Tag Archives: Jane Austen

Two Things: Research Topic and Costume

And we’re going to do them backwards.

I’ve picked my research topic (and my title) for my Jane Austen paper about Emma. Here we go…”The Frivolity of Frank and the Frankness of Mr. Knightley.”  I was pretty pleased with the title.

Behind that punny title is a look at the discourse between Frank and Emma and Mr. Knightley and Emma and what it reveals about the men in her life.

Also, here’s a look at my Halloween costume! I don’t know if I have ever been prouder (except maybe in relation to the title of my Jane Austen paper)

Pineapple-The Sassiest Fruit

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Jane Austen: A summary in opinions

Plus it is nearly 3 AM and I am very bored.
1. Favorite Austen heroine.
Emma Woodhouse. Clearly. I just love the Emma’s transformation seems the most self-motivated of all the heroines. Mr. Knightley points out her faults, but only when she wants to change and even when she believes she has no chance with Mr. Knightley she wants to be a better person, without his validation.

Plus she is so judgmental, which I identify with too much for my own good.

2. Favorite Austen man.
I would want to marry Mr. Knightley. But I really like to read…eh, Mr. Knightley. I am sorry that I am so one sided! I just can’t see any faults in Mr. Knightley. My second favorite man is probably Mr. Hurst, Mr. Bingley’s brother in law because he is so funny. Or Mr.Woodhouse, also hilarious.

3. Favorite Austen book.

4. Favorite quote from the books.
It is such a happiness when good people get together—and they always do. by the adorable Miss Bates in Emma
Certainly silly things do cease to be silly if they are done by sensible people in an impudent way by Emma

5. Favorite moment in the books.
When the narrator reveals that the Perry children partook in the wedding cake

6. Favorite movie adaptation.
My first–the 1996 version of Emma with Gwenyth Paltrow and Jeremy Northam. 1. Gwenyth’s dress at the Oscar’s is the reason I love Austen, 2. to me, Jeremy Northam IS Mr. Knightley, 3. and while they romanticize the relationship too early it has the best soundtrack, Harriet and other secondary characters I have ever seen.

7. Favorite Austen couple.
Other than…Emma and Mr. Knightley…I really like Mr. and Mrs. Bennett. I think they are so cute and funny is the way they speak to one another. Or Elinor and Edward. I like how they show that Jane’s books aren’t all about lovey-dovey gooey love. Sometimes they are really just about people, who usually happen to fall in love.

8. Least favorite couple.
Henry Tilney and Catherine Morland. He is so condescending and I had such trouble liking him!

9. Most hated foe of a heroine.
Lucy Steele. I hate that she abuses her privilege of confidence so much with Elinor. Irks me every time.

10. Most frustrating family member.
Maria Bertram.

11. Least favorite book.
Northanger Abbey, but I haven’t read Persuasion in a while.

12. Least favorite Austen heroine.
Catherine Morland

13. Least favorite Austen man.
of the “good” guys: Henry Tilney, of the bad guys: Willoughby.

14. Favorite love confession from the books.
“If I loved you less, I’d be able to talk about it more”

15. Favorite love confession from the films.
I feel so unlike a purist, but when Darcy confesses his love in the 2005 Pride and Prejudice. WHATEVER, it makes for good movies. Either the rain scene or the one in the field. I love the both. AND GUESS WHAT? I like Matthew Macfadyn better as Darcy too. Colin Firth is too clean and always looks like he has something in his mouth. But I still love Colin.

16. Least favorite film adaptation.
Cinematically, the BBC ones aren’t that awesome. But they are good for plot and dialog. And while 2005 P&P is a crappy mirror image of the book, I think JA fans need to look at the movies separately from the books.

17. Moment that made you sad/cry while reading.
I don’t know if I’ve ever cried during a JA novel.

18. Moment that made you smile/happy while reading.
Every time Mr. Woodhouse opens his mouth. Or when Edmund falls in love with Fanny.

19. Moment that made you laugh while reading.
Every time Mr. Woodhouse/Mr. Collins speak

20. Moment that made you mad while reading.
Most of the times Henry Tilney speaks.

21. Favorite Jane Austen-related photo.
Can’t find a good picture of it. But my favorite screen shot is potentially when Mr. Darcy flexes his hand after he helps Elizabeth get into the carriage in the 2005 film.

22. Favorite Austen female casting decision.
Kate Winslet as Marianne Dashwood
She is so young and romantic and wonderful!

23. Favorite Austen male casting decision.
Alan Cumming as Mr. Elton
No one does smarm better.

24. Favorite supporting character.
SO MANY: Mr. Woodhouse, Harriet Smith, Frank Churchill, Miss Taylor, Miss Bates (do. you. see. a. pattern?) Also, I really like Mrs. Jennings in S&S

25. Favorite family connection (i.e. sister-sister, mother-daughter, brother-sister, etc.)
Emma and her father, the one thing I liked about Northanger Abbey is James and Catherine Morland’s relationship

26. Favorite casting cameo from the films.
I don’t think this is a cameo, but Hugh Laurie in S&S.

27. Favorite quote from the films.
“A picnic. At Delaford” (hat sweep!)-Colonel Brandon, Sense and Sensibility
“the Nile is in Abyssinia!-Margaret Dashwood

” I do not profess to be an expert in the field of fashion (though my friends say I have quite the eye) but I can tell you, there is a shocking lack of satin! ” Mrs. Elton, Emma

28. Favorite moment from the films.
I like the long opening shot of Pride and Prejudice 2005. It is a pretty cool way to look at the family, and see immediately where the center of life is.
When Mr. Knightley and Emma are arguing about Harriet and Mr. Martin’s potential engagement and after she shots a misplaced arrow he says “try not to kill my dogs”

29. Character you most relate to
I think that is pretty clear that is Emma Woodhouse. An important part of that book is realizing what faults you have, and I share a lot of my faults with Emma. I always thought Lizzie too selfish for me to identify with her really. Emma’s problem is that she can observe others, but cannot see her own feelings truthfully, or use her feelings to understand others. Eleanor is too staid, and Marianne is too concerned with marriage. Also a great thing about Emma is that she doesn’t WANT to get married. Sure, she is financially stable, but she shows that a woman could imagine herself with a life without a man and be happy. Other novels aren’t as clear about the fact that women could be happy without men, if only they could receive some money.

Emma is just the best and that is the rest I am going to say.

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summer of productivity: update one

If you read my originial blog post about my first reasonable goal of the summer it was a pretty simple goal: reread all of Jane Austen’s novels. My first to tackle was Pride and Prejudice, which other than my biennial reading of Emma, was my most recent reading of an Austen work in senior AP Literature. I am about half way done and I have some observations.

  • How awesome is Mr. Hurst? Too awesome. Oh okay, not really. But I love how he is a completely useless character. He and his wife were completely taken out of the 2005 movie version of P&P. He provides no plot point. None. He doens’t even give vital information from one character to another like Fitzwilliam who is insturmental in Elizabeth finding out more about Darcy’s true nature (or so she thinks). Mostly this man plays card and sleeps on sophas. Completely useless and completely awesome.
  • I don’t know if Lizzy’s rejection of Mr. Collins and Mr. Darcy is really in character. True she hates foolishness, so  Mr. Collins makes sense. But she is quick witted and cares about her family. Mr. Darcy could provide well for her entire family. Even if at the time she is banking on a proposal from Wickham, he is a lowly foot soldier and would barely be able to provide for Elizabeth. I think it would be more believable if Wickham had some other prospects. Like maybe lies to Elizabeth about the possibility of securing a new rectory position.
  • I highly recommend the newer annotated edition from 2007 with notes by David M. Shapard.

I think I am going to finish my notes and reading of P&P tonight and start on Emma, which I just got the Norton Critical Edition of. Whoo


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twenty by five is a hundred

What WHAT!

Hundredth blog post. Wellllll (please read this like my government teacher from senior would say it. Just say “will” in a really high pitched mouse voice), not on the WordPress blog, but I imported all my “flippeed her lid” posts to keep the archive all nice and chronological and on one URL.

I was going to make a list of hundred things about something but A. I couldn’t decide a theme B. A hundred is a lot for any given theme. C. My talents at coming up with top five lists is too honed and practiced to be wasted a one hundred things list. So I am going to make twenty top five lists. And away we go…

Vampires I like more than Edward Cullen

  1. Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  2. Bill Compton, True Blood
  3. Count von Count, Sesame Street
  4. Vampire Weekend
  5. Carmilla, Carmilla

Careers I would have if talent, time and money were no object

  1. MGM Corps Dancer circa Oklahoma, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Carousel
  2. Member of the Corps of Discovery.
  3. Member of the Council of Trent-I just thinking picking out which Bible books are canonical sounds really fun.
  4. Art nouveau furniture designer
  5. Gilded Age socialite

Corps of Discovery Journey

Favorite Presidents

  1. John Adams
  2. James K. Polk
  3. Thomas Jefferson
  4. Woodrow Wilson
  5. FDR

Adams-he's a funny one

Simon and Garfunkel Songs

  1. “Cecelia”-I think everyone who listens to song goes to the three steps of interpretation. 1. OMG I LOVE DANCING TO THIS SONG, IT IS SO HAPPY 2. Is this song about a prostitute ? Really? Is that what is happening here? 3. I am so hip because I “get” Paul Simon’s allusion to St. Cecelia, the saint of music. Cue continuing of dancing.
  2. “Kathy’s Song”
  3. “April Come She Will”
  4. “Mrs. Robinson”
  5. “At the Zoo”-“the elephants are kindly but/They’re dumb.”

Least favorite: “Bridge over Troubled Water”

Saint Cecelia-sometimes fickle inspiration, but always all-around badass

Inspiration for my chosen major pt. 1

  1. My mom, the greatest English teacher I’ve ever known
  2. Addison and Jill, two camp counselors I had at Great Books Summer Program
  3. Hawkeye Pierce, Natty Bumppo, and their respective Byronic Heroism, for being the subject of the first research paper I ever felt was worth something
  4. Their Eyes Were Watching God because I wanted to understand Janie
  5. The Eyre Affair series, because I wanted to get the jokes

My favorite book cover of all time

Inspiration for my chosen major pt. 2

  1. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
  2. Sister Wendy, specifically her video about The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit
  3. My Great-Grandfather, George Bellows, whose work has insured that my family house is filled with books about art, and that we went to museums a lot when I was growing up
  4. Edouard Manet
  5. Mrs. D, my first nice art teacher ever

Both Members of the Club by George Bellows

Talents I wish I had

  1. Juggling
  2. Whistling
  3. “Live Long and Prosper” Sign
  4. Sewing
  5. Hair Braiding

Favorite Secondary Jane Austen characters

  1. Miss Bates
  2. Mr. Woodhouse-Do you eat that cake? I JUDGE YOU. Now eat some gruel and let me go to sleep.
  3. Mr. Hurst-Really, he could be tertiary because he has nothing to do with the plot. But his character allows for dear Jane to have these little quips “he was an indolent man, who lived only to eat, drink, and play at cards, who, when he found her prefer a plain dish to a ragout” and (after Caroline declares no one wants to play cards) “Mr. Hurst had therefore nothing to do but to stretch himself on one of the sophas and go to sleep.”
  4. Mrs. Jennings-is absolutely ridiculous. And terribly funny.
  5. Augusta Elton-A 3rd character from Emma. But it has the best examples of the great secondary characters that Jane Austen creates. Somehow, Mrs. Elton, though Emma is in the same financial situation, and meddling habits, is somehow made into a wretched woman while Emma is beloved, by readers and the community of Hartfield.

Mrs. Jennings

Actors I would put in any movie I ever produced

  1. Laura Linney
  2. Jeremy Northam
  3. Paul Giamatti
  4. Anjelica Huston
  5. David Boreanaz

I have no idea what this movie is about.

Things I confuse with other things

  1. Farrah Fawcett/Mia Farrow
  2. Pulp Fiction/Fight Club
  3. Hall and Oates/Hootie and the Blowfish
  4. Neil Diamond/Neil Sedaka/Neil Young
  5. I don’t know if this counts, but I always think Susan Sarandon is in Desperately Seeking Susan

"When's the doppelganger thing happen? Where's Ed Norton? What is happening?"

Most Depression Inducing Films/Books/Songs

  1. The First 3/4 of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
  2. Mrs. Dalloway
  3. D2: The Mighty Ducks
  4. The entire Les Mis
  5. The Field-Titanic, Love Story, The Notebook are swell cry-fest movies. But The Field, directed by Jim Sheridan, which looks innocent enough, like a normal depressing but morally triumphant Jim Sheridan Irish movie. NO. It is a thousand times more depressing than a normal Irish movie. Watch at your own risk.

RIP Hans

Best Depression Relieving Film/Books/Songs

  1. The Life Aquatic Studio Sessions, by Seu Jorge. David Bowie. In Portuguese.
  2. Xanadu-ONJ & ELO’s best work
  3. Say Anything…
  4. The last 1/4 of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
  5. It Happened One Night


Movies I would like to live in

  1. A Room with a View-George, Florence and those hats
  2. Out of Africa-Keep the Hats, lose the Syphilis
  3. Sense and Sensibility-Traditionally, I would want both Emma Woodhouse’s charms and man. But, have you seen Margaret’s tree house? Plus Marianne has a really cool hats.
  4. His Girl Friday-Good headlines, better hats
  5. Amelie-If only so I could pull off French girl hair

Honorable Mention to a movie I would never want to live in, but has one of my favorite hats of all time: Goldfinger-Oddjob’s Bowler: My brother loves James Bond movies. And I weirdly always rooted for this round, Asian villain with the bowler. Plus I love the way Shirley Bassey sings “ggoldFINGAHHH”

My laptop background

Words I wish were real

  1. “whuff”-as in “getting a whuff of something.” A combination of wolfing down food and getting a whiff of a smell
  2. “precarious”-but pronounced purh CAR ee us. means the same thing but only related to vehicular precariousness
  3. “foxymoron”
  4. “quppymaroo”
  5. “Gob”-is a word, but I do wish this was an established name like in Arrested Development

George Oscar Bluth II-Gob

Theories I wish were accepted in society

  1. If ya dip it in yogurt, it’s a fruit. If ya did it in ranch, it’s a vegetable.
  2. Always check the elbows.
  3. Jane Austen is about more than hunky men in tight pants and jackets with tails.
  4. David Boreanaz should be in every TV show ever and Laura Linney should be in every movie.
  5. You can tell more about a person from their top five favorite books/albums/films than just about anything else

Still, he IS pretty hunky.

Ice Cream Topping with appropriate Ice Cream Topping

  1. Whipped Cream and Mint Chocolate Chip
  2. Pineapple Pieces and Strawberry Ice Cream
  3. Chocolate Syrup and Dulce de Leche
  4. Corn Flakes and Vanilla Bean
  5. Oreos and anything

Movies that have Photobooths

  1. Amelie-biggest plot involvment
  2. Penelope
  3. The Princess Diaries
  4. The Outside Man
  5. Not a movie, but the Christmas Tree sketch with James Franco from SNL

Best use of Elevators in a movie

  1. Kate and Leopold-“You must be Otis”
  2. Serendipity
  3. Sleepless in Seattle
  4. Double Indemnity
  5. The Royal Tenebaums

Answer me this: Why is that kid in a devil costume during Christmas?

Reasons I went to Agnes

  1. The lamps in the library
  2. The ability to get Starbucks on campus
  3. How awesome my host, Jillian, and her roomie Christen were when I visited
  4. proximity to home
  5. The mascot

These are things they should emphasize in the mailings.


Five Things of which I couldn’t think of five

  1. Least favorite fictional character ever-Mr. Potter from It’s a Wonderful Life
  2. The one blonde I like more than her counterpart brunette-Cher from Clueless, I mean I even like Cordelia better than Buffy
  3. The only foreign movie I will sit through with dubbing-Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (This is not because I don’t like foreign movies, it’s because I hate dubbing)
  4. Best fictional portrayal of Bipolar in three parts: Being medicated-the opening scene of Garden State on the plane, the division in feeling between mania and depression-Mrs. Dalloway and Septimus in Mrs. Dalloway and best overall portrayal of bipolar-Hawkeye Pierce from M*A*S*H, the show not the movie
  5. Best movie title-Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death


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a summer of productivity

a new summer goal: reread all of Jane Austen’s novels.

This may seem a little silly. I am taking a Jane Austen class in the fall so I am going to read all the novels again. But I need something to do over the summer, and I thought reacquainting myself with the books would be nice. I can’t say the last time I read Persuasion. So I am starting with Pride & Prejudice and onto Sense & Sensibility, Emma, Persuasion, Mansfield Park, and Northanger Abbey. Then I might reread some Bronte (Emily and Charlotte).

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judging a book by its cover: part 1

This is my dream job: designing book covers. My fabulous cousin, who is just about the coolest person ever, Sarah did it for a while. And I really do love book covers. I love nice editions, I love when the cover works well with the text and I will not buy an edition of a book if it is a bad cover if I can help it. Prime example: Barnes and Noble classic editions of Jane Austen’s work. Let’s look at a book with multiple editions and then some of my “greatest hits” of favorite book covers ever in the next post.

Pride and Prejudice

All of these editions are currently available.

Pride and Prejudice: Nook Digital Cover

This is Barnes and Noble’s cover for the Nook digital edition. Weirdly, I think it is my favorite. I like that it doesn’t attempt to look “classic” with paisleys, swirls or gilded edges. It actually captures part of the story, and the essence of Jane. Her novels are about people. These faceless people could be any of the heroes and heroines, but their illustrated costumes are accurate, at least. And they are talking, an important aspect of all of Austen’s novels. The concept of the text boring out the image breaks down in the next few examples.

Barnes and Noble Classic Edition

This cover is ludicrous. The woman and the man look like a Victoria and Albert marriage portrait. And the sitting room looks like it was done in the French style. How unpatriotic and so very obviously post the Napoleonic Wars.

Norton Critical Edition

The only covered featured in this post that is neither abstract nor features people. Houses are an important symbol in Pride and Prejudice. I think I actually wrote about on either my AP Literature test, or one of my practice prompts. This is an appropriate non-people cover. But it isn’t that much fun to look at…

Barnes and Noble Classic Paperback

Why does this look like a Berthe Morisot painting?  Why do the people look like they are in a French/New Orleans apartment in 1887? Did you read Pride and Prejudice? This definitely word work more with The Awakening. Or any book written after 1860. And on Continental Europe.

Dover Edition

At least this one doesn’t annoy me. Doesn’t really do much either. But it is called thrift for a reason, it is nice and simple.

Pride and Prejudice Annotated

ooo Meta cover! Maybe I am biased because I like reading this edition the best. But I love how the image is annotated and obviously chronologically correct.

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Can a film version of a book be better than the book?

And what makes a film version good?

Comparing films and books really is like comparing apples and oranges. A film is composite work of multiple people while a novel is usually a single person’s effort. And a film crew and production teams have a lot more available to them concerning sensory perception. That’s probably the number one reason people don’t like the movie as much as the book—because it doesn’t look like their vision of the book. Let’s look at four books and movie pairings; all of which I think give some insight into this question: Pride & Prejudice and its various incarnations, the Last of the Mohicans, Les Miserables and Slumdog Millionaire and its predecessor of a different name Q&A. I’ll mention other pairings that go into the categories I have set up, but these four films and books are going to be the main points.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen has quite a few film adaptations. That happens when you write one of the most beloved novels of all time. I’m going to look at three: 1940 film adaptation with Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson, 1995 television adaptation and the 2005 adaptation with Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen. In these examples we see a little microcosm of possibilities when adapting a not-too complicated novel (those will be addressed later). The 1940 adaptation is a wonderful film…if you’ve never picked up a Jane Austen novel. While basically following the same plot as the novel, the characterization greatly diverges from that of the novel. It is nothing too drastic, but a modern Janeite would get really annoyed if she had to watch this instead of a more accurate film version. Also the costumes are circa 1820, not Regency, and Lizzie Bennett does not do hoop skirts. Still, all inaccuracies aside, Greer Garson’s Lizzie is wonderfully acted and really captures what her characters. None of the plots strays too far, unlike the most recent Wuthering Heights adaptation from PBS, where Heathcliff shoots himself (I don’t think is a spoiler, but hint: in the book Heathcliff does NOT shoot himself). This adaptation is about as far from the 1995 version as possible which takes a completely different approach. With Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy, the BBC version spares no plot whatsoever; the film is basically like watching the book on the screen. But does this make it a good movie? I don’t think so. I may be completely biased because Colin Firth never looked like what I thought Mr. Darcy looked like, but even with a  book I love so much, I’d rather the film makers capture the spirit of the book and the characters every single plot detail. That’s why I prefer the 2005 version with Keira Knightley. It does create composite characters and blends plot together. But after I watch that movie, with its gorgeous cinematography and sweeping soundtrack, I get the closest feeling to what happens after I finish the book. I think with a film adaptation of a book like Pride and Prejudice that so many people read over and over again that spirit is way more important that plot. And Jane Austen’s books aren’t plot driven anyway, they are character driven. So I would rather have the notice of a twinge in Mr. Darcy’s hand than an inclusion of all tertiary characters. At least with books that are so beloved like Pride and Prejudice.

Then there is The Last of the Mohicans. I swear, I’ve read this book. I promise, I promise. And I love it. A lot of people don’t believe me. For anyone who has read Melville and knows that there are long sections about describing things that no one really cares about…that is kind of like the entire Leatherstocking series, but without any action in the middle. Still, I think Natty Bumppo was one of the first American Byronic heroes ever written and if you don’t believe me, I’d be happy to send you my research paper from tenth grade comparing Hawkeye Pierce from M*A*S*H and his namesake. But God, this book is boring. Like rather have teeth pulled than finish it boring during some parts. The movie is anything but. The film adaptation with Daniel Day-Lewis probably is better than book, as in more people enjoy it, and it is more interesting. But in this case, comparing the two is not like comparing apples and oranges—it is more like comparing apples and staplers. While with Pride and Prejudice, a reader and a viewer have the same goal: to hear about the love story of Darcy and Elizabeth with biting wit, and wonderful secondary characters. With The Last of the Mohicans, the reader and the viewer usually have two different goals. My goal reading the book was to hear about the wonderful landscapes, and a tale of heroism against odds and the saving of a ward by the hero. In watching the movie, mostly I wanted to see Daniel Day-Lewis. The movie is really a composite of quite a few Leatherstocking tales and overemphasizes Natty Bumppo’s and Cora’s love. But that is what the viewers wanted. I don’t think this is really a bad thing because I don’t think anyone, ever, in the history of film has wanted to see a textually accurate film of The Last of the Mohicans.

Part II is coming soon. I feel like this blog is quite long…and I like cliffhangers.

but feel free to comment now if you think of any movies that are better than the books.

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books that made me

I may be giving the tomes too much agency. But I think most English majors have the book that made them an English major. So I think it is a logical conclusion that books made me into other things as well.

Well, here they are.

the books that made me:

  1. Emma-by Jane Austen: Probably no other book has edited my personality more. I saw the film adaptation in 1996 because I was five and I was very self-conscious about my name NOT being Emily. I really felt my parents had gypped me because I did not know anyone name Emma. But Gwyneth Paltrow was lovely and fabulous and had great hair and period clothing and from that moment on I was in love with Jane Austen. It also helped that Gwyneth wore a pink ball gown right out of my imagination to the Oscar’s that year. Sometimes I wonder where Emma myself really ends and where Miss Woodhouse begins. But I don’t worry about it too much because though Emma Woodhouse is manipulative, judgmental and catty, she overcomes these faults  to learn to accept other people, though she never changes completely like Lizzie Bennett who has “been so blind” and alters her personality for a man.
  2. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler-E.L Konigsburg: The reason I’m minoring/majoring in Art History. If Emma Woodhouse is who I want to be now, Claudia Kincaid is the 12 year old I wanted to be when I was 8. Unfortunately, when I was 12, I was terribly rude and annoying and co-dependent on my equally annoying group of friends, while Claudia is independent and adventurous. I love the quote when she says “I guess I like complications.”
  3. The Eyre Affair-Jasper Fforde: This book convinced me that there were other people who had literary based humor outside of my family. It is set in an alternate universe where jumping into books is possible.
  4. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn-Betty Smith: Francie Nolan and I could not live more separate lives. I grew up in a little bubble of suburbia and Francie grew up of the slums of Brooklyn. But I could read this a thousand times and I still cry every time. Though I grew up wanting to be Emma Woodhouse, I think I’m really much more like Francie Nolan. And I think this mother-daughter relationships is the most realistic ever written.
  5. Little Women-Louisa May Alcott: I haven’t read this book in years because I thought it was the greatest novel ever for the time I was 7 to about 14 and I’m so afraid I’m going to go back and reading it. I was a vegetarian for eight year because Louisa May Alcott didn’t eat meat, so that’s a pretty big influence. Plus Jo March is probably the reason I’m an English major. This book was the first “classic” I read and after it, I read a ridiculous amount of Victorian novels from both sides of the ocean. Thus I read Austen, Charlotte and Emily Bronte and Dickens a lot earlier than I would have in school. And if you don’t want to be an English major after Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights then I don’t think there is much hope for you.
  6. Bunnicula by I don’t know who-This book did not influence me because it was so good, more because it was so bad. This was the first book I ever was supposed to read for school that I didn’t. And with that, I realized that not all teachers were good and kind and smart. Because when Mrs. Johnson chose this idiotic book, I knew she was not looking for my best interest as a 4th grade student.
  7. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez-When I picked this out I knew it would challenge me. This book is probably the most cited as the greatest book of all time, and I knew I wanted to read but it is flat out hard. But it also opened me up to the world of Magic Realism that I absolutely adore. And after I read this, Garcia’s short stories were a lot less intimidating.
  8. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf: I have a somewhat destructive relationship with Virginia Woolf. If I read her when I’m depressed, I get more depressed. But never has an author so captured what I know bipolar feels like. Except maybe the screenwriters for M*A*S*H. I love Virginia Woolf’s novels so much, but this one is my absolute favorite because I feel all the characters are just different manifestations of a single, bipolar woman. The banner on my blog is actually cropped from the Vanessa Bell (Virginia’s sister) cover of Mrs. Dalloway. And because of this book I love Bloomsbury!
  9. Selected Poems of W.H. Auden by W.H. Auden: The book I carry with me always. I love Auden’s poetry so much, I’m convinced he is completely underrated and in the shadow of T.S. Eliot because he is. I cry just because it is so beautiful.
  10. “Whoso List to Hunt”-Thomas Wyatt: But I wouldn’t have that reaction with this sonnet which we read in my AP Literature class. Before this poem, I was super intimated by poetry except for like lyric, Romantic stuff that is full of pretty simple images, like Wordsworth. This poem no one in my class could figure out, including me, but I looked at the text and looked at the words and I figured it out. And I think that feeling of figuring out what an author has down in a novel or a poem is the greatest in the world, and that’s probably why I am an English major because I am always chasing that “a-ha” feeling I get when I find something new in a book or a poem.

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knitting in literature

I am a knitter by hobby and profession, occasionally. I’ve sold a few hats to friends and family. But this week’s adventure in yarn is strictly pro bono. My dear little sister is turning twelve and I’ve promised her a hat, scarf and wristlet [“texting gloves” as she calls them, kids these days] forever. But I didn’t want to do a solid color because it would a little matchy-matchy old lady on a sprightly twelve year old. And I thought variegated would suit the simple ribbing hat and scarf I was doing but I wanted to do a cabled wristlet to be more secure on her hands and I think anything that is not tone-on-tone or solid in cabling looks severely jumbled.

So I happened upon this lovely self striping yarn that will make narrow stripes on the hat, thick stripes on the scarf and really chunky, almost just a variant fade on each wristlet.

I’ve been furiously knitting, which I rarely do. I quickly knit, haphazardly knit, and even adeptly knit, but rarely furiously knit. But as I was furiously counting stitches, picking up stitches, realizing I should’ve done a 1×1 rib instead of 2×2 and starting over, I thought about how some of my favorite books feature knitting as a act of a character.

Most famously, the villain of  A Tale of Two Cities, Madame DeFarge, “knits” names of those who she will have killed or led to their death. She creepily echos the Greek image of the Fates spinning life threads only to cut them short.

Knitting’s sinister nature can be more direct too. In The Lorax, the environmental crises is causes by the want for the wool [not to far from “wood”] that some trees provide.

In The Adventures of Homer Price, a woman who knits and collects yarn in a ball arranges a contest between her two suitors and her self to see her has the long ball of yarn. The suitors agree that who loses must step aside for the other to marry the woman. Of course, the woman wins [by unraveling the bottom of her skirt no less!]

Anne of Green Gables in on of her finest and silliest predicaments spills milk I believe, or soup, into a basket of yarn because she was pretending to be a nun in prayer. Ironically, she gets scolded more for pretending to be Catholic than ruining the yarn.

Of course sometimes, knitting is just for amusement, as Mrs. Smith cites in Jane Austen’s Persuasion.

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Filed under British, Literature