Richard la Gallienne's "The Bloom in Yellow" begins in green and ends in yellow, beginning with the remark that "Green must always have a large following among artists and art lovers" and ending with the question "Is it possible to say anything prettier for yellow than that?" In between, de Gallienne points to the decline of the color green, associated with the refined and the subtle and the nuanced, in a culture jaded by too much sophistication and traces the resurgence of yellow, celebrating it as simple, pure, and heroic. By the end of the article his exposition has become entirely devoted to a mishmash discussion of the various appearances and associations of the color yellow. All of this is rendered in highly complex, stylized prose. This characteristic passage comes at the end of the piece, and is a fragment of his final near stream-of-conscious invocation of yellow:
The flowers we love best are yellow: the cowslip, the daffodil, the crocus, the buttercup, half the daisy, the honeysuckle, and the loveliest roes. Yellow, too, has its turn even with the leaves; and what an artist he shows herself, when, in autumn, he 'lays his fiery finger' upon them, lighting up the forlorn woodland with splashes -- pure pallette-colour of audacious gold! He hangs the mulberry with heart-shaped yellow shields -- which reminds one of the heraldic importance or 'or' -- and he lines the banks of the Seine with phantasmal yellow poplars... Let us dream of this: a maid with yellow hair, clad in a yellow gown, seated in a yellow room, at the window a yellow sunset, in the gfrate a yellow fire, at her side a yellow lamplight, on her knee a Yellow Book.
This passage, and much of the rest of the piece, makes use of a rhythmic, at times laundry-list like presentation of various illustrations of whatever point he is in the process of making. It is full of detail and repetition, and continuously changing imagery. Is this style of exposition effective for making a point? Does it draw the reader away from a central thread reasoning?
The prose in de Gallienne's piece is ornate and sophisticated, as is the voice of the narrator, in much the same way that he describes the aesthetic element of green at the outset of the piece. Is there any yellow in "the color yellow"? Is there a simple point that he is making, or does he get lost in the complexity of his style?
"Is the color yellow" more style than substance? Is there relevant, incisive cultural commentary attached to the whimsical discussion of the proliferation of certain colors in different periods of human civilization?
Last modified 16 October 2003