Thursday, August 04, 2005

Sic transit gloria mundi ...

That is oratory, the professor said uncontradicted.
Gone with the wind. Hosts at Mullaghmast and Tara of the kings. Miles of ears of porches. The tribune's words, howled and scattered to the four winds. A people sheltered within his voice. Dead noise. Akasic records of all that ever anywhere wherever was. Love and laud him: me no more.

This is from Chapter 7 of Joyce's Ulysses. I quote it because of the phrase "Gone with the wind." Joyce obviously wasn't thinking of Margaret Mitchell's novel, which hadn't been written yet, and probably wouldn't have even it had been. And Margaret Mitchell certainly did not take her title from Joyce. Joyce got the phrase, I am sure, from the same place Mitchell got it: Ernest Dowson's poem ">"Non Sum Qualis Eram Bonae Sub Regno Cynarae":
I have forgot much, Cynara! gone with the wind,
Flung roses, roses riotously with the throng ...

Dowson was a cutting-edge poet when Joyce was growing up. He was probably one of Joyce's early favorites. His poetry lives today in two titles. Mitchell's novel is one.
The other is taken from another poem, "Vitae Summa Brevis Spem Nos Vetat Incohare Longam" -- "They are not long, the days of wine and roses."
Such are the vagaries of literary celebrity.

2 comments:

  1. Ernest Dowson also is responsible, I believe, for a bit of wit
    variously attributed and variously misquoted (and of a sort that some
    of us have a weakness for, to such a degree not shared by most):

    I've found in several sources* this quotation from a letter, headed
    "Whisky vs Abstinthe; In the High Court of Justice Intoxicating Liquors
    Division," and written, in 1899, by Dowson, who was, by the way, a
    friend of Oscar Wilde:

    "I understand that absinthe makes the tart grow fonder."

    ------
    *Baker, Phil. The book of absinthe: a cultural history (Grove Press,
    2003, c2001). Page 52.
    Lanier, Doris. Absinthe, the cocaine of the nineteenth century: a
    history of the hallucinogenic drug and its effect on artists and
    writers in Europe and the United States (McFarland & Co., c1995). Page
    70.
    Sweet, Matthew. Inventing the Victorians (St. Martin's Press, 2001).
    Page 170.

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  2. Just wandering how you know "Mitchell certainly did not take her title from Joyce." Certainly, the original source was Dowson. But couldn't Mitchell have borrowed it indirectly. It would seem that she might have lifted not only her title from Joyce's passage, but also the name of her fictional plantation: Tara.

    Mike Todd

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