polarit’s a reflection of the way i read — fast skim and skip x multiple reread — that i catch onto these i think: fragments in a book which exactly transport you to another, not for reasons of “hommage” (a word i dislike: it purports to be cleverly explanatory but precisely isn’t) or transfer of energy or referential density or bigging yrself up or even just quiet self-playfulness necessarily — i mean it’s possibly any of these, but the fragment is so fleeting and the doorway so narrow and easy to miss that it may even be purely unconscious

let’s give some examples:
a. in the wasteland — i’ve talked abt this elsewhere — there’s a weird near-lift from bram stoker’s dracula AND a super-secret glint toward m.j.james’s count magnus (scroll down to “pop vs unpop: who will win?”) –> of course one reason these tremors are intriguing is bcz mr eliot did NOT see fit to mention them in his “notes”

but yes ok the wasteland is a special case, really — it is made up of fragments, even if they’re not all copped to (and they’re DEFINITELY not unconscious): much more fascinating to me is similar material in books where there’s nothing really to be gained from this micro-tactic

so, b. in dorothy l.sayers’s “the nine tailors” , one of the murderous bells, batty thomas, is named for an “abbott thomas”, and there’s a cryptic clue which needs to be decrypted in a way that parallels a similar decrypting in the m.r.james story “the treasure of abbot thomas” (also wimsey’s uncle is called “de la gardie”, which is the family name of count magnus, hero-villain of another james story) (tho of course de la gardie is a historical danish aristocratic name, so this may just be coincidence)

and (and this is what made me just think of this again), c.in peter pullman’s “his dark materials: vol 1. northen lights”, lord asriel at one point is feted for having pulled two people out of a flooding dyke in the fens (doesn’t wimsey do the same — or fail to, or witness the failure? — in “nine tailors”?); and the clockwork seeker-beetles just reminded me powerfully of the hunter-seeker device near the start of dune (this is exactly how far i am in my first-ever reread of his dark materials; i’ll report on any further such, tho of course pullman is rightly known for the sheer profuseness of inventions of devices…

d. in thomas harris’s oddly-managed fantasia hannibal, he does a very weirdly intrusive version of it, where he suddenly states that lecter is a cousin of the (actual real-life) painter balthus: the strengths and failures of this book both derive from harris’s decision to make it a second-level essay on prurience, the public (and intellectual) fascination with the ghastly; our desire to have it both ways (once it’s pointed out that “hannibal lecter” inescably reminds you of Baudelaire’s “Hypocrite lecteur, mon semblable, mon frere…” this thematic argument, and harris’s sustained teasing off to the side of it, just leaps out at you, page after page..)

anyway, like i say, this is a thing i notice — names of characters that are shared by people in other books (i spend a minute or so wondering if an “anstruther” in an agatha christie bore ANY useable referential link to the anstruthers in m.r.james’s “the rose garden”)

i think the key here (why i’m interested; why i may be misleading myself) is that it’s a move between levels or out of one genre into another — tecfic to horror; literary fantasy to big pulp scifi; important modernist poetry to gothic victoriana — and as such provides a frisson of critical purchase generally not available “within” a disciplinary strand

my overall notion of pullman’s theme — that he’s rewriting-rescuing c.s.lewis’s idea of parallel worlds (and “the wood betwen the worlds”), trying to make it stronger in its own right, an allegory of the imagination rather than a mere device with a xtian allegory — obviously somewhat maps onto this element in my own reading tendencies (for slippage between genres read passing between worlds; for critical analysis read “subtle knife” blah blah)

[note to self: is the “happy” ending of hannibal a bit rubbish the same way the ending of “his dark materials” is a bit rubbish? will have to wait and see — but cf tolkien on eucatastrophe, and problems thereto]