22 June 2008

Rue du Départ

Notes on the fifth and final part of Against the Day (see also Part One, Part Two, Part Three, and Part Four).

~ p. 1074: Quite an eye-catching Freudian slip: "Reef, Stray, and Ljubica returned to the U.S. pretending to be Italian immigrants." Of course, it's not Stray (Reef's first wife), it's Yashmeen. Which makes me wonder if there's an alternate version to this story that didn't get completely edited out or if it was simply a proofreader trying to have some fun...

~ p. 1076: A worthwhile topic:
Jesse brought home as an assignment from school "write an essay on What It Means To Be An American."

"Oboy, oboy." Reef had that look on his face, the same look his own father used to get just before heading off for some dynamite-related activities. "Let's see that pencil a minute."

"Already done." What Jesse had ended up writing was,

It means do what they tell you and take what they give you and don't go on strike or their soldiers will shoot you down.

"That's what they call the 'topic sentence'?"

"That's the whole thing."


It came back with a big A+ on it. "Mr. Becker was at the Cour d'Alene back in the olden days. Guess I forgot to mention that."
~ p. 1077: A recurring theme:
"The world came to an end in 1914."
~ p. 1078: Kit is confronted with
a startling implication of Zermelo's Axiom of Choice. It was possible in theory, he was shown beyond a doubt, to take a sphere the size of a pea, cut it apart into several very precisely shaped pieces, and reassemble it into another sphere the size of the sun.

"Because one emits light and the other doesn't, don't you think."

Kit was taken aback. "I don't know."

He spent awhile contemplating this. Zermelo had been a docent at Göttingen when Kit was there and, like Russell, had been preoccupied with the set of all sets that are not members of themselves. He was also notorious around the beer halls for a theory that no expedition could ever reach either of the poles, because the amount of whisky needed was directly proportional to the tangent of the latitude. Polar latitude being 90°, this meant a value approaching infinity--Q.E.D. It didn't surprise Kit much that the peculiar paradox should be traceable in some way back to Zermelo.
~ p. 1081: Here is more evidence and an expansion of my theory from Part Three, p. 596 that the Afghani dirhan around Yashmeen's neck is the "ancient coin" of the novel's cover. Lord Overlunch explains Kit's visit to Shambhala via a certain stamp:
"I like to look at these all carefully with the loupe at least once a week, and today I noticed something different about this ten-dirhan design, and wondered if possibly someone, some rival, had crept in here while I was out and substituted a variant. But of course I found the change immediately, the one face that was missing, your own, I know it well by now, it is, if you don't mind my saying so, the face of an old acquaintance...."

"But I wasn't..."

"Well, well. A twin, perhaps."
I still tend to think that the dirhan is Yashmeen's and the image is Shambhala after all.

~ p. 1084: The Chums' wives are going to have babies and suddenly the writing has switched to the present tense:
As the sails of her destiny can be reefed against too much light, so they may also be spread to catch a favorable darkness. Her ascents are effortless now. It is no longer a matter of gravity--it is an acceptance of sky.
Glorious life continues...as the novel ends.

~ p. 1085: "They fly toward grace."

18 June 2008

More of Montgomery's literary allusions

This went up yesterday at Blogging Anne of Green Gables.

Here are the wealth of references found between Chapters 7 and 19 (from Anne's prayers to the Debating Club concert):

~ Marilla determines to "send to the manse tomorrow and borrow the Peep of Day series". (The copyright of the edition linked to here says 1925, but I imagine it was around in other forms years before that.)

~ Anne learns the Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4).

~ Enough to make Lewis Carroll smile:
Marilla was as fond of morals as the Duchess in Wonderland, and was firmly convinced that one should be tacked on to every remark made to a child who was being brought up.
~ Anne on Sunday school:
"Then all the other little girls recited a paraphrase. She asked me if I knew any. I told her I didn't, but I could recite, 'The Dog at His Master's Grave' if she liked. [This is the best I could do.] That's in the Third Royal Reader. It isn't a really truly religious piece of poetry, but it's so sad and melancholy that it might as well be. She said it wouldn't do and she told me to learn the nineteenth paraphrase for next Sunday. I read it over in church afterwards and it's splendid. There are two lines in particular that just thrill me.
Quick as the slaughtered squadrons fell
In Midian's evil day.
I don't know what 'squadrons' means nor 'Midian,' either, but it sounds so tragical. I can hardly wait until next Sunday to recite it."
These lines seem to be from an old Christmas carol, "The Race that Long in Darkness Pined." (I can just hear her.)

~ "I sat just as still as I could and the text was Revelations, third chapter, second and third verses. It was a very long text. If I was a minister I'd pick the short, snappy ones."

~ After meeting Diana for the first time:
"Don't you think Diana has got very soulful eyes? I wish I had soulful eyes. Diana is going to teach me to sing a song called 'Nelly in the Hazel Dell.'"
Later, when Marilla goes to ask her about the infamous amethyst brooch, Anne is
shelling peas by the spotless table and singing "Nelly of the Hazel Dell" with a vigour and expression that did credit to Diana's teaching [...].
And here it is (as well as some additional background history):
In the Hazel Dell my Nelly's sleeping,
Nelly lov'd so long!
And my lonely watch I'm nightly keeping,
Nelly, lost and gone.
Here in moonlight often we have wander'd
Thro' the silent glade;
Now where leafy branches all point downward;
Little Nelly's laid.
All alone my watch I'm keeping
In the Hazel Dell,
For my darling Nelly's near me sleeping.
Nelly, dear, farewell.
~ Anne quotes Rachel Lynde quoting...Benjamin Franklin?:
"Mrs. Lynde says, 'Blessed are they who expect nothing for they shall not be disappointed.' But I think it would be worse to expect nothing than to be disappointed."
I first encountered this line in Poor Richard's Almanack, but I've also seen it attributed to Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift. Many (most?) of Franklin's quotations were lifted from other sources, so Mrs. Lynde would be relieved to know that she isn't actually quoting a "Yank."

~ Amid the amethyst brooch tragedy, Marilla remembers Luke 9:62:
"Oh dear, I'm afraid Rachel was right from the first. But I've put my hand to the plough and I won't look back."
~ In Diana's list of reasons why Anne shouldn't leave school:
"and Alice Andrews is going to bring a new Pansy book next week and we're all going to read it out loud, chapter about, down by the brook. And you know how you are so fond of reading out loud, Anne."
~ I think Proverbs 25:21-22 was a favorite passage of Montgomery's--it's mentioned many times in her work (and probably comforted her amid the trials of her living situation). It's certainly a favorite of Anne's. After confessing the truth of the mouse-drowned pudding sauce, Anne tells how Marilla
"just carried that sauce and pudding out and brought in some strawberry preserves. She even offered me some, but I couldn't swallow a mouthful. It was like heaping coals of fire on my head."
And when Anne accepts Mrs. Barry's apology,
"I felt fearfully embarrassed, Marilla, but I just said as politely as I could, 'I have no hard feelings for you, Mrs. Barry. I assure you once for all that I did not mean to intoxicate Diana and henceforth I shall cover the past with the mantle of oblivion.' That was a pretty dignified way of speaking, wasn't it, Marilla? I felt that I was heaping coals of fire on Mrs. Barry's head."
~ When Mrs. Barry first separates them, Anne states,
"My heart is broken. The stars in their courses fight against me, Marilla."
This is from the story of Deborah in Judges 5:20.

~ Anne misses Diana's welcome when she goes back to school, inspiring Montgomery to quote from the fourth canto of Byron's "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage":
The Caesar's pageant shorn of Brutus' bust
Did but of Rome's best son remind her more
Then Psalm 139:14 is invoked as
"the next morning a note, most fearfully and wonderfully twisted and folded, and a small parcel, were passed across to Anne."
~ Anne's pronouncement,
"But really, Marilla, one can't stay sad very long in such an interesting world, can one?"
foretells the penchant of Montgomery's 1929 titular heroine in Magic for Marigold:
She had picked it up from Aunt Marigold and from then to the end of life things would be for Marigold interesting or uninteresting. Some people might demand of life that it be happy or untroubled or successful. Marigold Lesley would only ask that it be interesting.
~ Numbers in the Avonlea Debating Club Concert: Prissy Andrews "climbed the slimy ladder, dark without one ray of light" in "Curfew Must Not Ring Tonight" by Rose Hartwick Thorpe.

~ Sam Sloane recites "How Sockery Set a Hen" [scroll down for passage].

~ Mr. Phillips "gave Mark Antony's oration over the dead body of Caesar".

~ And the aforementioned moment when Gilbert recites "Bingen on the Rhine" (while Anne stonily ignores him by reading "Rhoda Murray's library book"). Diana says,
"Oh, Anne, how could you pretend not to listen to him? When he came to the line,
There's another, not a sister
he looked right down at you."
It probably rankled all the more since it had been a favorite of hers.

~ This Japanese site has a good collection of the primary sources listed in the novel.

15 June 2008

Against the Day

Notes on the fourth part of Against the Day (see also Part One, Part Two, and Part Three).

Since I've finished, it's been interesting to think about how the multitude of characters and locations actually serve to diminish distances. Yes, it's a sprawling, expansive, huge novel--but reading large chunks at once really left me with the impression of the tightly knitted, interconnected nature of global community. Nothing happens in isolation, but is a consequence of other occurrences, decisions, and seemingly "random" events.

It's also interesting that although the focal point of the novel is World War I, we never actually see it take place. Rather, the narrative deals with the events that lead up to it and then the aftermath.

~ p. 735: Dally's dilemma about Kit:
What did she want? Wasn't this just Merle all over again? That alchemy, the magic crystals, the obsessive assaults on the Mysteries of Time, she'd really believed once that she had to get away from that before it drove her as crazy as her Pa, and now, would you just look, here she was getting it back, here was another lunatic, somebody this time leaving her, to go search for an invisible city over the edge of the world.
~ p. 738: Andrea Tancredi rails against the massive buying and selling of art (what Scarsdale Vibe is up to, because after all, everything comes back to chasing light):
"It's not the price tag," Tancredi cried, "it's what comes after--investment, reselling, killing something born in the living delirium of paint meeting canvas, turning it into a dead object, to be traded, on and on, for whatever the market will bear. A market whose forces are always exerted against creation, in the direction of death."
~p. 744: An artist's redemption:
He was a virtuous kid, like all these fucking artists, too much so for the world, even the seen world they were trying to redeem one little rectangle of canvas at a time.
~ p. 749: From Yashmeen's letter to her "father":
"For what mission have I here, in this perilous segment of space-time, if not somehow to transcend it, and the tragic hour into which it is passing?

"Mathematics once seemed the way--the internal life of numbers came as a revelation to me, perhaps as it might have to a Pythagorean apprentice long ago in Crotona--a reflection of some less-accessible reality, through close study of which one might perhaps learn to pass beyond the difficult given world."
~ p. 757: An amusing exchange:
"Fond of the English, are you sir."

"I love Gweat Bwitain! Lord Salisbuwy is my wole model!"
~ p. 761: The curse of Tamerlane's tomb

~ p. 762: "Invisible birds, collecting against the night, sang boisterously."

~ p. 777: Lieutenant Prance sets Kit straight on the matter of American history--how political or economic motives are exposed as religious ones.

~ p. 779: The Tunguska event becomes one of the central moments of the novel, affecting all characters and upsetting the balance of nature. It's fascinating how Pynchon explores the possible implications of a historical fact, tying together the various mathematical theories and ideas that coalesce throughout the story. Reading this list of literary references to the event, I was a little surprised by the connection that is made:
Thomas Pynchon's book Against the Day, puts forth a complex explanation for the Tunguska event, centering around the idea that an expedition near the North Pole unearthed a sentient geological being which, after being transported to the Tunguska area, proceeded to unleash rage-fueled destruction on the humans that transported him.
It looks like I'm going to have to reread it (someday), because I did not pick up on that at all. (This probably has something to do with the fact that it took me nearly a year to make it half-way, and then only a few weeks to finish the rest.)

~ p.782: Someone's conclusion about the Event's cause:
"Exactly what I'm saying. Time-travel isn't free, it takes energy. This was an artifact of repeated visits from the future."
~ p. 793: Shambhala is revealed in the aftermath of the Event, but then so are the Chums:
What it would take the boys longer to understand was that the great burst of light had also torn the veil separating their own space from that of the everyday world, and that for the brief moment they had also met the same fate as Shambhala, their protection lost, and no longer able to count on their invisibility before the earthbound day.
This is another thing I didn't fully realize: the Chums of Chance are fictional characters to this world of "real" people. Fictions within the fiction, finally exposed.

~ p. 794: The theory that Tesla had something to do with it is discussed. (The Tom Swift reference is particularly funny.)

~ p. 805: "As nights went on and nothing happened and the phenomenon slowly faded to the accustomed deeper violets again, most had difficulty remembering the earlier rise of heart, the sense of overture and possibility, and went back once again to seeking only orgasm, hallucinaion, stupor, sleep, to fetch them through the night and prepare them against the day."

~ p. 809: A nice little history lesson describing the events leading up to WWI. (Much more intelligible than what gets stuck into history texts these days.)

~ p. 815-16: Yashmeen on the verge of her revelation:
Just for the instant, the matter was illuminated, unequivocally, something as obvious as Ramanujan's Formula--no, something of which Ramanujan's Formula was a special case--revealed why Riemann should have hypothesized one-half as the real part of every ζ(0), why he had needed to, at just that point in his thinking...she was released into her past, haunting her old self, almost close enough to touch--and then of course it was gone again and she was more immediately concerned with the loss of her hat [...].
I love Peter Keough's idea that the formula of the Quarternionist's beloved Hamilton (i² = j² = k² = ijk = -1) "relates to the structure of the book, each term in the equation applicable to each of the novel’s five sections". I think there's a lot more of this sort of thing going on, and (again) I'd love to read a mathematician's take on it.

~ p. 845: The European Question, "this bad daydream toward which all had been converging, murderous as a locomotive running without lights or signals, unsettling as points thrown at the last minute, awakened from because of some noise out in the larger world, some doorbell or discontented animal, that might remain forever unidentified."

~ p. 867: The description of Penhallow's painting, The Iron Gateway, expresses "his meditation on the fate of Europe" and depicts "shadowy multitudes trooped toward a vanishing line over which broke a hellish radiance." I'm immediately reminded of the vision of the future that the Chums saw from the Time machine--fictional fictional characters peering into the horror of reality.

~ p. 892: So there is doom and gloom, and then this:
"Who, 'Pert? Why she's the most naïvely trusting person I know."

"The woman gets jealous of oatmeal, Hunter." Dally had recently walked in on Ruperta with her face inches from a bowl of steaming porridge, addressing it in a low, vicious snarl [...] while her four-year-old niece Clothilda sat patiently nearby with a spoon and a milk jug.
~ p. 896: Ruperta nearly goes the way of Remedios the Beauty.

~ p. 930: "Frank respected this--who at some point hadn't come to hate the railroad? It penetrated, it broke apart cities and wild herds and watersheds, it created economic panics and armies of jobless men and women, and generations of hard, bleak city-dwellers with no principles who ruled with unchecked power, it took away everything indiscriminately, to be sold, to be slaughtered, to be led beyond the reach of love."

~ p. 934: Anarchists' Golf reminds me of Calvinball.

~ p. 936-37: The map depicting the Renfrew/Werfner "Interdikt" phosgene trap that Lew discovers in London falls into the hands of Cyprian, Yashmeen, and Reef:
Cyprian had been closely scanning the map with a Coddington lens. "Here then, the line-segment of interest seems to be labeled 'Critical Line'--Yashmeen, isn't that Riemann talk?"

She looked. "Except that this one's horizontal, and drawn on a grid of latitude and longitude, instead of real against imaginary values--where Riemann said that all the zeroes of the ζ-function will be found."
The connections don't simply describe each other, they infiltrate meaning.

~ p. 942: Jenny:
"This is our own age of exploration," she declared, "into that unmapped country waiting beyond the frontiers and seas of Time. We make our journeys out there in the low light of the future, and return to the bourgeois day and its mass delusion of safety, to report on what we've seen. What are any of these 'utopian dreams' of ours but defective forms of time-travel?"
~ p. 947: Henry Adams crops up again: there are "dynamos" connected to the Interdikt, tied to the eventual destruction of Europe. (I really do need to find out what else Pynchon has said about him. It's amazing how necessary "The Dynamo and the Virgin" is to understanding what he's up to in this book.)

~ p. 953: The Interdikt's true weapon:
"It seems that isn't a gas weapon, after all," said the motoros. "'Phosgene' is really code for light. We learned it is light here which is really the destructive agent. [...] From military experience with searchlights, it was widely known how effectively light at that candle-power could produce helplessness and fear. The next step was to find away to project it as a stream of destructive energy."

"Fear in lethal form," said Cyprian. "And if all these units, all along this line, went off at once--"

"A great cascade of blindness and terror ripping straight across the heart of the Balkan Peninsula."
~ p. 957: "The Manichæan aspect had grown ever stronger--the obligation of those who took refuge here to be haunted by the unyielding doubleness of everything. Part of the discipline for a postulant was to remain acutely conscious, at every moment of the day, of the nearly unbearable conditions of cosmic struggle between darkness and light proceeding, inescapably, behind the presented world."

~ p. 960: Father Ponko:
"When God hides his face, it is paraphrased as 'taking away' his Shekhinah. Because it is she who reflects his light, Moon to his Sun. Nobody can withstand pure light, let alone see it. Without her to reflect, God is invisible. She is absolutely of the essence if he is to be at all operative in the world."
~ p. 973: "Her love for Ljubica being impenetrable and indivisible as a prime number, other loves must be accordingly reevaluated."

~ p. 983: The meteorites of Mexico: "a gigantic one known as the Chupaderos, whose fragments, weighing in all perhaps fifty tons, had been taken away to the Capital in 1893." Which, of course, was back when our story began, at the World's Fair in Chicago.

~ p. 991-92: Once again, light as flesh:
"In the same way," amplified Günther, "that our Savior could inform his disciples with a straight face that bread and wine were indistinguishable from his body and blood. Light, in any case, among these Indians of Chiapas, occupies an analogous position to flesh among Christian peoples. It is living tissue. As the brain is the outward and visible expression of the Mind."
~ p. 1018: The Chums of Chance "had voted, finally, to disafilliate."

~ p. 1020: "The corollary, Chick had worked out long ago, being that each star and planet we can see in the Sky is but the reflection of our single Earth along a different Minkowskian space-time track. Travel to other worlds is therefore travel to alternate versions of the same Earth. And if going up is like going north, with the common variable being cold, the analogous direction in Time, by the Second Law of Thermodynamics, ought to be from past to future, in the direction of increasing entropy."

~ p. 1023-24: Miles remembers Ryder Thorn and what he wanted him to remember in Flanders, before the beginning of the end:
"Those poor innocencts," he exclaimed in a stricken whisper, as if some blindness had abruptly healed itself, allowing him at last to see the horror transpiring on the ground. "Back at the beginning of this...they must have been boys, so much like us.... They knew they were standing before a great chasm none could see to the bottom of. But they launched themselves into it anyway. Cheering and laughing. It was their own grand 'Adventure.' They were juvenile heroes of a World-Narrative--unreflective and free, they went on hurling themselves into those depths by tens of thousands until one day they awoke, those who were still alive, and instead of finding themselves posed nobly against some dramatic moral geography, they were down cringing in a mud trench swarming with rats and smelling of shit and death."
This novel is (among many other things) a lament for World War I--something the world has never recovered from.

~ p. 1036: Living pictures:
"See, every photographic subject moves," Roswell explained, "even if it's standing still. It breathes, light bounces off, something. Snapping a photograph is like what the math professors call 'differentiating' an equation of motion--freezing that movement into the very small piece of time it takes the shutter to open and close. So we figured--if shooting a photo is like taking a first derivative, then maybe we could find some way to do the reverse of that, start with the still photo and integrate it, recover its complete primative and release it back into action...even back to life..."
~ p. 1048: The potato-salad recipe discussion reminded me of Carl Solomon and the infamous food-fight incident at CCNY around the time (I think) Pynchon was at Cornell.

~ p. 1057: Lake's fate:
Instead she was alone with the sort of recurring dream a long-suffering movie heroine would expect to wake from to find herself pregnant at last.
~ p. 1062: A technological advancement is simply the means by which love can be communicated.

11 June 2008

A delightful discovery

I've discussed the Borges-Chesterton connection twice already, but why didn't I know that Borges and Bioy Casares translated Chesterton?:
Chesterton es autor de un cuento magistral, Los tres jinetes del Apocalipsis, incluido en esta compilación, y descubierto al idioma español por Jorge Luis Borges y Adolfo Bioy Casares, que lo tradujeron y anexaron a su antología Los mejores cuentos policiales, diciendo de Chesterton que ejerció y renovó la novela, la crítica, la lírica, la biografía, la polémica y las ficciones policiales.
Here is the translated story itself. (The original is found in The Paradoxes of Mr. Pond.)

(With many thanks to A.)

UPDATE: There's a wealth of GKC's work over at Project Gutenberg.

A lost city

James Davidson explores the roots of the Atlantis myth in "Plato Made it Up":
Moreover, inasmuch as Plato insisted Atlantis was not a fiction but ‘fact’ drawn from Egyptian documents, and indeed suffused his account with what Vidal-Naquet calls, quoting Barthes, ‘reality-effects’ – precise measurements and detailed descriptions of Atlantis’s topography and its monuments – he raises interesting questions about the truth-effects of historical discourse, and the relationship between abstract imaginative constructions and facts on the ground. For what Vidal-Naquet found ‘striking and special’ about the story was that, as well as being a myth, it was also a contemporary political document in which Atlantis stood for Persia and also for modern thalassocratic Athens. The real war embedded in the mythical war was between a real, imperial classical Athens and an imaginary ideal anti-Athens, projected onto the field of prehistory.

10 June 2008

Don't do anything

(photo by Autumn de Wilde)

Grades, progress reports, translations, proofreading, loans, letters, photocopies, housing contracts, financial aid forms, visa applications, passport photos, fees, airline tickets, considerations, plans, methods, means, hours, days, waiting, breathing...

It's been a little busy in this particular corner of the universe lately.

Thankfully, I've discovered some very good news. Sam Phillips is back with a new album and some spare words for a new site:
I was born in east Hollywood. I just found out that Charles Bukowski worked at the post office right around the corner from my grandmother’s house. I might have even sold him some lemonade when I was a kid, though I hear that wasn’t his drink. The excesses of Hollywood go down the wrong side of the tracks and up the right side. The religious and experimental/alternative lifestyles have always thrived here because so many people come to Hollywood with dreams that get broken (or come true) and need to be replaced. I’d rather make art than make my dreams come true. I’d rather be interested and inspired. [...]

When I was eight years old, I was given my first Bible at Hollywood Presbyterian Church by a minister who looked like a football star/leading man. Around the same time my beloved dance teacher gave me a small bottle of perfume, which I loved too much to use. After reading the story of Mary pouring her best perfume oil on Jesus’ feet, I decided to pour my whole bottle of perfume on the Bible. Since that perfume was my only treasure at the time, it was an extravagant expression of faith. That smelly Bible was one of my first attempts to make art.

In one of the most important election years in the history of our United States, I am bringing out a record called “Don’t Do Anything”. This is not a political statement. The line of the song it’s taken from is “I love you when you don’t do anything”. I might have written this to my child, a lover, a friend, a dead person, or all of these. Maybe I wanted someone to write it to me. Maybe an extravagant expression of faith is the last thing we need this year. Maybe it’s the first. There is a lot to do in between.
And so I go back and try to make room for the things I love, and not let duty wear me too thin. I need to stop and listen a little more.

06 June 2008

Lines from Anne's history

I had such fun writing about L.M. Montgomery's allusions to Browning and Lowell, I've decided to cross-post my most recent contribution to Blogging Anne of Green Gables here.

There are a wealth of literary references in Chapter 5, and it's interesting that they're concentrated in the chapter devoted to Anne's past.
"Well, that is another hope gone. 'My life is a perfect graveyard of buried hopes.' That's a sentence I read in a book once, and I say it over to comfort myself whenever I'm disappointed in anything."
I wasn't able to find the source for this one. All searches lead back to Anne herself. Even The Annotated Anne of Green Gables says, "The source of Anne's allusion is unknown." I wonder if Irene Gammel found it?

Random aside: Do you have any lines that you say to comfort yourself in trying times? I sometimes murmur (or at least think to myself), "The only way out is through"--a version of Frost's line. My fiancé is prone to say, "¿Qué hacemos con este cementerio de sueños?"--which is basically Anne's line! Turns out he got it from a Ricardo Arjona song, "Me dejaste." (Which reminds me that I need to find a copy of Anne, la de tejados verdes soon--both he and his sister would enjoy reading it... Which leads me to another random question: Why oh why is the film not subtitled in Spanish? Back in '93 or so, my sisters and I watched it on tv while living in Medellín and it was called La infancia de Ana. Perhaps I should begin looking for it under that title?)

Now to rein in the rambling...
"I read in a book once that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but I've never been able to believe it. I don't believe a rose would be as nice if it was called a thistle or a skunk cabbage."
I'm sure everyone recognized Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. What's funny is that even though the story is of the tragic and romantic kind that Anne loves, she isn't completely swept away by it. There is still a practical side to her that takes issue with Juliet's words.
"I can read pretty well and I know ever so many pieces of poetry off by heart--'The Battle of Hohenlinden' and 'Edinburgh after Flodden,' and 'Bingen on the Rhine,' and most of the 'Lady of the Lake' and most of 'The Seasons' by James Thompson [sic]. Don't you just love poetry that gives you a crinkly feeling up and down your back? There is a piece in the Fifth Reader--'The Downfall of Poland'--that is just full of thrills. Of course, I wasn't in the Fifth Reader--I was only in the Fourth--but the big girls used to lend me theirs to read."
I couldn't find "The Downfall of Poland" online, but it was written by the Scottish poet Thomas Campbell (also the author of "The Battle of Hohenlinden"). I was very happy to find the complete text of Sir Walter Scott's "The Lady of the Lake"--but it's a PDF file, so it will take a bit to load. Anne has a deep affinity for Scotland, it seems (which only makes sense, given the history of that part of Canada).

In collecting these links, I found a site called Anne's Poetry Place, which points out that
Gilbert recites ["Bingen on the Rhine"] in the first concent [sic] that Anne attends. When he comes to the line "There's another, not a sister," he looks down upon Anne, as Diana later accounts. However, after teasing Anne about her red hair, Gilbert is unable to win her affection through even this most romantic gesture.
So a poem that was an old favorite of hers was later used against her! I wonder if Gilbert knew how she loved it?
The shore road was "woodsy and wild and lonesome."
Montgomery herself is quoting John Greenleaf Whittier's "Cobbler Keezar's Vision." I think I'll finish this post off with its last two stanzas:
The weary mill-girl lingers
Beside the charmed stream,
And the sky and the golden water
Shape and color her dream.

Air wave the sunset gardens,
The rosy signals fly;
Her homestead beckons from the cloud,
And love goes sailing by.

01 June 2008

Beginning with Anne

My first post to Kate's Blogging Anne of Green Gables project went up this morning. In celebration of the 100th anniversary of Anne's publication, I look forward to revisiting this old favorite and exploring the reasons why it has meant so much to me as a reader. Montgomery's countless literary allusions influenced my imagination when I was a child, introducing me to the Greats. She understood what it meant to "stand on the shoulders of giants" and I think she would be gratified to know of the literary worlds she has opened up to others as well.