By Andrew Bennett
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Extra resources for Elizabeth Bowen and the Dissolution of the Novel: Still Lives
It is the impossibility of an immobilization of the orders of syntax or sense. Here, in particular, it is the impossibility of freezing or fixing, thus defining or theorizing, st desire which can only be conceived on the basis of its own obliteration, in other words a desire for the stillness of death. There can be 28 Elizabeth Bowen and the Dissolution of the Novel no doubt that To the North is pervasively concerned with such a desire. 4 We can say that Emmeline's is precisely an aspiration towards the condition of still life, but it is necessary to note that this aspiration, this drive, is itself driven: the very representation of this drive is itself worked over by the effects of going.
Abeyance', the OED further informs us, is from the medieval Latin batare, to gape, stand open. This opening, this gaping hole which is history before history - history without history - this rent of time, this abeyant time of history, would designate the very temporality, the still time of The Hotel. To the extent that the past is an abeyance, it presents an aporia, a gaping blockage to thought, to the present, to mobility. Just as Miss Fitzgerald's catatonia opens The Hotel with the fear that she may never escape her abeyance of thought, the notion of the abeyance of history would suggest the impossibility of history's ever properly beginning.
Like a ghost' (65). There is the room in the house on Royal Avenue in London: 'Sun streamed in generously; from chairs and cushions colour must already be making a ghostly departure' (23). There is the library at Batts which both contains Janet and Edward and at the same time is 'empty of Janet and Edward, as though both had turned and gone out by different doors, or had never come in' (91). Edward's 'ghostly coming and going' involves a consistent sense of him as 'someone to whom [Janet] had already said goodbye' (131).