Quotes

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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 377

Given the literary background of the principal characters, Liz, Alix, and Esther, many passages in The Radiant Way are themselves quotations of poetry that relate to the situations depicted in the novel. For instance,

Hear the voice of the bard, who past, present and future sees, Whose ears have heard...

(The entire section contains 377 words.)

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Given the literary background of the principal characters, Liz, Alix, and Esther, many passages in The Radiant Way are themselves quotations of poetry that relate to the situations depicted in the novel. For instance,

Hear the voice of the bard, who past, present and future sees,
Whose ears have heard the holy word,
That walked among the ancient trees.

This, quoted by one of Drabble's characters, is from Blake's "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell," but in a way, it sums up the position the women find themselves in as the world and their lives change around them and they wish for some greater power to give them the answers.

Elsewhere, Drabble remarks on the elite status of Liz, Alix, and Esther, with insight into the possible envy of outsiders:

These three women, it will readily and perhaps with some irritation be perceived, were amongst the crème de la crème of their generation.

One of the themes of the novel is the rapidly pace at which technology is changing and who is able or unable to keep up with it. Drabble writes this about Liz:

One of the problems with Liz was that she had no idea what any of this meant. Her ignorance when it came to satellites, cables, teletexts, videos, home computers, home information services was, she claimed proudly, lamentable. Yet her very ignorance was unnerving . . .

Drabble's style is extremely accessible, but her sentences are often long and complicated. A revelation near the close is that Liz's (and her sister Shirley's) father, nearly forgotten by her, was a child molester. The following is a comment on this:

Liz was relieved, over the following week, to recall that she had formulated the notion of necessary anti-climax for herself, independently, in her day of sweat, for it emerged, anti-climactically, that Shirley's daughter, Celia, had known the facts about her grandfather for years.

As usual, the last lines of the book are memorable as a summing up of a complex and ambivalent story:

The sun is dull with a red radiance. It sinks. Esther, Liz and Alix are silent with attention. The sun hangs in the sky, burning. The earth deepens to a more profound red. The sun bleeds, the earth bleeds. The sun stands still.

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