From the mind of Megan Arkenberg

November 13, 2011

Of Flying Time

Posted by Megan Arkenberg with No comments
This is something in the character of a memo-to-self, so please excuse my self-indulgence.

I thought no longer of kind mellow evening hours of rest, and scents of flowers and woods on evening air; and of how someone on a farm a mile or two off would be saying ‘How clear Betton bell sounds tonight after the rain!’; but instead images came to me of dusty beams and creeping spiders and savage owls up in the tower, and forgotten graves and their ugly contents below, and of flying Time and all it had taken out of my life.
From M. R. James, "A Neighbor's Landmark." So far as I can recall, this is the only time one of James's characters experiences anything like a tragic past. And, okay, a brief sentence in one short story hardly counts as a past, but no where else does a Jamesian protagonist's encounter with the supernatural make him think about anything in his life. Graves and spiders and rot and dust, yes, but not all that Time takes--friendship, companions, lovers. This passage starts out being too cliche to be effectively terrifying, but then that last phrase--"of flying Time and all that it had taken out of my life"--that's Terror with a capital T.

Well done, Mr. James. Well done indeed.


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