If It's Not Victorian or Edwardian, It's CRAP!
I've been working on this for three days. It's not going to get better, so I'm just going to cut it loose. I've got shit to do.
My mom was one of those Canadians who figured that, since the Queen's image was on her money, she was practically a resident of England. This is probably why I was handed so many British (mostly Victorian or Edwardian) books during my formative years.
I blame all those British authors for my inability to write a non-convoluted sentence. Well, them and the AP system, which--if you bluff/score high enough on their exam--exempts you from university writing courses.
I was a lazy, sloppy writer by the time I got to grad school, and a trial to my patient advisor. Strong, spare writing was a particularly favored topic of his, and every few weeks he would beg me to read Joseph Williams' Style: Towards Clarity and Grace. I did read it, and I did try, but I just couldn't shake those adverbs and run-on sentences. It's not in me to work that hard, or avoid readings from that era even though they reinforce my bad habits.
And the bad habits continue. I continue to circle back to books from or about England even when making a conscious effort not to do so. Right now I'm slogging through three such books.
Ep has successfully derailed me with another story about people who hack up other people, and the people who try to catch them. This one is Patricia Cornwell's Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper Case Closed. Unbelievable that a mere 120 years ago, murder investigations discounted physical evidence in favor of witness accounts, the little physical evidence that was gathered was not subjected to microscopy even though it had been available for 200 years, and few knew that germs were the cause of infections despite Pasteur's discovery 20 years earlier. Here is the image that will be stuck in my head the longest: proud surgeons displaying their superiority and dedication through the stiff foulness of their constantly blood-soaked and never-washed surgical garb. Won't even go into the fucked-upedness of just being a woman during this time.
What I am supposed to be reading (besides all the generously loaned books from Jo) is The Code of the Woosters, a book I've meant to take on for just about ever. I put off many a famous series for as long as possible, knowing how delicious they will when I eventually cave in (e.g., I read LOTR for the first time this year). Wodehouse's language is so lovely and comforting and familiar, like relaxing into a giant feather bed after a long hot bath. I am just waiting for the opportunity to address someone as "my gay young tapeworm."
The third book I am reading to Iz, and is of course A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. It is a long-standing favorite of mine, and so beautifully melodramatic. I am hoping that Iz finds much to admire in the kind, sympathetic, polite, intelligent, fiercely loyal, imaginative, and book-loving Sara. She is certainly taken by the idea of dolls having secret lives, keeps asking me what her dolls do when she is at school, and loves pretending that she is my walking/talking Emily doll.
The language and images from these three books are intermingling in my head, superimposed with my worries about what sorts of fanciness we'll be engaged in during our Christmas vacation at Seymour's folks' house. (They are lovely, wonderful, and kind, but favor strangely formal group outings that don't always allow for the exuberance of small children.) That is probably why the following lines popped into my head and won't leave:
If you subject me to a luncheon,
I may have to bring my truncheon.