Kind of an odd question, but here we go!

My committee chair has informed me that my list of Victorian primary sources has to change and have a different theme, so I've chosen to focus it more on gender. However, there are a few major authors out there where I haven't read enough of their work to decide which book would work best.

Can anyone tell me which novel of Dickens's they perceive as having the most to do with gender? Currently, my candidate for that list is Bleak House, which has a female narrator- part of the time- and mother/daughter themes, but that's mainly because, other than that, I've only read A Tale of Two Cities.

Likewise, I have read zero Trollope novels. Based on what some friends who took a course in his work this semester are saying, I'm thinking I'll go with The Eustace Diamonds, since I know a female character plays a strong role in that. If you have a favorite where the gender themes are stronger, though, could you recommend it here, please?

Thank you in advance!

More book reviews

These are not going to be in any particular order, because most of the time I didn’t date them. I’m also not including most of the literary criticism I read, because it’s hard to summarize and makes little sense outside of the research I’m doing.

Barry Lopez, Arctic DreamsCollapse )

Edward Abbey, Desert SolitaireCollapse )

Steven Brust, DzurCollapse )

Ursula K. LeGuin, Always Coming HomeCollapse )

Lynn Merrill, The Romance of Victorian Natural HistoryCollapse )

Raymond Williams, The Country and the CityCollapse )

Sarah Monette, MélusineCollapse )

Megan Whalen Turner, The ThiefCollapse )

Currently reading: Perdido Street Station, by China Miéville, which is a book that I’ve stalled on before and which I’ve now decided has to be attacked, rather like a literary criticism book, so that’s what I’m doing.

Ways of extending sympathy

This is a kind of a cross between an essay on characterizing secondary characters—most of the time, the author has a stronger commitment to characterizing her main character(s)/protagonist(s), so I don’t think as much help is needed—and adopting a certain attitude towards characters when writing. Obviously, this attitude is one I find congenial. It won’t work for all stories, let alone all writers. But since I seem to be obsessed with it lately, I thought I’d write a rant about it.

An intellect vast and warm and sympatheticCollapse )

One of my favorite moments in the books I read this past year is the one where George Eliot, in the middle of Middlemarch, shifts from the perspective of her heroine, Dorothea, to that of her much older and cramp-minded husband, Casaubon:

“ONE morning, some weeks after her arrival at Lowick, Dorothea -- but why always Dorothea? Was her point of view the only possible one with regard to this marriage? I protest against all our interest, all our effort at understanding being given to the young skins that look blooming in spite of trouble; for these too will get faded, and will know the older and more eating griefs which we are helping to neglect. In spite of the blinking eyes and white moles objectionable to Celia, and the want of muscular curve which was morally painful to Sir James, Mr Casaubon had an intense consciousness within him, and was spiritually a-hungered like the rest of us.”

Eliot understood something about sympathy, and how to extend it everywhere.

Ten things you can do in the middles of novels

This, of course, depends on the techniques you use—outlining as opposed to not outlining, structuring by chapters or scenes, whether the story’s episodic or not, how many viewpoints you’re using and what kind they are—but I’m hoping that the sheer variety of suggestions here can offer at least one that crosses boundaries.

Ten things that may help in the middle of a novelCollapse )

So there you are. Full of my own prejudices, but I’ve tried to admit them—you may have noticed the propensity to think of stories as animals—and I hope that it didn’t drag in the middle.

This might be a fun game to play

Currently, I'm wondering about characters in fantasy novels you've read who have really unusual occupations- not necessarily for their world, but for the fantasy genre in general. Tell me if you know one!

Rules of the game:

-Has to be secondary-world fantasy. It's way too easy to find characters in urban fantasy who are lawyers, bouncers, etc., because the modern world's jobs are usually more detailed because familiar to the authors. If it's crossover fantasy, the character's job should actually be important in the fantasy world (instead of their being, say, a secretary on Earth but a mage in the fantasy world).
-No wizards, priests, psychics, soldiers/warriors, thieves, assassins, musicians, kings/queens/princes/princesses, evil henchmen, courtiers, farmers, people whose main occupation is running from the Dark Lord and trying to survive, or apprentices to these people- if that's the main focus of what they do. If the wizard is a wizard on the side but spends most of his time hunting narwhals, this would count. Likewise a gem-cutter who does a little farming.
-It can be a secondary character, but it should be a fairly important one; thus, the quirky monkey-trainer who appears for three pages in Kay's A Song for Arbonne does not count.
-This is NOT necessarily a recommendations list, just a list of odd jobs.

The list I can think of off the top of my headCollapse )

I know I've read more- they just aren't coming to me right now. Anyone got more?
  • Current Mood
    curious curious

Cohering a hero

Or “pulling all the damn stuff together.” Part matching the protagonist with the background of her world, part making her seem like a real person…that kind of thing.

Cool traits actually joined togetherCollapse )

(I actually think it’s far more fascinating to create a character out of traits that almost anybody can have rather than “Because it’s cool,” which is probably why I’m so in favor of ordinary, limited heroes).

Belated book review post, part 1

This goes back to books I was reading in July. Some of these I waited to write anything about because I thought I needed extra time to understand them, but by this point, if I’m still in a state of confusion, I’m probably going to remain there. And there will be more posts coming.

Liz Williams, Nine Layers of SkyCollapse )

Naomi Novik, TemeraireCollapse )

Rikki Rooksby, A.C. Swinburne: A Poet’s LifeCollapse )

M. L. Rosenthal, Running to Paradise: Yeats’s Poetic ArtCollapse )

W. H. Hudson, Green Mansions: A Romance of the Tropical ForestCollapse )

Elizabeth Bear, Blood & Iron: A Novel of the Promethean AgeCollapse )

Current books in progress: Megan Whalen Turner, The Thief; Dana Phillips, The Truth of Ecology; Gilbert White, A Natural History of Selborne.