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16 Nov 2013 at 2:07 pm #4609
“In these alien reaches, these maugre sinks and interstitial wastes that the righteous see from carriage and car another life dreams.” (Suttree 4)
Curious the reference to “carriage” here in the Suttree Prologue, especially so because McCarthy uses the present tense. What kind of carriage do you think McCarthy had in mind? Is it the trolley, or is he moving us back in time from 1950s Knoxville to many, many decades ago when horse-drawn carriages were in use in Knoxville and the rest of the country? I read where one-horse cars were banned in DC in 1892, according to Wikipedia, as part of the conversion there to mechanical and electric “streetcars.” So I’m wondering if it was the same in Knoxville. I like the idea of a baby carriage, little Suttree being pushed along by his mother as he looks out of the stroller and sees these”interstial wastes” for the first time while a baby.
What’s up with the “carriage” reference?
GlassQuote17 Nov 2013 at 10:44 am #4619
An anachronism, perhaps, but not a severe one considering the clockless point of view in the prologue. The transition from carriages to cars and trucks was not an overnight thing, and carriages are a common sight yet in some country counties in which the Amish and such reside. As I write this, we have no taxi service in Bardstown, Kentucky, but there is a horse-drawn carriage service which still totes folks around downtown.
The narration takes a long view of the city, much like that of Joseph Wood Krutch in MORE LIVES THAN ONE (1962), his autobiographic account of growing up in Knoxville.
Richard L.Quote17 Nov 2013 at 12:15 pm #4620
The word “carriage” is not limited to horse-drawn passenger vehicles as I think Glass alludes to in his post. McCarthy’s use of “carriage” in the quotation above probably is in reference to the electric trolleys which ran across the Gay Street Bridge and from which one could look down on the riverfront community called Shacktown. It was here that the fictional character Suttree docked his houseboat. But this would be an anachronism (“not a severe one” as Richard notes). Most of that community was relocated in 1942 by TVA in anticipation of the building of Fort Loudoun Dam. And the trolleys in Knoxville stopped running in 1947 and were replaced by buses several years before the time in which the novel was set (1950-1955).
wesmorganQuote17 Nov 2013 at 12:16 pm #4621
Peter it’s a good question “what’s up with carriage?”
I think it’s practical in that any vehicle would qualify as a carriage. It doesn’t have to be a baby carriage… Any vehicle is a carriage in isage…. It’s just that it isn’t a contemporary usage.
But my feeling about the word choice of carriage is that it humanize a the text and prose. Carriage is also used ( at least in canda and u. K. ) as a body term. Ones carriage is how they might stand or nod their head… Their poise if you will. For me having the word carriage brings a huge daunting incantatory sequence to a human scale of poetry.
But I also feel it’s simple too and just any vehicle or cart or pram or bike…
Candy MinxQuote20 Nov 2013 at 2:21 pm #4658
I think this might be a reference to Gautama Buddha (condensed wiki version I know, much apologies):
One day, overcome with curiosity, Prince Siddhartha asked a charioteer to take him on a series of rides through the countryside. On these journeys he was shocked by the sight of an aged man, then a sick man, and then a corpse. The stark realities of old age, disease, and death seized and sickened the Prince.
Finally, he saw a wandering ascetic. The charioteer explained that the ascetic was one who had renounced the world and sought release from fear of death and suffering.
Chariot is after all a kind of carriage. It certainly fits Suttree as he must have often seen such sights in his own childhood.
20 Nov 2013 at 3:18 pm #4660
- This reply was modified 3 years, 5 months ago by Toejac.
Does the wiki page mention the text that that quote is pulled from?
MikeQuote20 Nov 2013 at 7:33 pm #4664
In the context of the passage the use of the term ‘righteous’ suggests a position of complacent privilege. The passage tells us, his readers, to do more than gaze in passing from the comfort of ‘carriage’ and ‘car’ at this ‘other life’ and follow the narrator into Suttree’s ‘alien’ world. The effect is quite cinematic and rather like the opening of certain Victorian novels, a curtain being drawn back as it were.
franzpeterQuote28 Nov 2013 at 8:30 pm #4739
Growing up in K-ville, I never heard any vehicle called a “carriage,” not even a horse-drawn wagon or cart. Of course, the term might have been used by some that way–jes never heard it. I do recall occasional mention of “the carriage trade,” meaning rich folks (still hear it). So I think franzpeter is on to something in his last post.
You used to be Peter Franz, didn’t ye? Jes wonderin’.
BobbyKnoxvilleQuote29 Nov 2013 at 2:26 am #4740
Hello Mr Knoxville,
Same pf I’m afraid. Couldn’t remember my previous email or something so I just registered again… You good?
franzpeterQuote19 Dec 2015 at 3:51 pm #7957
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