Friday, July 25, 2003

In response to the article Andrea introduced a few posts ago:

Hmm, the author of the piece really had to drive home one thing about romance novels: These books are dust ruffles on Softcore Porn. Even while quoting the writers with apparent sincerity, the reporter was snickering into his tape recorder. I hate reporters like this.

Gimme a break. There are plenty of 'real' novelists who use a fair share of T&A in their work. Do you think those lawyer thrillers would sell if they didn't involve some erotic stuff? Or at least some sexual tension.

And Gone with the Wind as the archetypal romance novel? I beg to differ. Unless I have a very poor memory, GWTW ended tragically, a big romance no-no. The author of GWTW, an alumnus of my Alma Mater, wrote a story that was full of romantic elements, but I prefer to place it in the 'historical fiction' category. The romance novel in its most concise form is a fairy tale, and even before fairy tales were popular in the 17th and 18th century, Nuns were writing mush in their cloisters.

And some mush is good mush, and some mush is lousy. Thats all fine and good in my book, critique away, but don't write a peice that makes women who read and write romance sound like a bunch of psuedo feminists who are really stepford wives underneath. Its worse than Michael Moore describing the Republican National Convention.

Congratulations ANDREA!!!!

Iris, you might like to see this defense of romance novels.

Meanwhile, I spent an hour or so yesterday evening reading poetry for pleasure. What a luxury. Back in thesis mode, I did actually read texts that weren't about thirteenth-century letter collections, but they were mostly novels of the Extreme Junk Reread variety.

Listen to this, from the early-mid 20th century Greek poet George Seferis, trans. by Rex Warner:

The ropes have broken now; only their marks on the well's mouth
Remind us of our departed happiness:
The fingers on the rim, as the poet says,
The fingers feel for a moment the cool of the stone
And the body's fever passes into the stone
And the cave stakes its soul and loses it
Every second, full of silence, without a drop.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

Oh joy! Oh rapture! Oh, my brain is fried...

The Thesis of Evil, as regular readers may have guessed, is, well, if not completed, tossed off to the godlike professors for their smiles or (as is more likely) faint and worldshaking frowns. I did ignore about five paragraphs worth, marking them with footnotes saying "I'm going to finish this paragraph next draft, so just deal with it, godlike professors!"

I shall go away and rest my poor overheated neurons now.

Sunday, July 20, 2003

Freudian slip of the day:
from the evil thesis, of course

It can be inferred that John Pecham is more strict on the Jews than the relatively gentile Thomas Aquinas.

No, wait, I mean gentle...

Then again, it might be the fault of Titivillus...

News flash from archaeologists of medieval English cemetaries:

Jews are shorter than Christians.

I'm utterly stunned - all 5'2" of me.

(Information from Suzanne Bartlet, "Women in the Anglo-Jewish Community", in the recent anthology Jews in Medieval Britain.)

Of the thirty queens of England between the Norman Conquest and the death of Henry VIII,

- 4 were named Matilda (counting the Empress Matilda, who never quite ruled England)
- 4 were named Anne
- 4 were named Katherine
- 3 were named Eleanor
- 3 were named Isabella
- 3 were named Margaret
- 2 were named Joan
- 2 were named Elizabeth

The remaining five were named Adela, Berengaria, Philippa, Cecily, and Jane.

This is why the Norman royalty needed to think of more names.

The really scary part is that very similar name distributions occurred in the aristocracy. I am currently writing a thesis about a queen named Eleanor (of Castile, wife to Edward I) and a lady named Margaret (Fitzpernel, countess of Winchester), and I keep finding more thirteenth century figures named Margaret and Eleanor to confuse the issues.

(Of course, the men weren't any better. In the same distribution of time, there were 8 Henrys, 5 Edwards, 3 Richards... but at least they all have convenient numbers in their names to help the poor historian keep track. No one ever refers to Eleanor of Castile as Eleanor III.)