January 21, 2013

"Her face, above a spotted dress of dark blue crêpe-de-chine, contained no facet or gleam of beauty..."

"... but there was an immediately perceptible vitality about her as if the nerves of her body were continually smouldering."

"The Great Gatsby" is flowing with light and darkness, we've seen time and again in this Gatsby project (where we isolate our sentence of the day and have at it). We can almost always begin with the question: Where is the light? And if not where is the light then: Where is the energy that is like light? Some sentences are just light and darkness chasing each other around. Sometimes we get an overwhelming darkness, but there's a play of light.

Today we have a description of a woman, whose face and body each has its own separate claws clause. There's her face above a spotted dress of dark blue crêpe-de-chine. So the dress, the inanimate thing is the overwhelming darkness. The face, being "above," seems detached...



It's devoid of light — no gleam. None of the gleam that would be beauty. No facet...


So forget that face. How about the body under the dress — the dark, spotted dress?



Here, we find the energy, but it's not light. It's fire. Under the dark dress, there is vitality. It's perceptible, as if we're seeing through the spotted dress down into her nerves, her slowly burning — smouldering — nerves.

27 comments:

deborah said...

I thought this was a fashion critique of Michelle's dress, for a couple seconds.

deborah said...

To clarify, I thought someone was saying Michelle's dress contained no facet or gleam of beauty.

edutcher said...

I'm with deborah - my first reaction, so help me.

Was this one truly chosen at random?

EMD said...

Random? Ha. No.

a SWVA liz said...

'above a spotted dress of dark blue crepe-de-chine'. Does he mean that she spilled her lunch down the dress, thus spotting it or does he mean above a dress of spotted dark blue crepe-de-chine.

I feel that Fitzgerald is sometimes inaccurate.

Lydia said...

I was just thinking that right about now some short, to the point Hemingway sentences would be nice, and up pops a notice on Yahoo! that there's a new film on mental illness in the Hemingway family.

Weird.

Anyway, odd that Fitzgerald and Hemingway got along at all.

Crunchy Frog said...

Diagram the sentence - it's the face that contains no facet or gleam of beauty. Not the dress.

Kinda like Michelle's ghastly grill.

Lem said...

...contained no facet or gleam of beauty..

A plain Jane... no features that neither stands out nor is diminutive?

Like I notice Princess Kate Middleton has little to almost no upper lip... to me thats a facet of beauty.

A beautiful face has to have something out of sink that calls attention just enough.

kentuckyliz said...

Under the Michelle post, a spotted blue dress...made me think for a moment that someone saw POTUS jizz on it. Perhaps today made him feel particularly manly. As much as he can feel manly. Killing people with drones gets him all testosteroned up too.

Dante said...

The triangle is over the navel: it should be further down. Plus, it's upside down.

Nice dress, but from the looks of it, what's under is nicer. I know, I know, we aren't supposed to talk about it. But I believe the thing underneath is adding as much of the energy as the thing covering it.

To prove it, imagine Big Sis wearing that dress.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

Mekka lekka hi mekka hiney ho!

jfreddd said...

The Althousian version of Drudge-xtaposition! Cool.

betamax3000 said...

Re: "as if the nerves of her body were continually smouldering."

Naked Bob Dylan Robot diagnoses faulty wiring.

sydney said...

Now that's a nice sentence. We all know women like that. They are only beautiful in person, not in photographs, because it is their animation that makes them beautiful.

(And I, too, thought it was another inaugaration post at first glance. Almost skipped over it for that reason.)

Lucien said...

I'm not happy with the juxtaposition of "smouldering" and "vitality". Smouldering seems more fit to a dormant vitality than a patent one.

betamax3000 said...

Flatulent Cuddle LoveBear says:

"My Mother always told me that fancy words make for fancy lies but lemon pie is lemon pie.

>> ffffft-pip <<

Excuse me.

traditionalguy said...

At last we get to see a warrior woman with her fuse lit.

Who will she blow up?

traditionalguy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mccullough said...

Vivacious

Chip Ahoy said...

She faced a dove spotted dark breast and blew the plate of crêpes into the containment no faucet could cream of booty… butt… there a Meade he ate a purse 'cept a table by Italy a bout her as of the nervous bodywear's annually older ring.

Dante said...

My contribution, these details are very important: crepe-de-chine:

crepe de Chine, also spelled Crêpe De Chine, (French: “crepe of China”), light and fine plainwoven dress fabric produced either with all-silk warp and weft or else with a silk warp and hard-spun worsted weft. A crepe de Chine texture has a slightly crepe character, a feature produced by the use of weft, or filling, yarns spun with the twist running in reverse directions and known as right-hand and left-hand twist, respectively. During weaving, the picks of filling are inserted in the order of “two-and-two” (i.e., with two picks of weft with a right-hand twist and two picks with a left-hand twist).

During the finishing operation, because of the abnormal amount of twist in the picks of filling, these tend to untwist and recover their normal condition, thereby causing the characteristic effect of typical crepe de Chine. Crepe de Chine textures of artificial silk are common and are often difficult to distinguish from the true silk.

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/142596/crepe-de-Chine

Penny said...

Reminded me of something that most women learn fairly early on.

Sometimes you wear the dress, and sometimes the dress wears you.

You can figure out just how you're doing by listening closely to any compliments you might receive.

Contrast .. "You look fabulous" vs. "That dress is fabulous".

Penny said...

Best recent example of the dress wearing the woman was Lucy Liu at the Golden Globes in what may have been the most exquisite dress I've seen in years... A Caroline Herrera spring garden masterpiece worn by another facetless person.

Cheer up, Lucy, it's going to make a fab set of draperies.

creeley23 said...

Was this one truly chosen at random?

edutcher: That ship sailed a while ago, though Ann has not acknowledged the change.

By now, even with Fitzgerald, we would have seen more than a couple of pedestrian sentences of the "Good morning" or "He left the room" varieties, if the sentences were selected randomly.

I think it's better that the sentences are chosen for interest.

Laura said...

Where was the spot? And was this after the group trip to the "eye" doctor?

Dark dress, dark spot. Smouldering vitality... Wee bit of Gatsby, two blondes could not hide.

I digress.

Leslie Graves said...

What struck me about this sentence is the extent to which it slices the woman up into different parts: The face. The dress. The body.

It seems dehumanizing.

Is this what feminists object to/are talking about when they talk about women under the male gaze?

deborah said...

Great sentence. Some women have something other than beauty which makes them desirable or compelling. (Who is the character he's speaking of?)

(Thanks for the crepe-de-chine lesson, Dante.)