Progress or the Past in the Periphery?

We have discussed the notion of progress abundantly throughout the semester and whether the plots of the novels seem to be moving forward or in what ways they seem to be referencing the past.  After finishing She, I reread the introduction and realized that the novel does not exactly end back in England because Holly and Leo are “for reasons that, after perusing this manuscript, you may be able to guess, [are] going away again, this time to Central Asia where, if anywhere upon this earth, wisdom is to be found”(13).  This stuck me as interesting because after finding the “flame of life” in Africa, also the periphery, they returned to England only to set off again to another place in the periphery.  This made me question the original diagram we had drawn on the board where the core (England) represented the present and the periphery (Kor) represented the past.  It seems that the periphery encompasses both the past and the future at once in multiple ways.  Since the letter from Holly is at the beginning of the book, the reader must go back to the beginning of the story to see it.  In a way, this makes it seem as if Holly and Leo have already gone to Central Asia, since reading it was the “past” for us.  On the other hand, chronologically it is happening last and still ongoing, which puts it the future, outside the novel, unknown to the reader.  The structure of the novel plays tricks with time just as the novel itself does.  For example, it is unclear whether She is aging or de-evolving when the flame of life touches her a second time.  Also, in the end, Leo, with his grey hair and young face also seems to twist time.  The periphery, it seems, represents progress and knowledge because it holds the secrets of the past but also offers them a place to search for knowledge in the future.  She tells Leo that she perhaps will return to the world again, referencing the future while she is becoming just a part of the past.  The novel technically ends with Holly musing about “the shape and form [of] the great drama” when it is “finally developed”(275).  He then wonders what part Armenatas, Kallikrates’ wife, will play in the drama.  This struck me as very strange because Armenatas has been dead for two thousand years, but he is wondering what her role will be in the future.  This especially made me wonder what the novel is saying about the nature of progress and time as a whole.  Do we need to bring a piece from the past with us to the future to make progress? Or is the past alone the place we should be looking for knowledge?

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