The better to see you, my dear
Reading progress update: I've read 467 out of 878 pages.
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall - Anne Brontë

My poor father died last week: Arthur was vexed to hear of it, because he saw that I was shocked and grieved, and he feared the circumstance would mar his comfort.

 

When I thought that him being jealous of the baby was the height of selfishness, here comes this, and all the following conversation. Christ

Reading progress update: I've read 383 out of 878 pages.
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall - Anne Brontë

I'm at Milicent's letter upon getting engaged. Good God.

Reading progress update: I've read 240 out of 878 pages.
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall - Anne Brontë

‘I have consulted her; and I know her wishes coincide with yours; but in such important matters, I take the liberty of judging for myself; and no persuasion can alter my inclinations, or induce me to believe that such a step would be conducive to my happiness or yours—and I wonder that a man of your experience and discretion should think of choosing such a wife.’

‘Ah, well!’ said he, ‘I have sometimes wondered at that myself.  I have sometimes said to myself, “Now Boarham, what is this you’re after?  Take care, man—look before you leap!  This is a sweet, bewitching creature, but remember, the brightest attractions to the lover too often prove the husband’s greatest torments!”  I assure you my choice has not been made without much reasoning and reflection.  The seeming imprudence of the match has cost me many an anxious thought by day, and many a sleepless hour by night; but at length I satisfied myself that it was not, in very deed, imprudent.  I saw my sweet girl was not without her faults, but of these her youth, I trusted, was not one, but rather an earnest of virtues yet unblown—a strong ground of presumption that her little defects of temper and errors of judgment, opinion, or manner were not irremediable, but might easily be removed or mitigated by the patient efforts of a watchful and judicious adviser, and where I failed to enlighten and control, I thought I might safely undertake to pardon, for the sake of her many excellences.  Therefore, my dearest girl, since I am satisfied, why should you object—on my account, at least?’

 

Words fail. And can we talk about how this one uncomfortably resembles Pride and Prejudice's?

Video

Not the most iconic example maybe, but those lyrics. Damn. Farewell Lady

Reading progress update: I've read 223 out of 878 pages.
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall - Anne Brontë

Mr. Boarham by name, Bore’em, as I prefer spelling it, for a terrible bore he was: I shudder still at the remembrance of his voice—drone, drone, drone, in my ear—while he sat beside me, prosing away by the half-hour together, and beguiling himself with the notion that he was improving my mind by useful information, or impressing his dogmas upon me and reforming my errors of judgment, or perhaps that he was talking down to my level, and amusing me with entertaining discourse.

 

19th century mansplaining.

Reading progress update: I've read 202 out of 878 pages.
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall - Anne Brontë

*groan* The two oblivious morons! And good lord, that's quite the single thump to lash with

Reading progress update: I've read 89 out of 878 pages.
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall - Anne Brontë

Mother and son talk about women making homes agreeable to men at their own expense, and marriage felicity and expectations, and it's pure gold. The whole book is pure gold.

 

This authoress. So much respect

Reading progress update: I've read 43 out of 878 pages.
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall - Anne Brontë

‘But by such means,’ said I, ‘you will never render him virtuous.—What is it that constitutes virtue, Mrs. Graham?  Is it the circumstance of being able and willing to resist temptation; or that of having no temptations to resist?—Is he a strong man that overcomes great obstacles and performs surprising achievements, though by dint of great muscular exertion, and at the risk of some subsequent fatigue, or he that sits in his chair all day, with nothing to do more laborious than stirring the fire, and carrying his food to his mouth?  If you would have your son to walk honourably through the world, you must not attempt to clear the stones from his path, but teach him to walk firmly over them—not insist upon leading him by the hand, but let him learn to go alone.’

‘I will lead him by the hand, Mr. Markham, till he has strength to go alone; and I will clear as many stones from his path as I can, and teach him to avoid the rest—or walk firmly over them, as you say;—for when I have done my utmost, in the way of clearance, there will still be plenty left to exercise all the agility, steadiness, and circumspection he will ever have.—It is all very well to talk about noble resistance, and trials of virtue; but for fifty—or five hundred men that have yielded to temptation, show me one that has had virtue to resist.  And why should I take it for granted that my son will be one in a thousand?—and not rather prepare for the worst, and suppose he will be like his—like the rest of mankind, unless I take care to prevent it?’

 

This conversation on virtue and fortitude vs. protection and coddling threads the whole chapter, and explores a lot of sides of it. Even more interesting, there are bits and pieces on each side that have merit, so you can't quite say "this side has it right", and end up finding that a compromise might be the thing.

 

‘Well, but you affirm that virtue is only elicited by temptation;—and you think that a woman cannot be too little exposed to temptation, or too little acquainted with vice, or anything connected therewith.  It must be either that you think she is essentially so vicious, or so feeble-minded, that she cannot withstand temptation,—and though she may be pure and innocent as long as she is kept in ignorance and restraint, yet, being destitute of real virtue, to teach her how to sin is at once to make her a sinner, and the greater her knowledge, the wider her liberty, the deeper will be her depravity,—whereas, in the nobler sex, there is a natural tendency to goodness, guarded by a superior fortitude, which, the more it is exercised by trials and dangers, is only the further developed—’
‘Heaven forbid that I should think so!’ I interrupted her at last.
‘Well, then, it must be that you think they are both weak and prone to err, and the slightest error, the merest shadow of pollution, will ruin the one, while the character of the other will be strengthened and embellished—his education properly finished by a little practical acquaintance with forbidden things. (...)
You would have us encourage our sons to prove all things by their own experience, while our daughters must not even profit by the experience of others.  Now I would have both so to benefit by the experience of others, and the precepts of a higher authority, that they should know beforehand to refuse the evil and choose the good, and require no experimental proofs to teach them the evil of transgression.  I would not send a poor girl into the world, unarmed against her foes, and ignorant of the snares that beset her path; nor would I watch and guard her, till, deprived of self-respect and self-reliance, she lost the power or the will to watch and guard herself;

 

Ah, wow.

Challenging myself this 2018 (tracking post)

12 classics from my TBR

 

Most years I manage to read a dozen or so of some form of classic, but just to keep on track and maybe try to stay within of what's ALREADY THERE in my TBR

 

Eugenie Grandet by Honerè de Balzac (1/22)

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen (16/8)

 

Other Countries, Other Languages

 

I've noticed I'm reading a lot of works originally written in English (somewhere around a 9 in 10 at least). A bit because England and USA have a long and healthy publishing history, with a lot of classics and pop-culture exponents to their soils. Some, because English is an easy common ground language-wise, and forums like these tend to exchange in it, either opinions or recommendations. A good deal because the market is flooded with them.

But I want more perspectives, different styles and backgrounds.

So I'll start shooting for 20 or so from my TBR and we'll see (availability might be an issue)

 

  • Dante Alighieri, La Divina Comedia (need to retrieve from hometown)
  • Jorge Amado, Grabriela, Clavo y Canela (just bought it! so happy!)
  • Aristophanes, Lysistrata
  • Roberto Arlt, Los 7 Locos
  • Honerè de Balzac, Eugenie Grandet (1/22)
  • Enrique Barrios, Civilizaciones Internas (I'm so happy about this one! I read the first two books when I was a kid, and never found them again till now!)
  • Ítalo Calvino, Se una notte d'inverno un viaggiatore (need to retrieve from hometown)
  • Fernándo de Rojas, La Celestina (this one I have on hand, but it's such an archaic Spanish, it gave me head-aches the one time I attempted it. We'll see)
  • Marguerite Duras, L'Amant
  • José María Eça de Queirós, El Crímen del Padre Amaro (reading)
  • Umberto Eco, El Nombre de la Rosa (bought it too, will have leisure to read)
  • Yasunari Kawabata, Meijin
  • Clarice Lispector, Laços de família
  • Cixin Liu, The Three-Body Problem
  • Guadalupe Loaeza, Las Niñas Bien
  • Gabriel García Marquez, El Amor en los tiempos de Cólera (another of the buying spree and mom kept laughing and being amazed by the first third)
  • Facundo Manes, Usar el Cerebro (reading)
  • Haruki Murakami, Kafka en la Orilla (need to retrieve from hometown)
  • Kezaburo Oe, Memushiri kouchi (Pluck the Bud and Destroy the Offspring)
  • Ovid, Metamorphoses
  • Marjane Satrapi, Persépolis
  • Tulsidas, Ramayana
  • Marguerite Yourcenar, Mémoires d'Hadrien
  • Banana Yoshimoto, Kitchen
  • Carlos Ruiz Zafón, El Juego del Ángel


 

25 female authors (9/25)

 

A follow up on this idea (here Themis-Athena explains in English). Shall construct my tentative list from my TBR as much as possible too, and post read books as I go.

 

A

 

B

  • Lois McMaster Bujold: I owe to myself to try her. Almost did for Bingo, but couldn't get my hands on one of her books.
  • Octavia E. Butler: Ditto
  • Anne Brontë: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is an old debt.
  • Charlotte Brintë: Shirley and Villete have been there some 7 years too, but I've been procrastinating because I did not care for Jane Eyre when I was a teen.
  • Leigh Bardugo: Ruin and Rising
  • Natalie Babbitt: Tuck Everlasting (21/7)
  • Fanny Burney

 

C

  • Angela Carter: Yes! Something different! I'm likely to go with Nights at the Circus
  • Willa Cather: O Pioneers! is a possibility

 

D

  • Marguerite Duras: The Lover is one that I've been meaning to read for over a decade but have not yet found a hard copy
  • Jeanne DuPrau: The City of Ember (4/8)

 

E

 

  • George Eliot (Mary Anne Evan): Either Middlemarch or The Mill on the Floss
  • Kate Elliott: King's Dragon

 

F

 

G

  • Elizabeth Gaskell

 

H

  • Patricia Highsmith: heard that Strangers on a Train is not that good, but want to fill the gap
  • Georgette Heyer
  • Frances Hodgson Burnett: The Shuttle (26/1)

 

I

 

J

  • P. D. James: Children of Men (hey! I did not know this one was written by a woman either!)
  • Diana Wynne Jones: Howl's Moving Castle

 

K

 

L

 

M

  • Juliet Marillier: I've heard so amazing things about her, and fantasy is my love
  • Carson McCullers: scared to, but have The Heart is a Lonely Hunter somewhere around
  • Collen McCullough: The Thorn Birds, yeah, another scary prospect
  • Toni Morrison: Funny thing here: I've had it on my "author to try" list for a long while, but thought her male
  • Anchee Min: Empress Orchid
  • Lucy Maud Montgomery: The Blue Castle
  • Ann McCaffrey: Dragonflight

 

N

  • Audrey Niffenegger: The Time Traveler's Wife
  • Anais Nin: Delta of Venus has been waving at me, but I'm unlikely to pick it up this year
  • Amelie Nothomb: another on mom's wish-list that I can't remember if we bought
  • Naomi Novik: Temeraire, here I come

 

O

  • Joyce Carol Oates: Bellefleur is one I took a stab at when I was 14 and never finished. Might rectify this year (and how did I come to the conclusion Joyce was a male name then? maybe my brain associated James Joyce?)
  • Lauren Oliver: Liesl & Po
  • Wendy Orr: Nim's Island
  • Nnedi Okorafor: Akata Witch

 

P

  • Eleanor Porter: Pollyana
  • Katherine Anne Porter
  • Barbara Pym: Excellent Women
  • Ann Patchett: Bel Canto
  • Katherine Paterson: Bridge to Terabithia... if I'm feeling brave or wanting a good bawl

 

Q

 

R

  • Ann Radcliffe: The Mysteries of Udolpho
  • Veronica Rossi: Never finished her saga. Might go for it if in the mood for YA
  • Mary Doria Russell: The Sparrow
  • Carrie Ryan: The Forest of Hands and Teeth
  • Jean Rhys: Wide Sargasso Sea

 

S

  • Lisa See: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (some group discussed a buddy read when I was still on goodreads, and the movie renewed my interest)
  • Alice Sebold: maybe. The Lovely Bones did a lot of noise
  • Betty Smith: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
  • Dodie Smith: I Capture the Castle
  • Sofia Samatar: Stranger in Olondria (read a short story of hers in Clarkesworld magazine, and oh, my!)
  • Marjane Satrapi: Persepolis

 

T

  • Josephine Tey: Brat Farrar was brought to my attention during the games, and will read as soon as I can get a copy
  • Amy Tan

 

U

 

V

  • Catherynn M. Valente: In the Night Garden is one I want to buy and savor
  • Joan D. Vinge: The Snow Queen

 

W

  • Edith Wharton: pure author faith (even if she rips my heart)
  • Connie Willis: keeps popping up on my radar
  • Virginia Woolf: sure I have a couple of hers back at home

 

Y

  • Banana Yoshimoto: Kitchen is a book that keeps popping up and haven't gotten to yet
  • Jane Yolen: I had Tam Lin on my list, but reading up on her... over 365 books! Woman!
  • Marguerite Yourcenar: Have Memories of Hadrian on my bed-table
  • Chelsea Quinn Yarbro: I'm likely to pick Blood Games for bingo

 

Z

Review
5 Stars
Fun running over tropes
Northanger Abbey - Jane Austen, Marilyn Butler, Claire Lamont

Why did I take this long to read this? From Austen's big six, this is the last I got to. I mean, I know what my reasoning was: satire and humour was not what I was looking for when I searched for an Austen volume. But I was wrong to, because this was a great romp.

 

(On that note, one day I have to write long and hard on how the prominence of Pride and Prejudice in pop-media puts an expectation on what Austen writes about that is a total disservice to her body of work)

 

If you put this and Persuasion together, it's impossible to ignore that the woman's common thread is not romance, but social critique, and tropes and expectations. In this one she takes Gothic literature ones, and more than run with them, runs them over. Anne Brontë kinda did that in a very understated way. There is nothing understated here, and I was laughing from the opening lines alone... Actually, the overall initial setting is quite similar to Brontë's Agnes Grey's opening, just, you know, absolutely savage. Much like the whole book.

 

The charming part comes from Catherine being a sincerely good-natured soul, and pretty sensible on the whole, so even where she hypes herself from much sensational reading (and hell, like nobody ever got jumpy in the night after reading or watching some horror), and builds some weird fantasies on it, she never quite finds herself carried away on over-dramatic feelings of angst, be it romantic or otherwise. Even when other characters ask about them on hilariously detailed, over the top descriptions.

 

I get now why it is the favourite Austen among many. I had lots of fun with it.

Reading progress update: I've read 175 out of 254 pages.
Northanger Abbey - Jane Austen, Marilyn Butler, Claire Lamont

*chortle* This girl has gone quixotic.

 

At first she got embarrassed when her flights of fancy got shot-down by pedestrian reality, but now! She can't even recognize deep grief.

Reading progress update: I've read 102 out of 254 pages.
Northanger Abbey - Jane Austen, Marilyn Butler, Claire Lamont

Where people wish to attach, they should always be ignorant. To come with a well-informed mind is to come with an inability of administering to the vanity of others, which a sensible person would always wish to avoid. A woman especially, if she have the misfortune of knowing anything, should conceal it as well as she can.

 

Ah, wow. There is Austen's cynicism in all it's glory

Reading progress update: I've read 90 out of 254 pages.
Northanger Abbey - Jane Austen, Marilyn Butler, Claire Lamont

"I cannot help being jealous, Catherine, when I see myself slighted for strangers, I, who love you so excessively! When once my affections are placed, it is not in the power of anything to change them. But I believe my feelings are stronger than anybody's; I am sure they are too strong for my own peace; and to see myself supplanted in your friendship by strangers does cut me to the quick, I own. These Tilneys seem to swallow up everything else."

Catherine thought this reproach equally strange and unkind. Was it the part of a friend thus to expose her feelings to the notice of others? Isabella appeared to her ungenerous and selfish, regardless of everything but her own gratification. These painful ideas crossed her mind, though she said nothing. Isabella, in the meanwhile, had applied her handkerchief to her eyes; and Morland, miserable at such a sight, could not help saying, "Nay, Catherine. I think you cannot stand out any longer now. The sacrifice is not much; and to oblige such a friend -- I shall think you quite unkind, if you still refuse."

 

Well, that's a nice piece of guilt-tripping and gaslightening.

Reading progress update: I've read 30 out of 254 pages.
Northanger Abbey - Jane Austen, Marilyn Butler, Claire Lamont

Yes, novels; for I will not adopt that ungenerous and impolitic custom so common with novel-writers, of degrading by their contemptuous censure the very performances, to the number of which they are themselves adding -- joining with their greatest enemies in bestowing the harshest epithets on such works, and scarcely ever permitting them to be read by their own heroine, who, if she accidentally take up a novel, is sure to turn over its insipid pages with disgust. Alas! If the heroine of one novel be not patronized by the heroine of another, from whom can she expect protection and regard? I cannot approve of it. Let us leave it to the reviewers to abuse such effusions of fancy at their leisure, and over every new novel to talk in threadbare strains of the trash with which the press now groans. Let us not desert one another; we are an injured body. Although our productions have afforded more extensive and unaffected pleasure than those of any other literary corporation in the world, no species of composition has been so much decried. From pride, ignorance, or fashion, our foes are almost as many as our readers. And while the abilities of the nine-hundredth abridger of the History of England, or of the man who collects and publishes in a volume some dozen lines of Milton, Pope, and Prior, with a paper from the Spectator, and a chapter from Sterne, are eulogized by a thousand pens -- there seems almost a general wish of decrying the capacity and undervaluing the labour of the novelist, and of slighting the performances which have only genius, wit, and taste to recommend them. "I am no novel-reader -- I seldom look into novels -- Do not imagine that I often read novels -- It is really very well for a novel." Such is the common cant. "And what are you reading, Miss -- ?" "Oh! It is only a novel!" replies the young lady, while she lays down her book with affected indifference, or momentary shame. "It is only Cecilia, or Camilla, or Belinda"; or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best-chosen language. Now, had the same young lady been engaged with a volume of the Spectator, instead of such a work, how proudly would she have produced the book, and told its name; though the chances must be against her being occupied by any part of that voluminous publication, of which either the matter or manner would not disgust a young person of taste: the substance of its papers so often consisting in the statement of improbable circumstances, unnatural characters, and topics of conversation which no longer concern anyone living; and their language, too, frequently so coarse as to give no very favourable idea of the age that could endure it.

 

Please, tell me how you feel. And then she proceeds to dice over-dramatic Gothic plots, so she kinda zig-zags on it and laughs at everybody

Reading progress update: I've read 25 out of 254 pages.
Northanger Abbey - Jane Austen, Marilyn Butler, Claire Lamont

Catherine then ran directly upstairs, and watched Miss Thorpe's progress down the street from the drawing-room window; admired the graceful spirit of her walk, the fashionable air of her figure and dress; and felt grateful, as well she might, for the chance which had procured her such a friend.

 

I love that all the usually mushy stuff that we relate to romance, here it relates to friendship. Beyond the "take that", to me, at least, it also rings so true. I mean, I know how everyone likes to go on about romance and over-board drama when writing teens, but I remember my most passionate feelings and dramatic crisis as being about friendship then.

Reading progress update: I've read 3 out of 254 pages.
Northanger Abbey - Jane Austen, Marilyn Butler, Claire Lamont

I know this was meant as a parody, and Austen's introductory caveat already had me smirking. What I did not expected was to be laughing out loud less than one paragraph in.

 

No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy would have supposed her born to be an heroine. Her situation in life, the character of her father and mother, her own person and disposition, were all equally against her. Her father was a clergyman, without being neglected, or poor, and a very respectable man, though his name was Richard -- and he had never been handsome. He had a considerable independence besides two good livings -- and he was not in the least addicted to locking up his daughters.

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Verónica, ¿Estrella de Cine? - Suzanne Pairault