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bear by san

March 2017

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bear by san

Hurm

The good news is, I have raspberries and key lime cheesecake. And the Elizabethan fantasy fest continues, as kit_kindred is making me (re)read Lisa Goldstein's Strange Devices of the Sun and Moon, which he insists I read and didn't like, whereas I am insisting I never read it, but read Vonda McIntyre's The Moon and the Sun, because I clearly remember French people and mermaids.

Although perhaps it was an alternate me who read Strange Devices, while this me read the McIntyre book, and somewhere along the line there was a quantum event and all the Chrises switched one universe to the left. I'm actually convinced that this happens on a regular basis, and it explains why people have such wildly different memories of the same events.

Now if On Spec will just buy my story on that topic....

In bad news:

Argosy reject today, by the way. Just a form, so it's not really a cessation of the mail embargo, but it's something.

And I have no idea what happens next in The Stratford Man in specific terms, although I know what happens in terms of plot arc. The actual actions of the characters remain somewhat of a mystery, though.

Comments

Why would you be encouraged to read the Goldstein and the McIntyre? To avoid the historical mistakes each made, which were disappointingly rife?
I don't know that I'm going to finish the Goldstein. It's, well, somewhat dull, a hundred pages in. Haven't spotted anything in the way of major historical mistakes yet, but neither have I found much to keep me reading. Her characterizations seem curiously flat--

I read the McIntyre lo these many years ago and remember liking it, but not all that much else about it except mermaids and so forth. But I have a weakness for McIntyre's work overall.

What are your historical pet peeves with the books, just out of curiousity?

(Personally, I have no problem with rewriting history to suit fiction: I figure if Shakespeare and Disney can get away with it, so can I. However, rewriting history does *not* mean not doing your research. *g*)
I think rewriting history is fine, a la Patrick O'Brian, but you have to know history first, and few writers can do a good job by researching in one or two books, and then imposing a modern viewpoint on historical characters.

Now, even that can be successful in the hands of a brilliant writer. Dorothy Dunnett's Lymond chronicles come to mind. (I find the main character repellent, but everyone else fascinating, and very good writing. Superb use of historical research, and I know most of her sources.)

Goldstein's historical work strikes me very flat, with modern New Age characters stuck in the past, a monotone flavor. Historical characters she doesn't like turn into one dimensional distortions--the complex, fascinating Rudolph II, frex. But he's not Politically Correct by today's standard, therefore he is diminished to a cartoon villain.

It's the same with the McIntyre. Christianity is no longer Politically Correct in our genre, which I guess gave her license to reduce all the Christians in her work to one dimensional distortions, boring ones, and the ones with (very unlikely) modern determinist viewpoints get all the fun. I wouldn't mind it so much if this strategy were superimposed over a period I know little about, but I know quite a great deal about Louis XIV's court, and I did not appreciate seeing fascinating people reduced to Scooby Doo cartoon monsters just so one could hear the axes grinding.

(Plus there were many, many tiny but telling wrong details in courtly form.)
*nod* I agree categorically that one thing I cannot *bear* in historical fiction is implausibly modern attitudes in the characters, overall. Which may be part of what bothers me about the Goldstein--well, I dunno, it's more a lack of characters than their being particularly modern. They seem more like catalogues of traits than people.

I don't recall that particular flaw in the McIntyre, but I may have blocked it out: I'd certainly believe it, as it is probably the most common flaw in historical fiction I've read. It's *hard* to get into the head of somebody of a different era--especially as I think some schools of social history tend to play up the alienation between time-cultures more than it probably really should be.

I also don't understand why people choose to write in Christian time periods if they can't deal fairly with Christian characters. Of course, my life is very much complicated by the fact that one of my protagonists is a homosexual failed priest, and the other one is the great granddaddy of secular humanism, and the nature of God is a big issue in the book (you might almost say the central conflict.) So I'm sure half the world will see the book as dissing Christianity, which it's rather not intended to....

Although it may be dissing organized religion in general. I will admit to not being overly fond of anybody dictating God to anybody else. I also rather imagine there will be historical/research things in Stratford Man that will send some readers off the deep end, but hey, I'm doing my best. *g*

Boy, that was remarkably self-absorbed, wasn't it?
No, I thought it quite interesting and appropos, considering the project you are deeply immersed in. And discussing the nature of God was tremendously important to people of that time; John Donne and Erasmus and the rest of the gang delve into the topic. They all read, and debated, Boethius, frex. People these days have never heard of Boethius because these questions do not matter to most in our society, and it is true to the time to depict contemporary characters that way. But it is not true to the 16th C to have them uttering clever determinist soundbites just because they are qool now.

At least, so I think, but then I read a lot of history, and slide easily into the old mindsets--even when I personally disagree strongly with the fundamental tenets of their paradigms.
Exactly!

Yay!

Old Mindsets

I have an anthropology background: It's been (mumble) years now, and I don't actually recall a lot of the theory, but one thing it successfully managed was kicking the ethnocentrism out of me. Okay, not entirely: I'm still firmly opposed to infant genital mutilation and wife murder, so I haven't internalized it to the point where it overwhelms my culturally programmed preference for basic human rights. But it's nice--if alienating--to be aware of how much of this stuff is cultural determinism.

I think som histfic writers also suffer from a failure to realize that terminology and attitudes change, and an atheist or a sodomite in 16th C. England is not necessarily what we'd term an atheist or a sodomite now.

This is actually one of the things I really like about Ellis Peters: She does a truly nifty job of capturing a Chaucerian *feel* in her work, which I think is quite an accomplishment.
Ah. I'm looking for mermaid books. Any good? Bear in mind any historical inaccuracies will probably be over my head.

I'm been meaning to ask but it felt like I should know already or be considered nosey. Mail embargo?
Umm. I liked it (the McIntyre) and I think it won several awards, IIRC. I get the feeling ionas wasn't so thrilled.

I'm not liking the Goldstein so much.
Oh: mail embargo means "no responses from submitted short stories and/or novels for a longer-than-expected period of time."

It usually ends with getting six rejections in a day, the perversity of the universe yadda yadda. I only got one today: ahead of the game. *g*
Thanks! Curiosity is a terrible failing of mine. That and the question why? have gotten me into a lot of troubling fun.

I didn't care for the Goldstein and I went into it expecting to. I may try the McIntyre, and thank you for the link, although it was the dwarf that caught my attention too!

Have you read any of the Viscount of Adrilanhka yet?
I have not. We have it around here somewhere....

Just out of curiousity, what did you dislike about the Goldstein? Was there anything you did like about it? (I love to geek about books. I'm hopeless...)
Well I tend to have that childlike naivety that if I like one thing an author writes... This was a very long ago read. Can we talk Mckillip? No? OK.

About all I remember at this point is that I never engaged with the characters. I did finish it which now I probably wouldn't... I've gotten terribly hard to please the last decade. Hence mucho non-fiction.

Can you recommend a good entry point for learning about female writers of the Elizabethan period? Poetry is lovely but optional.
Hmm. Female writers of the Elizabethan period would be a truepenny question. There almost aren't any. Elizabeth herself wrote poetry, and I know Truepenny has a playwright, I think?

I agree about the characters. They mostly aren't--characters, that is. They have physical descriptions, but little in the way of personality.
Yes that's it exactly. I grow raspberries too by the way... most of the other supporting players hve given way to the roses, except for the herbs. But the raspberries I kept.
Ooo. Roses and raspberries. A winning combination....

Female writers of the Elizabethan period

Mary Sidney Herbert, the Countess of Pembroke, is the only one who comes to mind offhand.

Googling around, I see reference to a book titled Teaching Tudor and Stuart Women Writers which may be a good starting point, but I have no further information on its contents or quality.

Female writers of the Elizabethan period

Not very damn many of them. At least not whose work has survived and whom we know to have been women.

And now I proceed to give you way more information than you asked for.

I think the best place to start is with the primary texts. Sadly, there aren't all that many of them, and most of those have interest more as social documents than literary texts. Also, they are available in scholarly editions, thus with introductions and critical apparatuses (apparati?) and bibliographies which can lead you to the critical work being done. This is still a comparatively new field; there isn't a lot of critical work out there (and most of it isn't very good).

Half-Humankind collects pamphlets from the controversy about women, and some of those authors are most likely the women they claim to be, even if Jane Anger and Constanza Mundi aren't their real names.

Oxford University Press has a series called Women Writers in English 1350-1850, which is the best way to get hold of the primary texts. I can recommend The Examinations of Anne Askew, which I had to read for Prelims and was enthralled by. They also have Aemilia Lanyer (who is mostly known for A. L. Rowse's idiotic claim that she was Shakespeare's Dark Lady, but who was a poet in her own right, even if I don't care for her much), Arbella Stuart (claimant to the throne of England--this is the one I most want to get my hands on), Rachel Speght (a polemicist who I believe is also represented in Half-Humankind), Lady Eleanor Davies (a visionary).

Mary Herbert, the sister of Philip Sidney, collaborated with him on the metrical psalms, but I don't think did any writing on her own. Their niece, however, Lady Mary Wroth, wrote a prose romance, The Countesse of Montgomeries Urania. Part One must have been available cheaply when I read it, but that part of my library is in storage and both Amazon and Powell's have let me down; Part Two still costs the earth. There's also a nice edition of her poetry. Her sonnet sequence Pamphilia to Amphilanthus is worth the price of admission--and is, I think, a great place to start with women writers of the period.

Elizabeth Cary wrote a closet drama, The Tragedy of Mariam, Fair Queen of Jewry, about which the best one can say is, well, it's a closet drama. And it's better than The Cenci.

And Lucy Hutchinson's Memoirs of the Life of Colonel Hutchinson is fascinating as a artifact of the English Civil War, but probably not so much interesting from any other perspective.

I know there are anthologies of Elizabethan women's poetry (also, I think, one of diaries and journals) but unfortunately I cannot remember enough of the particulars to get them to come up on a search. Although I did find The Private Life of an Elizabethan Lady: The Diary of Lady Margaret Hoby 1599-1605.

Um. This is one of my sidelights, so I have the feeling I may have just overgeeked the question. If you want a narrower field of recommendation, or have other questions or anything, just let me know.

Re: Female writers of the Elizabethan period

SOmewhat later, but very accessible I believe, are the works of Aphra Behn. Her bawdy plays in particular are quite entertaining.

Re: Female writers of the Elizabethan period

Aphra Behn is Restoration. This Aphra Behn page gives her dates as 1640-1689. Her first play was produced in 1670. Also, her sensibility is decidedly of the reign of Charles II rather than Charles I.

Periodization is mostly a mug's game, but the Interregnum does create a fairly decisive break between Renaissance and Restoration. Especially in the theater.

Re: Female writers of the Elizabethan period

I agree, but I do think the Restoration period is a very reader-friendly transitional step for contemporary readers curious about the past, and women writers in particular.

The Elizabethan period being somewhat of a challenge for the contemporary person not versed in the idiom and rhythm of language of that period Yes? No?

Re: Female writers of the Elizabethan period

Umm. Yes. But once you pick it up, it gets transparent pretty fast. At least for me.

Re: Female writers of the Elizabethan period

Not at all. You really can't overgeek with me, and thank you very much!