Monday, January 28, 2013

Apologia for Pride and Prejudice

In honor of the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice, Alyssa Goodnight and Courtney @ Stiletto Storytime are hosting a Blog Hop Party!!!!  Click here to join in! 

jane austen portrait
The woman herself.
***

There is so much to say in praise of Jane Austen.  Indeed, I am probably not educated enough to recognize and appreciate her merits thoroughly. 

But not all praise need be scholarly; Austen wrote of the heart, and the heart praises her as well.

I have friends who read Pride and Prejudice over and over again, literally as a bedtime story or when they are unhappy or stressed.  I know people who fall asleep to the movie at night.  I can see why--it's that kind of story.  It's the kind of thing you come back to when you're tired or sick.  It bears repeated exposure quite well. 

There's something comforting about the story of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy.  Something...faithful, almost. 

And it's not just readers. Writers (who must be readers first, of course) are nothing short of obsessed. The plot and characters have undergone countless retellings and variations. 

It cannot be ignored:  something draws us to this story. 

***

There's a decided cynicism surrounding marriage in the world of Austen's characters.  People marry for money, or maybe for rank, and quite obviously for convenience.  It's expected.  It's unremarkable.  What is remarkable is someone like Elizabeth Bennet, who refuses to conform.  It's shocking--and, I find, uplifting--to see her refuse Mr. Collins,  even on the grounds that, as we can see, they are hardly living in the same universe.  She couldn't have a deeper connection with him than you have with your mailman.  She could never love him in the way she hopes to love a husband. 

Elizabeth refuses him because she believes marriage is something more than convenience.  She values the fullness of  love as essential not just to her happiness, but to her humanity. 

Of course, none of this has any relevance to our time.  We are fortunate in the twenty-first century.  We don't have to marry anyone unless we want to.  In fact, we don't have to marry anyone at all.  Plenty of people live together and sleep together long before they're married.  Marriage is just another way to get a tax break. 

How free we are. 

***

People don't die for ideas.  They die for faith. 

Pride and Prejudice is about faith.  Faith in love, its transformational power, and its legitimacy as part of a full life. 

In fact, it's about more than faith.  This story makes an argument.  It argues--just as all good love stories do--that the kind of love people sing about and write about and dream about isn't just a dream.  That the story you're reading is in an important way true.  That the earth-shattering attraction you feel for that one person isn't a figment of your imagination--it's real.  Pride and Prejudice is about nothing less than the reality of love. 

And once you argue for the reality of love, you are arguing for much more. 

Elizabeth and Darcy are more than players in a game of economic advantage.  More than bodies that go around seeking to derive pleasure from each other.  Through fiction that, I would argue, cannot but ring true in the hearts of readers, Austen makes an implicit argument about human nature:  human beings are such that marriage must be about more than money.   Far from a mere social construct, marriage is a reflection of human nature.  It is the union of two souls.  And for two souls to be united, they have to exist in the first place. 

Elizabeth Bennet believes that.  And you would be hard-put to convince me that Ms. Austen didn't believe it as well.

***

I have heard people say that Pride and Prejudice fans are simply addicted to the "emotional high" it provides.  Such critics imply that the experience is cheap, dirty.   I would ask them:  What is cheap about recognizing something transcendent in human nature?  In exploring the connection between two souls, the appeal of Austen's story is nothing less. 

I would also ask:  What could possibly be wrong with looking in the mirror of fiction and seeing something that we recognize in life, but that is also so wonderful that we sometimes fear to hope for it ourselves? 

Pride and Prejudice is also about hope. 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Save-a-Word Saturday

Welcome to Save-a-Word Saturday!
 
We want to spread our love of old and unusual words by sharing them with other bloggers and thereby saving these precious, wonderful, whirling words from the dusty, lonely corners of the oldest, least-visited vaults of the Word Bank.
 
save-a-word saturday

<a href="http://www.thefeatherandtherose.blogspot.com" target="_self"><img src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-7UO138NOoX4/UItIxhKJwmI/AAAAAAAAArM/LBMYc_tVWdk/s800/sawmeme.jpg" alt="Save-a-Word Saturday" width="251" height="251" /></a>

The rules run thusly:

1. Create a lovely blog post that links back to this one. The easiest way to do that would be to grab the code under our pretty Save-a-Word Saturday button. Just copy and paste it into the HTML part of your blog.

2. Pick an old word you want to save from extinction to feature in your blog post. It really must be an old word, not just a big one. We are trying to save lovely archaisms, not ugly giants (for example, "Dihydrogen Monoxide" is not an acceptable choice). Luciferous Logolepsy is a great database of lovely words if you're having trouble coming up with something on your own.

3. Provide a definition of your word. Use your word in a sentence (or even a short paragraph) vaguely related to the theme we have chosen this week. You may also add visual or musical interpretations of your word or your sentence. In fact, add anything that moves your creative spirit.

4. Add your post to the linky list below (it's down there somewhere). Then hop to as many other blogs as you can in search of as many wonderful words as possible!

5. Use as many of the words as you can on the people in your life. Do leave us a note or add something to your own post to let us all know what wonderful old word you whipped out to befuddle your friends and relations.


This week's theme is:
Fish
 
Mulct, verb
1. Extract money from (someone) by fine or taxation: "no government dared propose to mulct the taxpayer for such a purpose".
2. Deprive (someone) of (money or possessions) by fraudulent means.
 
Our sentence(s) are:
 
The fishmonger looked up at the magician's smirking face, then quickly counted his fish again. He was right. There were only three where there had been five only seconds before. "I've been mulcted," he snarled.

Next week's theme: tea cups
 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Also, O word lovers,
forget not our Giveaway.
 
 


Friday, January 25, 2013

Friday with Dragons

Aw, the wonderful thing that is Friday.

A momentary cessation of work in honor of all the catching up you will have to do over the weekend. *sigh*

I'm really tired and brain dead and drained of energy and having a lot of trouble with coming up with something to talk about, soooooo.... I think it's a good day for a book recommendation!

dragon book

Usually I don't like dragons. Especially when they have riders. I am unusually opposed to the dragon rider concept.

However, His Majesty's Dragon is utterly charming. In other words, I like these dragons.

It's an alternative history novel set during the Napoleonic Wars. Not only does England have a grand army and navy with which they hope to challenge Napoleon Bonaparte, but they also have the Aerial Corps, the dragon riders, who take the battle into the air.

The story is about a naval Captain who captures a dragon egg on a French ship and, out of duty, joins the dangerously depleted Aerial Corps. There he discovers a world he never knew existed and, in his dragon, the most remarkable friend.

It is a truly interesting mix of history and fantasy. What especially charmed me was Novik's fresh take on dragon riding. It is not one man to a dragon, as in your usual dragon rider book, but each dragon carries a whole crew who attach themselves to its sides with harnesses and tethers. Being a dragon rider is more like being a Captain of a ship--a ship who talks, and probably understands mathematics better than you do--than anything else.

Like Patrick O'Brian's Master and Commander series, but with dragons.

How cool is that?


Final note:
Our Giveaway will close in a couple of days, so enter if you haven't already.We are giving away your choice of Sabriel by Garth Nix, Austenland by Shannon Hale, or Crazy Beautiful by Lauren Baratz-Logsted.

Now I am going to go and catch up on the episodes of Beauty and the Beast that I missed. Or maybe I'll just collapse.

Yeah, collapsing sounds fun.

polar bear sleeping




Monday, January 21, 2013

Bad Romantic Poetry

My Modernism and Naturalism (American Literature) professor read bad poetry to us in class today. He was giving us an example of what many of the poems looked like at the tail end of the Romantic Period to smooth the way for Miss Emily Dickinson.*

For those of you who don't know, the American Romantic Period (1830-1865) was marked by sensibility, passionate adoration for nature and "natural man," and a strange fixation with the Middle Ages. You thought people dressing up in cloaks and chain mail and reenacting tournaments was a modern thing? Nope. People were doing it in 1850 too.


modern people cloaks
Awkwardly Modern Looking People in Cloaks

Anyway, they were all about nymphs and how marvelously peaceful being dead would be and were, to quote my professor, "about a millionth of an inch deep" and badly rhymed. Unfortunately, I can't post this awesomeness for you to read for yourselves right now. They are so epically bad they have not been preserved on the Internet. I will have to ask my professor for copy and then transcribe them for you. They really were wonderful.

While listening to my professor reading these poems (one of which was published in Edgar Allen Poe's literary magazine--How did something like that get past him???), I had a mini epiphany about what people mean when they say "books with heart." These poems had all the sincerity of tofu bacon.

There is a reason these poems didn't survive to be honored as part of the regular curriculum. They were forced, insincere and shallow. I believe my professor whipped out the word "trite" at some point. Ouch.

I feel like I have read a story or two like that recently.

*Uh-hem*

They were both mine, but I hope think other people have this problem sometimes too.

The moral of bad Romantic poetry:

Tell your truth as slant as you like, but for God's sake, tell it somehow. 







*An amusing side note: there is a girl in my class named Emily Dickinson. I always have the strange urge to adopt an English accent and call her "Miss Dickinson." She must have had cruel parents.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Save-a-Word Saturday

Welcome to Save-a-Word Saturday!
We want to spread our love of old and unusual words by sharing them with other bloggers and thereby saving these precious, wonderful, whirling words from the dusty, lonely corners of the oldest, least-visited vaults of the Word Bank.
 
<a href="http://www.thefeatherandtherose.blogspot.com" target="_self"><img src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-7UO138NOoX4/UItIxhKJwmI/AAAAAAAAArM/LBMYc_tVWdk/s800/sawmeme.jpg" alt="Save-a-Word Saturday" width="251" height="251" /></a>


The rules run thusly:

1. Create a lovely blog post that links back to this one. The easiest way to do that would be to grab the code under our pretty Save-a-Word Saturday button. Just copy and paste it into the HTML part of your blog.

2. Pick an old word you want to save from extinction to feature in your blog post. It really must be an old word, not just a big one. We are trying to save lovely archaisms, not ugly giants (for example, "Dihydrogen Monoxide" is not an acceptable choice). Luciferous Logolepsy is a great database of lovely words if you're having trouble coming up with something on your own.

3. Provide a definition of your word. Use your word in a sentence (or even a short paragraph) vaguely related to the theme we have chosen this week. You may also add visual or musical interpretations of your word or your sentence. In fact, add anything that moves your creative spirit.

4. Add your post to the linky list below (it's down there somewhere). Then hop to as many other blogs as you can in searcQh of as many wonderful words as possible!

5. Use as many of the words as you can on the people in your life. Do leave us a note or add something to your own post to let us all know what wonderful old word you whipped out to befuddle your friends and relations.
 
 
This week's theme is:
Fairy Tales
 
Flutterpated, adj
This one has explanation instead of a definition.
  • Clearly derived from flutter (to wave, flap, or toss about) and pate (head).  
  • Alleged (1894) precedent to the similar and more well-known "twitterpated," which seems to have first appeared in the Disney movie Bambi in 1942.  
  • Therefore, an adequate definition would seem to be "in a mental state characterized by flapping or tossing; disoriented." 
 
Our sentence(s) are:
 
The princess found herself flutterpated as the suitors rode off to the dragon's lair, and it had nothing to do with the iridescent fairies who flapped around her hair. 
 
~~~~~~~~~~~
Don't forget about our lovely Giveaway!
Save-A-Word Saturday participants are awarded extra entries.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Follow Friday


The Feature and Follow is hosted by TWO hosts, Parajunkee of Parajunkee's View and Alison of Alison Can Read. The lucky features this week are On Starships and Dragonwings and Reading Under the Willow Tree. Be sure to follow them, if only for their awesome blog titles.

This week's Question:
 
What is your favorite villain from a book?
 
 
At the moment, I think it if probably Javert from Les Miserables. Most likely due to recent, repeated exposure.
 
Did you know I saw Les Miserables three times in theatre? And then felt compelled to see the 25th anniversary concert edition for the fourth time? And totally plan to hunt down the 10th anniversary version even though I've seen it four times too? And recently listened to the Original Cast recording which I have had on my iPod for years? And two months ago I saw it live for the--anyway, you get the picture.
 
In other words, I loved it *uh-hem* before the movie came out.
 
Someone (for some reason I feel it might have been Stephen King? Googling has done me no good, since I can't remember the quote well enough. If you know who it was, please tell me) said something along the lines of "The most powerful stories aren't a conflict between good and evil, but between good and good."
 
I think that is why I find Javert's story so moving. His failure does not come because of greed, or lust or weakness. It is, instead, his dedication to justice that is his greatest fault and his absolute, dogged, unswerving purpose that is his ultimate downfall. In the proper course, these are good things. Justice is one of the highest ideals a person can strive for. Tenacity, bravery, the willingness to keep pursuing the Good no matter how hard and endless the road: those are all qualities we look for in our heroes.
 
Javert upholds the law. He does the hard, dirty work of guarding the city. If you were a law-abiding citizen, no doubt you would feel safer knowing that Inspector Javert was walking the beat around your house. If someone you loved was killed, it might give you comfort to know that Inspector Javert, implacable as a bulldog, was going to drag the murderer before a judge no matter how long it took. Javert is promoted again and again because he is a excellent policeman and a moral person, but his is a morality that embraces a world of black and white, where The Law is a second god. It is the view of a child: good guys, bad guys, those who obey the rules, and those who break them. 
 
However, in his rigid pursuit of the Law's Justice, he forgets that there are laws higher than those set down by the French Government, laws in which true justice always allows for mercy, for forgiveness, and for redemption. In Jean Valjean, Javert meets a paradox: a convicted criminal who is at the same time . . . good. He encounters great mercy, selfless courage, miraculous forgiveness, love, and ultimately, grace; the very same things that Jean Valjean meets in the Bishop of Digne.
 
But instead of looking for a new way of life, Javert shatters under the destruction of his old one.
 
To me, he is every bit as tragic as he is the arguably evil, certainly dogged antagonist. I would not love him half so well, if I could not pity him as I do. He is cruel, he is vicious, he is blind, he is heartless, but, my God, does he think he's doing the right thing. How pitiable that such a man should be wrong. And, as the reader who has stood at Valjean's side for 800 pages or so, we know how very wrong he is.
 
 
javert russell crowe
And he has such an excellent uniform.
 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
Don't forget about our
Mindblowingly Awesome
We are giving away one of three amazing novels.
Three of which have made my Personal Favorites list.
 
You know you want one.
 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Save-a-Word Saturday

Welcome to Save-a-Word Saturday!
We want to spread our love of old and unusual words by sharing them with other bloggers and thereby saving these precious, wonderful, whirling words from the dusty, lonely corners of the oldest, least-visited vaults of the Word Bank.
 
<a href="http://www.thefeatherandtherose.blogspot.com" target="_self"><img src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-7UO138NOoX4/UItIxhKJwmI/AAAAAAAAArM/LBMYc_tVWdk/s800/sawmeme.jpg" alt="Save-a-Word Saturday" width="251" height="251" /></a>


The rules run thusly:

1. Create a lovely blog post that links back to this one. The easiest way to do that would be to grab the code under our pretty Save-a-Word Saturday button. Just copy and paste it into the HTML part of your blog.

2. Pick an old word you want to save from extinction to feature in your blog post. It really must be an old word, not just a big one. We are trying to save lovely archaisms, not ugly giants (for example, "Dihydrogen Monoxide" is not an acceptable choice). Luciferous Logolepsy is a great database of lovely words if you're having trouble coming up with something on your own.

3. Provide a definition of your word. Use your word in a sentence (or even a short paragraph) vaguely related to the theme we have chosen this week. You may also add visual or musical interpretations of your word or your sentence. In fact, add anything that moves your creative spirit.

4. Add your post to the linky list below (it's down there somewhere). Then hop to as many other blogs as you can in searcQh of as many wonderful words as possible!

5. Use as many of the words as you can on the people in your life. Do leave us a note or add something to your own post to let us all know what wonderful old word you whipped out to befuddle your friends and relations.
 
 
This week's theme is:
Butterflies
 
Dealate, verb
~to rob or divest of wings. dealation, n.
 
Our sentence(s) are:
 
"I have to go back to school tomorrow," I said. My hand dropped from the calendar where it had traitorously pointed out the date. I felt a sick, sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. It was like I was a butterfly who had just been dealated.
 
~~~~~~~~~~~
Don't forget about our lovely Giveaway!
You'd better enter or we will send our blog gremlins after you.
 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS (Make sure what you share doesn't give too much away--you don't want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title and author so other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers!
I 've been reading Bitterblue by Kristen Cashore and Crewel by Gennifer Albin, and I can't decide which to use for this, so here are teasers for both.
 
*****
 
bitterblue book
 
 
"If I may say so, Lady Queen," said Giddon, "it's not always easy to follow your conversation."
 
"Oh, Giddon," she said, sighing.  "If it's any comfort, I don't follow it either."
 
~Bitterblue, page 133
crewel book
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

"They have your sister."  

"They don't have my heart." 

And there it is.  As close as we've come to talking about whatever it is between us. 
 
~Crewel, page 269
 
 
 
By the way, we're giving away your choice of Austenland, Crazy Beautiful, or Sabriel.  Click here to enter, or use the beautiful button in the top right corner of the screen!
 
PS--Extra entries if you join in on Save-A-Word Saturday!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Save-a-Word Saturday

Welcome to Save-a-Word Saturday!
We want to spread our love of old and unusual words by sharing them with other bloggers and thereby saving these precious, wonderful, whirling words from the dusty, lonely corners of the oldest, least-visited vaults of the Word Bank.


<a href="http://www.thefeatherandtherose.blogspot.com" target="_self"><img src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-7UO138NOoX4/UItIxhKJwmI/AAAAAAAAArM/LBMYc_tVWdk/s800/sawmeme.jpg" alt="Save-a-Word Saturday" width="251" height="251" /></a>

The rules run thusly:
1. Create a lovely blog post that links back to this one. The easiest way to do that would be to grab the code under our pretty Save-a-Word Saturday button. Just copy and paste it into the HTML part of your blog.

2. Pick an old word you want to save from extinction to feature in your blog post. It really must be an old word, not just a big one. We are trying to save lovely archaisms, not ugly giants (for example, "Dihydrogen Monoxide" is not an acceptable choice). Luciferous Logolepsy is a great database of lovely words if you're having trouble coming up with something on your own.

3. Provide a definition of your word. Use your word in a sentence (or even a short paragraph) vaguely related to the theme we have chosen this week. You may also add visual or musical interpretations of your word or your sentence. In fact, add anything that moves your creative spirit.

4. Add your post to the linky list below (it's down there somewhere). Then hop to as many other blogs as you can in search of as many wonderful words as possible!

5. Use as many of the words as you can on the people in your life. Do leave us a note or add something to your own post to let us all know what wonderful old word you whipped out to befuddle your friends and relations.


This week's theme is:
Rain
Ganch, verb

~to drop from a high place upon sharp stakes or hooks, as the Turks dropped malefactors, by way of punishment

Our (not entirely) lovely sentence(s) are:

I'm standing on the curb in the pouring rain, soaked but nevertheless excited to see the Turkish tyrant exhibit at the museum.  There's even a special display dedicated to Vlad the Impaler's ganching equipment.  Or maybe it's Genghis Khan.  Wait, he's not Turkish either. 

A car drives past and sends a puddle sloshing up to my knees.  Icy water pools in my shoes.  Then another car.  And then another.  "I will ganch you!!!!!" I yell, shaking my dripping fist as they drive away. 
 
Next week's theme:  Butterflies.  We can't do morbid two weeks in a row.   
~~~~~~~~~
Don't forget to join our Giveaway! Participating in Save-a-Word Saturday can earn you
5 extra entries!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

"Every day that you eat."

I decided on a New Year's resolution about a month ago. 

And promptly forgot it. 

And then remembered it while reading this lovely post at YA Stands


The resolution is, simply, to write every single day. It was inspired by this quote, which, though some famous musician probably said it first, became familiar to me through my high school band directors: 

"You practice every day that you eat." 

Which might as well be...

"You write every day that you eat." 

Every day that you eat.  Unless my dentist discovers more wisdom teeth in the back of my mouth or something equally horrifying happens, this means I will write EVERY DAY in 2013.   

Which seems like something I should already be doing...  But it's not.  When you're not committed to writing daily, it's easy to tell yourself that  five minutes today won't matter.  (That's not totally untrue, by the way.  You can get a lot done and still not be writing every day.  In 2012, I did that.)

But this is why "every day" is important:  it creates a habitThe key to making difficult things easier, accomplishing large goals over time, and changing behavioral patterns is forming habits. 

Not a hobbit.  A habit.

Last summer, I got up EVERY MORNING, ate breakfast (hence the saying--eating is necessary!), went straight to my desk, and started writing immediately.  Guess what happened when I finished my revision and finally had a free day?  I got up, ate breakfast, and went straight to my desk.  Without even thinking about it.  It was muscle memory by that point.  

Granted, there are times when it's good to take a break.  But this year, I want to focus on building the writing habit.  That muscle memory was cool.  I felt good.  I want to get that back in 2013.  And I can't wait to see where it takes me.  

So, is this "write every day that you eat" stuff too radical?  A little crazy?  Or are you way ahead of me and already do this? 


ALSO:  We're having a GIVEAWAY!  You could win your choice of Sabriel, Austenland, or Crazy Beautiful, and it's SUPER EASY to enter.  (You get a point for "admiring our snow," guys!  So no excuses!) 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Year's Giveaway!

Since our one-year blogoversary celebration in October was a bit rushed, and since it's New Year's, and Christmas, and all those wonderful things, we're having a GIVEAWAY! 

Oh-so-surprisingly, we're giving away a book.  There will be three excellent options: 

Austenland by Shannon Hale

For the Jane Austen fans.

Sabriel by Garth Nix

For the good ol' YA fantasy. 

and

Crazy Beautiful by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

For the lovers of Beauty and the Beast retellings.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Happy New Year, everyone!!!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Necessary Pruning

I pruned one of my rose bushes today.

What? I live in a place where the roses sometimes bloom nearly year round and "Spring" begins on January 1st.

Actually, I think what I did is technically called "renovation." It was a bush that had been neglected for a long time and in the interim had embraced its Manifest Destiny with boundless enthusiasm and grown, perhaps, twice as tall as me.

In one morning I cut out three quarters of the bush, leaving behind a framework of simultaneously pathetic and threatening canes. Despite my doubts, my rose book assures me they will "produce plenty of new, vigorous, even growth and an abundance of flowers."

Even with that assurance, I cringed inwardly every time I chopped a piece of living rose bush. I had to remind myself to think of flowers and not to imagine little screams of plant agony every time I snipped a twig.

It occurred to me, while I was leaning on my shears and screwing up my courage to take another chop, that this is actually what I am and should be doing with my novel. My major revisions look a lot like what I did to my poor roses: cutting off bits that may look fine right now, but sure won't in the future and getting rid of branches and twigs that I might be fond of but aren't helping anything, in the interest of the whole.

My novel.

I just need to have faith that somewhere under all the prickly, confusing tangents, random character development, bad descriptions and other problems that plague early drafts is the solid, maybe even elegant, framework of a good story that will grow purply-green shoots and a rose or two someday.


The Deletions File.

Mean time, I have to keep telling myself that what I'm doing is good for my novel and my rose bush.


This is good for it. This is what it WANTS. Please let me be doing this right. Please let me not kill it. This is, after all, what the diagram in the book LOOKS like, DARN the thing. It needs this. This is good for it. It needs thisitneedsthisitneedsthisitneedsthis . . .


Hope.