Thursday, March 21, 2013

Cullings: bookplates, book awards, C.S. Lewis's racy side, "women's books"

Buzzfeed's feature on celebrity bookplates spotlighted many that were too too apropos (especially the Hemingway one, which could almost be a caricature!). Below are a few more samples:
Interesting choice of attire: a cape but no pants.
The kitchen sink approach!
~ The longlist for the 2013 Women's Prize for Fiction includes Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, Life After Life by Kate Atkinson and NW by Zadie Smith. The shortlist will be announced April 16 and the winner June 5. How many have you read? I've read the first two, wanna read the third, and have read excerpts of the last. I have to say, this award doesn't ring any bells, but bully for them. Oops, on further investigation, I see that it's the well-known British award formerly known as the Orange Prize and is chaired this go-round by Miranda Richardson. Yee ha! The £30,000 should give the recipient some time to write—in a room of her own of course.
~ From a profile of Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the March 11 New Yorker: "Although Ginsburg graduated at the top of her class, in 1959, she did not receive a single job offer. (Neither did Sandra Day O'Connor when she graduated from Stanford Law, seven years earlier.)  Ginsburg scrounged for work. A favorite professor, Gerald Gunther, essentially extorted a federal judge in Manhattan, Edward Palmieri, to hire Ginsburg." Maybe the gals should have applied using initials instead of first names!
~ Who knew C. S. Lewis was both edgy and a slyboots? Biographer A. N. Wilson profiles the creator of Narnia in this Huffington Post article.
"Mrs. Moore is the most understandable omission from Lewis’s autobiography. (Another being Lewis’s obsession with sadism; he nicknamed himself Philomastix, or Lover of the Whip). McGrath deals with the whole story remarkably fairly. Lewis trained as an officer to fight in the First World War, and shared a room with a man called Paddy Moore. The two boys agreed that if either were killed in the war, the other would look after the dead one’s parent. Moore was killed. Lewis had already begun a relationship with Janey Moore, with whom he subsequently lived for the rest of his life. When I wrote my life of Lewis, I speculated, as others have done, that they must have been lovers—though this was always hotly contested in those days by some of Lewis’s more pious admirers. When my book was published, Maureen, Mrs. Moore’s daughter, smilingly told me she was glad I had realized what she had been trying to tell me during our conversations about her mother."
~ A series of musings on "women's novels" by Margaret Atwood, written in 1993, was one of Byliner's most-read features last week. It begins thus:
1. Men's novels are about men. Women's novels are about men too but from a different point of view. You can have a men's novel with no women in it except possibly the landlady or the horse, but you can't have a women's novel with no men in it. Sometimes men put women in men's novels but they leave out some of the parts: the heads, for instance, or the hands. Women's novels leave out parts of the men as well. Sometimes it's the stretch between the belly button and the knees, sometimes it's the sense of humor. It's hard to have a sense of humor in a cloak, in a high wind, on a moor. Women do not usually write novels of the type favored by men but men are known to write novels of the type favored by women. Some people find this odd.

10 comments:

  1. I was amused to read in Wiki that C. S. Lewis assumed the nickname Jack after his beloved dog, who was killed while Lewis was a child.
    Identification of oneself with animals is a technique to avoid confronting one's own sexuality, Siggy would say. (The cape with no pants seems a good metaphor for Freud's thought.)
    I am regretting again my complete ignorance of ancient Greek. The first time was when, in reading Gibbon's description of Theodora (the wife of the Emperor Justinian and a former prostitute), I could not comprehend what she did while dancing on a tabletop before male company. "It may only be rendered in a learned language," Gibbon said haughtily.
    ..an unexpected incentive to stay in school.

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    1. I'll bet that text is something about the riddle asked by the Sphinx. Great addenda, as usual! You deserve a kickback -- your comments are frequently at least as—if not more—interesting than my posts!

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  2. According to this page the quote in Greek reads "he who knew the famous riddles and was the mightiest man."

    According to the abstract of an article published in 2010 in Psychoanalysis and History, a Viennese artist named Bertold Löffler created the bookplate, which was commissioned as a gift from Freud's students. (It costs many dollars for online access to the whole article, so I'll stop there.)

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    1. Thank you so much, O knower of the famous riddles!

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    2. VERY INTERESTING! What did it get Oedipus to know the answer to the riddle? Very little. So he wasn't mighty (or at least he was for a while). Somewhat perplexing.

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    3. Answering the riddle got him the kingdom of Thebes, and the deceased former king's wife Jocasta as his queen. They reigned happily until their children were grown, when a plague came to Thebes and Oedipus sought the remedy from Teiresias, who was blind, but not in the same way as Oedipus.
      The answer the blind prophet gave began the enlightenment and unraveling of Oedipus.
      I owe Edith Hamilton for her contagious love of Greek mythology.

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  3. Ms. Atwood's remarks lead one to believe that women--at least, in fiction--are not as interesting as men.
    What are we to make of this? Might it be true, because women are generally facilitators,supporters, conciliators, clean-up personnel, while men supply the motive force that breaks up the status quo, threatening chaos?
    Or shall we say the observation is mistaken, the observer myopic or biased, that kingdoms equally rise and fall within a female's scope, and a more acute chronicler will someday make all this clear?
    What a bone of contention Ms. Atwood has tossed--and so casually!

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    1. I think she's getting at, in part, the idea that women have been traditionally able to identify with male heroes in order to engage in fiction, whereas men were not readily inclined to the obverse.

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  4. Saw the Buzzfeed site--John D. Rockefeller seems to be poking fun at himself! While the lamp of knowledge in the poor university is burning brightly, the lamp in the Rockefeller U.'s hand seems to be burning watered down oil. Beneath is his motto, "Let there be light--at my price per gallon."

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    1. I thought that was so weird ... didn't exactly know what to make of it!

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