ricardienne: (library)
As we know, I am pathologically unable to resist a library sale. Or a free book.

Which is why I now own four different (Latin) texts of Vergil's Aeneid, dating from 1840 to 2001 (and let's not talk about how many translation). Also, as of yesterday, I have two different OCTs of the Annales (would rather have a Histores, I admit, but what can you do), and about half a dozen new girls' stories, most by the prolific Mrs. L.T. Meade, and including such alluring titles as Naughty Hannah, Miss Nonnentity, and Three Bright Girls.

I started reading the Eclogues in translation, and I really want to read them in Latin -- but of course I didn't bring them, and since I am already juggling Demosthenes, La Princesse de Clèves, and Harry Potter und das Feuerkelch right now, not to mention the omnispresent threat of having to revise my project, that I probably shouldn't add any more books to my "hard" reading.
ricardienne: (Default)
(From [livejournal.com profile] awomanthatsblue)

Bolded what I've read, italicized what I've started, etc.cut for space )

ricardienne: (Default)
I think I am incorrigible. I tried to go to Professor M.'s office hours this morning, but he wasn't in. What was in, however, was a box of give-away books in the hallway. I know that I have a problem with books, particularly free books. And, actually, I was fairly good. Of the six books that looked mildly interesting, I only too four:

The Wormsley Library: A Personal Selection by Sir Gall Getty, KBE, because it was lots of pictures of old books.
…the other harmony of prose… by Paul Baum, because, well, it looked interesting.
New Readings vs. Old Plays by Richard Levin, which ruined all of my practice time today, because I kept skimming through it and being entertained.
The Tudor Constitution: Documents and Commentary by G.R. Elton, because I can't resist a big book of primary sources, even if they aren't primary sources I'm terribly interested in.

I know that I am running out of space for more books. Actually, I already have run out of space proper, and now I'm running out of space to stack and balance on top of books on bookshelves. But… FREE BOOKS!
ricardienne: (Default)
Catholicon Anglicum. An English-Latin dictionary c.1483 (OMG Richard III's dictionary?).
ricardienne: (Default)
the unread book meme thing )

Also, since when can you mark your entries as "adult content"? Since latest lj explosion, I suppose.
ricardienne: (Default)
Now, I always partly suspected that most of Anatole's celebrated dishes would be things that I, a semi-picky eater, would not be terribly enthralled by. But this, and this? Or this? Now these, I would conceivably make or eat. But the others? Not with the proverbial 10-foot pole.
ricardienne: (Default)
I have been intermittently thinking about Lois McMaster Bujold and the Aeneid. Or, rather, does killing your main character and then bringing him back to life constitute a Journey to the Underworld and back? It's all sort of compressed: Miles gets self-knowledge (although, interestingly, somewhat delayed self-knowledge) from the experience, whereas someone like Aeneas we actually see receiving information during his trip through Hades. That's actually very characteristic of the series, I think: to take a standard sort of plot and apply it in a sci-fi kind of way. Now I want to go read Memory and see how far this goes.

But the next thing I read for fun, however, after Prometheus Unbound, is going to be Helen Beaton, by Adelaide Rouse. It seems to be a turn of the century (19th-20th, that is) college story -- I shall see how it stacks up against Anne of the Island and Jean Webster's novels. It will also make me wish I were going to an all-girls college in 1910, I suppose. It's such a different world, though: there are so many rules at my college, and I suppose at all colleges and universities and fines if you break them, and disciplinary committees. Whereas in When Patty Went to College they paint the walls of their room, take the doors off the hinges, and paint the furniture, and although they aren't supposed to, the impression is that if you can get away with starting to do it, no one is going to punish you for having done it. At my college, there is now a sign up in the dining hall noting that "Students are forbidden to remove dishes, silverware, or food, from the dining commons" with the appropriate punishments for first-time and recidivist offenders. (The dishes and silverware I can understand, but the food? And they still have paper plates and cups and plastic forks out. I do not get it.) It isn't that I don't understand why a modern college needs to have all of these rules and regulations, but it does make one wax nostalgic for a time when they mostly trusted people to behave, and to be sufficiently embarrassed by admonishment as to make worse things more or less unnecessary. Of course, these people are from a very elite, very small group of people who all can be counted on to share the proper feelings and respect the boundaries. We oi( polloi/ need to be kept in line

And on that note of the degredation of college culture, in celebration of Talk Like a Pirate Day, I present the following (if you haven't already seen it):
ricardienne: (snape denial)
Books to read when I'm back home and have time for utterly frivolous reading (and don't have to request them via inter-library loan).

-The new Chrestomanci book (the existence of which I just learned about yesterday) about Cat and Chrestomanci.
-All of A Series of Unfortunate Events (a reread for the first two-thirds-ish), so I can read the last one.
-Twilight, to keep on top of the latest teenage vampire trends.
-The New Tamora Pierce Book, I guess, even though I couldn't make it through the exerpt on her website. But I have to see if it has any howlers along the lines of "Hakkoi's Hammer! What is that?"
-The new Wrede-Stevernmer novel, even though Grand Tour wasn't nearly as good as Sorcery and Cecilia.
-Imperium (I'm blanking on the author) -- maybe. It got a good review in today's Book Review, but then, I've also read some pretty negative reviews, and it's long, and I sort of want to get a handle on the Late Republic history-wise before I launch into a lengthy novel about it.
-I think there were another couple, but this will serve for now.

I am going to mail in my ballot tomorrow. Oh, I hope we can get some decent people into the legislature! And then there are the propositions. Among the things that I, as an Arizona citizen, got to vote on this time:

-Whether or not to establish a lottery in which everyone who votes will be entered. The idea is that it will make people vote. I guess some people don't think the nifty little stickers are enough of an incentive.

-The obligatory marriage amendment, which would additionally bar any kind of civil unions AND prohibit any local governments from giving partner-benefits. Can we say spiteful?

-To deny punitive damages to parties in civil suits who can't prove their immigration status. This one is just STUPID. The whole point of punitive damages is to punish the other party: it should have nothing to do with who the injured party is. In other words, we are going to say that it's less bad to, say, kill the relative of an illegal alien while drunk than to kill the relative of a citizen. And the terrible thing is that this probably IS what the proponents of this proposition believe, but won't say in so many words. I think its in defence of this proposition that someone submitted a claim about "gangs of illegal aliens roaming the suburbs and committing organized crime." (Oh, please. The only gangs of illegal immigrants in your cookie-cutter gated community are the ones trimming your lawn.) Or maybe that was for the proposition to deny bail to those who can't prove their immigration status at the time of arrest.

But undoubtably the stupidest proposition on the ballot is the English as the Official Language of Arizona one.
Among its provisions:

Section 3. A. Representatives of government in this state shall preserve, protect, and enhance the role of English as the official language of the government of Arizona.

"Preserve, protect, and enhance the role of English" includes:
(a) Avoiding any official actions that ignore, harm, or diminsih the role of English as the language of government
(b) Protecting the rights of the persons in this state who use English."

So if this passes, I could sue Bush next time he makes a speech in Arizon, right?

But seriously, what is wrong with this state country? We already have English Only education; this one is mostly designed to protect employers from discrimintion suits when they fire their employees for speaking Spanish during the breaks (it won't do much else, as Federal law requires us to provide government documents in other languages). One would think that living on the border with a country that speaks a foreign language would make use less, not more phobic about multi-lingualism.

book notes

Aug. 26th, 2006 10:49 pm
ricardienne: (snape denial)
I got read the first two Lois McMaster Bujold books today (Shards of Honor and Barryar): nice girl from modern progressive space-world falls in love with a fascist regressive patriarchal militarist man from a highly stratified traditional semi-space world. She gives up her own life to marry him and then lots of Politics ensues. Just the right thing to read for the last week of vacation.

But why are people (okay, women, mainly) in these books so ready to give up rational life as soon as they're confronted with someone spouting rhetoric about Honor and Duty and Loyalty. I understand the appeal of this sort of thing to a point, but I can't imagine becoming a second-class citizen because of my gender for it. And it always (in my limited experience of reading this kind of sci-fi) seems to be women falling for military/feudal men. I haven't come across the story of a geeky, pacifist 'ansible technician' who ends up in a traditional society and decides to go in for the cult of honor and glory for the love of a beautiful woman who can embroider his shirts with nice folk-embroidery. Is it because women are supposed to be more emotional creatures more susceptible to alpha males than beta- or gamma-males are to females? (Does that make any sense at all? Maybe it's getting too late for me.) Is it just the "knight in shining armour" phenomonon? Or is the thought of civilized men regressing in bloodthirsty irrational Beowulf-types perhaps much more unpleasant than woman picking up embroidery hoops?
ricardienne: (york)
Iris came over the other day and we had a good talk about fundamentalist religious friends who don't try to convert you (I mean really: don't they care about our immortal souls? What kind of friend lets a friend blithely go to hell in a handbasket?), being intolerant, nervous breakdowns, and distribution/grad school entrance requirements. I should keep in touch more often with her.

Also yesterday, I read Rose Tremain's Music and Silence. It made me realize several things: that I know absolutely nothing about 17th century Scandinavian politics, that I haven't read a "literary" novel in a while, and that this kind of novel ALWAYS seems to deal with The Darkness of the Human Condition and Repressed Desires and so on. Always. This particular one centered (sort of) around an English lutenist coming to the court of the fading, indebted, and occasionally off-his-rocker Christian IV of Denmark. It isn't really about the lutenist though, any more than it is about King Christian, or his morganatic wife Kirsten, or her lady-in-waiting Emilia. And of course all of these characters have Pasts, distant and recent, which are being recounted alternately with bits of the present. I did like it, though, enough to stay up all night to find out whether it ended happily or not.

There were other things I was going to write about, but now I don't want to. Maybe later -- tomorrow, when things that happened today can be yesterday.
ricardienne: (augustine)
We had lunch with V. today -- discussed septic systems, a truly fascinating subject. Is a phosphorus-removing filter really necessary for a seasonal camp? What are the benefits of a large holding-tank versus a leech-field versus a series of small tanks? It's odd to think about how much I know about septic systems. In third grade, I was the only one who got the teacher's joke about a septic tank.

I was reading The Mother's Companion this morning -- we seem to have a bound volume from some year in the 19th century, though I couldn't find a precise date. Every single issue is the same: an article about the importance of religous education for children, a story or two about death-bed conversions, some religious poems and a page of household hints (how to make Beef Tea, for example). Eventually the related the story of Augustine. Except not really. His conversion was presented like all the rest: he gets very ill and suddenly realizes he should trust in Christ. But Augustine as he presents himself isn't just a dissolute youth who receives a sudden revelation. He works his way to an intelluctual understanding of Christianity; he joins the church as a catchumen long before the moment of his conversion. I'm interested by instances like this: why take a very detailed, interesting story that is entirely appropriate already and change it? The anguish and indecision in the garden, and then the child's voice -- it's moving, much more so than another iteration of the same.

But then, I'm not sure that "they" would find the original story appropriate. It isn't easy enough, or pleasant enough, Augustine's experience. He struggles with belief and then with worldly temptations, and he knows that he will continue to struggle even after he has become a Christian. And this isn't the message that The Mother's Companion or very much of 19th century revivalist popular religion wants to have. It should all be sweetness and happiness and innocent children making saintly speeches as they go off to heaven. Augustine would have a field day.

And now a more positive nostalgia for the Victorians and Edwardians:

I'm reading the Anne books backwards. I think part of my trouble in college must be that I got my ideas about it from Dear Daddy Long-legs and Anne of the Island. (I am very quick to blame my reading habits for everything.) Neither Judy nor Anne has any anxieties over whether she'll be able to get into the class she needs to fulfill a distribution requirement, or worries about what major she should pick, or whether she'll be prepared to go to grad school. Gilber Blythe taks High Honors in Classics and then goes off to medical school. And of course one makes friends, goes for long walks and chats, joins clubs, and so on. And then all the girls go off to be either school teachers or secretaries, so I suppose there you are.

I am not having a good day, word-wise. I typed "ceiling wax" in my subject line, and wanted to start writing about "phosphorus philtres". Oy.
ricardienne: (snail)
All the books are moved. It's rather amazing, but Camp now has a library. We have about 8 boxes of stuff to get rid of, from which I rescued a mouse-eaten 1840's Vergil and a Cicero. In the former, they have the poetry rearranged into standard (English) word order in the margins. Tee hee, but it does make it easier. I love old books.

I also found a fountain pen. It is much easier to get pretty flourishes and curlicues (I have been feeling ashamed of my ugly handwriting since looking at so many old copperplate-written journals) with a proper nib. It's also much easier to smudge the ink, though. It makes one realize that it wasn't just a love of conformity and superstitions about the sinister side that made them switch lefties -- before ball-point pens there was a very good reason for writing right-handed.

I was rereading Anne of Windy Poplars yesterday, and I made a Harry Potter discovery. Well, at potential one at least. Windy Poplars is the one where Anne has a three year stint as a principal in another (larger) town while Gilber is at medical school. It has always struck me as very episodic -- one eccentric family with whom Anne becomes entangled after another. One of these is Miss Minerva Tomgallon. Tomgallon is not an exact anagram from McGonagall, of course, but the characters not dissimilar. There was one particularly striking scene with her cat. Miss Tomgallon is the last of an illustrious family and lives all alone in the old family mansion, full of dusty rooms,old portraits, and six generations of hair-raising stories. A slightly less dark version of Grimauld Place, perhaps. I'm almost sure JK Rowling pulled a few things from here. Or perhaps it's all a coincidence. Are the Anne books even popular in Britain, or are they a North American phenomenon?
ricardienne: (chord)
I wanted to listen to Marriage of Figaro tonight -- but NAXOS seems to suddenly only have either a)exerpts, b)"Opera Explained" or c)a really cool looking 1930's historic recording that I can't access because of "copyright reasons." What happened to the version that I listened to all year? So I am listening to Purcell Dido and Aeneas, instead. It's very pretty -- maybe they'll do it in Opera Class next semester and I will get to play pit: that would be awesome. Naxos keeps pausing in the middle of tracks, and I guessed the last word + pitch + rhythm of one of Belinda's arias on my own. Oh, I am so talented. Or Purcell is sometimes predictable.

I finally got Grand Tour from the library. I still don't think these Wrede/Stevernmer ones are as good as Mairelon the Magician and Magician's Ward. I also think that Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell is a better Napoleonic England w/wizards novel. But I liked this one, two.

spoilers, probably -- I'm not very good at talking about books without giving stuff away )


Jun. 2nd, 2006 06:07 pm
ricardienne: (Default)
So I was reading 1599 again to cheer up this morning, and I noticed the references to John Hayward's Life of Henry IV which apparently plagerizes Tacitus quite a bit. Since Tacitus + English history must be one of the epitomes of possible happiness, I was hunting around for a copy I could get a hold of, when I discovered that ASU subscribes to EEBO, even if my college doesn't. Hurray!


May. 31st, 2006 02:15 am
ricardienne: (angelo)
Aren't these hats absolutely nifty? I wish I could knit like that, but the only one I think I might be able to do is the Monmouth Cap (and that's because I found several other patterns for it elsewhere on the web.) I feel so unskilled.

I got impatient with my farthingale this morning, mostly because I think I am going to have to take out the straw rings and put something more reliable in, so I decided to start draping the bodice of my dress, because I shouldn't need an accurate sense of how the skirt will fall for that, should I? I want to do a doublet-style bodice, because a) They look much nicer than the standard low-cut kind, b) I've already made several "Renn-Faire" Elizabethan bodices, and c)women's doublets were semi-controversial in the 16th century, because they were men's clothing, and this makes the project more interesting!* I haven't decided whether to do the doublet + shirt + separate skirt/kirtle version or the doublet + attached or at least matching skirt + sleeves. I'm kind of leaning towards the latter, because all of the paintings of the former kind have lots of poofs and bows and decoration that I'm not sure I could do at all.

I managed to download Phillip Stubbes' Anatomie of Abuses to get the exact passage, which I transcribe here (I don't know how to get the s that looks like an f (does anyone know how to make this character? It looks all wrong when I change it to regular s), so I have to change it -- sadly, no Stan Freberg joke here):

Philo. The women also there haue dublets & Ierkins, as men haue heer, buttoned vp the brest, nd made with wings, welts, and pinions on the shoulder points, as mans apparel is for all the world; & though this be a kinde of attire appropriate onely to man, yet they blush not to wear it; and if they could as wel chaunge their sex, & put on th ekinde of man, as they can weare apparel assigned onely to man, I think they would as verely become men indeed, as no they degenerat from godly, sober women, in wearing this wanton lewd kinde of attire, proper onely to man.

It is written in the 22 of deuteronomie, that what man so euer weareth woman's apparel is accursed, and what woman weareth mans apparel is accursed also. Now, whether they be within the bands and lymits of that cursse, let them see to it them selves. Our Apparell was giuen vs as a signe distinctiue to discern betwixt sex and sex, & therefore one to weare the Apparel of another sex is to participate with the same, and to adulterate the verities of his owne kinde. Wherefore these Women may not improperly be called Hermaphroditi, that is, Monsters of bothe kindes, half women, half men.

Spud. I neuer read nor heard of any people, except drunken with Cyrces cups or poysoned with the exorcisms of Medea, that fmaous and renouned Sorceresse, that euer woulde weare suche kinde o attire as it is not onely stinking before the face of God, offensiue to man, but also painteth out to the whole world the venereous inclination of their corrup conuersation.

I mean with a recommendation like that, who wouldn't want to make one?

Hee! Stubbes is incredibly subtle: his pamphlet is entirely about that fictional country Aligna… I don't think I'll have time to read the whole thing, but the bits I am finding are quite funny.
ricardienne: (augustine)
I am feeling quite strange right now. I suppose I should either go practice or start trying to trick iDVD again. (I thought I had fooled it, but it caught on: the computer appears to be cleverer than I am.)

Today, I put the bottom two hoops in my farthingale. It was unbelievable how often the best laid plans of mice and men went awry during the process. I am telling myself that they only get smaller as I go, and I must get better and binding ~1 foot straws into several yard multi-strand bundles so that I can shove them through casings and not have them collapse, but I am not sure. I pinned it onto my dress-form so I could actually manipulate the "bents" properly, but I didn't do it with any concern for how it should actually hang; I hope that this is why it is collapsing in on itself instead of standing out completely. As it is quite full even so, I suspect I made it too wide. At the moment, I am not at all sure that it will support a skirt, even if I end up having enough cloth to make one full enough, but we shall see -- probably not until next year, at this rate.

I read King of Attolia today -- I got it from the library. I couldn't resist raiding the discards for sale corner: the Norton Critical Ed. of selected Canterbury Tales, "6 Restoration Dramas," a stupid-looking JV fiction novel about a girl who goes back in time to fall in love with Edward VI who, according to the back cover, "turns out to be kind of cute." I'm not sure why I have an affinity with this kind of thing. I also grabbed a paperback Wolves of Willoughby Chase partly because I read Joan Aiken's books when they were out of print, so I have an instinct to grab them whenever I see them. And then I found that I didn't have any change, so I ended up only paying 60 cents, although I owed more like 1.50. I always seem to find a lot of books I want to buy when I don't have the money, but I never am able to give them up. "I'll put money in next time," I have said several times, now, but have I? I really should make an effort, I suppose.

So. King of Attolia. I really like this series. Very much. And it isn't just because it fills a big gap where there should be more fantasy set in a vaguely classical era. That is, it isn't fantasy so much as ahistorical fiction. It annoys me that they have guns, though. I wish they didn't, even though they were slightly necessary to the plot of this one. I know they have been annoying you, [livejournal.com profile] voglia_di_notte, ever since Gen married the queen, and so this one will probably continue to annoy you. I liked it, but then, for some reason I didn't really have a problem with them getting married.

I find that I don't want to write too much, because the more I think about it, so little happens, in one sense, in this book, that to say anything would be to spoil it. At the end, everything seemed rather pointless: the wide-reaching political intrigue was there, at the borders, threatening to break into the story (and leaving much room for sequels -- I KNOW she is going to get sequels out of this) but in the end… something totally different turned out to be the focus. In one sense, this is a Book in Which Not Much Happens. But, I sort of like books that have a fantastical/historical setting but do not involve issues at the level of the country (Jackaroo is another rare exception to this pattern), if not the entire world. Obviously, with a title like "King of Attolia," this book does involve issues that are pretty big, but its ultimate concern turns out to be smaller. One of the really neat things here, is that the story is not narrated by Gen, or the queen, but mostly by Costis, a relatively nobody and clueless soldier of the Queen's Guard. This means we get an interesting worm's eye perspective on not just events but characters. Meghan Whalen Turner has had two books to build up Gen and Irene as interesting, severly flawed, passionate people, and now we see them as… something completely different. Costis's perceptions spoke quite a bit to my own ideas about, well, various things, and I would like to write more, but, again, I think it would spoil the book.

Also, I wish I got spam like Chaucer's
ricardienne: (chord)
One of the best "etymologies" I have come across yet:

...because ita, which means oui in French, is the strongest affirmation in Latin, they were not satisfied in calling this countriy the 'Latin Land,' but rather they wished that all the country beyond the mountains, which is quite large and contains many diverse countries and dominions, be called Italy.
(Christine de Pizan, The Book of the City of Ladies, I.33)

I do wish that the notes in my book were better, and actually gave sources regularly, because I want to know how much of this Christine compiled from other people and how much (if any) she just made up for the purposes of her book. That is, how much of what she relates about women throughout history would have been easily recognized by her contemporaries? Maybe I should actually read the introduction.
ricardienne: (Default)
So I think a normal person would not be feeling woeful during her spring break. Exhibit A that I am not normal?

I finally got Maureen Dowd's Are Men Necessary and read it, yesterday. It's a lot like her columns, which means that it gets a bit wearing after chapters and chapters of it. It also didn't really have anything I didn't already know about or worry about. But if Dowd is right, and I suspect she is, mostly, the outlook does not seem to be good. Of course, I don't need her to tell me that.

It's interesting to have read Mary Wollstonecraft, and now read this take on the "anti-feminist" movement. The similarities in what they describe are frightening: weren't things supposed to significantly change in 200 years? But more depressing, for me, is the party that can be blamed by both authors: women themselves. Dowd isn't writing about Fundamentalist sects for the most part, or even about such things as anti-choice legislation. She's concerned with the educated women who don't want careers, but who do want to be adored and pedestalized by men for their beauty and charm. It's a return to a desire for the 'illegitimate power' that Wollstonecraft's women used to get their way in an utterly patriarchal society. When that's all that one can get, it's understandable. But to choose it over equality? But my (admittedly small) anecdotal experience tends to confirm this: all of those girls in high school (and now, in college, though less noticeably, to me) who expected flowers and constant attention from their boyfriends: often it seem(s)(ed) like they want(ed) worshippers, not companions. I'm probably going off the wall here and will offend someone, as I tend to do when I attempt to talk about this sort of thing, so I'll shut up.

The other thing I read yesterday was the second book of the Bartimaeus Trilogy, by Jonathan Stroud. (Yay for Middle School Fantasy!) I had read the first, and am now wondering when I will get the chance to read the recently-released third. The series has several things going for it:
a) An Alternate-Universe English setting. This is always a good thing. In fact, when I think about it, just about all of the fantasy novels I really like [Diana Wynne Jones, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrel, the Mairelon books, Harry Potter, Caroline Stevernmer] have alternate-universe English settings. This one is a 20th c. world, where the British Empire has more or less conquered Europe (having beaten the Prague-centered HRE sometime in the last century or so) and is still holding onto North America, as well.
b) A dystopically corrupt System. I'm not sure why I have a fondness for reading about fictional Evil Oppressive Governments, but they always do seem to make it more interesting. In this case, the magicians rule the empire, and everyone else subsists in a sad, downtrodden, impoverished sort of way. But although we do now have a semi-main character attempting to lead a rebellion and all that, the more main character is a part of this government, and quite in support of it. There's also something that feels very real about all of these self-serving, corrupt wizard-officials. Probably it's that none of them quite measures up to, say, Cheney, or Ashcroft, or Rove.
c) Footnotes. Although not as copious as those in Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrel, one of the narrative voices -- the titular djinni Bartimaeus -- footnotes himself rather a lot, usually to a pretty good comic effect. This is a good sign: Jonathan Stroud is not taking himself entirely seriously.
d) A thouroughly obnoxious main character. In some ways, Nathaniel, the young protagonist, is an anti-Harry Potter. Actually, he's more like a young Tom Riddle, except that he doesn't need to take over the world to create that society ruled by brutal wizards: he's already a part of it. It was fascinating watching Nathaniel become less and less compassionate as he became more aware of his power and it's possibilities in the first book; in this second one, he is really repulsively callous and arrogant (although I suppose that he's due for a moral turn-around in book three, as this is a children's series). And this, surprisingly, does not bother me. I disliked Artemis Fowl, who was much the same way, because clearly we were supposed to admire his "bad-boy" ways. Here, we aren't. Nathaniel is not irredeemable, but he's in need of redemption, and until then, the author doesn't expect us to particularly admire him.

This afternoon, I swear, I am going to start my paper. And practice. Yes. I really will.


Mar. 23rd, 2006 08:30 pm
ricardienne: (snail)
I was talking to A. today (it wasn't horrible, after all), and we got on to Notes From Underground. I advanced my point that there is something incredibly true about the way that Dostoevsky writes.

People are the way that his narrator describes himself -- at least I am, and A. admitted she was. People second-guess themselves, and consider other possibilities, fantasize about things being different. Don't they? Don't you? When we discussed it in class, everyone wanted to talk about the narrator as too much into his life as a book, but I think it isn't quite right to say that. While he may be considerably more messed up than most, he isn't really different in how he sees himself and his life. It might not be "normal" to fantasize and to change one's mind, but it is pretty common.

So why don't we talk about it? Why don't we admit it that we aren't consistent and can't be reduced to a predictable set of individual traits? I suppose I can be reduced so, but I don't act or think within those guidelines. This modern world has gotten very good at moral gray area, but we still insist that people are black and white. One has to have an opinion, and only a single opinion, on an issue. There's no room for shading, or for admitting that you don't know, or that you aren't sure, or that you really want it to be this case but are afraid that you're deluding yourself. And even if it sometimes comes out that real people are this way, we don't like it in literature, at all. It's called "inconsistency of character" or something

This gets at something that has been bothering my about fantasy novels for a while, although I haven't been able to articulate properly. But now that I think about it, there are very few novels of any kind that I've read that have this kind of realistic, changeable characterization. I'm sure it's quite difficult to pull off for an author.

Can anyone give me recommendations of books with characters like this? Characters who aren't just flawed, or dynamic, but are problems the way that real people are problems.

Also, I got officially contacted about the Monteverdi. It looks like I am on. Wheeeee!

In spite of [livejournal.com profile] moonbeam84's very nice comment about my layout, I have decided to change it. It isn't really drastically different, just more boring, and I don't have a nice picture any more. I am not sure I like it at all. Oh well. Change is good, I suppose, and I will continue to tweak it.
ricardienne: (augustine)
C. accosted me at dinner last night, which meant that I had to talk to him, and thus had to read Thus Spoke Z. later. On the other hand, he's the first person I was able to talk about Notes from Underground with in terms of a novel, and not as philosophy. That isn't entirely accurate, as it implies that in class, we looked at it purely as a non-fiction-esque commentary on society/nature of humankind. Which we did not. (We did, however, get hung up on lofty reason vs cheap happiness, which was utterly pointless, as everyone simply congratulated themselves on picking lofty reason, totally ignoring one of the central points of the novel (in my opinion) for one thing, and for another… I think I shall get into this more below.)

Now, cut and sectioned off for ease of ignoring:
Notes from Underground )

In which I philosophize )
In which I look down on others and rant about them )


ricardienne: (Default)

January 2017

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