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Abstract

Like many of his literary contemporaries, Joyce Cary maintains a more than superficial interest in the power of the word. Many modernist writers share with him an ambivalent attitude toward the word. To some degree, they hold the belief that words are worn out, obsolete, or otherwise inadequate to express the concerns of the twentieth century. On one hand, they are dissatisfied with the word, but on the other, they are forced to contend with the word as the only means of expression they have, yet many of them eventually come to see the word as still being capable of working transformations on both individuals and the world. Cary, too, recognizes and deplores the predicament of the literary artist who is compelled to use inadequate and vague language, and he expresses interest in his fellow artists' literary experiments.1 He wants his readers to enter into the fictive world as completely as possible, but he realizes that the very form of his craft works against this. He believes that all writers feel the limitations of language when they are "struggling to express an intuition of life which transcends any possible symbolic form" (Art and Reality 152). Many of his contemporaries attempt to change the world by changing the language and by engaging in radical and experimental forms, but Cary uses a more conventional artistic expression. He attempts to recharge, to revitalize words, but he insists that the continuity of the reader's experience should not be hampered by the artist's method of presentation. In order to accomplish his artistic goals, Cary employs names as symbols in The Horse's Mouth.

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