Read my first and second posts in regards to The Vivisector.
Bloody hell it’s been a hard slog getting through these chapters this week and I’m still nowhere near the end of chapter 8.
Normally I can read a book in quite a short time, even a long one like this but because it doesn’t flow too well for me I’m having a bit of a hard time. Not being one to give up too easily I’m getting through it, but I must admit towards the end of chapter 6 I did read quite quickly through it as I was just so sick of it being so long. This time with my reading I’m making some small notes as I go because otherwise I would forget what I want to say, so here’s my thoughts on the three chapters, well two and a bit.
I know it takes a while for things to sink in sometimes but it wasn’t until I got stuck into chapter 6 that I realised girls and women feature a heck of a lot compared to men. The men, apart from Hurtle of course, are really minor characters in the book. The two chapters, I have read so far, that really only feature men are the two ‘show the passage of time’ chapters, ie with the grocer in chapter 5 and Mothersole in chapter 7. I got a real feel of how Mothersole regretted giving Hurtle his card, ‘The two men looked at each other, and smiled as each realized he would probably never meet the other again except in nightmares or moments of sentimental weakness.’ (p. 421).
Chapter 7 also informs us what happened to Hero and for the first time since Hurtle was 6 years old we are told his age – 55. I suspect from the spoilers I’ve read that this is necessary for the reading of chapter 8 when he hooks up with Kathy so that we definitely know the huge age difference between them.
Stepping back to the beginning of chapter 6, there’s this: ‘As there was so much he had to paint, the fantasies he was amused to indulge in came no closer to actuality than masturbation to fulfilled love.’ (p. 277). Despite the heavy going of this book for me sometimes, sentences like this jump out at me because they so aptly describe a situation. Quite often we feel there’s so much to do we can’t possibly do it all.
Another observation White makes on p. 285 when Hurtle’s at a party hosted by Olivia Davenport and some of the guests are meeting him for the first time and Mrs Halliday didn’t quite catch his name. When it is repeated for her she says, ‘Oh. Ohhh? Neoh! Not the artist – the painter? Duf-field?’ The way she pronounces ‘Neoh’ and emphasises Duffield reminds me of Prue and Trude in Kath and Kim and their snobbish way of talking and looking at the world. I suspect Mrs Halliday is a snob and we leave her fishing for her compact.
I don’t feel able to comment on the rest of chapter 6 and Hero. Others have more than adequately done that.