The Autumn Journal

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It connects in twenty—four cantos 2 discontinuities and meaningful gaps; it records personal experiences; it metaphorically collects, adjusts, and contains the poet's various roles, masks, and personae, as well as many ordinary things. Autumn Journal is an inclusive personal archive of echoes of public events. This paper proceeds by first assessing Autumn Journal' s composite and very intricate nature as a journal which secures and manages the coherence and economy of the lyric.

He believes his private collection can help him salvage some sense of order. Because for the rootless MacNeice home as the ultimate space of gathering seems unattainable, often undesirable, he locates self—invention, self—representation, and self—discovery in imaginative territories. Attentive to this blurring of diaristic and poetic rhythms in Autumn Journal , I propose in the final part of this paper to approach the journal's most problematic aspect, its prevalent additive method of parataxis.

Journal With Me - Simple Autumn Inspiration

I will argue that the paratactic lists in Autumn Journal embody untidy territories of the self. His journal turns to the world of the ordinary and, in the most compressed and perspicacious way, offers itself as a document by an observer perpetually struggling with maintaining and marking off his own life. In response to T. Eliot's request, with commercial reasons in mind, MacNeice defined the nature of his poem. A long time prior to the publication proper, this explanation was meant to sustain claims for the journal—effect and to justify the poet's censoring operations.

The definition, quoted in its entirety below, is also the declaration of MacNeice's poetics in the thirties. As an autobiographically conscious writer, the poet explains his own method and the nature of its inventiveness; he addresses questions of the inventory of his memory, the journal's rhythm, and its themes. He also expresses his approach to exposition and effects he desires to produce on the readers of his journal. The apparent contradictions between honesty and objectivity are promised to be resolved and reconciled by a paradox where truth claims are infused with the inaccuracies and errors of the perceiving subject.

MacNeice explains that he has not altered anything, he has not qualified any events retrospectively, and he has not turned into abstractions the contents of the beliefs presented in the course of his writing. Honesty, honest voice, is thus reasserted as faithfulness to the moment of writing. Its provisional character is repeatedly self—advertised to enhance the readers' interest and cooperation. Truth and honesty, less so diction or the art of fiction in diary, are often the motor of our interest in life writing. These reiterations communicate his alliance with time, with the recognition of being caught up by the moment in the process of truth—seeking.

Following Manfred Sommer, we can say that MacNeice's journal is not a mere subjective gathering of experiences, a product of spontaneous interferences, but a collection, which Sommer always understands as a complete form, a nuanced, conscious, and aesthetically consolidated accumulation. The collector gives form; he is a poet cf. Sommer Clearly, in Autumn Journal meter plays a very personal emotional role which cannot be experienced in isolation from the poem's communication pattern. The twenty—four cantos in verse address and recapture the flow of time, tracking the journal's various selves in time, integrating both personal and public coordinates, and maintaining a sense of rapid movement.

Longley Generally, lines carry a propositional sense. In Autumn Journal , uneven and diverse, ranging from monometers to heptameters, lines control the sentences of the journal. Lines help create a sense of order, a sense of continuity. Using lines, the poet sanctions the dynamic movement of sensations, names, things, ideas. Though they dominate and nicely alternate up to canto XII, abca and abbc also occur and are especially prominent towards the end of the poem. This is a deliberate and directional effect allowing the poet to highlight some instances while deemphasizing others, also to include juxtaposition of series of viewpoints.

Often, the poet brings them about by a shift in addressees. Binding the self in the defining time of the Spanish conflict, canto XXIII moves by a broken pattern and anxious incompatible shifts which bear powerfully on the processes of self—collecting. MacNeice's journal serves clear aesthetic and social agendas.

Abundant themes, untidy sentences and very rich forms of verse break readers' expectations. Autumn Journal 's design, its forms of language, its molds, its select features of reiterating personal inscription, and its distinctive poetic rhythm of coordinating the grand and the banal, mark the infrastructure of what I posit is a very carefully orchestrated collection. The inclusion and support of the ordinary and everyday in a verse journal contextualize the subject. Exposing his collection, he exposes himself and his understanding of meanings of life; he exposes the culture.

As I have emphasized, by unifying the journal through the disciplined application of verse, the poet extends the force of his response. These features bring out the key subtleties of the concept of collection critical for this essay. Sommer argues that collection is a series of acts of collecting colligere and a product of that collecting, a work or phenomenon that has lasting qualities and which always remains open even after it has been finished or abandoned.

To exist and last, a collection absolutely needs a unifying principle, that which gives it a sense of identity and which ensures its support Erhaltung. Sommer says a collection is not an inordinate multiplicity; it is a being together. Bringing things together, the collector needs to make things stay together, for a collection is always threatened with disintegration He creates an ensemblage of possible modalities of lived life.

The essential diurnal pattern of the journal, as I have established, does not aim to reveal in any way the unified pattern of a lifetime. In an effort to address the unrepeatable presentness of the now, to escape some false and corrupting sense of identity, the speaker in Autumn Journal departs now and then to Greek but also to relevant Roman exempla of human experience and behavior.

The journal inscribes also a multitude of alternating times, locations, and experiences. We attend to the modern conditions of abundance but also of paucity. MacNeice's title issues a diaristic contract, setting horizons not for a continuous narrative but for collecting practices, sets of entries and variations, which define the character of this economic diary and suit the difficult moment of change.

Auditing accounts of what otherwise would be unfulfilled, collecting and preserving what would escape attention and in the end disperse itself, the poet is taking care of himself. In the flux of life, the poet anxiously attempts to diarize in order to redeem his version of the world's incorrigible plurality, 6 and this occasions aesthetic integration of his own multiple and incorrigible selves.

The dramatic quality of Autumn Journal gives this personal space much extended, polarized openness. We read in this autobiographical record, composed at a critical moment of personal anguish connected with the collapse of the poet's marriage, another rehearsal of indeterminacies embracing his changed experiences of subjectivity.

Autumn Journal opens up many dimensions of the poet's private and public functions. It divulges not only many levels of his variegated experience, but also an abundance of positions that he occupies and fantasizes about taking. In Autumn Journal , he tracks his many selves in time.

He is a train traveler, taxi rider and driver, tripper, jazz lover, newspaper reader, a consumer of goods, party goer, lonely man, reader of books, smoker and drinker, student and teacher, lover and ex—lover, countryman and townee, husband and ex—husband, classicist and modern man, citizen, Irishman, Londoner. But he is also a man who is not married, one who does not have an access to an ivory tower, and, perhaps most importantly, one who does not have a funk—hole VIII.

Longley xix. Autumn Journal conjures up this panorama of selves as it takes the course of conservation of both, his personal losses and deficits as well as gains, autumnal wastage and fruitage. Thus a stabilizing personal inventory, compiled in preparation for an ending which is also a beginning, opens a site for always new additions, new forms of stock—taking, and possibly new retrieving methods. Recollection, an act of retrieving, is strongly tied to collection. Searching through their contents, he creates an arbitrary system. Rudimentary as it is, it helps enlarge the significance of his collection.

A list imposes some order, it has traces of form and thus it can facilitate recognition of patterns of his experience. These defining personal possessions and their forms of containment not only organize his archive but also determine the principles by which he patterns life experiences.

Thus Autumn Journal becomes a receptacle of many more additional meanings clustered around collections of the ordinary, of what depends on inattention and habit, objects with power to be experienced and reexperienced. So, in a personal metaphoric act of collecting days and trying to gather his selves, the poet creates an expandable depository with intimate metaphoric structures interwoven with transindividual ones. He escapes from pure subjectivity by linking his intimate collecta with counter—intimate publics.

Like the very first journals in the English tradition, MacNeice's quotidian and intimate collection is a result of its subject's participation in the public spheres. Reaching in, the poet reaches out, making his experience linkable with other collecting practices. The choice of the topos of boundlessness for the management of the journal designed in verse, always more paratactic than prose, allows gathering of pluralities. Any objects, subjects, events, and experiences can be included in the journal.

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They constitute the vertiginous space of contamination, noise, and the surplus of daily existence. He revisits these places to collect memories of things and people, and to form them into territorial and architectonic lists per excessum. In Autumn Journal the subject activates the excess and puts it to personal use. Sommer says that, without the process of moving, collecting cannot happen; to collect the collector first needs to become dispersed The autumnal diarist creates an inventory of a world in which he can attempt self—coordination and self—stabilization.

The concentrated diary becomes a version of a world en miniature , where what is collected is proximate and held together. But the achieved convergence forms only a temporary asylum. He creates catalogues of details linked by the preposition and to accrue in a determined fashion the vastness of history and diversity of life. Life and content are his greatest value. A collecting aesthetics constitutes a paradigmatic form of modernist art. However, a product of the growing pressures of historical circumstances, Autumn Journal communicates a distinctive set of relationships.

The juxtaposition of these different time scales triggers the visualisation of several embedded strata of reality, where the actual occupies the foreground. While the flux is a metaphor, energeia is a matrix that enables MacNeice to re-think the present. As a moment embedded in a permanent state of energeia , the present is in constant motion but also a perpetual repetition of the same. Throughout Autumn Journal , the growing fear of the possibility of a Second World War is felt through a sense of the present as a return of the past.

If the ghosts of the past cannot step in the same river twice within the flux metaphor, they can indeed reappear in the re-actualization of energeia.


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And so to my flat with the trees outside the window And the dahlia shapes of the lights on Primrose Hill Whose summit once was used for a gun emplacement And very likely will Be used that way again It seems that MacNeice, at least when he wrote Autumn Journal , defined his own role in comparison with, firstly, the intellectuals and fellow Thirties poets of his time, secondly, the role of the Greek poet of the 5th century B. The statement he makes in The Strings are False about the way the New Signatures poets, all politically Left, merged the concepts of state and community, shows how he himself perceived these two notions as distinct, and how he was ready to abolish his ego to be a representative of the community, but not of the state.

Autumn Journal

The distinction between community and state made by MacNeice does not make his insertion within such a community easier. In Modern Poetry , MacNeice states what is for him the role of the poet, inspired by that of the Greek poet:. The poet is primarily a spokesman, making statements or incantations on behalf of himself or others — usually for both, for it is difficult to speak for oneself without speaking for others or to speak for others without speaking for oneself. And life for the Greeks meant life within a community The 5 th century-B.

A community for MacNeice is human rather than national, the latter being a source of inner conflict and uncertainties. Late in the poem, MacNeice complains of the recalcitrance of his own modern conscience to accept the Aristotelian political nature of man. And Aristotle was right to posit the Alter Ego But wrong to make it only a halfway house: Who could expect — or want — to be spiritually self-supporting, Eternal self-abuse? Why not admit that other people are always Organic to the self, that a monologue Is the death of language and that a single lion Is less himself, or alive, than a dog and another dog 32?

MacNeice does indeed stage a dialogue with Greek philosophers, as well as with a larger community of readers, though the nature of this community is difficult to define. It seems that MacNeice wants to address mankind in general, and not a specific national community, be it England or Ireland. He represents the latter in canto XVI in particularly hard stereotypical traits and thus destroys the possibility of a coherent and supportive community in his native country.

MacNeice refuses on the one hand to be part of the national community of an Ireland whose values he mostly rejects, while on the other he likewise avoids being assimilated to the poetic generation of the Thirties by, for instance, refusing its political involvement. Such was my country and I thought I was well Out of it, educated and domiciled in England, Though yet her name keeps ringing like a bell In an under-water belfry. Why do we like being Irish? Partly because It gives us a hold on the sentimental English As members of a world that never was Aristotle was right to think of man-in-action As the essential and really existent man And man means men in action; try and confine your Self to yourself if you can The essence and existence of man depends on the one hand on his ability to interact with others but also on his constant activity.

Just as the present can only be perceived through the motion of the actual, man only really exists when in action, in a state of actualization close to energeia.


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  • Aristotle defines potential action thus:. In a sense the potency of acting is one with that of being acted on; in a sense it is different.

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    The one is in the patient it is because even the matter is a motive principle that things can be acted on, different things by different things ; the other is in the agent. Thus so far as a thing is an organic unity it cannot be acted on by itself, for it contains no distinction of agent and patient Indeed, in chapter 6 of the Poetics , Aristotle defines the characteristics of tragedy according to the staging of the essence of man through the placing of his action in the foreground:.

    Fine hardcover book in fine dust-jacket. First edition, first printing of "The Faber Library" edition. Printing line on copyright page reads: "10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1. More information about this seller Contact this seller 5. Condition: Near Fine. Bright yellow cloth board. Some loss to top of spine rubbed , some mild foxing and a small dent to front board.

    Bown and pale blue dustjacket in protective wrapper. Some loss to top spine and edge. First Edition, fifth impression, In overall very good condition, with small neat previous owner's name on ff endpaper date Seller Inventory ABE More information about this seller Contact this seller 6. Published by London: Faber and Faber Ltd. Octavo 23 x 15cm , pp.

    Publisher's orange cloth titled in gilt to spine, fore and bottom edges untrimmed, typographic dust-jacket, with a printed price of 6s net. Internally clean, faint ownership inscription to flyleaf.

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    Cloth lightly rubbed to board edges, spine ends pushed, corners a little bumped. Dust-jacket darkened to spine, creased and chipped to top and bottom edges, lightly soiled, large closed tear to front panel, some chips. Very good. This long poem provides a record of the author's experiences throughout the autumn of More information about this seller Contact this seller 7. Published by Random House, NY Dust Jacket Condition: Near Fine.

    Teresa Bruś - A Collection of Selves: Louis MacNeice’s Autumn Journal – Connotations

    First Edition. First printing. Near fine in a near fine dustjacket. Not priceclipped and no markings. The Random House first edition is quite scarce. More information about this seller Contact this seller 8. Published by Faber abd Faber, London About this Item: Faber abd Faber, London, Connolly title: ''In Autumn Journal, his only long poem, he completely seizes the atmosphere of the year of Munich, he tolls the knell of the political 'thirties with melancholy triumph.

    Fine in almost fine unclipped dust jacket.

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    More information about this seller Contact this seller 9. Published by Faber, London and About this Item: Faber, London and Condition: Very Good. First Editions first printings. Individual volumes as follows: 'Autumn Journal. A Poem' First edition first printing. Brown cloth lettered in gold at spine. Top edge dust soiled, and with a small area of staining to the head of the rear board, just impacting the head of the adjacent pastedown. A touch of wear to the spine ends. Contemporary former owner gift inscription neatly inked to the front free endpaper.

    A very good copy in non-price-clipped dust wrapper, tanned at the spine panel, a little dust soiled, chipped with several fractions of loss to the spine ends and corner tips, and with about an inch of unsightly ink?



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