Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Hallowe'en Celebrations

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I should really have posted these at an appropriate time - say, after Hallowe'en itself, rather than um, a month afterwards. Here we go! Picture-intensive time! Tjis particular picture is one of our decorations - Mum prefers 'quirky' Halloween to grisly slasher movie theme. She makes a point of keeping Halloween up until Christmas is due on December 1st, so we have an awful lot of pumpkin cheer around the house until then!

This one is part of the (slightly manic) family. Gentleman in the vampire get-up is my esteemed father - two ladies on the end of the sofa as witch and grim reaper respectively are the Aunties Valerie and Monica - and at the other end is 'Sherlock' the younger sister, rocking a look as a punk pirate. The squinting one smirking at the camera is me, unfortunately. The lovely lady with purple and black hair is my mother :P We always make a point of playing games at Halloween - blockbusters, pin the head on the headless horseman, quizzes , pass the parcel - you name it, we play it! Guess we make it quite a fun thing. And then there's black-eyed peas, a tradfitional Halloween delicacy, alongside my dad's famous sausage stew and roast chestnuts - and breadsticks, for some reason :P Plus whatever the trick-or treaters don't gleam from us treat-wise. Belated happy holidays!
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Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Argh, Sisterly Nicknames.

Another quick post before I go home for Halloween - but just to leave you with an idea of how lovely, literary obsessed, and er, quirky my beloved sister and I can be, I thought I'd relate this anecdote for you.Back in the days of yore, when I was a more extreme Holmes fangirl aged thirteen (ie, idly doodling scenes of Baker Street, imagining a backstory for Mrs Hudson - my brain wave was that she's a sweet little Scottish Presbyterian from Edinburgh who has four daughters, all married, and one son (spoilt rotten) - and she has slightly adopted her upstairs lodgers as errant sons - to Watson's amusement and Holmes' terror, etcetera, etcetera), and endlessly forced my sister to play Sherlock Holmes with her Barbies. Zoe was mostly Watson, I was(coughs, embarrasedly) Holmes. There was generally a sparkle princess Mary Sue Barbie thrown in there too. Unfortunately, it was more 'Without A Clue' than Conan Doyle.
But there you go. Until *mutter, mutter* she got old enough to watch the Jeremy Brett series. And, in the Jeremy Brett series, the episode 'The Greek Interpreter'. Featuring Mycroft. The older, somewhat lazier, and er... stouter brother.All younger Holmesian credibility went straight out of the window. Zoe rather smugly assumed the 'Sherlock', whilst, being five years older, I was left with the nickname 'Mycroft.'Funnily enough, we've kind of grown into the nicknames. I'm often horribly, horribly lazy, occasionally have fits of energy - joined a sci-fi obsessed Diogenes Club in miniature, complete with misanthropic members (and ended up becoming secretary of one of the 'oddest clubs in Manchester'). The only thing I'm lacking in is numeracy and deductive skill.Whilst Zoe excels at maths and science - because she's good at it - can hold a tune (admittedly not a virtuoso violinist, but she can sing!) , is often so energetic it hurts to watch, and we have an affectionate game of one-up-man-ship that never gets too serious. Er. I think. Maybe. Yeah...

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Food, Glorious Food!



Just thought I'd share a little something Reagan and I did this afternoon. It's getting to be essay deadline time after Halloween, and both of us were feeling overworked, sleep-deprived and daunted by the amount of work ahead of us (Note to self: when you start actually using the antiquated expletives you stick in Tus Salus Fidelium, it's time for your friends to gently prise your hands from the keyboard and from the Medieval Literature essay - lest you unwittingly submit a chapter of fanfiction to your school tutor, and then post an academic essay on medieval sexuality on FF.net.)


So, we made Lemon Bars! Sent to us by the ever-lovely Megan - thanks, buddy! Although at first we were a little hesitant (being confused as concussed ducklings when it comes to food), the yumminess of the recipe soon converted us - and one shopping trip and a few doodles later, came up with this-

Yummy! Though at first I was terrified I'd got it wrong because the measuring system is different and we took the Victor Frankenstein 'let's guess and then pull the switch' attitude - that sums up all our cooking ability. But it was absolutely gorgeous, and reminded me of the way my granny's lemon drizzle cake should have turned out when she made it! Shame my family wasn't there - I'll make them some more when I go home at the end of this week. Since the Plastic-Tray Melting Incident of 2002, my parents have looked faintly askance at anything made by me. Hmm, wonder why? Anyway, here's a picture of me with the Lemon Bars, just in case you're wondering whether I've sneaked a picture off the Internet...
Hmm...that washing-up liquid wasn't an ingredient, I swear. Reagan and I devoured half of it before wondering whether our flatmates would maybe like some of it...
So, a belated thank YOU , Megan, for providing such a delicious set of recipes! Mockdonald Muffin, I think, for my next assignment...

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Becoming Jane...

Ah, my University clothes....







Heh, not really. The local theatre that I do voluntary work for had a promotional event where they wanted to really push the costume hire - so I became their 'rent -a-Jane Austen' for the day. The theme was 'Inspirational Women Throughout History', so I was really quite flattered when they asked me to do it! If only they'd have let me keep the dress....

*sigh* I fell in love with that dress. It was a lovely pretty brown printed cotton with flowers and very comfortable - compared to the crinolines and heels other luckless 'Inspirational Women' were wearing! I think they were pretty lucky I didn't end up hunched in a corner stroking the dress and hissing 'Preciousssss!' at anyone who tried to take it away from me...

I was less keen on the bonnet. It was a last minute addition, and I felt like a horse with blinkers on in it. Bonnets cut off your eyeline so you can only look straight ahead - glancing sideways is almost impossible in them!


I had a few pictures of the event, so I thought I'd show you something of it...


Can you guess who's who? We're an odd assortment. Amongst my fellow lovely volunteers are Kylie, Frida Kahlo, Rosa Parks, Coco Chanel, Emmeline Pankhurst, Queen Elizabeth I, and Marie Antoinette. Elizabeth I was a Blackadder fan, so we spent all evening swapping quotes. Teehee, meeting fellow nerds is always fun! She was managed to groove at the disco afterwards despite being trapped in a Tudor gown, proving that she had the heart and stomach of a disco babe inside that weak and feeble body of hers...



Marie Antoinette's wig was amazing. I was very envious - until I found out professional wigs are made up of yak hair, and then I kinda went off the idea....

This is Marie Antoinette. Isn't she gorgeous? Her costume was from She Stoops To Conquer. Luda, my Polish boss at the Royal Exchange, tells me the fabric ALONE for the dress cost £800 - so I was very glad I didn't have to wear it in case I spilt coffee down it!



This is me walking around the Lady's Evening floor. We were in a hotel just a little way out of Manchester, and they ran a craft fair showcasing women in business on their own. We were part of that, and we all had to walk slowly around the floor - oddly enough, to the tune of Bella's Lullaby from the Twilight soundtrack! It was very odd to do that dressed as Jane Austen... I felt a bit smug recognising it. Elizabeth I was a Twilight fan, so she had a 'fangirl' moment when we heard it played. You can just about see the make-up stand at the back where we had our hair and make-up done! I'm not sure whether we actually gained many more customers from this event than we would have done in the normal run of things, though. We're a pretty locally known business in the UK, and we don't get much exposure being the North (all the best costume places are in the South, dammit! Damn you London, with your huge stage wardrobes... *shakes fist*) But we had a huge amount of fun while we were there all the same, and the ladies running the stalls were very admiring and appreciative, which made us all feel great. One lady even asked for a picture with me and Queenie! (my nickname for her by the end of the night - her nickname for me was 'Janey')

All in all, it was a fun night! Hmm, now if only I can persuade my medieval literature department to have an 'inspirational women from history' party.... could an Eleanor of Aquitaine costume be coming my way? Or even a Sybilla? Hmm, hold your breath, Helen!

Sunday, 6 September 2009

It's Meee, Your Catheee, I've come Home...



Long time, no literature-based rant! So I thought I'd break the habit of my extremely lazy summer and actually write something. About a week ago, there was a new adaptation of Wuthering Heights on TV here in the UK, so I tuned in (after finding out, too late, i'd mssed the first part) on catch-up TV. It wasn't a bad version, to my surprise - I caught a few early publicity shots of Cathy wearing suspiciously twenty-first century eyeliner and thought it was going to be awful.



To my surprise, this version was actually okay - as compared to the awful 1992 Ralph Fiennes version, where Juliette Binoche struggles with her French accent all the way through...



Or (if you feel like a laugh at the films of the 1940s, the Laurence Olivier version. Heathcliff's acting is more hammy than a pig roast).







I wasn't too sure initially about the casting of Tom Hardy, who's starred in a lot of 'diamond geezer' London gangster dramas set in the 1970s, but he made a genuinely decent Heathcliff - one of the best I've seen so far. Although out of the Bronte sisters' novels, I'd have to rank Wuthering Heights as my least favourite. Both Charlotte and Anne have their villains and dastardly cads, true - but generally their main characters and heroes are likeable. Human, yes - I'm not talking about 'saintly' borderline Mary-Sues (The Victorians are guilty of more than a few Mary-Sues, if you narrowly scrutinise Dickens a few times) Jane Eyre has her faults, as do Shirley and Caroline Helstone. But most of their characters are people you might like to have a conversation and a cup of tea with. Can anyone really see themselves having a chat with Cathy or Heathcliff?

Emily Bronte effectively writes them as sociopaths - Heathcliff due to his largely abusive and neglected childhood, Cathy due to her utter spoilt bratness (well, anyone's guess here, but you might get the feeling I'm not largely sympathetic to Cathy. Bingo!) and lack of self-knowledge. Despite the truncated story that came out in the 2009 version that gets rid of a good deal of the violence that makes Wuthering Heights so remarkable, their Cathy comes across as confused and filled with regret. But the Cathy of the novel is spoilt, passionate, often teetering on the edge of insanity (and often falling over right into it) and in the end wrecks both Heathcliff and Edgar's lives by choosing both of them. If this was in a modern novel, it could very well be condemned for having utterly unsympathetic protagonists - and minor characters. Lockwood's arrogance and self-complacency makes him a little repulsive as a narrator, and Nelly's prejudices often taint the narrative. Catherine, Hareton and Linton have just as many petty faults as their predecessors.

So - it is okay to have characters everybody hates? Even if they're in love? Are completely unattractive characters are as bad as perfect ones?


Well, no. What makes Cathy and Heathcliff so realistically, humanly fallible is that we're shown their capacity for good - what they might have been. If they were totally and utterly evil, who'd want to read about them? Just as the old Mary-Sue rule goes for authors of fanfiction - who wants to read about perfect people having perfect adventures? It's boring as hell, and unimaginative.

What also made me do some thinking about Wuthering Heights was a comment my littler sister made as she peeked over my shoulder while I was watching the Tv series. 'Oh... it's that Edward and Bella book.'
Now, personally, I don't think it's quite fair to pre-judge something just because it's mentioned in Twilight. Intertextuality rocks (probably why Tu Salus Fidelium is full of cross-references), and if it get people reading more classic literature, should we really mind? Then again, I don't know whether Emily Bronte would really have liked the excited little red sticker saying 'Bella and Edward's Favourite Book!!!!' on the front of a clearly 'Twilight spin-off' teen romance cover. But I don't think she'd mind a wider readership - whatever the cause of the surge in interest.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Update...

Yeah, I've been AWOL for the past few months this summer, and probably the longest time I've been away from a keyboard all year. These past few weeks have been pretty insane, as far as summer holidays go...

1) Applying (and subsequently failing) for a job in a couple of local bookshops. Guess a recession really isn't the time to go jobhunting, but there you go. My timing is er... flawless as ever? Guess you could say so...

2) A university friend invited me out of the blue to go and spend a week with her in Belfast over the summer. Consequently I've been knotting my stomach with anxiety since the last holiday we took involving planes my mum was nearly stopped and searched - all because I forgot to take my Ipod out of my pocket. And then nearly lost my ticket coming home. Yeah, foreign travel? Bad thing for the nutty absent-minded students among us. Plus, it might be coincidence, might be not, but my dad's taken to watching such cheerful movie about plane travel such as Die Hard 2 (Planes crashing from the sky in balls of flame) and The Day After Tomorrow (planes crashing from the sky in swirls of snow).
I think I've decided I probably don't like flying. But I'm going anyway, so what the hell.

3) Getting horribly addicted to True Blood, alongside my mum. Ordered the first series from America, and my initial thought was 'ew.' Twelve episodes later both me and my mother are frantically searching websites for season 2 like international computer hackers. About 89% of my time at a keyboard this summer has been spent waiting for videos to buffer on Youtube.

4) The other 11% has been spent emailing my enthusiastic Transformer-addicted friend that whilst co-writing a fanfic together is a GREAT idea, I don't technically write the 21st century very well. Provided she doesn't actually mind reading Prime and Prejudice, a thoughtful emotional drama about class divide and aha... transforming robots, life should be great.

5) Horrible, horrible writers block on Tu Salus Fidelium that's only just coming to an end. Personally, I blame Prime and Prejudice for distracting me. There's an update coming before next week, I hope. I've finally cleared up my dilemma about where Mirrum should go next...

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Playlisting Your Fiction...

This might just be a habit of mine - a fairly crazy habit, at that. But if I'm writing fiction, I tend to soundtrack it before I write.
I don't why music helps you visualise things so clearly - perhaps it's the film scores we've grown to know and love ever since they invented sound back in the late twenties. My very first fic, Residuals, had an odd mix of Les Miserables the musical (pure cheese, I know), some Goo Goo Dolls (workings of the adolescent mind, I'm afraid - it wasn't Evanescence, in my defence! ) and a sprinkling of The Corrs.
Ouch. Pretty awful mix, huh? That was my first. I don't know whether I developed any discernment about how awful my music taste was after that, but I never again tried to imagine a nineteenth century fic set to the wailings of a cheesy pop video.
But, interestingly enough, a short while after that I stumbled across a sountdrack cd for a little film called Kingdom of Heaven I'd never heard of. It was reduced in the music shop - so what the hey! I picked it up. It would probably be like every other soundtrack I'd ever heard (which up to then had been the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings soundtrack).
How wrong I was. I put it on my cd player while I was absent-mindedly doodling one time, and it absolutely blew me away. I had no idea of the plot, or what the film was even about (apart from 'It's to do with the crusades. And Orly!') It was the soundtrack to my summer holidays - all through a trip to Wales in the car, back in the car, going to Northumberland, BACK from Northumberland - even just driving to town and back. You can definitely say Harryu Gregson Williams won a fan that day! (And if the music in Chronicles of Narnia sounds a little familiar, it's because he composed that too. I love it when just occasionally he'll include a bit that sounds like he snuck it in from Kingdom of Heaven)
Athat, I went out and got the film - just to see what he set that awesome music to.
Some ten months later (And many, MANY rewatchings of KOH later) when I finally began Tu Salus Fidelium, I actually playlisted it with Harry Gregson-William's soundtrack music. No awful cheesy pop anthems this time - the pure taste of what I imagined the medieval to be. So - there was the KOH soundtrack, some Medieval Baebes ( unfortunately, this is the folk music equivalent of the Spice Girls - a disgusted medievalist laughed out loud when I confided I liked them one time over drinks) and a little bit of the Merchant of Venice soundtrack - erm, included, alas, for no better reason than 'it's another movie with Jeremy Irons... and it's sorta... um, medieval.' Not entirely sure whether my music taste has improved that much - but I will confess I have certain tracks I imagined entire chapters to. The very first chapter of Tu Salus Fidelium was imagined solely to Verbum Caro (by Spice Girls of the twelfth century Medieval Baebes).
As for the rest of the fic? You'll have to guess. But I'd be interested if anyone else has a piece of music that helps inspire them when writing - or just carries them back to the period in question...
Postcriptum:The ill-fated Moby Dick fic was imagined to a mix of the live-action Peter Pan soundtrack and er... Treasure Planet. Guess that explains a lot. An awful LOT.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

An Overdose of Conan Doyle

This month has officially been "Honorary Sir Arthur Conan Doyle" month for me, and it's all the fault of Philip Pullman (yes, of His Dark Materials fame). Basically, what he did was this. He posted a really interesting reading list - one of those "Top 75 Books to Read Before You Die", which featured a book by Arthur Conan Doyle I'd never heard of, called The Exploits and Adventures of Brigadier Gerard. Now I thought I'd run the spectrum of Conan Doyle - after all, I'd read all the Sherlock Holmes stories and the Lost World - (a great Boy's Own adventure with crazed university professors and dinosaurs, making me VERY glad I'm not learning science in the 19th century), so this new find set my bibliophiliac senses tingling. After wandering casually into a bookshop and pretending I was just browsing, I not only guiltily left the shop with Brigadier Gerard stuck under my arm, but with a spinetingling collection of Conan Doyle ghost stories called Tales of Unease. What can I say? they were on a 'Buy 1, get 1 half-price' offer. I'm a terminal book addict. Brigadier Gerard made me smile, though, because of the way Conan Doyle writes him as a complete holiday from Holmes. It's as though he threw aside the latest short story, screamed "To hell with it!" at the ceiling, and manically scribbled down everything that's absolutely apposite to the world's favourite sardonic detective. Intelligence? Logic(Even some every-day common sense)? Scorn for the fair sex? Preternatural sense for danger? Brave French Hussar Gerard possesses none of these qualities. He's reckless to the point of stupidity - well, fighting your way through Spain whilst it's swarming with the English to deliver dispatches that were meant to fall into enemy hands (which don't, by the bye, meaning that he indirectly loses the war for Napoleon. Ah, success) isn't particularly bright, and if anything he seems to enjoy the scrapes he gets himself into. As for Holmes' disdain for women... well, lets just say Gerard is the French version of Sharpe, with a new damsel in distress per story (sometimes two or three - even Gerard is vague on the subject). The stories finally come to a close (spoiler! Gerard does NOT wrestle Wellington over a waterfall ) with an ending fanfiction writers have been trying to work into Sherlock Holmes stories for decades. Gerard doesn't die - he gets married instead! It's an insane romp through the Napoleonic wars, and Conan Doyle clearly loved every minute of it - probably before settling down with a groan to write another Sherlock Holmes story. Have to say, though - contrary to common belief, reading ghost stories at bedtime isn't a good idea if you're nervous. Tales of Unease, crazy though it may seem, made me .... uneasy. Doyle's fascination with spiritualism and the uncanny really comes across, and some of his best work lies in mostly forgotten ghost stories. The Ring of Thoth was a tragic tale of immortality, Ancient Egyptian curses and lost love, and seems to have inspired The Mummy. The Captain of the Pole-Star was another bittersweet tale of lost love, based on Conan Doyle's experiences as a doctor aboard a whaling ship (Dammit, what is it with me and brooding whaling captains?). There was even a rather (unintentionally funny, but horribly macabre nonetheless) story about huge jellyfish creatures in the sky eating pilots alive if they go up to forty-thousand feet. The best, in my opinion (for sheer terror, anyway - a med student who shares my flat has an actual human skeleton in her room, and the story struck nastily familiar bells) was Lot No 243 - another story of university, mummies, sinister med students and horrible revenge. I won't spoil it for you - but I can't help but wonder if my friend really minds I stole the last chocolate biscuit from the drawer... Hehe. Ha. Um.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

America, An Intellectual Paradise

There;s been a distinct lack of rambling topics from me, of late, so i thought I'd use the poor little neglected blog to discuss something I've noticed of late:
Being an academic has no worth any more in the UK. TimesOnline has a really good article about the current problem - which is worth looking at if you have a spare minute
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/education/article5864546.ece

But it isn't actually that the subject is being dumbed down. Oh, every national newspaper rants about how we're all idiot schoolchildren from time to time - and to be honest, the fact that you can do a degree in looking after football pitches in some universities is a sign that there is some truth in this. It's more that academia doesn't have the respect and interest it used to spark. No one can quite get into the fact that you can choose to learn for the fun of it - the interest a subject can have for you if it's your particular passion. Unless there's a profitable career at the end of it, it doesn't work.
I consider this unfair (for all I guess I'm extremely biased as a Lit student amongst medics in my halls - when I'm asked what my chosen career path is, I'm met with gawping amazement when I confess I don't know). After all, since when is knowledge a BAD thing? For all I may not have a job open and waiting for me at the end of my Literature degree, I hope I'll come out a little wiser and more passionately interested in my subject than when I went in - and I'd like to think I'd be able to find a job where I can pass this interest on.
Alas, maybe not in England. It's interesting to note, though - that most critical essays and literary theory I've read that really communicates an enthusiasm for English Literature have been written in America, by American academics. Where would we be without the beautiful The Madwoman in the Attic - incidentally the best piece of feminist literature I've read so far? And my essay would be absolutely nothing without The Endurance of Frankenstein - a collection of essays written... guess where? America. America is a place where knowledge and enthusiasm is still a wonderful thing to have. There are still a few lecturers who can commuicate their interest to their students here in Manchester, but I won't say they're in the majority. Intellectual apathy is definitely setting in.
My mother (probably as a result of weeping with me over inspirational Mr Keating in Dead Poet's Society), has the idea of me in the future as a future "inspirer of the generations". I just hope she's right!

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Writer's Reluctance: And a Possible Update

Apologies are due, once again, for a horrible, horrible lack of updates on all things Internet-linked. This is becuase the foul Demon Writers Block has struck once again.

I don't get it often, but when it haunts me, it does so for months. I sit and stare at the little flashing 'I' on Microsoft Word, and it mocks me with the lack of words that would normally come streaming out like so much 'typist's cramp.' Not so much writers block as 'writers lethargy.' I get too lazy to try and write anything because nothing does come when it does. Tu Salus Fidelium has been neglected for weeks...

I have a funny feeling, though, that has something more to do with my reluctance to kill Mirrum's Fisher King. I've enjoyed writing him almost as much as my (borderline, I know) not-quite-Mary Sue has enjoyed talking to him. His wit, humour and political astuteness as portrayed both in film and my current muse Bernard Hamilton is wonderful. Only thing is, I know I have to kill him in the interests of my fic not being counted amongst the ranks of execrable 'Mary Sue heals all!' fics. And... I don't want to.
Sure, it says Alternate Universe on the tin - but that was to excuse any possible Tiberias romancing. I have a feeling it will descend into chaos if I try any Shakespearean 'It was all a test of his people!' tricks. So I'm doing the reverse of Arthur Conan Doyle at the moment, by NOT wanting to kill my favourite character.

Ack. So, in a word, I'm reluctantly screwing my courage to the sticking place to finally ( and VERY reluctantly) silence the Fisher King for ever. It WILL happen, and there are a couple of chapters before the final end, but... well, forgive the hesitation...

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Exams Aren't Without Reward...



Sometimes blackmail is as good a way as any of making yourself work. This is a little something I've discovered over the past two weeks. It is an epic saga of torment, despair, longing, and...


A book.
This book, to be precise.
Yes, I've been ferreting around bookshops again. Waterstones had a nice range of material on Mary Shelley and Frankenstein so I'd thought I'd take a look - not to mention buying both the wobbly but fairly accurate Kenneth Branagh's Frankenstein (shame about De Niro, but you can't have everything), and the dire Hallmark made-for-TV version, which had more to do with my admiring er, Luke Goss as the Monster than anything study-related.

But anyway! Whilst shopping for reasonably sensible critical works on Frankenstein and worrying about exams, I happened to stroll past a section entitled 'Crusades' that had this on the shelf. Just one copy amongst a few others that were more general.
Under normal, unstressed circumstances I would have bought it, devoured half of it on the bus back to my halls, and spend the rest of the day in a dreamy stupor reading the rest. Usually whilst trying to take my shoes off whilst reading at the same time. But given the pressure at the time, my resolution was to buy it, yes -
But not read it.
This is the torment part. And a fair part of the 'despair'. Because unread pristine new books in my vicinity is the equivalent of dangling baby deer over a pool full of piranhas. But promising myself that if I revised for the exam then AFTER The Leper King and His Heirs was all mine actually worked! I studied, ignored the temptation to grab the book of the top shelf and read it cover to cover - and it made the horrors of Anglo-Saxon saints and pseudo-Biblical quotes on the nature of obsession all worth it. Survivable, actually.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Mirabile Dictu! The Exams Are Over!

I thought I'd post a short, celebratory epistle:

January Exams = Over. How did I do? Honestly? I don't know... I tend to have immediate amnesia with exams lest I drive myself insane with thinking about the stuff I failed to mention. But I can actually live life again instead of driving myself crazy over The Life of Saint Swithun and a certain American novel - and once more have an actual presence aboard the great wave of Internet enjoyment...
Yay.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Bibliophilia 2: A Student's Passion




"When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes.”
Desiderius Erasmus.

I bought books again yesterday. Which, despite Christmas having come and gone, was still just as heart-stoppingly wonderful as it always is. There is something wonderfully reassuring about a bookshop - not least my particular favourite bookshop, which is three storeys high and filled with enough reading material to make me gibber with delight.
My next semester happens to involve a close reading of Frankenstein. Which, I guess, is reason enough to buy literature associated with it - but not enough reason to quite excuse the massive 'illustrated' version I also bought too.

Let's face it, I like books. And I already have two copies of Frankenstein - one in an anthology of Gothic literature I only bought for the sake of the other stories, the other, boring 'syllabus-required' one with enough sidenotes to distract you from actually reading the book for six months. But books - as I've said already, more than once - have to be an experience. The texture, the feel of it - the quality. My reason for buying it was, in Victor Frankenstein's own words,

"I had selected... it as beautiful. Beautiful. Great God!"

Illustrations always make me quite a sucker for book-buying. Take my Arthur Conan Doyle books, for instance. They have some of the original Strand illustrations on the covers, and although they're not quite the Holmes of my imagination, I love the Edwardian feel to it - as though I'm reading the latest edition back in 1912. And did I mention how many fairytales I've gone through ?(and still get through, I have to admit - I have a profound fascination for folklore and old tales, and the beautiful illustrations of Arthur Rackham and Edmund Dulac are gorgeousness personified).
My mother came up with a great nickname for this. She called it being a 'book junkie' - going out to buy books is my 'fix' (which is probably more expensive than drugs). I tend to do it when I'm at a loose end, or know I should be doing something else, so perhaps there is something in this. It's a great way of distracting myself from the things I should be doing:
1) Reading the interesting if unappetising criticisms on Frankenstein instead of admiring the illustration of the Monster reading a book.
2) Writing an exhaustive 2000 word essay on King Lear as life in theatre
3) Revising
4) More revising
5) Everyday things like washing, ironing, and the usual student run of chores.
Whilst instead I:
1) Spend ages browsing the 'European History' section looking fruitlessly for the Meideval section
2) Consider teaching myself Norwegian as research - don't ask why.
3) Read
4) Read some more.
5) Watch the whole of North and South until 11 at night.