I cannot be more specific without spoiling one aspect of the plot.

Click here for part 19


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