tempestsarekind: (austen snark is the best snark)
I keep being tempted to come up with new headlines for this article, like, "Let's all celebrate a man's mediocrity!" or "Being male means never having to live up to your potential in order to still have people devote time and energy to you."

It's time to bring Branwell, the dark Brontë, into the light
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/jun/26/its-time-to-bring-branwell-the-dark-bronte-into-the-light

I think this was the paragraph that really made my eyelid twitch:

Branwell’s imaginative terrain was vast and impressive. He had the ability to rework a variety of histories and literary genres, immersing himself in an imaginative world that showcases a sophisticated interpretation of the world around him. Yet, despite this engagement, his writings are often derivative and undisciplined, often degenerating into a rambling stream of consciousness. If nothing else, however, these early years saw Branwell as an instrumental figure that inspired his sisters to harness their own imaginations and opinions. Branwell’s contribution was influencing his sisters to become the perceptive, avant-garde writers we know. (my emphasis)


Ugh. So…he wasn't actually good at writing, is what you're telling me, but we should talk about him more anyway?

The thing is, I don't even really have any opinions about Branwell, ordinarily. It's just that every time I hear about him, it's usually someone trying to make him central to the successes of his sisters, or focusing on him and his antics rather than on the creativity and artistic discipline of, you know, the Brontes who actually had flourishing literary careers. (The recent TV costume drama about the Brontes, To Walk Invisible, was regrettably guilty of this, passing over the composition of whole novels in an eyeblink while spending whole scenes on Branwell's conning their father out of money to spend on liquor.) I'm not saying that we should never talk or think about Branwell; rather, I feel like he gets talked about all the time - and maybe out of proportion to his actual accomplishments. It's that same insidious desire we seem to be afflicted with, culturally: we rack our brains to figure out ways to make a man responsible for a woman's literary successes - whether it's spending ages trying to work out who the "Master" of Emily Dickinson's poems might be, or making whole movies devoted to the idea that Jane Austen only became a novelist because Tom Lefroy recommended Tom Jones to her and broke her heart, to this. Why is it so hard to give these women their due? It's just dressing up the Victorian idea that Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell could never really have been women in slightly more modern clothing: a man had to have had his hand in the thing, somewhere.
tempestsarekind: (little women)
Happy birthday Emily Dickinson! I think about this poem a lot; maybe it will help you too:

To fight aloud, is very brave -
But gallanter, I know
Who charge within the bosom
The Calvalry of Wo -

Who win, and nations do not see -
Who fall - and none observe -
Whose dying eyes, no Country
Regards with patriot love -

We trust, in plumed procession
For such, the Angels go -
Rank after Rank, with even feet -
And Uniforms of snow.
tempestsarekind: (manuscript [little women])
So someone made a movie about Emily Dickinson? Starring Cynthia Nixon as Dickinson? Here's the trailer:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eKJpx8FYp54

I am…I won't say unhappy, exactly, but disquieted, at the least. I don't know why, particularly: I have no indications that the film is not good, and I usually like costume drama. Maybe it's because Dickinson seems such a private person to me that it feels particularly wrong to presume to imagine what was going on in her mind and heart.

(This makes no real sense, because I've read quite a few of Dickinson's letters since I wrote a research paper on women's "romantic friendships" in the 18th and 19th centuries, and Open Me Carefully was a major source for that essay. Also, I have been to the Dickinson Homestead and the Evergreens [the house next door where Emily's brother Austen and his wife Susan - who was also Emily's dear friend, and the addressee of the letters in the Open Me Carefully collection - lived] more than once. So it's not exactly that I think the filmmakers ought to have left Dickinson her privacy - more that I think she ought to be left to speak for herself, in whatever riddling ways she chose?)

(I never feel this way about, say, Shakespeare. I might disagree with portrayals of him - since "my" Shakespeare is actually the quiet, circumspect Droeshout Shakespeare, the kind of man who could see the word "temperate" as the highest word of praise for a loved one - or I avoid them because I'm not especially interested, but I'm not upset by the fact that they exist. And my problem with Becoming Jane is that it was terrible and offensive, not that it was a biopic about Austen. I rather liked Miss Austen Regrets, after all.)

I assume, though, from the trailer, that Jennifer Ehle has been cast as Susan, and if I'd ever before thought about who ought to play Susan, I would have chosen Ehle in a heartbeat. So there is that.

ETA: Well, now I'm doubly disappointed. According to IMDb, Ehle has been cast as "Vinnie" Dickinson - Emily's sister Lavinia. It turns out that Jodhi May has been cast as Susan - which is the only time I've ever been disappointed that Jodhi May was cast in something! But I also don't remember seeing her in the trailer, which suggests that Susan might not have a big part, and that's too bad, given how important she was to Dickinson. "One sister have I in our house," she once wrote in a poem to Susan, "and one a hedge away." And here's how that poem ends:

I chose this single star
From out the wide night’s numbers -
Sue - forevermore!
tempestsarekind: (margaret hale does laundry)
A.S. Byatt has written a nonfiction book about William Morris and Mariano Fortuny (I'm only familiar with the former):

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/jul/01/peacock-and-vine-by-as-byatt-review-mariano-fortuny-william-morris

I haven't read as much Byatt as I ought, probably (loved and have reread Possession; read The Virgin in the Garden but didn't seek out the other books of the Frederica Potter quartet). At one point I started reading The Children's Book, but partway through I realized that while it wasn't quite making me want to stick with the novel, it was making me want to read about William Morris and Edwardian children's book authors. So…I might want to read half of this new book?

(I always feel like I ought to know a lot more than I do about William Morris - not that this would be hard, because I hardly know anything about him. I did a research paper in college on Victorian uses of Arthurian imagery, so of course he popped up a bit there, but he got drowned out by Tennyson and the PRB. And I can recognize a Morris wallpaper pattern easily enough - once I visited the Evergreens, the home of Emily Dickinson's brother and wife Susan, when they'd opened it up for visits, and there were scraps of original Morris wallpaper still on the walls, and this was very exciting. I've looked at some of his stuff in the V&A, and I'm still disappointed that I've never had a chance to eat in the William Morris dining room there, because it's been full every time I've gone to the museum. But that's not much. So I feel as if I ought to make up for it, somehow. I don't know why I feel this way, though. There are tons of things in the world that I don't know anything about, after all.)
tempestsarekind: (books and flowers)
Happy birthday Emily Dickinson! Here is a short poem that always pleases me to think on; there's something about its compression that always takes my breath away. It's probably a cliche to talk about Dickinson's individuality, her selfness, her insistence on being herself in her poetry (capitalizations and dashes and all), but I read a poem like this one and I can't help it. It has that riddling, ungraspable quality that I associate with Dickinson, in spades.

Love reckons by itself – alone –
“As large as I” – relate the Sun
To One who never felt it blaze –
Itself is all the like it has –
tempestsarekind: (excuse me what)
I saw this book in the bookstore the other day:

https://store.mcsweeneys.net/products/the-emily-dickinson-reader

And I know I'm supposed to think it's clever or ironic or postmodern or something, but actually I just want to punch this book in the face. I can't even figure out why I dislike it so much, or say anything that articulately expresses my feelings about it (books don't even *have* faces!). Whenever someone brings it up, what comes to mind is "I want to punch that book in the face."

*wants*

Sep. 5th, 2010 05:01 pm
tempestsarekind: (manuscript [little women])
I saw this in the bookstore yesterday:
Dickinson: Selected Poems and Commentaries - Helen Vendler
http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674048676

If they have any copies left when the frequent buyer book sale rolls around, I might succumb...

I always feel humbled by Emily Dickinson. Shakespeare, I can do; I get him, viscerally. (That's not to say that I have clever things to say about him, but I can say basic things just fine. There may be individual passages or even plays where I'm just at sea, and there are always levels beyond the level I can see, but on the whole...I can shape my brain to it. If that makes sense.) Same with Austen; she just makes sense. It's almost a physical thing, in both cases.

Out of my three literary best beloveds, Emily Dickinson is the one for whom I don't really have that same understanding, that same feeling for it. ("I know no touch of it," Guildenstern would say--and the tactile quality of "touch" is just right.) I love the poems, I know a fair number by heart--but I don't know how to assemble the pieces to make meaning beyond mere emotion. (Which is not to say that emotion is a bad thing, of course. It's just that I want to know why I feel a certain way--I prefer being able to say "this is why I love it," instead of just throwing out diffuse waves of affection.)

*wants*

Sep. 5th, 2010 05:01 pm
tempestsarekind: (manuscript [little women])
I saw this in the bookstore yesterday:
Dickinson: Selected Poems and Commentaries - Helen Vendler
http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674048676

If they have any copies left when the frequent buyer book sale rolls around, I might succumb...

I always feel humbled by Emily Dickinson. Shakespeare, I can do; I get him, viscerally. (That's not to say that I have clever things to say about him, but I can say basic things just fine. There may be individual passages or even plays where I'm just at sea, and there are always levels beyond the level I can see, but on the whole...I can shape my brain to it. If that makes sense.) Same with Austen; she just makes sense. It's almost a physical thing, in both cases.

Out of my three literary best beloveds, Emily Dickinson is the one for whom I don't really have that same understanding, that same feeling for it. ("I know no touch of it," Guildenstern would say--and the tactile quality of "touch" is just right.) I love the poems, I know a fair number by heart--but I don't know how to assemble the pieces to make meaning beyond mere emotion. (Which is not to say that emotion is a bad thing, of course. It's just that I want to know why I feel a certain way--I prefer being able to say "this is why I love it," instead of just throwing out diffuse waves of affection.)
tempestsarekind: (books and flowers)
I wait for the day when this poem is appropriate--weighing it against the possibility that I might utterly jinx things if I think of it too soon--and then roll the first six lines around in my head all that day. Which is today. So:

Dear March -- Come in --
How glad I am --
I hoped for you before --

Put down your Hat --
You must have walked --
How out of Breath you are --
Dear March, Come right up the stairs with me --
I have so much to tell --

I got your Letter, and the Birds --
The Maples never knew that you were coming -- till I called
I declare -- how Red their Faces grew --
But March, forgive me -- and
All those Hills you left for me to Hue --
There was no Purple suitable --
You took it all with you --

Who knocks? That April.
Lock the Door --
I will not be pursued --
He stayed away a Year to call
When I am occupied --
But trifles look so trivial
As soon as you have come

That Blame is just as dear as Praise
And Praise as mere as Blame --


#1320
tempestsarekind: (books and flowers)
I wait for the day when this poem is appropriate--weighing it against the possibility that I might utterly jinx things if I think of it too soon--and then roll the first six lines around in my head all that day. Which is today. So:

Dear March -- Come in --
How glad I am --
I hoped for you before --

Put down your Hat --
You must have walked --
How out of Breath you are --
Dear March, Come right up the stairs with me --
I have so much to tell --

I got your Letter, and the Birds --
The Maples never knew that you were coming -- till I called
I declare -- how Red their Faces grew --
But March, forgive me -- and
All those Hills you left for me to Hue --
There was no Purple suitable --
You took it all with you --

Who knocks? That April.
Lock the Door --
I will not be pursued --
He stayed away a Year to call
When I am occupied --
But trifles look so trivial
As soon as you have come

That Blame is just as dear as Praise
And Praise as mere as Blame --


#1320
tempestsarekind: (books and flowers)
Also, it was Emily Dickinson's birthday yesterday. And given that today is one of those cold, clear, sharp winter days:

There's a certain Slant of light,
Winter Afternoons –
That oppresses, like the Heft
Of Cathedral Tunes –

Heavenly Hurt, it gives us –
We can find no scar,
But internal difference,
Where the Meanings, are –

None may teach it – Any –
'Tis the Seal Despair –
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the air –

When it comes, the Landscape listens –
Shadows – hold their breath –
When it goes, 'tis like the Distance
On the look of Death –

(#258)

And one that I kept meaning to post, last month:

How happy I was if I could forget
To remember how sad I am
Would be an easy adversity
But the recollecting of Bloom

Keeps making November difficult
Till I who was almost bold
Lose my way like a little Child
And perish of the cold.

(#898)
tempestsarekind: (books and flowers)
Also, it was Emily Dickinson's birthday yesterday. And given that today is one of those cold, clear, sharp winter days:

There's a certain Slant of light,
Winter Afternoons –
That oppresses, like the Heft
Of Cathedral Tunes –

Heavenly Hurt, it gives us –
We can find no scar,
But internal difference,
Where the Meanings, are –

None may teach it – Any –
'Tis the Seal Despair –
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the air –

When it comes, the Landscape listens –
Shadows – hold their breath –
When it goes, 'tis like the Distance
On the look of Death –

(#258)

And one that I kept meaning to post, last month:

How happy I was if I could forget
To remember how sad I am
Would be an easy adversity
But the recollecting of Bloom

Keeps making November difficult
Till I who was almost bold
Lose my way like a little Child
And perish of the cold.

(#898)
tempestsarekind: (books and flowers)
It's all I have to bring today –
This, and my heart beside –
This, and my heart, and all the fields –
And all the meadows wide –
Be sure you count – should I forget
Some one the sum could tell –
This, and my heart, and all the Bees
Which in the Clover dwell.


(#26)

To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,
One clover, and a bee.
And revery.
The revery alone will do,
If bees are few.


(#1755)
tempestsarekind: (books and flowers)
It's all I have to bring today –
This, and my heart beside –
This, and my heart, and all the fields –
And all the meadows wide –
Be sure you count – should I forget
Some one the sum could tell –
This, and my heart, and all the Bees
Which in the Clover dwell.


(#26)

To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,
One clover, and a bee.
And revery.
The revery alone will do,
If bees are few.


(#1755)
tempestsarekind: (little women)
You really shouldn't take negative or disparaging remarks about Emily Dickinson as either personal attacks or challenges. Just take a deep breath and let it pass.

The same thing is true of Austen. But I don't see much of that sort of thing with Shakespeare--maybe because he's a harder author to be offhand and disparaging about, at least not without having people look at you funny? But Dickinson and Austen--they're just girls, so it's okay.
tempestsarekind: (little women)
You really shouldn't take negative or disparaging remarks about Emily Dickinson as either personal attacks or challenges. Just take a deep breath and let it pass.

The same thing is true of Austen. But I don't see much of that sort of thing with Shakespeare--maybe because he's a harder author to be offhand and disparaging about, at least not without having people look at you funny? But Dickinson and Austen--they're just girls, so it's okay.
tempestsarekind: (viola reading)
I totally bought a book on Sunday because there was an interview with the author in the back, and she listed some of my favorite books among books that had left a mark on the book she'd written: Possession, Charlotte Sometimes, Emma, and I Capture the Castle. (I mean, clearly I was already interested enough in the book to have flipped through it, but that list sealed the deal.)

It's so funny how I now feel like I've shared something with this person I will never meet, because we happen to have loved some of the same books. I've purchased all of these books more than once to give away to friends--and yet they're intensely personal, private, too. (I discovered, when trying to make a care package for her, that I almost never talk about my favorite books with my best friend from middle school. If it had been a package for anyone else, I would have thrown in at least one of these books without hesitation. And then when I did give her I Capture the Castle, she didn't like it all that much, and I was heartbroken.)


(Here's the Emily Dickinson poem the entry title is taken from, by the way. It doesn't get read/anthologized as much as "There is no Frigate like a Book," it seems, which is a shame.)

Unto my Books -- so good to turn --
Far ends of tired Days --
It half endears the Abstinence --
And Pain -- is missed -- in Praise --

As Flavors -- cheer Retarded Guests
With Banquettings to be --
So Spices -- stimulate the time
Till my small Library --

It may be Wilderness -- without --
Far feet of failing Men --
But Holiday -- excludes the night --
And it is Bells -- within --

I thank these Kinsmen of the Shelf --
Their Countenances Kid
Enamor -- in Prospective --
And satisfy -- obtained --
tempestsarekind: (viola reading)
I totally bought a book on Sunday because there was an interview with the author in the back, and she listed some of my favorite books among books that had left a mark on the book she'd written: Possession, Charlotte Sometimes, Emma, and I Capture the Castle. (I mean, clearly I was already interested enough in the book to have flipped through it, but that list sealed the deal.)

It's so funny how I now feel like I've shared something with this person I will never meet, because we happen to have loved some of the same books. I've purchased all of these books more than once to give away to friends--and yet they're intensely personal, private, too. (I discovered, when trying to make a care package for her, that I almost never talk about my favorite books with my best friend from middle school. If it had been a package for anyone else, I would have thrown in at least one of these books without hesitation. And then when I did give her I Capture the Castle, she didn't like it all that much, and I was heartbroken.)


(Here's the Emily Dickinson poem the entry title is taken from, by the way. It doesn't get read/anthologized as much as "There is no Frigate like a Book," it seems, which is a shame.)

Unto my Books -- so good to turn --
Far ends of tired Days --
It half endears the Abstinence --
And Pain -- is missed -- in Praise --

As Flavors -- cheer Retarded Guests
With Banquettings to be --
So Spices -- stimulate the time
Till my small Library --

It may be Wilderness -- without --
Far feet of failing Men --
But Holiday -- excludes the night --
And it is Bells -- within --

I thank these Kinsmen of the Shelf --
Their Countenances Kid
Enamor -- in Prospective --
And satisfy -- obtained --

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