|Thomas Wolfe, c. commons wikkimedia.org|
Monday, February 28, 2011
Reptiles in Literature: Thomas Wolfe, The Train and the City
And yet live, breathe and move they did with savage and indubitable violence, an unfathomed energy. Hard-mouthed, hard-eyed, and strident-tongued, with their million hard gray faces, they streamed past upon the streets forever, like a single animal, with the sinuous and baleful convolutions of an enormous reptile. And the magical and shining air – the strange, subtle and enchanted weather – of April was above them, and the buried men were strewed through the earth on which they trod, and a bracelet of great tides was flashing round them, and the enfabled rock on which they swarmed swung eastward in the marches of the sun into eternity, and was masted like a ship with it’s terrific towers, and was flung with a lion’s port between its tides into the very maw of the infinite, all taking ocean. And exultancy and joy arose with a cry of triumph in my throat, because I found it wonderful.
My research has taken me to many a dry scientific journal to learn about the effects of the fight or flight stress response. However, I run across examples in everyday literature that are usually much more interesting.
Few are as well written as Thomas Wolfe’s short story, The Train and the City. His writing is a snapshot, which captures a moment or a scene so fantastically that you feel like you are actually there. In this particular story, he is talking about an exciting train ride he was on. I won’t spoil the story for you, but I was especially impressed with this scene from a crowd of passengers. I think he so perfectly captures the dual nature of humanity, creatures thinking with both ends of their brain.
Posted by Brooke at 2:39 PM