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Mary, p. 25: metempsychosis

October 18, 2009

The word is pronounced by Alfyorov in a conversation with Ganin about the “old life in Russia.”  It is a term that refers to the transmigration of souls or reincarnation, and one that, interestingly, is the basis for an important thematic in Joyce’s Ulysses (1922), but also deployed by other high modernists such as Eliot, Borges, and Proust.  Alfyorov seems to connect the term with nostalgia and the aforementioned permancy of waiting.  A term just in the air in the 1920s?  Or a word that symptomatically shows the influence of Buddhism and other religions on Western modernism, as well as whatever biographical linkages can be discerned between these writers?

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