Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

The style of “Adam and Eve and Pinch Me” owes something to the stream-of-consciousness style made popular by James Joyce and Virginia Woolf during the period when A. E. Coppard wrote this story. Like the fictional characters of Woolf and Joyce, Jaffa Codling flits from image to image in his mind: from Edenic images of Adam and Eve and Gabriel to William Shakespeare’s Isabella in Measure for Measure; from birds, to fish, to ships, to stars—stars that fall in your hand and burn you and do not leave a mark.

Coppard’s story goes a step beyond stream-of-consciousness, however, because Codling the spirit becomes separate from Cannister the physical body. Cannister can speak as well as Codling, however, and Codling can critique Cannister’s speech. Codling/Cannister thus has a dual personality.

“Adam and Eve and Pinch Me” also recalls William Wordsworth’s “Lucy” poems in which he has “strange fits of passion” and fears that Lucy has come to harm. Codling seems to have irrational fears about his wife’s faithfulness. Charles Lamb’s early nineteenth century essay, “Dream Children,” also comes to mind in connection with Coppard’s story. In Lamb’s reverie the children are a complete figment of his imagination and sadly vanish from his real world. Although Lamb’s reverie is more sentimental than Coppard’s, it may be thought of as a forerunner to “Adam and Eve and Pinch Me.”

One of...

(The entire section is 545 words.)