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Critical materials: On a Passage from Lawrence's 'Odour of Chrysanthemums'

From Walter Nash, Language and Literature: An Introductory Reader in Stylistics, ed., Ron Carter (George Allen and Unwin, 1982), pp. 100-120. We would like to thank Walter Nash and Ron Carter for permission to republish this article.



Walter Nash's discussion of 'Odour of Chrysanthemums' may be divided into two parts. The first is a practical analysis of a section of the text in terms of its distinctive linguistic features. The passage is seen to enact locally the kind of meanings which may be said to be those distributed across the whole story 'Odour of Chrysanthemums'. Chief among these is a sense of alienation. In his discussion of the items of language deployed to establish this sense, Nash discerns the functions of deixis, changes in articles, transitivity, placement of adjunct, passivisation and particular verb-types to be especially significant.

The second part of the discussion is broadly theoretical, addressing the particular procedures Nash has adopted for stylistic analysis. He discerns three main elements in this: 'an intuitive response to the text'; 'a search for textual pattern'; and 'an identification of the linguistic/stylistic patterning that supports intuition and demonstrates the patterning'. Discerning textual pattern or 'structure' is not at all straightforward, and to do this is also not necessarily a wholly linguistic procedure. Yet we do not want to have to analyse every word of the text before that pattern can be released. In his division of the text into 'planes of articulation' and 'planes of information' such as 'setting and perspective', 'the actors' and 'the environment', Nash shows how a frame can be provided which grows from a perception of the structure of the text. Such a frame then provides a specific focus for the analysis of this text but, as demonstrated in the suggestions for further work, it can also be productively applied to other texts.

Ron Carter

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