Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Colours in "Autobiography of Red"

As I asked the question what the significance of red in “Autobiography of Red” is last Friday, I decided to have a closer look at colours in general in the novel. So I collected all the sentences / phrases where colours are mentioned.
Colours are very important to Geryon; he cannot only see them, but he even hears them: “Roses came / roaring across the garden at him. / He lay on his bed at night listening to the silver light of stars crashing against / the window screen.” (84)
Often Geryon uses colours to describe things we wouldn’t usually see coloured: He describes the “dark pink air” (36), “red breezes” (38) the “hot white wind” (49), and a “white Saturday morning” (120) .
All about Geryon himself is red, even his shadow and his dog. When I read the novel for the first time, I was misled to think that Geryon saw most of the world in red, but besides “the intolerable red assault of grass” (23) right at the beginning, I found no other example of Geryon describing something as red when it objectively is not (besides the examples mentioned above, where we would usually see no colour at all). So I thought that maybe Geryon does not describe the grass as red here, but rather the assault of grass. Geryon does not see the world in red, but he sees colours where others do not, and he can even hear and feel them.
Right at the beginning of the novel, in “Red Meat”, we learn that adjectives “are in charge of attaching everything in the world to its place in particularity. They are the latches of being.” (4).
Colours are adjectives, too, of course, and I would argue that the colour red attaches Geryon to his place in the world, signifying his specialty and difference from the rest of the world.

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