(I read much less elegantly/yellow-ly)

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Fun Continues! Well, I'm having fun.

Barnaby Rudge: (I have to begin this post with a reminder to my readers that I by no means encourage them to read Barnaby Rudge. It's very bad.)  There's one girl named Dolly Varden who's sorta fly. She's the "pretty and high-spirited lass" type character, kind of a pre-Dora, but, unlike Dora, she doesn't get punished for being flirty and carefree! And she doesn't faint when she gets kidnapped.

 photo 486px-Dolly_Varden_by_William_Powell_Frith_zps33fcb5cc.jpg
You go girl.
 My favorite thing about Dolly Varden is that, because she was a very popular character, there are a lot of things named after her. Such as:

A type of cake tin that makes Barbie dress cakes:
 photo 52-68_zpsbc18c7ce.jpg

 photo brabie_3d_cake_by_verusca-d4doli0_zps2486844e.jpg
A type of trout:

 photo 1471_zpscd40c0ed.jpg

A dress style:
 photo tn2308_zps47d05238.jpg

A Long Beach hotel:

 photo 39_big_zpsa4df8f4a.jpg

An alt-country band:

Which brings me to another point I want to make! There are a lot of bands named after Dickens characters. Oh yes, next post.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Dickens Ladies 3

The Old Curiosity Shop: the Marchioness. A miserably-treated but spunky servant girl who strikes up a friendship with the book's other amazing character,  Richard Swiveller, who is a sort of benignant ne'er do well clerk at the law office where she works/ is neglected/ bullied by her evil mistress who is ACTUALLY SECRETLY HER MOTHER GASP. In this generally overwrought novel that oozes with saccharine sentiment, the Dick- Marchioness plot line is genuinely super touching because they are original, charming, lively and weird. We all know Dickens' how eccentrics are the best. And while Little Nell is being a flowery, infuriating sadsack, the Marchioness is learning cribbage and generally being awesome.

 photo tumblr_m6mqvldk3V1rrzx66o1_500_zpse54fe66c.jpg

 "Mr Swiveller began to think that on those evenings when Mr and Miss Brass were out (and they often went out now) he heard a kind of snorting or hard-breathing sound in the direction of the door, which it occurred to him, after some reflection, must proceed from the small servant, who always had a cold from damp living.
Looking intently that way one night, he plainly distinguished an eye gleaming and glistening at the keyhole; and having now no doubt that his suspicions were correct, he stole softly to the door and pounced upon her before she was aware of his approach.
"Oh! I didn't mean any harm indeed. Upon my word I didn't," cried the small servant, struggling like a much larger one. "It's so very dull down-stairs. Please don't you tell upon me; please don't."
"Tell upon you!" said Dick. "Do you mean to say you were looking through the keyhole for company?"
"Yes, upon my word I was," replied the small servant.
"How long have you been cooling your eye there?" said Dick.
"Oh, ever since you first began to play them cards, and long before."
Vague recollections of several fantastic exercises such as dancing around the room, and bowing to imaginary people with which he had refreshed himself after the fatigues of business; all of which, no doubt, the small servant had seen through the keyhole, made Mr. Swiveller feel rather awkward; but he was not very sensitive on such points, and recovered himself speedily.
"Well--come in," he said, after a little thought. "Here--sit down, and I'll teach you how to play."
"Oh! I durstn't do it," rejoined the small servant. "Miss Sally 'ud kill me, if she know'd I came up here."
"Have you got a fire down-stairs?" said Dick.
"A very little one," replied the small servant.
"Miss Sally couldn't kill me if she know'd I went down there, so I'll come," said Richard, putting the cards into his pocket. "Why, how thin you are! What do you mean by it?"
"It ain't my fault."
"Could you eat any bread and meat?" said Dick, taking down his hat. "Yes? Ah! I thought so. Did you ever taste beer?"
'I had a sip of it once,' said the small servant.
"Here's a state of things!" cried Mr. Swiveller, raising his eyes to the ceiling. "She never tasted it--it can't be tasted in a sip!
Why, how old are you?"
"I don't know."
Mr. Swiveller opened his eyes very wide and appeared thoughtful for a moment; then, bidding the child mind the door until he came back, vanished straightway. Presently he returned, followed by the boy from the public house, who bore in one hand a plate of bread and beef and in the other a great pot, filled with some very fragrant compound…Relieving the boy of his burden at the door, and charging his little companion to fasten it to prevent surprise, Mr. Swiveller followed her into the kitchen.There!" said Richard, putting the plate before her. "First of all, clear that off, and then you'll see what's next."
The small servant needed no second bidding, and the plate was soon empty...
"Now," said Mr. Swiveller, putting two sixpences into a saucer, and trimming the wretched candle, when the cards had been cut and dealt, "those are the stakes. If you win, you get 'em all. If I win, I get 'em. To make it seem more real and pleasant, I shall call you the Marchioness, do you hear?"
The small servant nodded.
 'Then, Marchioness,' said Mr Swiveller, 'fire away!'
The Marchioness, holding her cards very tight in both hands, considered which to play, and Mr Swiveller, assuming the gay and fashionable air which such society required, took another pull at the tankard, and waited for her lead."

They're my favorite, the end.

Awesome Dickens Ladies Part 2

Nicholas Nickleby: the Infant Phenomenon, hilarious member of the acting troupe Nicholas joins.
 photo p775_zps7a7025d3.jpg
A jigsaw puzzle of Nicholas Nickleby. 
"This, sir," said Mr. Vincent Crummles, bringing the Maiden forward, "This is the Infant Phenomenon--Miss Ninetta Crummles."

"Your daughter?" inquired Nicholas.

"My daughter--my daughter," replied Mr. Crummles; "the idol of every place we go into, sir. We have had complimentary letters about this girl, sir, from the nobility and gentry of almost every town in England."

"I am not surprised at that," said Nicholas; "she must be quite a natural genius."

"Quite a--!" Mr. Crummles stopped: language was not powerful enough to describe the Infant Phenomenon. "I'll tell you what, sir," he said; "the talent of this child is not to be imagined. She must be seen, sir--seen--to be ever so faintly appreciated. There; go to your mother, my dear."

"May I ask how old she is?" inquired Nicholas.

"You may, sir," replied Mr. Crummles, "She is ten years of age, sir,"

"Not more?"

"Not a day."

"Dear me," said Nicholas, "it's extraordinary."

It was; for the Infant Phenomenon certainly looked older, and had moreover, been precisely the same age for certainly five years. But she had been kept up late every night, and put upon an unlimited allowance of gin and water from infancy, to prevent her growing tall, and perhaps this system of training had produced in the Infant Phenomenon these additional phenomena."
So, that's pretty great.

Buuut I have a whole lot to say about her, so I'll do another post. Who in the world could it be? THE SUSPENSE!!

Where I forever and always disprove the claim that Dickens couldn't write good female characters....Part 1 DUN DUN DUNN

That Dickens was abysmal at writing lady type characters is sort of a literary given. And I mean, sure, headstrong, heavily-bearded dude writing in the Victorian era. When some other guy named Coventry Patmore actually wrote this poem:
Man must be pleased; but him to please
Is woman's pleasure; down the gulf
Of his condoled necessities
She casts her best, she flings herself.
 How often flings for nought! and yokes 
Her heart to an icicle or whim,
Whose each impatient word provokes 
Another, not from her, but him;
While she, too gentle even to force
His penitence by kind replies,
Waits by, expecting his remorse, 
With pardon in her pitying eyes.


 photo B605aM5_zpsc8368869.gif 

     Plus, Dickens had numerous decidedly bad relationships with women throughout his life, almost all of which were caused by his being a dick (ummm like when he left his wife Catherine for the 18 year old Ellen Ternan). 

    So what with disgusting cultural norms and icky personal baggage, there's no denying that Dickens' fictional depictions of women are mostly repugnant and frustrating, either doe-eyed weepy angels or monstrous vicious shrews. BUT you are missing out on quite a bit you think all his women characters are terrible. He sucked but he was also an extraordinarily brilliant person and he wrote some pretty kickass female characters to match, even if they kind of slip through the cracks.  For all the Little Nells and Lucie Manettes, there are also your Betsey Trotwoods and Helena Landlesses. Let's talk about them!

The Pickwick Papers: As the majority of the book is about a bunch of old guys who ramble around the countryside and drink, there are SURPRISINGLY not a lot of women. There only one of marginal interest is Mary Weller. Mary Weller was actually the name of Dickens' nursemaid when he was little, and she used to tell him creepy stories.

Oliver Twist: Nancy. As a prostitute and thief she is the complete antithesis of a "good" Victorian woman, but rather than vilifying her as would have been more acceptable based on the morals of the time, Dickens makes Nancy the compassionate, valiant heroine of the story. And a lot of readers don't realize that, based on a comment she makes to Fagin about Oliver's age,  she's only 16 or 17. Damn, right?  She is tragic, strong, compelling and morally complex in a novel where most of the characters are either ALWAYS picking wildflowers at six in the morning or ALWAYS kidnapping orphans.

We'll pick up again next time with Nicholas Nickleby. I still have nothing to say about Agnes Grey, so I'll probably just rant about governesses some time soon.

Monday, August 12, 2013

While I try to think of things to say about Agnes Grey, there's this

Me: "It's a song by The Smiths rewritten to be about Charles Dickens's life."
Supportive Friend: "Everything about what you just said sounds terrible."

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


As of today, my blog has received 500 views!! In terms of the overall blogging world I don't know if that is pathetic or respectable for a fledgling blog, but TO ME it feels like a big fat whopping deal. So thank you thank you thank you, readers!!! I am very grateful to anyone who takes time out of their day to hear/read what I have to say. (Now, somebody make me a celebratory cake.)

 photo louisville-bars_zpsd61e3c8e.gif
Or we could have a dance party.