Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Mourning: a Bracelet of Bright Hair about the Bone

As something too small to mourn; the very word "mourn" was archaic and superstitious, of the age of Browne, or Hervey; yet Donne was right, her death detracted, would for ever detract, from my life. Each death laid a dreadful charge of complicity on the living; each death was incongenerous, its guilt irreducible, its sadness immortal; a bracelet of bright hair about the bone.

I did not pray for her, because prayer has no efficacy; I did not cry for her, because only extroverts cry twice; I sat in the silence of that night, that infinite hostility to man, to permanence, to love, remembering her, remembering her.

--The Magus, by John Fowles (1965), pp. 382-383.

Stumble Upon Toolbar


skweeds said...

I have been looking everywhere for a definition of this word, but to no avail. Any chance you could share one?
I also came across it in The Magus, in the beautiful passage you posted above.
Thanks in advance for any help you can provide,

Benjamin Chambers said...

Sure, Amanda - Thanks for asking, since I have to admit I didn't know the answer myself. (I can be lazy about such things, if I get the gist of a passage and can figure something out from context, or not knowing it appears not critical to comprehension.) Basically, "incongenerous" means things that are not of like kind - that's more or less how the OED defines it. So in this context, it would mean that each death is unique ...