Tuesday, 24 September 2013

thief to steal and determined to buy an earthen lamp next day instead of the iron lamp.

A smell of molten tallow came up from the dean's candle butts and fused itself in Stephen's consciousness with the jingle of the words, bucket and lamp and lamp and bucket. The priest's voice, too, had a hard jingling tone. Stephen's mind halted by instinct, checked by the strange tone and the imagery and by the priest's face which seemed like an unlit lamp or a reflector hung in a false focus. What lay behind it or within it? A dull torpor of the soul or the dullness of the thundercloud, charged with intellection and capable of the gloom of God?

-----I meant a different kind of lamp, sir, said Stephen.

----Undoubtedly, said the dean.

----One difficulty, said Stephen, in esthetic discussion is to know whether words are being used according to the literary tradition or according to the tradition of the marketplace. I remember a sentence of Newman's in which he says of the Blessed Virgin that she was detained in the full company of the saints. The use of the word in the marketplace is quite different. I hope I am not detaining you.

----Not in the least, said the dean politely.

----No, no, said Stephen, smiling, I mean----

----Yes, yes: I see, said the dean quickly, I quite catch the point: detain.

He thrust forward his under jaw and uttered a dry short cough.

----To return to the lamp, he said, the feeding of it is also a nice problem. You must choose the pure oil and you must be careful when you pour it in not to overflow it, not to pour in more than the funnel can hold.

----What funnel? asked Stephen.

----The funnel through which you pour the oil into your lamp.

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