lunabee34: (Default)
The Scarlet PimpernelThe Scarlet Pimpernel by Emmuska Orczy

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I was reluctant to read this book because I thought for some reason that it would be dry or dense. Fortunately, it is neither. It's a quick, fun, breezy read that I think would appeal even to junior high readers. It's a mystery, a romance, and a novel of intrigue. The fun for the first half of the novel is trying to figure out who the Scarlet Pimpernel is, and the fun for the second half is cheering him on in his mission of rescuing condemned French aristocrats. Very entertaining.



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(I realize the tag is not quite the right era, but it'll do.)
lunabee34: (reading by thelastgoodname)
The Clever Woman of the FamilyThe Clever Woman of the Family by Charlotte Mary Yonge

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


So, Yonge is not progressive for her time. The central thesis of this book is that women need the firm intellectual guidance of wise men so that they don't become ridiculous and dangerously foolish. A woman left to mull things over on her own is a time bomb waiting to explode.

But don't let that stop you from reading this fantastic novel. Rachel, the "clever" woman of the family, is constantly making silly blunders and providing comic relief until suddenly she isn't. This is an emotional roller coaster of a read; it begins firmly in the humorous vein (almost Wildean in wit and tone) and then becomes very serious in ways that I didn't expect.

I really don't want to spoil the story, but it's full of romance, mystery, peril and genuine pathos. Also, in spite of Yonge's conservative world view, the novel is pretty feminist in ways she may not have intended--female authors, women lamenting the lack of useful occupation available to them, and women taking decisive/heroic action.

Highly recommended.



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lunabee34: (Ouida by ponders_life)
Pleasure Bound: Victorian Sex Rebels and the New EroticismPleasure Bound: Victorian Sex Rebels and the New Eroticism by Deborah Lutz

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I enjoyed this one. I knew a little bit about most of the people discussed in this book (you can't study Victorian literature without knowing bit about Richard Burton or Swinburne or the Rossettis, for example) but only the very superficial. This is a really interesting look at several loosely connected and intersecting groups of people (the pre-Raphaelites, the Cannibal Club, and the Aesthetes) and how their art and lives were focused on their sexual experiences. The book is written much more like creative non-fiction than the usual academic book, so it's incredibly readable. Every now and again, the author uses an awkward turn of phrase or says something in a confusing way or gets out her thesaurus just to remind us that we are reading the work of the erudite, but on the whole, the style is very readable and accessible and the subject matter is deeply interesting.



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Oronooko: The Royal SlaveOronooko: The Royal Slave by Aphra Behn

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Not one I'll be rereading. I somehow missed reading this in college and wouldn't have read it now except that I'm teaching it. I know it's an important text, and I'm glad I've read it, but I found it very underwhelming. Also, the almost complete lack of dialogue made reading it fairly tedious.



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lunabee34: (reading by thelastgoodname)
The Dead SecretThe Dead Secret by Wilkie Collins

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I absolutely loved this book. Many of Collins's novels are predicated on a secret, and this is clearly no exception. What I really liked about this book (in comparison to, say, Man and Wife where the audience is in on the secret the whole time) is that the secret is kept from the audience until almost the very end. For a good half of the book, I had no clue what the secret might be, and then I started to suspect what the secret was but not the why of it. The mystery aspect of the novel is really well done. Collins misdirects multiple times, leaving little clues that end up going nowhere or suggesting something about someone's personality that ends up not playing out the way the reader might think.

The characters are very well drawn and interesting. One of the main characters is blind, and his wife serves as his eyes, giving Collins ample opportunity for beautiful prose and sparkling dialogue.

I don't want to spoil what the secret is, but I will say that it's heartbreaking, and I found myself moved to tears by the novel's end.

So, if you like a good mystery, a heaping helping of gothic trappings, irascible old misanthropes, and beautiful young women who can describe the contents of a room as if they're reciting poetry, this is the novel for you!



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lunabee34: (are those men kissing? by animekittysama)
The AwakeningThe Awakening by Kate Chopin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I'd only read this book once a very long time ago as an undergraduate, and my memories of it were hazy before this reread. I hadn't remembered how candidly it treats Edna's infidelity, and I thought it had been written much later than the turn of the century.

I also didn't know anything about Kate Chopin until this reread. Apparently, publishing The Awakening ruined her career; the book was roundly condemned, and she lost her reputation and many friends as a result. She only lived four years after its publication, dying of a stroke or aneurysm. I think a lot about women writers who weren't appreciated in their time and what they would think of their place in the literary canon carved out by second wave feminists in the 60s and 70s. I hope Chopin would feel vindicated that classrooms of college students read her novel each semester and discuss Edna Pontellier's stifling marriage and the limited choices available to her.

I was especially struck on this read by her feelings for her children, how she loves them but doesn't want to be consumed by them, how she wants to follow her own desires but doesn't want her children to be hurt in the fall-out. I am so glad that I live in the 21st century in which I can find plenty of examples of women who have careers and families, who follow their own hearts and are good mothers, who pursue their ambitions and hold down the fort at home at the same time. I'm so glad we live in a time where people can be more open about how maddening motherhood is, how nobody enjoys parental sacrifices, and how being angry or depressed or frustrated is a natural part of being a parent. If I had to live surrounded by the "mother-women" Chopin describes, those women who are constantly sewing baby clothes and who cannot leave their husbands alone because the husbands need them, and who are defined solely by those relationships, I'd probably find myself in crisis, too.

This book is very sad but very beautifully written. Highly recommended.



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lunabee34: (Default)
Jane EyreJane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I love this novel, and I love it even better on this reread. One of my favorite novels is Wuthering Heights, and both times I've read Jane Eyre I've been struck by the similarities I see between the sisters' writing (which isn't surprising since they spent so much time writing collaboratively about their imaginary world). Jane Eyre is so modern to me--the first person narrator, the focus on the psychology and motivation of characters, the lack of superfluous description. Dickens writes about orphans and poor people and the disadvantaged, and although I love Dickens, I never once forget that I'm reading a novel written more than a hundred years ago when I read, say, Oliver Twist. When Bronte writes about the same topics in Jane Eyre, they are biting and harrowing and feel contemporary to me in a way that many Victorian novels do not. Wuthering Heights has this modern quality about it as well. The way Jane and Rochester speak to each other--prickly and teasing and sarcastic, one zinger after another--also strikes me as a particularly modern way of writing dialogue. Love this book, love that Jane gets a happy ending, love that she finds a home and a family.



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lunabee34: (reading by thelastgoodname)
Wide Sargasso SeaWide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I have to admit that I didn't care overly much for the writing style except in Part 3. Bertha's backstory was much sadder and more cruel than I expected it to be. She is the mirror image of Jane--orphaned, abandoned and mistreated by those who should be family, unloved, sent away to school. There's even a Helen in her life, but they don't become friends like Jane and her Helen. I think I find Rhys's Rochester more monstrous than I was expecting because he does actually love Bertha at one point. He falls for her, and then he listens to gossip and he cheats on her. Totally despicable. I was reading this for pleasure and not taking notes or reading methodically and so the dreamy and disjointed quality of the narrative was at times tedious and confusing, again except in the third section where that style of writing worked perfectly for me. Now that I think of it, I didn't mind the style in the first section which was also narrated by Bertha either; it was only really jarring in the second section where Rochester's voice is no different from Bertha's. This is an interesting companion to Jane Eyre, but I don't believe I will feel compelled to re-read any time soon.



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lunabee34: (reading by tabaqui)
Man and WifeMan and Wife by Wilkie Collins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I enjoyed this although not so well as No Name or Woman in White. Man and Wife is very humorous and satirical. Collins is constantly poking fun at the conventions of the time, and he consistently hits the mark when he makes fun of Lady Lundie--the affected, bossy, and manipulative social butterfly. His book was intended to shed light on Scottish marriage laws (which really do sound utterly ridiculous and not at all a good idea), and the story does a good job of revealing their potential for harm. Collins's other thesis is one that amuses me a bit. The main antagonist of the story is an athlete who essentially ruins his body and his mind through exercise. Now, I'm totally on Collins's side when he asserts that national obsession with sports to the exclusion of the arts and the cultivation of the intellect is A Bad Thing, Indeed. I also agree with his implicit thesis that excellent male athletes are forgiven many faults that they shouldn't be because of their athletic prowess and that something is wrong when masculinity is defined solely as a product of physical ability. But to the modern reader, his idea that most people who strenuously exercise are risking paralytic stroke is a bit silly. I have to admit that I found the storyline for the most part predictable (girl is ruined; ruiner declines to marry her; her best friend's fiance is put into a contrived situation in which he appears to be married to her; this problem comprises the bulk of the novel; at the end, the situation is resolved and the best friend's fiance is off the hook) until I got to the last fourth of the book. Then it takes a really unexpected and gripping turn that belies the humor of the beginning. The athlete who ruins our virtuous heroine decides to kill her after he finds a written confession of murder, and the method he employs is really ingenious. The confession is incredibly dark and detailed, and the athlete's mental journey from Asshole to Murderer is fascinating to read. I also loved the very end in which Lady Lundie gets her final comeuppance. I really didn't see that coming.



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lunabee34: (Ouida by ponders_life)
1. Update on Josh's health: blood work, X-Rays, and ultrasounds show no abnormalities, so the major horrific stuff like cancer seems off the table. He has a appt with an allergist on the 17th to explore the possibility of a food or other allergy. He started feeling really bad last night and is still feeling bad so he called and got them to refer him to a gastroenterologist (which is what I wanted him to do in the first place during his Friday follow-up), so hopefully he'll be able to get an appt soon. I have no idea what's going on, but I wonder if it's some form of IBS or colitis or even Crohn's. I also think it would the most bizarre coincidence ever but I want him to get tested for celiac as well. So hopefully we'll figure out what's going on soon and move from the debilitating and inexplicable pain portion to the treatment portion.

2. Don't forget to check out [community profile] journalsandplanners and possibly do some signal boosting if you are so inclined. Thanks to those who have so far. :)

3. I am almost done with Jane Eyre (which I've only read once before this and that was last year; someone revoke my Ph.D. in Victorian lit LOL) and with Man and Wife by Wilkie Collins. Reviews of both forthcoming. I will then start Wide Sargasso Sea which I've never read. I'm still on track with my Goodreads challenge.

4. I talked briefly about fandom with my senior class (without revealing that I participate or sharing any of that kind of information with them but, I fear, probably talked about it knowledgeably enough that they realize I'm at least fandom adjacent LOL), and one of them mentioned Wattpadd as one of their primary platforms. Anybody know about what that is? She seemed to think it was going to help her become a published author which pinged me as probably not likely, but IDK.

5. Tell me something! Ask me something! Gotham and Lucifer both are on hiatus (which is bullshit; hiatus is over Christmas and then the show starts back and continues until May; it is known), so I'm free this evening.
lunabee34: (reading by thelastgoodname)
1. I've been thinking about writing an essay about why I think evangelical Christians are so willing to vote for Trump. I was raised in that tradition (Southern Baptist), and it makes no sense on the surface why people who not only say they are Christian but who claim to make every decision in their lives based on that Christianity would support Trump, but having been a part of that culture for the first 18 years of my life, I have some ideas about why they're doing so. But I've also been thinking that plenty of other people have written about this, and I don't know that I have anything new to say or offer about the subject, so. IDK

2. We finished our rewatch of Treme. One half of the couple we watched it with used to live in Louisiana and is an accomplished musician who often played gigs in NOLA. So that added an extra layer of fun to the rewatch; they'd often comment about places featured, or he'd have stories about the musicians in the episodes. SPOILERS )

3. We are almost done with Downton Abbey season two. We finished all the regular episodes and only have the Christmas Special left to watch.

SPOILERS )

I can't wait to see where the story goes. I am actually sad that Walking Dead is resuming because it means no more Downton Abbey for awhile.

4. [personal profile] executrix sent me a biography of Jane Austen (Jane Austen: A Life by Claire Tomalin) which was really interesting. I knew nothing about her life, so everything was pretty much new to me. This is a very thorough, heavily researched book which I would recommend to anyone interested in her. I have to admit that from time to time I got a little confused because the cast of characters, so to speak, is so large and so many people in her family and life shared names; I just wanted to read it for entertainment and not take notes or anything, but reading it that way did mean that I was a little bit lost from time to time.

I have two main takeaways from the book. First, how horrible that so many of her letters and documents were destroyed. I wonder if they were truly scandalous (I doubt it), or if that notion of privacy (that regardless of their content, the public at large shouldn't be able to read her letters and that wanting to do so was born of prurient interest) which was beginning already to erode with the explosion of celebrity culture and mass media was largely responsible.

Second, I wonder if she was happy to stay single or if she considered her life tragic. The book posits that her first, truncated romance with Tom Lefroy was very dear to her and that she was very hung up on him and hurt when he was essentially forbidden to see her. Tomalin offers some evidence that Austen was thinking about him three years after that romance had ended. It also mentions that she initially accepted and then turned down a proposal from a man she was friends with but had no romantic feelings for. My take on it is that she'd watched all the women around her have ungodly amounts of children and a number of them die in childbirth and maybe she was grateful to escape that horror. IDK I mean, it can certainly be both. What do y'all think (about anything relating to her life)?
lunabee34: (Ouida by ponders_life)
1. We watched Solaris on [personal profile] tamoline's recommendation that it was very reminiscent of Jeff Vandermeer's Southern Reach trilogy. I also suspect that whoever wrote Event Horizon was familiar with one of the first two versions of the film that precede the Clooney version we watched. SPOILERS )

2. We also watched Lucy a couple of days ago. Man, Scarlett Johansson is a good actor. I have loved her in every single thing I've seen her in, and she was exceptionally good in this movie, too. I must admit, though, that I enjoyed the first and second acts of the movie far more than the third. SPOILERS )

3. I finished How to be a Victorian by Ruth Goodman, a fascinating book that is structured around what Victorians from different classes and parts of the country would be doing throughout the day from getting up in the morning and washing and dressing to work and school and meals all the way to bedtime. What makes this a truly engaging read is that the author isn't just a historian; she's someone who tries out most of the activities she discusses in the book. So for instance, many Victorians did not bathe with water. They bathed using a combination of dry brushing the body and applying ammonia or vinegar to armpits and other potentially malodorous areas. Goodman went for four months without bathing with water and was happy to report that she didn't stink even once. She made many of the recipes for household goods like toothpaste or lotion or shampoo and tried them out herself. She frequently wears Victorian clothes and sews them herself in the Victorian manner using Victorian patterns, etc. I also found an answer to my previous question about exercise; Victorian men were being heavily encouraged throughout the entire period to exercise in a variety of ways. Women were discouraged from exercising at the beginning of the period because of the whole wandering uterus theory; scientists and doctors were genuinely concerned that vigorous exercise would damage a woman's ability to have children. However, as the period progressed, the benefits of exercise for women became more apparent and walking (which women had always been doing a lot of), some sports like archery, and calisthenics became popular for all classes of women.

4. Penny Dreadful, OMG, what are you doing? I love it! SPOILERS )
lunabee34: (Ouida by ponders_life)
1. I finished To Marry an English Lord by Gail MacColl and Carol Wallace which is about the rush of American heiresses who married into English aristocracy in the late Victorian through Edwardian period. Excellent read. I especially loved the copious photographs of the glitterati of the time, their gowns by Worth, and their homes. What constitutes beauty in any given era is always so interesting to me; more than half the women pictured in this book would probably not be considered beautiful by modern standards (and I'm not talking about weight or figure; I'm talking more facial features although to be fair, those horrific Edwardian hairdos flatter no one's facial features).

That leads me to another question. How did Victorian, aristocratic women keep their figures? Exercise in the way we understand it now was not appropriate for women to engage in, and the aristocratic life was one ball, dinner, and banquet after another. I suspect a fair amount of just not eating was responsible as well as corsets, and women could walk and ride horses. IDK I am just imagining women secretly doing push-ups in their bedrooms at night to work off the breakfast of ortolans and champagne.

2. Lucifer continues to be enjoyable. SPOILERS )

3. Emma and I went to go see Hail Caesar. I was surprised she wanted to see it in the first place, and doubly surprised when she ended up enjoying it rather than being bored. The movie was hit or miss for me. SPOILERS )

4. We started watching Daredevil which I enjoy. SPOILERS )

5. In the past couple years, I've gone for long stretches where I don't read books and only read stuff online, and then binge read like 10 books in two weeks. This has been one of those stretches where I've not been reading much, so I'm resolved to start reading books again. Here's my To Read list:

The Mechanical
Ancillary Justice
Goblin Emperor
Ragnarok
Sugar
The Game
Parasite
Irving book
3 Body Problem
Martian
the final Mortal Instruments book
Stephen King books on Kindle
lunabee34: (Ouida by ponders_life)
I'd make a top-level post.

I am one of those exceptionally lucky people who remain deeply in love with the author I wrote my Master's thesis and dissertation about. So many people I know emerge from their dissertation loathing the author and the texts they chose to write about; it's such an arduous process that it destroys the initial joy that inspires the academic work for a lot of people. But for me, Ouida remains as fun and fascinating as she was when I first encountered her the semester I spent as Natalie Schroeder's research assistant.

Ouida is so full of contradictions. On the one hand, she wrote deeply purple, melodramatic prose about convoluted situations. She loved to write bits of dialogue in foreign languages, and her command of them was often shaky. She was frequently derided in the press of her day for writing books that are licentious, frivolous, silly, pretentious. And yet, everyfuckingbody read her books because they were fun and funny and she could hit you in the id with such a delicious anvil. Her books are a romp. She can elicit emotion from the reader like whoa.

On the surface, she seems to hate women. Her novels contain many misogynistic statements. Male friendship is always depicted as superior to heterosexual relationships. Her heroines are mostly childlike, morally pure, boring as shit women. LOL She makes many, many misogynistic statements in her non-fiction writing about how silly and stupid women are and how transcendent men are next to the fairer sex. And yet, her female villains are powerful; they are movers and shakers; they have agency; they are freaking cool as shit--sexy and smart and the equal of the men in the novel--and they aren't always punished for their villainy. In real life, Ouida seems to believe in a kind of third sex, The Genius, who (male or female) is just better than everybody else. She clearly includes herself in this category. LOL

She is an object of pity in many ways. She made so much money; she was so rich (and entirely from her writing), and she squandered it all on hothouse flowers and entertaining and feeding a little squadron of dogs veal for every meal. She died penniless in a rented house that stank of dog piss. She could not afford burial and was only interred decently because her friends paid for it.

She knew everybody, all the glitterati and literati of her age. She invited the men to her parties and held court, smoking cigars with them instead of retiring for a sedate sherry as was customary.

She was weird and gauche and pretentious, and I love her to bitty bits.

I'd recommend starting with Strathmore which can be read for free at archive.org along with most of the rest of her novels and non-fiction writing.

P.S. That's Ouida in my icon.
lunabee34: (gay agenda by jjjean65)
1. I'm reading a fantastic book that Executrix sent me about the way that American heiresses started invading Victorian England because they couldn't achieve social recognition or make good marriages in an American society ruled by stuffy old birds like Mrs. Astor. Anyway, fun factoid: kid gloves were worn by both men and women at society functions so that flesh never touched flesh while dancing; the gloves were thin and tight enough that the outline of the fingernails was visible through them, and they only lasted for a single use. Talk about disposable income.

2. cut for discussion of exercise, weight, and mental health )

3. cut for discussion of dieting )

4. cut for discussion of sartorial woes with a side of self-loathing )

5. Getting to Know You Meme: Ask me a question, and I'll ask you one in return.
lunabee34: (danger zombies by theidolhands)
I have so many comments to answer, but I know you want to hear my thoughts on Fear the Walking Dead, Jane Eyre, and the Tiffany Aching series.

I'm not cutting this as I don't think any of what I'm about to say is especially spoilery, so be forewarned.

Re: FtWD--I just don't know that I buy the central thesis of this franchise, that when the world goes to shit, we instantly and collectively go to shit morally and ethically. I just don't know that I buy the premise that only the morally depraved survive, that the key to making it through the apocalypse is turning into something arguably worse than the apocalypse itself. Would we really turn on each other so quickly? Would everyone really become evil and/or evil adjacent so rapidly? I'm really interested in what you think about this. Does the nature of the apocalypse matter? Do monsters have different consequences than global natural disaster?

Re: Jane Eyre--Just finished this weekend. Loved it. The romance aspect of the novel seems incredibly modern to me. This is 19th century Moonlighting. The banter and the witty repartee (so utterly different from Wilde in character) is fantastic. The language is beautiful, Jane's interior world (particularly as a child) feels so real and interesting to me. I see why this has been an enduring classic.

Re: Tiffany Aching--I'm re-reading and Emma's reading these for the first time. We just read Wee Free Men and are someways into Hat Full of Sky. I've read Wintersmith but not the last two books. I think Tiffany Aching is the finest arc he's written. The descriptions of Granny Aching and the Chalk and the way the land is in Tiffany's bones--the prose is so fine, so beautiful. I despair of ever writing anything that gets anyone in the gut the way those passages affect me. I laugh out loud every three seconds in between wiping the tears from my eyes. I know that the final novel (*the* final novel) has reaped its share of criticism, but I am really crossing my fingers that it lives up its predecessors.
lunabee34: (meta foucault by jjjean65)
1. In my New Year's Resolutions, I committed to posting at least once a week. I've been feeling disconnected from fandom for a long time now and not truly actively fannish about anything except maybe reading FFA, and I don't know if you can call taking a vicarious interest in the mean things people want to say to their bosses a font of fannishness.

In a fit of curiosity about how often I'd actually been posting last year, I went to the archive only to discover to my surprise that I'd posted a hell of a lot more than I thought I had. I posted at least once every week in 2014 with the exception of one week in February, one week in March, and a four week stretch that lasted from September 19 to October 18. I averaged about two posts a week, and posted six times! one week in May. I am truly shocked, y'all. I expected to see that I'd been posting about once a month, maybe twice.

So now I'm not sure how committing to do a thing I'm already doing is going to have any impact on feeling disconnected from fandom in general and y'all in particular. LOL

I suspect that a lot of what I miss is getting feedback on fic, so committing to posting one fic a month should help there. And if I make weekly perfume posts, I might continue to meet people in perfume fandom and generate interesting conversations as a result.

2. I'm reading an academic book right now that could be so interesting. The author is talking about the significance of the blush in Victorian novels, and in the introduction she references Cher and Estee Lauder ads and an interesting documentary about skinheads that came out shortly before she wrote her book, and I should be digging this--except I'm not, and here's why. There's a way to talk about important stuff without sounding like an asshole, and this lady is not accomplishing it. Especially if you're throwing around pop culture references and making jokes with them, doing so in the middle of a sentence about the reification of the Foucauldian rhizomes and the textures of the evaluative binary (note: I just made that shit up and it sounds about like what she's writing LOL). It's like tonal whiplash. I do see value in specialized language in my discipline; however, I am a firm believer in writing as clearly, concisely, and plainly as possible (all while still using big girl vocabulary words!). I feel like many more people agree with me now than otherwise as I find much of the recently published scholarly stuff I read very approachable. But, man. The nineties. So much ridiculous posturing and saying everything in a much more complicated way than necessary.
lunabee34: (Ouida by ponders_life)
1. I am teaching Wuthering Heights this semester. I love teaching this novel. I've taught it more frequently than any other text in my career, and even though I've re-read it more often than probably any other novel, I always find something new every time. Man, I love my job! Josh has never read WH, so I have extracted a promise from him to read it so we can talk about it. I've been struck on this re-read by how modern the horror elements seem to me. Much of the violence and abuse and horror in the text is glossed over; the narrators don't call attention to it but rather treat it as a matter of course, as a background element. I'll just be reading along and all of sudden, I'll go, "Wait! He just tried to saw off a ghost kid's hand on a broken window!" or "He just shoved a knife blade. into. her. mouth. OMG." None of these moments are belabored but they slowly add up to create a feeling of terror. It feels analogous to creating a painting a layer at a time with one faint wash of color on top of another until the end product is quite vivid and striking. And what I mean by modern is that this novel seems to treat abuse and abusers much differently than most of the Victorian novels I've read. It is way more concerned with motive and psychology than a lot of books from the era, and it seems to have a much more current take on what constitutes abuse. I know that the frank violence of the novel was pretty shocking when it was published; it was the HBO of the mid-19th century! LOL Anyway, I love this book. That's pretty much the crux of it, I guess.

2. What are the cool things that you want for Christmas that I should also want for Christmas?

3. Did anybody watch NCIS? It seemed to start weird to me. Instead of the usual black and white opener, it started with Abby and McGee talking in the lab about colors. I know the station prob only clipped off like 30 seconds, but what happened in the beginning?
lunabee34: (Ouida by ponders_life)
Josh is doing well; they're still pumping him full of Heparin, and he seems to be having less trouble breathing now. I have pretty much stopped freaking out that he's going to drop dead (yes, that is how my brain works, thank you LOL) and moved on to the he's going to be fine even if it takes awhile to get there portion of the proceedings. Blanket thanks for all the hand-holding, well-wishes, and prayers. Y'all are my support network, and I appreciate your friendship more than I can say.

This hospital is much quieter than the one we were in last week AND it has a full length couch for me to sleep on! We both got about 6 hours of sleep last night. It's a hospital miracle!

In other news, [personal profile] sholio has crawled ahead of me in our geriatric race to the finish on the 100 Things Challenge, so I'd better update.

Victorian People and Ideas is an oldie but a goodie (which is true of a lot of the scholarship on the Victorian era; while some of it is dated, a fair amount of those works are still relevant and interesting). Altick's work is very accessible; I would totally assign this book in a junior or senior undergraduate seminar. I think it would also be a good read for a casual reader interested in England in the nineteenth century.
lunabee34: (Default)
I absolutely adore this book. I've read it upwards of twenty times. I love it so much that I made it the central wooing device in my Jensen/Jared college AU.

It's one of my favorite books to teach, too. Students respond to so many elements in this novel--the unreliable narrators, the gothic conventions, the soulmates, the tragic love story, the necrophilia! We get to talk about doing it *and* digging up your dead honey when I teach this novel; it's an educator's dream.

Since this is a book I have read consistently at least once a year since I was 15, I've been able to chart my reactions to the text as time as passed. I write in the books I cared about, and so much of the joy of re-reading this book to me is reading the progression of marginalia. Is there a word for commenting on your own commentary? LOL I love how the handwriting matures, how many times I wrote, "What an ass," next to something Heathcliff does. I love how every time I read this book, I find something different, some nuance that missed all the other times.

I think my favorite aspect of this book is it's discussion of identity and the impact love has on self-hood. For Cathy and Heathcliff, love is dangerous. It risks self-dissolution. It is soul-subsuming, and it leads to madness. It leads to death. "Nelly, I am Heathcliff!" Cathy cries, and she means it in that way that every sixteen year old who feels her soul thrum to the magnetic resonance of another's means it, when she believes that she is close enough to another person that they are but extensions of one another's bodies--a single soul inhabiting separate flesh.

Unfortunately, Cathy kinda forgets to tell Heathcliff that they're soulmates yo and marries another dude. Heathcliff is not impressed.

And, ooh oooh! The puns. Penistone Crag, anybody? Bridle hook?

I think this is one of the most accessible 19th-century novels, and if you haven't read it, I'd suggest giving it a go.
lunabee34: (Ouida by ponders_life)
I'm putting the finishing touches on my [livejournal.com profile] femme_fic tonight (expect something in the next 7 hours or so, [livejournal.com profile] ariadne!) and then I am watching last week's SPN and curling up with The Victorian Frame of Mind.

I just finished The Madwoman in the Attic by Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar. I skimmed small sections of this book for my MA thesis but in no way read the text (which is highly unfortunate because I think that ultimately, G&G's methodology is probably superior to what I used of Elaine Showalter's at a critical juncture, but that's neither here nor there). This book was published in 1979, which is significant for me because that's the year in which I was born. I have a profound respect for these two women who engineered a way of reading 18th and 19th century women writers that is still valid and compelling thirty years later--no mean feat in academia. In fact, if you are going to talk about women writers from those two centuries, you *have* to acknowledge G&G, even if it's only to refute them.

Charting the themes of imprisonment and escape, ice and fire (snow), madness and sexuality, this book offers a female literary history of these two centuries. In addition, there's a lot of really, really exciting word play going on in this book. One of my favorite instances is the one in which they discuss Heathcliff hanging Isabella's dog on the bridle (bridal) hook.

I think that G&G rely far too heavily on autobiographical readings of these women writers' texts, but given the nature of their project, that predilection isn't surprising. This book also reminded me how much I really don't care for Emily Dickinson's poetry. Isolated poems I enjoy; her autobiography I find very interesting; but when forced to read twenty or so of her poems in a row, I find myself wanting to tear out my hair. Although G&G make a really fascinating argument for Dickinson's bizarre punctutation (all those dashes) as analogous to a sewing stitch that links different ideas, bottom line is that it throws me out of the poem, every damn time.

Thoughts? I think some of you have probably read this book and if you haven't and you are at all interested in women's writing you should. It's very accessible in my opinion to readers from a variety of fields and interests.

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