In your opinion what is the main theme of Prelude to Christopher? What are the social and cultural forces that shaped Dark’s vision?
In this essay I am going to write about the main theme in “Prelude to Christopher” and its contemporary role when Eleanor Dark wrote the novel till 1933, including the social and cultural factors influenced her motives to write.
“Prelude to Christopher” is a novel which was first published in 1934. The plot is told in a very economic and clear time span of four days in the small and conservative country town Balleena and the story begins with an accident of Nigel Hendon, the husband of Linda, on Tuesday and finally ends with the suicide of Linda on Thursday. “Like James Joyce and Virginia Woolf, Eleanor has all the events take place over a short period”, four days of violent confrontation, “and the story is told through consciousness of the characters” which reveals in the course of these four days more and more of the characters’ past, their relationships, their ideas and wishes. The reader does not only find these out through mindreading, but fevers, visions and the characters’ dreams, asleep and just woolgathering. The result is a fractured point of view and multiple timelines – the present and the past told by different characters in different chronology. In this manner Eleanor Dark succeeds to illuminate the elliptical stream of consciousness as if there were camera angles switching from one key scene to another.
The story briefly overviewed, the four days reveal to us that Nigel is a respectable doctor whose actions are entirely driven by reason. He is actually idealistic and pacifistic, but also exasperated because of his failure to establish a “community based on principles of eugenics, pacifism and social justice”, whereas Linda is described as eccentric, mysterious and is supposed to be mad, presumably because of her heredity, wherefore Linda is not allowed to get a child due to Nigel’s cold and ruthless emerging principles. While reading this book, Linda is taking over the story more and more and the question is being created: What is madness? Or is Linda really mad or is the society, requiring conformity, just uncomfortable with her? And if she is mad, is she mad because of her gene or because of the fear of her gene? While Brooks argues that “Prelude to Christopher is a novel of ideas, constructed around a set of arguments about eugenics, madness, utopias and social control”, Moore claims that this novel “is an extended discussion of eugenicist population management and degenerative genetic inheritance”, while madness or social crisis can be looked at embedded issues in the main theme eugenics.
 Clark, p. 111
 Brooks, p. 111
 Brooks, p. 112
 Brooks, p. 113
 Moore, p. 21
- Quote paper
- Daniel Lennartz (Author), 2008, Eleanor Dark and Eugenics, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/138863