The other day over at Clusterflock, I posted a comment to this post in which I used "Alas" as a sort of period and which the post's originator complimented me on.
Well, thank you. Anyway, that got me to thinking about skillful uses of "Alas" in literature, uses that seem to sum up enormous expanses of time and pain in those two little syllables. The only one I could come up with is below, but I think it would be hard to top in any event.
It's this brief exchange between Mr. Deasy and Stephen Dedalus in chapter 2 ("Nestor") of Ulysses. It might help to know that Mr. Deasy is Stephen's employer at the school he's been teaching at, and is proud of his Englishness:
-- I have rebel blood in me too, Mr Deasy said. On the spindle side. But I am descended from sir John Blackwood who voted for the union. We are all Irish, all kings' sons.Devastating, no?--especially in the context of the novel's time: after the fall of Parnell and before the Easter Rebellion.
-- Alas, Stephen said.
But surely there are other good examples out there of well-placed "Alas"es. If you know of any, I hope you'll share them in comments.
Books, Literature, James Joyce, Ulysses