Writers in the Shadow of the Eclipse

4min read

North America will experience a solar eclipse on August 21, and while the cosmic event will affect the entire continent, a small swath will fall in the ominously termed “path of totality,” where the moon will completely block the sun from view for some two minutes. After settling on a viewing location and securing specialty eyewear, readers can continue their eclipse preparations by turning to文学批评在线for literary reflections on the subject.


托马斯·哈代,在治疗评诗卷。92, was a major late-Victorian novelist and an important poet of the early twentieth century. He also took a pessimistic attitude toward human affairs, and is reported by his biographer, Evelyn Hardy, to have seen astronomy as “a ‘tragic’ study, the results of which are to dwarf human significance into nightmare insignificance; a study of stellar bodies and chasms brings not only unendurable loneliness but overpowering ‘pulsations of horror.’” Hardy’s “At a Lunar Eclipse,” was probably written around 1867 and may have been inspired by the only lunar eclipse viewable in Great Britain that year, which occurred on September 13, just after midnight. He offered a tempered reflection on the experience:

Now steals along upon the Moon’s meek shine

How shall I link such sun-cast symmetry

So small a shade, and Heaven’s high human scheme
Be hemmed within the coasts yon arc implies?

Is such the stellar gauge of earthly show,
Nation at war with nation, brains that teem,
Heroes, and women fairer than the skies?

Analyzing the poem in her essay “Elegiac Fantasies: The Voice of the Poet in Time”艾伦安妮Lanzano指出,‘最大的讽刺反对这个天体浩瀚的背景是,即使是‘巨大的’死亡抛出‘这么小的树荫’在其平庸’。

Lanzano, Ellen Anne. “Elegiac Fantasies: The Voice of the Poet in Time and Hardy’s Historical Relativism.” In Hardy: The Temporal Poetics, 110-24 125. New York: Peter Lang, 1999. Quoted in Poetry Criticism, edited by Michelle Lee. Vol. 92. Detroit: Gale, 2009. Poetry Criticism Online (accessed August 15, 2017).

一个多世纪后的今天,美国诗人吉姆·哈里森,在治疗Contemporary Literature Criticism348, offered a melancholy meditation on earthly banalities with the 1996 poem “达文波特月食“。扬声器,餐饮和沿密西西比河滨水酒吧独自喝酒,从注意,因为他考虑转向51-的年龄,他从来没有想到他会达到和遵守招标和“可爱的方式/家常老改行天men treat their homely old women” in the Midwest, touching one another “over green Jell-O with pineapple and fried ‘fish rectangles’ for $2.95.” Squinting up the river he sees the moon “losing its edge to black.” Returning to his room he can neither hear the river nor see the eclipse but thinks to himself that “It’s very difficult to look at the World / and into your heart at the same time.”

As an antidote to Hardy’s and Harrison’s lunar melancholy, read Annie Dillard’s 1982 essay “Total Eclipse,” which describes her mesmerizing experience of exactly the sort of event that will happen on August 21. Dillard, treated inContemporary Literature Criticism216,在作文强调的部分和日全食差别较大:“看到偏食负有同样的关系能看到日全食的吻男人确实给他结婚,或在飞机飞行确实给闹翻的飞机“。查看与她的丈夫,加里,在华盛顿市中心的山坡上日食,迪拉德是程序和体验浩瀚日常生活的常态震惊了:“我的脑海里走出去;我的眼睛被后退的星系回落到空间边缘的方式。Gary是光年,黑暗的圈子里面比划,倒望远镜错误的结束。他笑了,好像看见了我;他的眼睛周围拉丝褶痕移动。一看见他,熟悉的和错误的,是我从百年记忆,因此,从死亡的另一面:是的,那是他用看,当我们生活的方式。”在她的散文“在安妮迪拉德的神秘体验“全蚀”和“镜头“,”达纳·王尔德解释Dillard的是如何工作的说明超越,迪拉德怎样的时刻‘是在日常世界如此舒适的现实,甚至只是实际,experienceable月亮是可怕的速度一瞥’。

如果太阳能黑暗的影响威胁是压倒性的,也许是最好的办法是简单地听从古人。司马迁,汉代时期的中国历史学家和大占星家在吴法院,劝告他Treatise on the Celestial Offices(C 100 B.C.):“如果有一个太阳能异常,实践美德”。

And in any event, don’t look directly at the sun without those funny glasses.

Interested in learning more about Gale’s literature offerings? Let us know!