Jayne Anne Phillips
His samples weren't even packed up, and he himself wasn't feeling par-
ticularly fresh and active.
In place of
death there was light.
“The Metamorphosis,” “Pale Horse, Pale Rider,” “The Jilting of Granny
Weatherall,” and “The Death of Ivan Ilyich”
We could say there is no death in literature, no nothingness, because language bears witness continually, burning its shape into the mind of the reader. In literature, we don't die; we merely think about dying, and darkness is the stark relief against which the light of the words fall.
In stories concerning metamorphosis, death serves as catalyst and witnessed postscript. The long, luminous turning between life and death is the subject of the work. The prison of detail (a form of imprisonment not unlike Gregor Samsa's) shapes the narrative in Kafka's “The Metamorphosis.” Simultaneity of time, memory, and the question of faith are mysteries that open and close in the last lines of Porter's stories. In Tolstoy, death exists to birth Ivan Ilyich into an immensity beyond life. Tolstoy hints that the mind cannot comprehend the loss of identity; language can. Language carries within it the soul of