Mr Browne

Mr Browne extended his open hand towards her and said to those who were near him in the manner of a showman introducing a prodigy to an audience:

—Miss Julia Morkan, my latest discovery!

James Joyce, Dubliners.

It’s strange how a person’s shadow can live on so long after that person’s death, how it gains a life of its own when a writer uses that shadow as the ink in his pen. Mr Browne’s shadow bristles his mustache, wrinkles his face with laughter, charms three young ladies, and somehow lives far more thoroughly than he ever did in the real world—the shadow possesses depth and color, it breathes, blood flushes the veins under his skin, and for a little while at least he manages to dance through the minds of anyone who reads this book, long after the body who gave birth to the shadow (and the golden light that illuminated the body) vanished away into nothing. There’s a certain repetition to his immortality—God help me, he will always say, smiling, it’s the doctors orders, always after a “trial sip” of whisky—but this shadow is a unique creation of every mind that reads about him, it’s composed of every individual reader’s constituent memories, which means that he is not only immortal, but a myriad, a twisting kaleidoscope.

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