Two Things

May. 30th, 2016 06:29 am
sartorias: (Default)
A chewy interview with Ada Palmer over at [livejournal.com profile] mrissa's LiveJournal. Makes me want to sneak in and listen when Ada is talking about narrative process.

Second thing, I met with my Jane Austen group yesterday afternoon, to go see "Love and Friendship" which was showing two miles from here. What a delightful film! They really did a good job with a somewhat problematical book; Austen wrote three epistolary novels when she was young, and turned two of them into Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility but she never published Lady Susan--which both shows flashes of her genius, and is problematical.

But this writer captured the spirit of the book, and this is the time when such a book/film could be enjoyed, as it breaks the rule of nineteenth century novels that Bad Women Must Always Die. All of us in that theater--mostly old people, but not all--where whooping and cracking up. It's been so long since I've seen real wit in a film!
sartorias: (1554 S)
Originally posted by [livejournal.com profile] papersky at Jane Austen to Cassandra
Dearest Cassandra

We thought to have removed to Winchester by now, but Eliza has taken a chill and so we stay here another week, and you should not expect us to join you until after Whitsun.

Let me explain to you the advantages of remaining longer in this neighbourhood -- there are two tolerable walks, one linen draper, with very poor stock, our apartments remain as unsuitable as I explained in my last letter, and Aunt Tilson has not learned the knack of keeping good servants. Nevertheless, these little deficits are made up by the company. Aunt Tilson chatters on with perpetual good cheer, little Anna is learning her scales and should be a fine singer one day since she practices constantly, and the curate does not call above thrice on any usual day.

My only comfort is that you should not have to endure all this, though if you were here to laugh with me I might be more comfortable. Do tell me how you all go on at home.

We saw the gazetted beauty Miss Pelham in church on Sunday, but did not speak. I did not think so much of her looks as they are esteemed, her curls were crimped very tight and the fruit seemed to weigh down her hat sadly. Her manner was very gracious, bowing to left and right. There is no doubt she knows her reputation and means to live up to it, and I dare swear she will have a husband by this day twelvemonth.

The weather remains very dirty, with much rain, varied by high gales. No surprise Eliza succumbed to a chill, it is rather a wonder the rest of us have managed to find health thus far supportable. I did warn Eliza to put on her wrapper, and that she should not linger out of doors on our way home from church, but she paid no attention, and this is the inevitable result.

I should close now so that Iris might get it into the post so it might reach you before you begin to expect us and then be disappointed.

Yours affectionately,

J. Austen

P.S. If you should discover more of that fine white lace at not above 6d an ell, pray purchase three yards for me, for I have a fancy to furbish up all my bonnets.



J. Austen, my dear,

I believe Iris may have played you foul and sent your letter astray. Although it had my name quite plainly on it, I fear it was intended for another.

I do not know you, though you write to me so affectionately. All I can tell you is that your name will echo through the ages besides other poets yet not born: Homer, Dante, Shakespeare, Ford. Once you are dead, your skull will chatter beside theirs in Hades whenever your works are quoted in the upper world. Is it not a charming conceit? Do you not care for that, truly, more than for lace at 6d an ell?

I am sorry things go on so poorly, though I confess I am charmed by your ironic eye. To respond in the same vein, and since you asked, things go quite marvellously here. Troy revels in the tenth year of this delightful siege. Until it ends this autumn, I need not fear the day of my enslavement or death. The weather holds fair for many days now. The clarity of the sky affords us excellent views from the walls down into the Grecian camp. Unfortunately, our besiegers appear to have for the most part recovered from the plague that was raging there until recently and there are no more bonfires of corpses. I will admit I do not miss the aroma.

When taking a circuit of the walls for exercise I watched the Greek heroes polishing up their weapons and chariots for some new assault. When it comes, as we hourly expect, there will be the chance to see much fine athletic endeavour. Some among the Greeks are well formed men. If you care for the glamour of soldiers at all then you would appreciate the sight of Achilles, for he has a very well-turned leg.

I met my brother Hector up on the walls. He is yet in excellent health, and expected to remain so for several days, though in the course of things he must die when the moon is next full. Our dear father, who was also enjoying the prospect and the only walk the city now affords, reproached me for prophecying wildly, as usual. You are right in noting the pointlessness of such things, and yet, one cannot help from doing it, do you not find?

Coming down to accompany my father to the throne room, we ran into my brother Paris, and with him Helen, formerly queen of Sparta. You talked of esteemed beauties, and you should know that Helen is the most beautiful thing imaginable, far more beautiful than a scorpion, or even a poison frog, for there is human intelligence there. People often say she is like the gods, but it is not so, for I met a god once (Apollo) and he was much more straightforward and did not have such a dangerous glitter. She had no trouble getting a husband, nor in losing him and getting another when she was tired of him, and her first will take her back without a murmur. She will come away from all this scatheless to sit and trim bonnets for her grandchildren and cluck her tongue with the gossips in the corner about what terrible people we all were. I confess I cannot like her much, and I hope your Miss Pelham is not such another.

That is all for now, so keep well, do good work while you may, and come to rest at last in Winchester.

Yours sincerely,

Cassandra, the daughter of Priam

P.S. I have given you all of my news, though it is no news to you, for you know as well as I do how Troy shall fall and what will become of us all.


Dearest Cassandra,

I had the most extraordinary response to my last letter to you. I shall not tell you of it, for I am absolutely sure that if I were to tell anyone I would not be believed...


Not a poem, but nevertheless sponsored by my awesome backers at Patreon! Her sister was called Cassandra, she really was! And reading her letters, every time I read "Dearest Cassandra" I kept thinking about this. This is specially for [livejournal.com profile] sartorias.
sartorias: (desk)
Because sister Cassandra burned most of Jane Austen's letters, we have few touching on serious matters, but what there remains is full of trenchant observations and delightful sarcasm as well as the joy and exasperation of daily life.

But Cassandra didn't get to them all. A couple of Jane's nieces were determined novelists, and Aunt Jane took them seriously as writers. She beta read one niece's novel, commenting about writing in general from time to time. Some of those gleanings are here.
sartorias: (desk)
Three requests will usually do it, but since the beginning of the year I've had like over a dozen queries boiling down to, "Where is that thing you wrote about the difference between Austen and Heyer?" so here it is in reprise.
sartorias: (Fan)
Yesterday a bunch of Jane Austen readers crammed into a friend's house for a lively, quote-punctuated discussion Mansfield Park, but before it began I had to take a picture of this jacaranda tree below. Sorry the color is muted--we've got some relief from the heat by marine layer. Though there is no hope of rain until November or December, every cloud is welcome.

Jacaranda
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I enjoyed this interview between a Jane Austen lover and Vera Nazarian, who wrote the Mansfield Park and Mummies mashup, which has quietly been gaining legs.

Vera talks about why Mansfield Park isn't popular with modern readers, and the process of writing a mashup.
sartorias: (Default)
I enjoyed this interview between a Jane Austen lover and Vera Nazarian, who wrote the Mansfield Park and Mummies mashup, which has quietly been gaining legs.

Vera talks about why Mansfield Park isn't popular with modern readers, and the process of writing a mashup.
sartorias: (Default)
So . . . Worldcon looks really good, and it also happens to be starting a day or so after the release of one of my books. But I guess celebrating with a friend or two can just as easily be done at home as there. Cheaper, too.

But the community, the discussions? Ow ow ow ow ow! So in hopes I am not the only one stuck home, I thought I'd try to come up with some discussion topics to fire up during those days when the rest of the genre world is whooping it up.

Wanted to see if anyone else likes these, or should I try to think up better ones?

Culture and Cussing

A friend has my copy of Beowulf or I'd type in a bit of Unferth's flyting. Nowadays, flyting is alive and well on the Net, called slapfights, and sometimes *fail when one group feels that someone else has committed egregious social error. Though many times the error deserves correction, sometimes I sense (and I might be totally alone in this) the sideways checks to see that one's position in the group is secure by the assurance with which some dogpile onto the erring one, making them sometimes seem the group scapegoat.

Then there's the other aspect, which calls to mind the story about Johnson, after a holier-than-thou society woman commended him for excluding indelicate language from his dictionary, whereupon he replied, "So you were looking for them?"

This came to mind at Mythcon a week ago, when someone on a panel commented that it frosted their cake when people wrote F*** or S***. They said something like, "When I see that, I know what the word is. I'm supposed to know what the word is. So the person who wrote it is saying I'm morally superior to you because I don't use bad language, but I put it into your head just the same, ha ha.

How much of that is inherited from the eighteenth century habit of writing things like B***** so that the publisher wouldn't get in trouble with censors, and how much is social euphemism at work, that I know and you know but I'm too nice to say it. And you better not either though we're both thinking it?

Anyway, inventing cusswords for worlds is not as easy as it would appear. Sometimes it works--I see and hear a lot of people using the 'frakking' of Battlestar Galactica. Mark Twain got around the question of blue language by inventive fumings that are quite funny, but still convey the smoldering ire of cussage. When you are a writer, it's a good idea to look at your culture and determine which words and concepts are taboo, or offensive to that culture, and which words would get a shrug--like a certain German cussword, which still apparently carries fairly strong heft, just sounds funny in English. Call someone a pigdog here, and they just laugh.

What happens to cause a group to embrace an insult? I'm thinking about 'Yankees,' which began as a putdown but became a term of strut for us in the U.S.A.

Changing Views of Text

When I was in school, the text was regarded as isolated, if not immutable. There wasn't much said about the contract with the reader. Although the French Structuralists were already talking about narratability and so forth, I didn't discover them until I was much, much older.

Now it seems pretty well understood that the text will be a different text to different readers, or even the same reader. If I think of all my readings of Lord of the Rings as a complicated cityscape, each reading at different periods of my life has lit up different parts of that cityscape, shedding more light in a complicated spectrum. That first reading was garish light and dark shadow--black and white adventure.

Another aspect for possible exploration: Relations between story and history--literature as story kernals around social and personal upheaval--narrative truth--these are all goodies, but what really interests me is how communities now form around text. Leading me to

Communities and Text

At Mythcon, Diana Pavlac Glyer spoke about how small groups, or communities, form to support one another. This is not big news to many, but the way she described how these small groups not only support, but keep each other sustaining effort even if they are not critiquing or participating in one another's creative endeavor, I found pretty interesting.

The thing I'd hoped to explore at Mythcon, but we really didn't, is how communities engage with text as creative act. Recently a group released the The Hunt for Gollum, a fan-made movie for under five grand. What's more, they've released a soundtrack, with bits of Shore's themes woven into their own music. The fact that Newline hasn't hurled lawyers at them indicates to me that attitudes toward ownership of text are changing, for bad or good might be worth discussing.

We know about fanfic, both for living authors and dead. Recently there's been a lot of reinventing of Jane Austen's work. Some is probably aimed at raking in the cash, but the cash wouldn't be there to rake if people weren't interested. Zombies--squids--Austen herself, aside from her work, hunting spies and solving mysteries, two activities the actual lady probably would have been bewildered to contemplate in reality. I myself recently proofed one of these, James Fairfax, which is a reinvention of Austen's Emma, by Adam Campan, from what we discover deep in the text is an alternate timeline. Vera asked me to proofread this book, as I read a lot of 19th C stuff for fun. I approached the project with deep misgivings, and ended up so absorbed I don't know if I caught all the typos. I especially loved what Campan did with Mr. Elton--the whole thing with Harriett Smith is much funnier with this added overlay. (And I also notice on one of the many Austen sites that I follow, while zombies are okay, gay characters are just too too unspeakable in this sniffily superor dismissal. . . From the huffy comments it doesn't look like anyone has actually read the text. Is that taste, or prejudice, that zombies are squids are okay, but gay characters aren't? Campan says in his introduction that the book began as a thought experiment, and it seems to me that it's already working.)

Anyway, reinventions of text, movies that extend movies, vid mashups, fan fiction, all these things are ways of taking a story and engaging with it through group as well as individual creativity. All these are possible topics, if anyone is interested besides me.
sartorias: (Default)



Lace and Blade 2

Our contribution to Valentine's Day. This anthology has some of the contributors from before, plus some new faces, including from here on LiveJournal, [livejournal.com profile] asakiyume and [livejournal.com profile] tcastleb among them.

My story was the result of a challenge issued by our editor, [livejournal.com profile] deborahjross: Jane Austen meets Dracula.

Last spring, as I reread Austen's letters, juvenilia, and refreshed myself with the current literature of the time (including the German romantic poets who had such an effect on literature right then), plus read everything I could find about vampires, I thought, there could be an entire anthology built around that idea--there could be wild sword-swinging Janes, secret vamp Janes, slipstream Janes mixing weirdly with Stoker's peculiar, sex-drenched horror, but it seemed right to me to stick to Jane's evolving view of the power of the pen.

It's called "Miss Austen's Castle Tour."
sartorias: (Default)



Lace and Blade 2

Our contribution to Valentine's Day. This anthology has some of the contributors from before, plus some new faces, including from here on LiveJournal, [livejournal.com profile] asakiyume and [livejournal.com profile] tcastleb among them.

My story was the result of a challenge issued by our editor, [livejournal.com profile] deborahjross: Jane Austen meets Dracula.

Last spring, as I reread Austen's letters, juvenilia, and refreshed myself with the current literature of the time (including the German romantic poets who had such an effect on literature right then), plus read everything I could find about vampires, I thought, there could be an entire anthology built around that idea--there could be wild sword-swinging Janes, secret vamp Janes, slipstream Janes mixing weirdly with Stoker's peculiar, sex-drenched horror, but it seemed right to me to stick to Jane's evolving view of the power of the pen.

It's called "Miss Austen's Castle Tour."
sartorias: (Default)
Via [livejournal.com profile] movingfinger this bit of awesomeness in response to someone sticking a quill into Austen without having read a word of her work.
sartorias: (Default)
Via [livejournal.com profile] movingfinger this bit of awesomeness in response to someone sticking a quill into Austen without having read a word of her work.
sartorias: (Default)
I was looking over people's Boskone panel topics, and there was one that had my mouth watering. Oh to get to sit in the audience of this one!

Almost two centuries after her death, Jane Austen is more popular than ever. We see film after film of her novels, read books about her life, and encounter a surprising number of works featuring her characters, or even herself. In recent years, SF authors including S. N. Dyer, Karen Joy Fowler, and John Kessel have written stories entwined with her world and words. What is the allure? Why do so many SF writers and fans love Jane Austen?
Read more... )
sartorias: (Default)
I was looking over people's Boskone panel topics, and there was one that had my mouth watering. Oh to get to sit in the audience of this one!

Almost two centuries after her death, Jane Austen is more popular than ever. We see film after film of her novels, read books about her life, and encounter a surprising number of works featuring her characters, or even herself. In recent years, SF authors including S. N. Dyer, Karen Joy Fowler, and John Kessel have written stories entwined with her world and words. What is the allure? Why do so many SF writers and fans love Jane Austen?
Read more... )

BBC Austen

Jan. 22nd, 2008 12:01 pm
sartorias: (Default)
A friend tells me the recent BBC Northanger was pretty good. Did anyone tape it? I totally spaced--and the others who'd watched Persuasion and taped it for me the week before had said that one was so terrible they didn't think to check out this week's offering.

This is aggravating as 1) I was actually awake this past Sunday night, and 2) I loathed the eighties one so much it's in negative space as far as filming Austen is concerned.

BBC Austen

Jan. 22nd, 2008 12:01 pm
sartorias: (Default)
A friend tells me the recent BBC Northanger was pretty good. Did anyone tape it? I totally spaced--and the others who'd watched Persuasion and taped it for me the week before had said that one was so terrible they didn't think to check out this week's offering.

This is aggravating as 1) I was actually awake this past Sunday night, and 2) I loathed the eighties one so much it's in negative space as far as filming Austen is concerned.
sartorias: (Default)
Over at Wrong Questions Abigail Nussbaum delves into the Problem of Fanny, after having watched another apparently misfiring attempt to capture Mansfield Park on screen.
Read more... )

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