Knee-Jerk Reaction to The House of Mirth

So…I did a bad thing. I was supposed to be following Cleo’s readalong schedule for The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton. Unfortunately, curiosity and momentum got the better of me. I read the entire second half in day…which was probably a huge mistake.

I’m not going to do a complete review in this post, because I’m still holding out hope that further discussion will change my mind about the book. But what follows are my irreverent, completely uncensored insta-reactions.

WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW THE CUT. And I mean MAJOR!!!!!

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Call of the Wild, Little Women, and Emma – New Movie Adaptations

I’m always interested in screen adaptations of classic literature—at least, the ones which promise a modicum of “trueness” to the story. We have at least three (!!!) coming up in the next three months:

Little Women (Dec 2019) – Link to trailer on YouTube

Emma (Feb 2020) – Link to trailer

Call of the Wild (Feb 2020) – Link to trailer

Ok, my thoughts…

The feminist take on Little Women is somewhat misleading since the trailer doesn’t even show Jo’s love interest Professor Bhaer (who is going to be in the film, albeit as a Very Young and Suspiciously Handsome Guy). However, the plot looks fairly close to the book, so I may go see it. If I’m disappointed, at least we’ll still have the amazing 2017 PBS version, which has become my new gold standard. (I still like the Winona Ryder film, too).

Emma—wow. I’m curious about this one, but it looks potentially horrible. (For one thing, Mr. Woodhouse is completely out-of-character.) Again, I’m really happy with the 2009 Masterpiece Classic series, which managed to be hilarious and classy, so I’m not itching to see this.

I haven’t read Call of the Wild, so I can’t comment on the trailer as it pertains to adaptation. It looks like a traditional, feel-good, Disney live-action film for families, which is not a bad thing. The CGI is a bit unfortunate, but other than that, it looks like it might be the best of this bunch.

I’d like to take this moment to observe the dearth of adaptations of other, equally worthy classics. I posted a list of suggestions earlier this year, but there’s so many, many more.

Reading Goals for 2020

Yes… it’s early, and I haven’t done a recap of my 2019 reading yet, because we still have over a month to go! Still, I thought I’d go ahead and share this while it’s on the brain.

Read What I (Already) Own

That’s right… I have a large number of books (20+), both fic and non-fic, which I haven’t read or only partially read. I’ve made so little progress with the Mount TBR Challenge in the last few years, it’s clear I need to focus on this mountain far more strictly. πŸ˜‰ Happily, the ones I own are pretty diverse in genre and topic, so if I go about it in the right order, I won’t get bored!

Read More Poetry

I’ve been writing poetry on-and-off for ten years—nowadays, I write a poem nearly every day. But I don’t read it as often as I used to or should.

If you have any suggestions of poets to read, do share! I am pretty well-versed (no pun intended) in Dickinson, Wordsworth, and Longfellow, and am looking to branch out.

Keep Reading with Others

This year I’ve participated in not one but FIVE readalongs. It was one of the best decisions of 2019.

  1. The Vindication of the Rights of Woman – Ruth
  2. The Four Loves – Cleo
  3. Moby-Dick – Brona
  4. The Art of Loving – Cleo
  5. The House of Mirth – Cleo

I’m considering hosting two readalongs in 2020: Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl and Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad + An Image of Africa by Chinua Achebe (criticism of Conrad’s novella). They are all short books under 200 pages. Let me know if you have any interest…

Keep Reading Non-Fiction

As of today, I’ve read more nonfiction this year than fiction, which is terrifically unusual. Though I want to maintain a focus on classic literature, I plan to continue reading plenty of non-fic, because I’ve learned so much from it.

And—that’s all. You know I’m bad at challenges, so a sort of unspoken rule for me at this point is not to sign up for challenges. 😳 That said, I’m hoping to make a dent in my Classics Club list (which should happen organically if I stick to these goals).

If Victorians Surfed the Web: 50 Pseudonyms from the 1880s

In the spirit of the last post, I rediscovered another gem from long ago which I’d always intended to blog about: Victorian pseudonyms!

Back in 1880–1885, Lewis Carroll—author of the Alice books and real-life mathematician—wrote a series of math story problems for magazine readers to try to solve. Some participants mailed their answers to him using their real names or initials, but others were more creative. After giving them a chance to solve each puzzle, Carroll published the correct answer, calling out certain lucky (or unlucky) individuals by their pseudonyms. The collection of stories and solutions was later published under the title A Tangled Tale.

Below, in order of appearance, are some of the names readers chose for themselves. You can just picture them wielding those usernames on blogs or forums today… Bonus points if you can identify which ones come from classic stories!

Victorian Pseudonyms

  1. A Nihilist
  2. A Mother’s Son
  3. A Redruthian
  4. A Socialist
  5. Spear Maiden
  6. Vis Inertiæ
  7. Yak
  8. A Marlborough Boy
  9. Sea Breeze
  10. Simple Susan
  11. Money Spinner
  12. Galanthus Nivalis Major
  13. Bog-Oak
  14. Bradshaw of the Future
  15. Alphabetical Phantom
  16. Dinah Mite
  17. H.M.S. Pinafore
  18. Old Cat
  19. Rags and Tatters
  20. Mad Hatter
  21. Scrutator
  22. The Red Queen
  23. Cheeky Bob
  24. Bo-Peep
  25. Financier
  26. Sea-Gull
  27. Thistledown
  28. Cheshire Cat
  29. Waiting for the Train
  30. Common Sense
  31. Veritas
  32. A Ready Reckoner
  33. Three-Fifths Asleep
  34. Dublin Boy
  35. Yahoo
  36. Duckwing
  37. Euroclydon
  38. Land Lubber
  39. Polichinelle
  40. Old Hen
  41. Mrs. Sairey Gamp
  42. An Ancient Fish
  43. Froggy
  44. Turtle Pyate (Lewis: “what is a Turtle Pyate, please?”)
  45. Old Crow
  46. The Shetland Snark
  47. A Christmas Carol
  48. Old King Cole
  49. Theseus
  50. An Old Fogey

The 1899 Questionnaire

Many years ago, I came across this fun artifact from the papers of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, meant to blog about it, and never actually did. This is a “favorites” survey which Doyle filled out in 1899 – basically like a modern-day blog tag! He has pretty readable handwriting, but you can find a typed-up version of his answers here. (Is it just me or was he clearly bored when he filled it out? πŸ˜› )

It has no title so I’ve dubbed it the (oh-so-creative) 1899 Questionnaire. I also thought it might be fun to fill it out, and if you’d like to as well, consider yourself tagged.

The 1899 Questionnaire

Your favourite virtue?

Honesty

Your favourite qualities in man?

Kindness and intuition

Your favourite qualities in woman?

Wisdom and perseverance

Your favourite occupation?

Watching YouTube Writing πŸ™‚

Your chief characteristic?

Thinking too much

Your idea of happiness?

A deep conversation (aka Solving World Problemsβ„’) with a family member or friend

Your idea of misery?

Having no one to talk to

Your favourite colour and flower?

Favorite color is teal blue, favorite flowers are yellow roses

If not yourself, who would you be?

Something to do with music, probably an itinerant fiddler

Where would you like to live?

Same as where I live now, or maybe further out, in the forest

Your favourite poets?

Tolkien, Longfellow, and various lyricists like Adam Young

Your favourite painters and composers?

Painters: Monet, Caspar David Friedrich, Ivan Shishkin

Composers: Tchaikovsky, and so many more

Your favourite heroes in real life?

I don’t really have heroes, but I admire anyone who speaks the truth even when it’s not expedient.

Your favourite heroines in real life?

Same

Your favourite heroes in fiction?

Sherlock Holmes, half the characters from Lord of the Rings, and Deputy Ryker from The Virginian TV show

Your favourite heroines in fiction?

Tatyana Larina from Eugene Onegin, Marian Halcombe from The Woman in White, and Alice

Your favourite food and drink?

Pretty much anything my mom makes. And Subway sandwiches. For drink: Swiss Miss hot cocoa with eggnog! It’s kind of a meal on its own, though.

Your favourite names?

I love old-fashioned names like Evelyn and Henry.

Your pet aversion?

Random strangers who act creepy or ask personal questions.

What characters in history do you most dislike?

The ones who tried to spread ideology or religion by force

What is your present state of mind?

Sheepish for staying up past midnight when I have to get up at 5:40

For what fault have you most toleration?

I’m not sure I would call it a fault exactly, but I have a lot of empathy for anyone who deals with extreme shyness and low self-esteem, having gone through that myself in the past.

Your favourite motto?

“Live not by lies” – Alexander Solzhenitsyn