“For Her Surgery” — Jack Butler

“For Her Surgery” — Jack Butler

Greetings, adoring public! It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I haven’t had much time for reading or writing recently (I can hear your sighs of relief from here), but everything is finally calming down and it looks like I may be returning to your screens relatively frequently, if you’re unlucky. So hold in those moans and groans, and while away a wee moment while we wend our merry way through a poem that is extremely topical for me. Panic not; it’s also the usual hellish combination of unutterably* complex and deeply depressing.

* So, because a) I love you all and value you and your clear-cut opinions on spelling more than ANYTHING**, and b) I have a strong tendency to use words which sound just perfect in context and have the added exotic lustre of not actually existing, I did a cheeky google of the word “unutterable” and found this website which makes me wonder what I did before an online dictionary of Victorian slang made itself known to me (and you, unless by sheer chance my reader base is comprised entirely of Victorian undergarment aficionados). You’re so welcome.

** Apart from the essentials, obviously, so clearly food, sleep and obscure Scandinavian crime dramas take precedence. Apologies.

Read more

“Salt Unseeing” – Anonymous

“Salt Unseeing” – Anonymous

Let’s all sink sighingly into the comfort of a warm metaphorical bath as we take a look back to love, and back to WATER. There sea-ms to be a running theme so far, but I’m not shore it will last.

*peals of hysterical laughter*

How about we just pretend that that bad pun relapse never happened and INSTEAD focus on the  novelty of this poem, both in that it is unclear exactly where it came from, but also in terms of its structure –fairly sonnet-like at first, but suddenly cutting off– and unusual use of imagery. “Fire = love, yes. Water = love… tell me more?”, I hear you say. And I, generous spirit that I am, will oblige. Papercuts and lemons feature in this soul-searching number, the combination of which I am inclined to think might be the worst torture known to man. (Women, on the other hand, know childbirth. Round of applause.)
Read more

“Song for the Last Act” — Louise Bogan

“Song for the Last Act” — Louise Bogan

I’m not really sure how to start. Much as I hate to admit it, this poem was basically one big confusion-followed-by-clarification drama, so forgive me if the post turns out similarly (but maybe without the clarification, let’s be honest). It’s relatively often that one can read through a poem without having the slightest idea of what it’s about –at least, I hope it’s not just me– but what is less common is reading a poem, thinking you’ve GOT IT DOWN & SUSSED IT OUT JOB DONE, only to be refuted by every other critic out there. What makes the whole situation even more embarrassing is that not only 1) did I have completely the wrong end of the stick, but also 2) I apparently understood the exact opposite of the poem’s intended meaning. It’s not too often you can say that, eh? Yes, this is false bravado and my life is actually a lie.

Read more

“North and South” — Elizabeth Gaskell

“North and South” — Elizabeth Gaskell

*spoilers: DO NOT READ ON IF UNPREPARED*

Two month intervals is not really what we’re looking for in a blog that offers such worldly advice and excitement — “The full depths of its wisdom,” I hear you cry (or maybe that’s just you snoring), “should be imparted on a far more regular basis!” — but my mind is currently full of pizza and pasta and ice-cream*, and I cannot raise it from its sleepy slumber to type, or indeed read, very much. Thus, the clever beyond clever smush of two exceptional ideas that comprises this selfsame blog post formed in my mind: to combine a novel and its television adaption to gently ease the burden of too many words and such.

Also, I miss my English land quite a lot, and so am happy to have any excuse to reminisce fondly on its archaic class system and the quaint North-South divide. Sigh.

*Any guesses where I am living in questo momento? Clue: it begins with ITAL- and ends in -Y. Otherwise known as the land of delicious foodity, which is why I’m surprised that my fat fingers still fit on the keyboard.

Read more

“Tess of the D’Urbervilles” — Thomas Hardy

“Tess of the D’Urbervilles” — Thomas Hardy

*spoilers: DO NOT READ ON IF UNPREPARED*

There is one scientific principle which has somehow managed both to penetrate my impermeable-to-all-forms-of-science mind and stay there for a considerable amount of time: that of air/water resistance. Behold, a similar literary epiphany of the most ingenious kind! However hard the author attempts to push his reader towards some realisation, the stubborn side of of me will make an equally pronounced effort to resist such an effect being achieved! Naming the saintlike husband “Angel” is not particularly subtle, Hardy. I still don’t like him.

Read more

“Jane Eyre” — Charlotte Brontё

“Jane Eyre” — Charlotte Brontё

*spoilers: DO NOT READ ON IF UNPREPARED*

The big guns are coming out now, and they’re not pretty. The inspiration for this very blog originally came from an article by Edan Lepucki at The Millions (see below for the link*), and so I thought it might be appropriate to soothe the pain caused by my current sporadic posts and unpredictable absences with a fat and meaty one that will last us through exam season. As might be expected, the reason for the high-protein content of this post lies in its diet of the pure loathing and revulsion with which I am inspired by Mr. Rochester whenever I re-read Jane Eyre.

In my view, you can only be truly besotted with either Jane Eyre, or Pride and Prejudice; you may like both, but only one will inspire eternal love and awe within your very soul. Mr. Rochester, in particular, is a ‘marmite’ character, and personally I’m not a fan (to put it mildly). Are you nodding in electrified agreement? Or are you spitting with rage and/or fuming with the heat of a thousand burning Pride and Prejudice texts?

Read more

“Lolita” — Vladimir Nabokov

“Lolita” — Vladimir Nabokov

*spoilers: DO NOT READ ON IF UNPREPARED*

It is one of the conflicts that Nabokov presents in Lolita that the reader is forced to feel as much desire to continue reading as disgust at the various incidents described; there are no words sufficiently powerful to describe such the unspeakable barbarity of the narrator, and yet, at the same time, he is completely unaware of his own evil. Of course, Humbert Humbert recognises that his proclivities are ‘frowned upon’ by society, but he himself regards his pursuit of “nymphets” –by which he means girls between the ages of nine and fourteen– as completely natural. Each page disgusted me, but I finished the novel because I wanted to watch this vile man be punished; it turns out that even that luxury is removed from the reader, as Humbert Humbert dies before he can be executed. Can you give us nothing, Nabokov?

Read more