Crome Yellow

Text


He took nobody by surprise; there was nobody to take. All was quiet; Denis wandered from room to empty room, looking with pleasure at the familiar pictures and furniture, at all the little untidy signs of life that lay scattered here and there. He was rather glad that they were all out; It was amusing to wander through the house as though one were exploring a dead, deserted Pompeii. What sort of life would the excavator reconstruct from these remains; how would he people these empty chambers? There was the long gallery, with its rows of respectable and (though, of course, one couldn't publicly admit it) rather boring Italian primitives, its Chinese sculptures, its unobtrusive, dateless furniture. There was the panelled drawing-room, there the huge chintz-covered arm-chairs stood, oases of comfort among the austere flesh-mortifying antiques. There was the morning-room, with its pale lemon walls, its painted Venetian chairs and rococo tables, its mirrors, its modern pictures. There was the library, cool, spacious, and dark, book-lined from floor to ceiling, rich in portentous folios. There was the dining-room, solidly, portwinily English, with its great mahogany table, its eighteenth-century chairs and sideboard, its eighteenth-century pictures - family portraits, meticulous animal paintings. What could one reconstruct from such data? There was much of Henry Wimbush in the long gallery and the library, something of Anne, perhaps, in the morning-room. That was all. Among the accumulations of ten generations the living had left but few traces.

Commentary

Here Denis walks through the empty rooms of the Wimbushs’ house, speculating on the relationship between past and present. He imagines his gaze like the historical excavator of the ruined Pompeii, turning an archaeological eye on the immediate past, looking for ‘data’ and ‘traces’ and recognising that the current owners of this house have left relatively little impact. Here the enumeration of furniture and art objects suggests the heavy presence of the past.

Themes

Consumer Practices
Social Position
Time

Dominant Representational Strategies

Elements
Idea

Dwelling

Type
Residential
Detail
Country House
Historical Terminology
Specified Social Level
Elite

Activities

Type
Intellectual, Cultural and Spritual
Physical States and Actions
Detail
Thinking
Walking

Rooms

Type
Social and Sitting Spaces
Library / Study
Dining Room
Historical Terminology
long gallery
drawing-room
morning-room

Inhabitants

Type
Detail
Adults
Male

Objects

Type
Furniture
The Arts, Recreation and Ceremony
Detail
Seating
Supporting, Storage and Display

Bibliography

Direct Cross-References

Indirect Cross-References

Names
Huxley, Aldous
Date(s)
1921
Country
United Kingdom
Historical Region
Description
Format
Book
Type
Genre
Novel
Publication
Penguin Books, 1974, p.8
Copyright
Location
Record ID
CG1044