Beauty as a reason for Life and an Ingredient of Life: Colum McCann's "Let the Great World Spin"
The paper deals with Colum McCann’s novel Let the Great World Spin (2009) by analysing the idea of beauty, emphasised at several points in the book. Our analysis revolves around the novel’s central event: a tightrope performance in the sky above New York City in 1974. The aim is to reveal how this unusual walk is understood by various characters: the crowd on the ground; the tightrope performer himself ; finally, Corrigan – a vice - addicted man who has spent most of his life helping people in need – and a group of grieving mothers, whose stories make up parts of a secondary narrative line, parallel to the walker’s. We first depict the reactions in the aud ience below the walker, realising that it is divided into people against and people for his successful ending. Then, we take the walker’s perspective and learn that his reasons for tightroping are summed up as “beauty”. We point out that his stunt is also described as “beautiful” by Corrigan, at the moment of his death. Implicitly, the reaction of the women who mourn their sons confirms Corrigan’s idea of beauty associated with the sky performance. After inferring that for both Corrigan and the walker life equals beauty in many ways, and that death is not necessarily void of beauty, we stress that beauty is not included in the reactions of the walker’s direct audience. We offer possible reasons for this absence and explain the impressions of the analysed cha racters as ordinary, special, or something in between.