The “beginning without beginning” that affects D. throughout his life, and which is the source of his creative voyage toward both Ushant and the self-destructive elements in his life, lies in his discovery, at age eleven, of the bodies of his parents, whose bitter quarrel had resulted in a murder-suicide. He sees part of his quest as the attempt to reconcile these parents in himself and to deal with their deaths through his art. The chosen action for D. is to journey back and forth across the Atlantic, and the resolution of his odyssey will be the reconciliation of the opposites of his life through creativity.
The book’s six sections follow in the most general way the chronology of events in D.’s life, shifting time and place continuously. After the initial introduction to the form and method of the book and the appearance of D.’s cabin mates and the four translators of his life, D. returns to the world of his childhood and the images of his parents: the lackluster mother and the elegant, handsome doctor father. D. describes his house in Savannah and its two doors, one leading to the stately lawn and graceful garden and the other to the back streets and raw adventures. This dualistic view pervades the entire book, especially when D. is comparing England and the United States, his mother and father, Savannah and Boston, or East and West, and it clearly adds to his fears as a child and the ambiguities of his self-image as a man and an artist. At...
(The entire section is 1822 words.)
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