Start with waistlines. Drop-waist dresses are my new favorite thing. It’s like spending summer in West Egg. And what can I say–I am a supporter of the romper, and romping writ larger, but I’m a dress-for-every-season sort of girl. I like dresses. Indulge me, indulge with me. A few of my favorites…
Tiny stripes, the nautical variety.
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Tags: come home with me, Dresses, Dressing for Industry, frills, immediately if not sooner, own this, pretty things, private proclivities, putting the diction in addiction, shopping at work, stripes, summer loves you too, superficial but accurate, waistlines
The surviving Jane Austen manuscripts have been digitalized and are now online! Live! For you and me! Dig in to this project by Oxford University and King’s College London. There’s nothing quite as intriguing as the hand-printed word (and since her sister took it upon herself to destroy hundreds and hundreds of her letters, we don’t have much from Austen). I will now commence to spend my day speculating on Austen’s writing and revision processes…. If you need me, I’ll be here.
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I can’t stop reading the Brontës, and in a study of those ladies, undisciplined as it is, Gaskell seems to be required reading as well. Like Charlotte Brontë’s Shirley, North and South deals with the social implications of economic decline for manufacturers and laborers during the first half of the 19th century, and as in Brontë’s Villette, Gaskell’s heroine Margaret Hale suffers paralyzing affliction, but maintains grace, authority, and fortitude despite all. Which is to say, oh my god, this book is so sad. But while I’ve been known to mock heroines for their foibles and failures in judgment, Margaret Hale is above critique. Looooove this book. And John Thornton. John Thornton is the Heathcliff of the working class, a Mr. Darcy with Dickensian grittiness. It’s a beautiful, fantastic novel. And here are my contemporary pairings for some of the beautiful, fantastic descriptions.
[Edith] lay curled up on the sofa in the back drawing-room in Harley Street, looking very lovely in her white muslin and blue ribbons. If Titania had ever been dressed in white muslin and blue ribbons, and had fallen asleep on a crimson damask sofa in a back drawing-room, Edith might be taken for her.
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Tags: 19th century novel, bibliophilia, British Novels, bronteism, Charlotte Brontë, Dressing for Industry, Elizabeth Gaskell, hero worship, heroine addiction, live in this book, midcentury niceties, North and South, Shirley, Victory/Victorianism, Villette
Charlotte Brontë, you are my favorite. My favorite Brontë, at any rate.
After a few very long days with Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, I wanted a Brontë break from the page-long, overdetermined character descriptions from phrenology (ok, Anne, we get it: dark features, disagreeable character) and the embedded polemics on female virtue that rival some of Richardson’s longer passages for tiresome. And Villette is incredible. While it is perhaps not so narratively artful and precise as Jane Eyre, Villette gives us so much more to grapple with — romance plot after twisted romance plot, complicated by deceitful and jealous school girls, servants, and overly officious aunts; measured insinuations of Gothic danger emerging from French Catholic discipline; and intelligent but relenting discourses on the education of women, protestantism and Catholicism, and French and British culture.
I hesitate to go on in these generalities, but suffice it all to say that the novel is gorgeous and sad–not the irritatingly maudlin tragic-female sort of stuff, Lucy Snowe is continually heartbroken. Written after the deaths of her siblings in the late 1840s, Villette‘s undercurrent of acknowledged but unspecified tragedy endows this heroine with a rare sort of bravery wrought from necessity, uncultivated intelligence, and resignation to a perpetually hapless life. And yet, she’s entirely without self-pity or unwarranted ambition. Villette, I suspect, will never be an Oprah Book. Thank God.
And it’s full beautiful things, ranging from modest to ostentatious. So this book’s getting two posts. Here’s one of two.
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Tags: Anne Bronte is a drag, bibliophilia, bronteism, Charlotte Brontë, frills, furbelows, live in this book, novels, own this, pretty things, putting the diction in addiction, Victory/Victorianism, Villette
Last Tuesday, I arrived at the startling conclusion that I’ve never given Anne Brontë much of a chance. Two days and 400ish pages later, I came to the conclusion that I’d given her too much of one.
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, by all basic descriptions, is exactly my sort of book–a touch of Gothic mystery (the secret identity of a young widow living in the dilapidated Wildfell Hall), not only is it an epistolary novel, but there’s a massive epistolary narrative within the primary epistolary narrative (sort of similar to that in Frankenstein–but instead of a fascinating monster, the diary writer is our hyper-virtuous heroine who writes like she’s contending with Clarissa Harlowe for paragon status), and all of the great R/romantic nuances of a novel written in the Victorian era but set in the late Romantic.
Honestly though, it was a bit of a drag. For anyone who’s read Wuthering Heights and/or Jane Eyre (that’s everyone, right?), this following essentially depicts the reason, for me anyway, Anne will always be my third-favorite Brontë sister.
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Tags: Anne Bronte is a drag, bibliophilia, bronteism, heroine addiction, midcentury niceties, novels, own this, pretty things, putting the diction in addiction, rakes and libertines, shopping at work