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Nomad
01-08-2012, 11:56 AM
...

My boys were at a hockey game tonight and so I used this time to read Shirley. Charlotte has left off the :drama: for now and is back to the politics, the revolt against industrialization in this case. The confrontation between the mill owner and the jobless workers was very well done. I think I will end up having mixed feelings about this book.

I thought that Shirley was a bit of a mess overall, but the character Shirley was based on Emily B., which kept me going to the end. My main gripe about the novel was that I had a hard time telling the brothers apart.

rfisher
01-08-2012, 12:09 PM
Depends; as a reader, I'd say yes, but if I were a literary critic, I would say it's false emotion--so OTT that it pushes readers away rather than drawing them in. :

Ergo, my reason why I'd rather stick a fork in my eye than read that stuff.

Prancer
01-08-2012, 01:30 PM
That's quite a sweeping generalization.

Indeed. I don't know why I bothered to put a qualifier in there. It was clearly pointless.


As you saying they were hysterical because they were expected to be?

It's a radical bit of sociopsychological theory I thought up all by myself; I'm thinking of calling it "social constructivism," but I'm not sure that the term will catch on.

I shall have to think about this one.

In the meantime, "hysteria" was a catchall term used to describe just about any behavior that men considered difficult to deal with. Given the restrictions and mores of the time, educated women must have been suffocating in all directions. Considering that vibrators were invented at that time to cure "female hysteria" and were an instant hit, it also seems likely that at least some of female malaise was the result of sexual dissatisfaction. Now there's a shocker--Victorian ladies? Sexually frustrated?


I'm deeply troubled by views which equate female with high-strung and hysteria - such views support the notion that women are weak, fickle, irrational, and unstable.

I am quite fond of them, as I consider myself weak, irrational and unstable, and therefore think all other women are, too. I know *I* am highstrung and hysterical most of the time, which is why I'm so fixated on promoting the idea. How could one not equate female and hysterical? That's what makes us women :drama:.

Except, of course, we are talking about views in the 19th century, which weren't exactly the most enlightened of days. There is ample documented evidence that women were indeed viewed as weak, fickle, irrational and unstable, regardless of how troubled that view might make you; that doesn't mean they were right, but it's hardly incorrect to say that was the prevailing view. Given the high value placed on passion and emotion at the time, it was considered romantic to faint, to weep, to pine, to be carried away, to wring the hands and clutch at the hair and fret while at the same time being expected to live within hidebound moral and social strictures. Who wouldn't be highstrung, particularly when such behavior was expected and at least tacitly rewarded?

Jenny
01-08-2012, 01:40 PM
It's a complicated era to explain, but a "Romantic" novel at the time was not a love story, but was one in which strong emotion, sentimentalism, imagination, and drama are primary factors.

I wish more people understood this, because then they'd understand what I mean when I use the word to perfectly describe someone I've known for many years who seems to perplex other people, but who makes perfect sense if you know the definition above.

rfisher
01-08-2012, 02:10 PM
PML I'm listening to a cozy by Mary Kay Andrews called Savannah Blues. She describes a teenage romance as the terminally tumescent. I must find a way to work that into conversation. I might be tempted to read some of that boring 19th century stuff if they used phrases like terminally tumescent which is what all those Victorian ladies and gentlemen were.

19th century literature may reflect how society was supposed to be, but historical archaeology lets us know they had ways around those social constraints. Those little bottles of elixir sold for ladies were alcohol or laudanum. And privy excavations indicate they were quite prevalent in most households. And, it was accepted practice for some physicians to *manipulate* their female patients to help them with their hysteria. Some built up substantial practices and made a lot of money by providing this needed service.

IceAlisa
01-08-2012, 06:40 PM
I wish more people understood this, because then they'd understand what I mean when I use the word to perfectly describe someone I've known for many years who seems to perplex other people, but who makes perfect sense if you know the definition above.

I think if anyone took at least college level lit courses, particularly Western European, they would know. Otherwise, SOL.

I am warming up to Caroline Helstone. She is quite interesting and sensible when she is not pining away for Mr. Lyre Heart. Of course, since women of her position in society were forced to be idle, she had plenty of time to contemplate and cultivate her affection with nothing to distract her. And she had no recourse but marriage. The book does a great job addressing sexual politics of the day, as well as presenting domestic and international politics.

Enjoying it quite a bit (until the next sentimental outburst, that is).

aliceanne
01-08-2012, 11:32 PM
Thanks, aliceanne. That's all very interesting. What's the title of the book about her that you read?

"The Life of Charlotte Bronte" by Elizabeth Gaskell. I bought a used paperback on Amazon. The edition I had (Oxford Press) was heavily annotated with biographical information about Gaskell. So now I'm thinking about reading HER novels. I guess I'll be stuck in the 19th century for awhile.

IMO all of the Brontes were strange, they were religious and political conservatives, but they had no use for social conventions. I think that is why they preferred to live in isolation, none of them were comfortable outside the immediate family circle.

aliceanne
01-08-2012, 11:38 PM
Thanks, aliceanne. That's all very interesting. What's the title of the book about her that you read?

"The Life of Charlotte Bronte" by Elizabeth Gaskell. I bought a used paperback on Amazon. The edition I had (Oxford Press) was heavily annotated with biographical information about Gaskell. So now I'm thinking about reading HER novels. I guess I'll be stuck in the 19th century for awhile.

IMO all of the Brontes were strange, they were religious and political conservatives, but they had no use for social conventions. I think that is why they preferred to live in isolation, none of them were comfortable outside the immediate family circle.

IceAlisa
01-09-2012, 12:26 AM
Thanks, will look for the book in the library. :)

Speaking of Charlotte, here's Sasha Cohen's latest tweet:

SashaCohenNYC Sasha Cohen
Wow... just watched Jane Eyre. Makes you believe in love again.

Hope you are spared from the likes of Mr. Rochester, Sasha. :shuffle:

genevieve
01-09-2012, 01:00 AM
I just finished my 2nd Tana French book - actually her third novel, Faithful Place. The premise isn't quite as juicy as In the Woods' was, but the ending was less frustrating. Now going back to her second book, which is from the POV of Cassie from ITW. French has such a particular style to her male POV, while her female characters tend to be more 2-dimensional, I'm intrigued about how she'll manage a woman main character. According to rfisher, not well, apparently :saint:

IceAlisa
01-09-2012, 01:16 AM
Her 2nd book, The Likeness, is my favorite of the series, if you are willing to suspend disbelief, a big IF.

my little pony
01-09-2012, 01:21 AM
if love isnt hiding your ex in the attic, i dont know what is

Prancer
01-09-2012, 03:32 AM
19th century literature may reflect how society was supposed to be, but historical archaeology lets us know they had ways around those social constraints. Those little bottles of elixir sold for ladies were alcohol or laudanum. And privy excavations indicate they were quite prevalent in most households. And, it was accepted practice for some physicians to *manipulate* their female patients to help them with their hysteria. Some built up substantial practices and made a lot of money by providing this needed service.

Elixirs and manipulations, among other things, were prescibed and accepted treatments for female hysteria. It was all an open part of the Victorian social fabric, not some kind of hidden subculture. If you ask me (and I realize that you didn't), those weren't ways around social constraints, but were part and parcel of the bizarre social boundaries of the time.


IMO all of the Brontes were strange, they were religious and political conservatives, but they had no use for social conventions. I think that is why they preferred to live in isolation, none of them were comfortable outside the immediate family circle.

I don't think that's too surprising. They all suffered from depression and anxiety and I've read theories that Emily, at least, would be probably be diagnosed with Asperger's today. Charlotte is widely believed to have been bipolar; if true, it is likely others in the family were as well, particularly with the history of depression.

In those days, though, depression, anxiety, bipolar symptoms and a whole lot of other things were considered hysteria.


if love isnt hiding your ex in the attic, i dont know what is

And people worry about susceptible girls reading Twilight.

rfisher
01-09-2012, 04:07 AM
Elixirs and manipulations, among other things, were prescibed and accepted treatments for female hysteria. It was all an open part of the Victorian social fabric, not some kind of hidden subculture. If you ask me (and I realize that you didn't), those weren't ways around social constraints, but were part and parcel of the bizarre social boundaries of the time.

[/I].

Yes, but they weren't commonly acknowledged as what they were. The excess bottles of Mrs. Pinkams Elixir were found in the privey which is where the things one didn't want known were disposed. Lots of interesting stuff made their way into the privies that contradict some of the literature of the day. A lady might have a discrete sip, but given the sheer number of bottles found in excavations, many were having more than a sip or two. Not that that's uncommon as what people do is usually very different from what they say they do.

Prancer
01-09-2012, 04:18 AM
Yes, but they weren't commonly acknowledged as what they were. The excess bottles of Mrs. Pinkams Elixir were found in the privey which is where the things one didn't want known were disposed. Lots of interesting stuff made their way into the privies that contradict some of the literature of the day.

:confused: I guess I'm not sure what literature you are referring to.