“Before we was married, she was, ‘No, after we’re married I’m yours but not till
then,’ but since the wedding she’s all, ‘No, I ain’t in the mood, so paws off.’ All I
did was knock sense into her, like any husband would, but since then the demon
in the blacksmith’s wife jumped into mine an’ now she won’t look at me. Can’t
even divorce the she-viper, of fear her uncle’d take back his boat, an’ then
where’d I be?” (308)
By the time I was finished with part two, I was wondering what great truths about life I was being brought face-to-face with, what mundane experiences were being made wondrous, even sacral. There are some human universals worked out in the novel, like the confrontation between venal men and those more conscientious, the predicament of those unfortunate enough to be born to lower orders, the sorry state of women in patriarchal societies. And the story has plenty of poetry in its descriptions and characterizations that seamlessly compliment rather than encumber its momentum. Yet I kept closing the book at the end of the day without any sense of discovery. Learning yes, about The Dutch East India Company, Japan at the turn of the 19th century—which was inconsequential to them as they have their own way of reckoning the days. But discovery is a more complicated matter than mere learning.
“‘Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…’”
…and Jacob still has the scroll, and I’m sorry, I’m sorry…
“‘I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff…’”
Jacob waits for the explosion and the swarm and the tearing. (444)
One’s mind goes back to the climax of the movie "Titanic." And there’s even one of those teasing scenes that have the character waking up from what’s clearly a dream to what just might be reality but turns out to be yet another nested dream (343). Prior to this book, I’d only ever encountered these in movies.