Anubis Ascendant?

“..and fell asleep on his arms, with his hair straggling over the table , and a long winding-sheet in the candle dripping over him.”

A powerful image where the Jackal dreams under a light which is steadilly being enshrouded. Anubis presiding over oncoming death?

Whose death and why? Darnay has just escaped it, Manette has been recalled from it and Carton himself is already dead to the world:

“.. I care for no man on earth, and no man on earth cares for me.”

Could it be Lucie who is threatened by an advancing catastrophe or is someone else at second hazard?


4 thoughts on “Anubis Ascendant?

  1. Linking the jackal image to the idea of Anubis is really wonderful and thought-provoking. I was reading about a panorama of ancient Egypt – Fahey and Warren’s Nile Panorama – which Dickens visited at the Egyptian Hall in 1849 and references in ‘Some Account of an Extraordinary Traveller’ in Household Words (20 April 1850). Andrew M. Stauffer has suggested some links between Dickens’s vision of the metropolis as a vast necropolis and the popular understanding of ancient Egyptian burial practices and eschatological beliefs. This ancient god makes me think back to the image of the mirror in the second week, which also featured a terrifying ancient deity.

    It’s fascinating to think about the metaphors of imprisonment that are running through the novel. Carton is psychologically imprisoned in a similar way to Mr Manette, who remains psychologically imprisoned while physically free.

  2. Speaking of mirrors, there re quite a few of them. The pier glass, the polished table and Carton’s glass. Each of them evokes a reflection, not physical but emotional and in Carton’s case self hatred and loathing.

  3. Hmmm. I think Ben and Mr Booley might be onto something here with this Egyptian connection. In the Dent edition of Dickens’s Journalism, when discussing Dickens and Egypt, Michael Slater points us to Chapter Three of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, two parts of which are of interest here. The first is Edwin and Rosa’s discussion of the pyramids:

    ‘Why should she be such a little—tall, I mean—goose, as to hate the Pyramids, Rosa?’

    ‘Ah! you should hear Miss Twinkleton,’ often nodding her head, and much enjoying the Lumps, ‘bore about them, and then you wouldn’t ask. Tiresome old burying-grounds! Isises, and Ibises, and Cheopses, and Pharaohses; who cares about them? And then there was Belzoni, or somebody, dragged out by the legs, half-choked with bats and dust. All the girls say: Serve him right, and hope it hurt him, and wish he had been quite choked.’

    The two youthful figures, side by side, but not now arm-in-arm, wander discontentedly about the old Close; and each sometimes stops and slowly imprints a deeper footstep in the fallen leaves.

    ‘Well!’ says Edwin, after a lengthy silence. ‘According to custom. We can’t get on, Rosa.’

    Rosa tosses her head, and says she don’t want to get on.

    ‘That’s a pretty sentiment, Rosa, considering.’

    ‘Considering what?’

    ‘If I say what, you’ll go wrong again.’

    ‘You’ll go wrong, you mean, Eddy. Don’t be ungenerous.’

    ‘Ungenerous! I like that!’

    ‘Then I don’t like that, and so I tell you plainly,’ Rosa pouts.

    ‘Now, Rosa, I put it to you. Who disparaged my profession, my destination—’

    ‘You are not going to be buried in the Pyramids, I hope?’ she interrupts, arching her delicate eyebrows. ‘You never said you were. If you are, why haven’t you mentioned it to me? I can’t find out your plans by instinct.’

    Egypt and burial, particularly the notion of being buried alive, seems to be something that goes hand in hand in Dickens’s imagination. There also seems to be a connection between Egypt and this idea of mirrors as reflecting something more than the physical. Eliot’s Adam Bede opens with the line: ‘With a single drop of ink for a mirror, the Egyptian sorcerer undertakes to reveal to any chance comer far-reaching visions of the past’. At the end of Chapter Three of Edwin Drood, we find a similar image:

    At the gate, the street being within sight empty, Edwin bends down his face to Rosebud’s.

    She remonstrates, laughing, and is a childish schoolgirl again.

    ‘Eddy, no! I’m too sticky to be kissed. But give me your hand, and I’ll blow a kiss into that.’

    He does so. She breathes a light breath into it and asks, retaining it and looking into it:—

    ‘Now say, what do you see?’

    ‘See, Rosa?’

    ‘Why, I thought you Egyptian boys could look into a hand and see all sorts of phantoms. Can’t you see a happy Future?’

    For certain, neither of them sees a happy Present, as the gate opens and closes, and one goes in, and the other goes away.

    This makes me think of the pier glass and how it may (or may not, I don’t want to give away any spoilers!) MM’s future.

  4. At first when I read it I thought of Nut (godess of the heavens and sky) being strangled by Anubis which implied that Lucie would die at the end. But on reflection that cannot be, she is the ‘Golden Thread’., the two twisted Hairs along which the story flows (why two hairs ,not a strand or a lock?). It was then that the thought struck me that the story might be less about Lucie and more about reflections and opposites, Hence the comment about mirrors. Not being a student of Dickens (not a student of anything in particular) I am not sure where I am going with this, but I’ll try.
    From the beginning we have had a procession of dualities. “It was the best…etc” Mechanical man (Mr Lorry) against a an organic dragon (whose name we don’t know yet), the garrolous Jaques with a silent Mme. Defarge, Darnay and Carton and, strangely enough, Carton and Styver whose only real bond is a contempt for one another. These and all the other reflections push me to thinking that the Tale is more about Dickens resolving his own moral dilemmas through the medium of a story rather than a Tale about…. let’s not spoil it. Back to Anubis and jackals.
    One of the things I admire about the Victorians is the their prodigious capacity for work and learning. As a journalist Dickens had a marvellous power of observation and a retentive memory. I am sure he knew about Egypt and the mythologies as well as the African stories of the jackal and the lion and I wouldn’t put it past him to leave room for doubt about exactly what he meant.
    Whatever it was I still enjoy it.

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