The immanence of imminence

Ah ha, I said to myself, as I read the following sentence in Sebastian Faulks’ A week in December:

His father had died when Gabriel was seventeen, and this had given him an early awareness of the immanence of death, its bulk invisible behind the empty static of the day.

……..this man doesn’t know his “immanence” from his “imminence”. Well that is what I thought, but I had to give Faulks the benefit of the doubt. I am no master of the subtleties of all minor spelling changes, nor was I entirely conversant with the former spelling, vaguely aware that it existed, but not much more than that.

A quick check in Chambers and a few rapid cross-references in Wikipedia confirmed the author to be right, and me (of course) to be wrong. The “imminence” of an event points to its proximity, but its “immanence” points to its inherent nature, perhaps its inevitability.

Gabriel may have lost his father when he was seventeen, but this made him more aware of death as being fundamentally part of the ‘package of life’ as opposed to the danger of it lurking just around the corner, waiting to claim him as its next victim.

I now fully anticipate encountering this wrapped up in a subtly-worded  crossword clue………..


About Frank Burns

Looking for the extraordinary in the commonplace………taking the road less travelled……..striving for the ‘faculty of making happy chance discoveries’ in unremarkable circumstances. Click on the Personal Link below to visit my webpages.

Posted on July 31, 2013, in Book reviews and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. What an intriguing heading. Even though I’m in a hurry I just had to stop and have a look
    He says imminence and you say immanence I do have difficulty with those two words. I must read more Faulks. I found Birdsong completely absorbing.

  2. Peter Staples

    14 down:
    Troubled men came in, but God is everywhere

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