hawkwing_lb: (Default)
GANDALF: Theoden king stands alone.
Eomer: Not alone. ROHIRRIM!


Watching #hometovote on Thursday night and Friday, that was how I felt.

On Friday, 22 May 2015, the Irish nation voted overwhelmingly to give equal protection to all persons choosing to marry without distinction as to their sex. It - we - voted to affirm the equality of GLBT citizens in the eyes of the constitution.

Today we watched the returns come in. Today we saw history made. Today, in the crowds in the courtyard of Dublin Castle, cheering when every constituency went green for YES (and booing for Roscommon-South Leitrim, shame on you, you let the side down a bit there), today we began a new history.




I have now heard a crowd break spontaneously into the national anthem.

This is not a thing I ever expected to hear.

But when David Norris spoke a few words to the crowd in that courtyard - a rowdy, cheerful crowd that nonetheless went silent to hear him speak - ending on a note of liberté, egalité, fraternité, everyone. Just. Started.



Buíon dár slua
thar toinn do ráinig chughainn,
Faoi mhóid bheith saor
Seantír ár sinsear feasta,
Ní fhágfar faoin tíorán ná faoin tráill.


I have never in my life seen anything like it. There was a crush just to get in to the courtyard where the screen was bringing up the constituencies as they turned green for Yes. And every time another one went green the roar. Laughing. Crying. Hugging people met randomly. And when Leo Varadkar appeared, a Fine Gael government minister who only came out this year and turned into the most unlikely gay icon of our time... the whole crowd started chanting, "LEO, LEO, LEO."

One of the highest turnouts for a referendum ever in this country. A landslide in the Dublin constituencies. A two-thirds majority across the country.

Everyone who canvassed. Everyone who came out on national TV, in the newspapers, on doorsteps all over the country, whose courage and compassion and generosity are an example to us all - thank you. Everyone who came #hometovote, that army pouring over the hill - thank you. THANK YOU.

It took me until this year to realise and admit to myself properly that I was bisexual - queer, primarily attracted to women, whatever words are the words that shape the place where a person fits. It took me so long because I was slow to realise it was even possible, much less normal. Much less safe. (My subconscious has some really odd narratives about sex and desire - and I blame being a bastard in nineties Ireland in part for that.)

And now. Now my heart hurts with gladness because this whole bloody country just turned around and said Ah GO ON. Turned out in droves to say Let grá be the law.

It's in the constitution now, bigots. NO TAKEBACKS.

No, it's not the end of the road. No, it's not a panacea. It will not solve quiet social prejudice, or erase Irish homo- and transphobia overnight, or address any number of other problems. But today, Ireland?

TODAY WE ARE LEGENDS WHO MADE HISTORY.

(And I was there to see it.)

What a day. O what a LOVELY day.
hawkwing_lb: (Bear CM beyond limit the of their bond a)
There are things that don't translate.

I was thinking about that today. I walked into the bookshop on Dawson St. after my interview ended and before I managed to miss my train. (The sky pallid blue between the buildings and the clouds, lanced through with occasional points of light: I'm still noticing the difference in small things. Other things are not so different: Game has closed up shop across the road, and there's still a To Let sign where Waterstones used to be. That's going on a year now.)

So I walked into the bookshop. Past the bestsellers rack to the left of the entrance is a little ramp. Up the little ramp, in the middle of the floor, is a double-sided breast-height bookshelf labelled "Irish Interest/Irish Language." There aren't an awful lot of Irish language books - and most of them are course books and dictionaries, unless you go around the little bookshelf to the clothbound hardcovers with the expensive academic editions of medieval and early modern Irish texts. But today, on the tail end of the "Irish Language" bookshelf, I saw a book with an attractive cover: An Litir, by Liam Mac Cóil. A basket-hilted rapier had pride of place on the cover, and the back copy had things to say about 1600s Galway and family troubles and war.

One of the things that won't translate is how it took me aback to see an Irish novel that looked like something someone would actually read: not a problem novel, with a title like "Addiction" or "The Debt," stuck somewhere in an unrecognisable Ireland of the 1950s or 60s or 70s; not poetry, not a play. An actual historical novel that looked like something I would be persuaded to read, sitting there in that pathetic bookshop selection of maybe forty books composed in Irish in the last century.

I wanted to take it home with me. But I'm broke, and I'd need to get a good dictionary to help matters along, too. So it stayed on its shelf, and I left without it.

But it took me aback, still. Evidence that the language isn't dead, despite it all. Despite everything. For a moment, there, I felt positively nationalistic. It's a peculiar thing, but the stories we learned in school? The seven centuries of "Irish dead," blood soil and the bitter fruit of making myths out of accommodation, disenfranchisement and famine and bloody defeat?

It sticks. It's down there in the bone, and no matter what civilised narrative of complicated cohabitation I layer it over with, the fact remains that 19th century British imperialism did its best to drive the Irish language out of common use.

And succeeded.




I come back to dwell on that at irregular intervals. I've been poking at my own relationship with the Irish experience of English hegemony since a Fourth Class history lesson in which we were introduced to the Plantation of Ireland, and I started to understand that Irish class wasn't this strange form of torture invented by teachers out of a sadistic desire to make us all suffer.

That's the bit of history you never get away from. Not living beside it. The part where it's personal.

The part where it hurts.

My life is easier in many ways because English is my native tongue. But that doesn't change the fact that my lack of fluency in Irish is a barrier between me and the literature of Ireland's past. Perhaps - it has been said, and sometimes I even agree - that in matters of national pride it is a mistake to dwell too closely upon the past. That the past is far less important than the future. It has been said - and sometimes I even agree - that it's just as well, really, we had us some British rule.

They were pretty good at bridges and railways.




On the other hand, it's hard to get past the forced resettlements of "to hell or to Connacht" after the English Civil Wars, or the sectarian cruelty that lasted entirely too damn long in the 20th century and has roots deep enough to still put out shoots every so often today, whenever someone waters it with the bile of hateful rhetoric.

And it's hard to get past the romanticisation of Ireland, sometimes, including by people who should know better. We become part of our own commodification. Culture changes - even in the cause of preservation, stasis is death - and we change as individuals, and in aggregate.




It's a complicated thing in my head and under my feet. So.

This is what I think about when I miss my train.
hawkwing_lb: (DA 2 scaring the piss)
Warning: long post ahead.

History

Ireland, 1740-1741.

This isn't a famous year. Outside of a handful of historians, it's hardly ever mentioned or discussed, unlike 1798 (rebellion), 1803 (abortive rising headed by the romantic idiot Robert Emmet), 1845-1847 (Great Famine), 1916 (Easter Rising).


The context: in 1719/1720, the Dependency Act (6 Geo I, c.5) had defanged what independence the Parliament of the Kingdom of Ireland possessed.

The complete disenfranchisement of Irish Catholics had taken place in 1728. An earlier law, in the reign of Queen Anne, the Gavelkind Act, required Catholic landholders to divide their lands equally among their heirs, which contributed to the drop in Catholic ownership of land from 14% (1703) to 5% (1770s). Catholics were in addition barred from most of the professions, and barred from ownership of a lease of more than 31 years.

Bear in mind, dear friends, that Catholics made up over 70% of the population of Ireland, with Protestant Dissenters (Presbyterians, Calvinists) at perhaps another 15%: the Protestant Ascendancy comprised 15% or less of the total population, and less than 30% of the (male) population had any say whatsoever in the then-kingdom's political administration. To boot, the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland and the mechanism of administration was answerable not to the Irish establishment, but to the monarch (king, as it would be from the death of Queen Anne to the coronation of Queen Victoria) in England.

1739. Temperatures that winter dropped as low as -12C. The country remained frozen for weeks. Grain export was interdicted to all destinations save Britain. The established Church solicited donations from the propertied and arranged parish relief in the towns, but Catholic clergy had no such reservoir of monied interests to draw upon for their relief efforts. A dry spring followed in early 1740. Drought and cold took a toll on sheep and cattle. The summer of 1740 saw food riots in the towns. Autumn brought a poor harvest and strange temperature fluctuations: blizzards in October, followed by a warm spell, followed by November snows, and heavy rainfall in December. Disease had already been widespread: during the foul weather and starvation, it reached epidemic proportions.

For the period between the spring of 1740 and the late summer of 1741, estimates of the death toll vary. The first Irish census did not take place until the nineteenth century, so what demographic information we possess is limited, but one believable calculation places the death rate at over 30% of a total population of somewhere between 3 and 4 million souls. The impact on population is even greater when one considers the role played by migration: at least 150,000 people left for good.

As a percentage of population, this is even worse than effect of the Great Famine of 1845-1847. Of a population around eight million, something like one million died and another million emigrated.

This is part of the history we live with.




Culture

We're all products of our upbringing. Culture, location, history: whether we choose conformity or defiance, what ways we choose them, why. To be Irish and Anglophone, to be Irish and European, is to stand in the intertidal zone of history, subject to many conflicting currents.* On one side there's an Anglophone heritage that gave birth to Jonathan Swift, Maria Edgeworth, W.B Yeats. The same heritage gives us Punch cartoons such as:

"The British Lion and the Irish Monkey"





"The Irish Labourer as the English Labourer's Burden"




"The Irish Frankenstein"



a heritage that historically characterised the non-Anglophone or unassimilated Irish as a "rude uncivilized race, totally uneducated and without the means of acquiring instruction," (Alexander Dallas, churchman, 1840s), savage, violent, dirty, lazy, primitive: all the epithets by which a dominant set of cultural assumptions degrades an unassimilated other.

The reverse of the medal: Irish myth-making and history elides the accommodations made in and with Anglo Ireland, romanticises local or elite power-struggles as part of a history of revolutionary nationalism and neglects to mention that many of our "revolutionary" heroes were themselves part of the elite ascendancy (Lord Edward Fitzgerald, Theobald Wolfe Tone, Robert Emmet, Charles Stewart Parnell). Lady Gregory and W.B. Yeats come out of a "romantic" reclamation of "Gaelic" Irish literary culture, a movement that sought to make its influences acceptable, conformable, to Anglo literary culture. Yeats, constructing himself as a national poet in the 1910s and 20s and 30s, remained conflicted about the dirty business of revolution and independence, but himself unable to refrain from romanticising it, too.

"Was it for this Edward Fitzgerald died/And Robert Emmet, and Wolfe Tone/All that delirium of the brave?"

The urge to romanticise nationalism, to not look closely at its accommodations with power, remains part of Ireland today, in its relationship with modern Britain, with Catholicism, with Europe, with America. It's a dangerous tendency, but an understandable one: if we're the plucky underdogs, the survivors, the beacon of learning in the soi-disant Dark Ages, the baptismal font of a pan-European Celtic heritage (we're not), we don't have to think about the real consequences and compromises of our history.

The fact that I am writing this in English, and couldn't write a similar blogpost in Irish, is one of those consequent compromises. (Ní feidir liom Gaeilge a labhairt go líofach. Níl a fhios agam conas a bheith ag abair ná ag léibh ná ag scríobh an teanga seo.) But that puts me in an interesting position vis-a-vis modern Anglophone literary and popular culture, which is dominated on one side by the United States and on the other side by the United Kingdom.

(For the moment, let's leave aside Canada and Australia, both still Commonwealth nations, both with their own colonial histories and modern infelicities. While they're still larger presences than any of the other Anglophone nations/places, they're not as dominant as the US and the UK.)

The UK (probably I should say England and Scotland and Wales and the Channel Islands and Northern Ireland and up to 1921 all of Ireland, because hi regional differences!) has its place thanks to history, a history which means a fair proportion of writing in English before the last two centuries took place there, and up until the end of the nineteenth century, probably more than a strictly fair proportion. America has more native English speakers than any other nation, these days, and owes its present Anglophone popular culture hegemony to the fact that it produces - and exports - a hell of a lot of the stuff.

The UK has had (still does have, I suppose), and the US still has, a disproportionate amount of military and political influence on a global scale. Colonial powers, with internal and external divisions, inequalities, injustices. Happy to believe their own myths (see Doctor Who's episodes set in wartime London, or pretty much any piece of American popular culture dealing with the military).

But what about we few, we Anglophone few caught on the horns of history, who cannot see ourselves either in the literature of these cultural megaliths or in the internal critique thereof? Me, I suppose I'm saying. Me, me, me. I don't see my experience reflected in Anglophone or Irish literary or popular culture, either. There is so little of it, in comparison, and what there is rings to me false or narrow, smugly self-congratulatory or overly-romanticised, complacently middle-class or far too cynical.

On one side I'm the child of colonisers, of middle-class norms and easy romanticised answers: on the other, child of a single-parent with a struggling-class experience of the world of work and politics, radically suspicious of binary choices, deeply unnerved at the interplay of language, culture and politics, heir to literature and myth that's been borrowed and bowdlerised, tamed on occasion, sometimes turned back to reinforce narratives of dominance.




Location

There's a third side, a fourth side, a tetrahedon of sides.

At least one of them is where I've chosen to locate myself. A reader of fantasy and science fiction: an opinionated reader, moving in a milieu dominated by American assumptions, American voices, American experiences: sometimes - more rarely - English voices, UK experiences. The product of one of history's many intertidal zones, I love a literature to which I'm largely invisible.

My inheritance is the farmer starving in the fields, the revolutionary on the barricade shot dead by his cousin, the artisan family shunned by a converted sister, the thousand secret shames and compromises, the slow dying of a native tongue, the awkward accommodations and corruptions born of "going along to get along" and of being a nation of nepotism and cute hoors.

Lost heirs here became potboys, died as mercenaries in exile, accepted resettlement and loss of three-quarters of their lands in order to keep their lives, converted, resisted, accommodated. Women preserved family histories, brought the children of convert marriages up as secret Catholics, hid unregistered priests. The Irish Home Rule struggle wasn't a war that was ever won. It was as much civil war as revolutionary struggle, as much legislative process and centuries-slow changing of minds as it was tension between local "terroristical" violence between landlord and tenant, state and mob.

My inheritance is also instruments of state violence, the appropriators of peasant property: knights and soldiers and servants of the Crown, relationships riven with tension and faction and division and compromise. People who loved and hated and swallowed misgivings and struggled with doubts and bureaucracies, who were (some of them) convinced of their god-given rightness or arrogant in their humility.

There is very little in SFF that reflects my experience of history. Mary Gentle, Elizabeth Bear, Amanda Downum, Marie Brennan, Alma Alexander, Charles Stross, Daniel Fox/Chaz Brenchley: in fantasy they come close. In SF I can think of fewer: something of Samuel R. Delany, perhaps, or Roger Zelazny; Bear and Stross again, that one adult SF book by Scott Westerfeld, what I've read of Walter Jon Williams' futuristic SF.




I've spent the evening writing this (I write it out in a verse -/MacDonagh and MacBride/And Connolly and Pearse). It's less a thesis than a meditation, I suppose. Like Eavan Boland's poem, "That The Science of Cartography is Limited," these aren't thoughts that lend themselves to easy synthesis, or to cut-and-dried argument. "That The Science of Cartography is Limited," Boland wrote:


-and not simply by the fact that this shading of
forest cannot show the fragrance of balsam,
the gloom of cypresses
is what I wish to prove.

When you and I were first in love we drove
to the borders of Connacht
and entered a wood there.

Look down you said: this was once a famine road.

I looked down at ivy and the scutch grass
rough-cast stone had
disappeared into as you told me
in the second winter of their ordeal, in

1847, when the crop had failed twice,
Relief Committees gave
the starving Irish such roads to build.

Where they died, there the road ended
and ends still and when I take down
the map of this island, it is never so
I can say here is
the masterful, the apt rendering of

the spherical as flat, nor
an ingenious design which persuades a curve
into a plane,
but to tell myself again that

the line which says woodland and cries hunger
and gives out among sweet pine and cypress,
and finds no horizon

will not be there.






*This may only be true for me. It may true for more than just an Irishperson. I don't know: I'm only speaking from my own experience.
hawkwing_lb: (dreamed and are dead)
Extract of a letter of M. Cornelius Fronto to M. Aurelius Antoninus Augustus. Late 164/early 165 CE. [220-223, Van den Hout, 1954]

Fronto to Antoninus Augustus.

Through all my life fortune has pursued me with sorrows of this kind. For, leaving out my other bitter experiences, I have lost five of my children and the timing of my losses has been particularly wretched, since in each and every case the child I lost was my only one. I have suffered such a series of bereavements that I have only ever had a son when I had lost one. So it is that always when I lost children I have been denied any comfort from those who were left behind; fatherhood and recent grief went together.

...Now, with the loss of my grandson, my own grief is multiplied by the grief of my daughter, the grief of my son-in-law.


One of the things that's rarely brought home to me with any immediacy is the extent of child mortality in antiquity. Fronto (a Roman citizen born at Cirta in Numidia, a man of letters in both Greek and Latin) was a wealthy man, tutor to Lucius Verus and Marcus Aurelius, suffect consul in the year 142. This litany of his losses, brief though it is, is a reminder.

The ancient world is not a wealthy one. Not by our standards. Oh, the senatorial classes of Rome had furs and silks and silver dining services, funerary busts in marble, horses, land, temples whose upkeep they undertook, exotic imported spices from across the Indian Ocean, unguents from Ethiopia and the Arabian peninsula. They're the 0.1% of the ancient world, the senators and the equestrians and the wealthy freedmen: and even they were vulnerable to the very same diseases as everyone else.




Hippocrates, Epidemics 1.4.9

Criton, in Thasus, while still on foot, and going about, was seized with a violent pain in the great toe; he took to bed the same day, had rigors and nausea, recovered his heat slightly, at night was delirious. On the second, swelling of the whole foot, and about the ankle erythema*, with distention, and small bullae (phlyctaenae); acute fever; he became furiously deranged; alvine* discharges bilious*, unmixed, and rather frequent. He died on the second day from the commencement.



Hippocrates, Epidemics 1.4.13

A woman, who lodged on the Quay, being three months gone with child, was seized with fever, and immediately began to have pains in the loins. On the third day, pain of the head and neck, extending to the clavicle, and right hand; she immediately lost the power of speech; was paralyzed in the right hand, with spasms, after the manner of paraplegia; was quite incoherent; passed an uncomfortable night; did not sleep; disorder of the bowels, attended with bilious*. On the fourth, recovered the use of her tongue; spasms of the same parts, and general pains remained; swelling in the hypochondrium, accompanied with pain; did not sleep, was quite incoherent; bowels disordered, urine thin, and not of a good color. On the fifth, acute fever; pain of the hypochondrium, quite incoherent; alvine* evacuations bilious; towards night had a sweat, and was freed from the fever. On the sixth, recovered her reason; was every way relieved; the pain remained about the left clavicle; was thirsty, urine thin, had no sleep. On the seventh trembling, slight coma, some incoherence, pains about the clavicle and left arm remained; in all other respects was alleviated; quite coherent. For three days remained free from fever. On the eleventh, had a relapse, with rigor and fever. About the fourteenth day, vomited pretty abundantly bilious* and yellow matters, had a sweat, the fever went off, by coming to a crisis.



Hippocrates, Epidemics, 5.75

Telephanes, son of Harpalus and his freedwoman, got a sprain behind the thumb. It grew inflamed and was painful. When it desisted he went into the fields. On his way home he had pain in the lower back. He bathed. His jaws became fixed together towards night and opisthotonos developed. Saliva, frothy, passed out through the teeth with difficulty. He died on the third day.



*alvine: of or relating to the stomach
*bilious: gastric distress; of, relating to, or containing bile; characterized by an excess secretion of bile
*erythema: redness of the skin caused by dilatation and congestion of the capillaries, often a sign of inflammation or infection.




Working, as I am, with the archaeological remains of Greek healing sanctuaries, I find it hard to keep the omnipresence of mortal sickness and disabling injury in the ancient world in the forefront of my mind. We don't live with similar mortality factors, not anymore. Not with odds like they did.

Someone in your living family would have suffered an injury that crippled a limb, either related to industry or to war; someone (or several someones) closely related to you would have died in childbirth; nearly everyone has lost children or siblings to childhood illnesses; very many people have recurring eye diseases which eventually progress towards blindness (if they reach their fifties, if not sooner). Phthisis - wasting, which probably in a lot of cases means TB - is common. Malaria's not unusual. Typhus (aka jail fever) and typhoid fever not infrequently reach epidemic proportions.

But for all that, there are men - and occasionally, women too - who live to their seventies and eighties. Okay, so fifty and sixty counts as old, but if you're a man, and not a slave or a migrant labourer (migrant labourers include mercenaries), the ancient world's not hell. You don't have buckets of material goods (a few pots, a few utensils and knives, the tools of your trade - which if you're a woman probably includes a loom - blankets, the clothes you stand up in and maybe something for festivals) and you're probably carrying around a toothache (and hoping the infection doesn't go into the bone and rot your jaw: see Epidemics 5.100) and one or two unfixable health problems, but you might have a reasonable life.

But whoa. The omnipresence of things that will fuck you over.

It's necessary to remember that.
hawkwing_lb: (helen mirren tempest)
Books 2010: 147-150


147. Laura Bickle, Sparks.

Second book starring Anya Kalinczyk, medium and arson investigator with the Detroit Fire Department. Neat little mystery, with some untidy asides and personal complications. I enjoyed it a lot.


148. Patricia Briggs, Wolfsbane.

Enjoyable modest fantasy with a faked murder, some intrigue, and unquiet ghosts. Also a mercenary and her wolf.


nonfiction


149. James McMurdo, McMurdo's Account of Sind. Oxford In Asia Historical Reprints, Oxford Unversity Press, Oxford, 2007. With an introduction by Sarah Ansari.

A very, very short historical and geographical account of the area along the Indus river then known as Sindh or Sind, by a little-known British officer in the 1830s. For a small piece of historical context, it's interesting, and in a way, somewhat horrifying.

But then. British imperialism. So judgemental.


150. Shaun Tougher, Julian the Apostate. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, 2007.

A short but comprehensive overview of the life of the fourth-century emperor Julian, who attempted with limited success (which may be due as much to the brevity of his reign as anything else) to disentangle the Christian churches from the apparatus of Roman governance. A Hellenophile, a lover of philosophy, and a convinced pagan, his death during a campaign against the Persians remains one of the more interesting "what would have happened if he'd survived?" questions of late Antiquity.

This book's value is greatly enhanced by the fact that its second half comprises a large selection of contemporary or near-contemporary (well, within a couple of centuries at the outside, in the case f the historian Zosimus) writings by and about Julian.

I recommend it.





Today's morning temperatures were -5 degrees Celsius when I went to catch the train at ten to nine. Having thawed up to maybe plus one, tonight we are back at zero, with fluffy, powdery snow six centimeters deep. Or maybe deeper, where it hasn't been disturbed. I cannot recall walking through powdery snow ever before. Nor a sight like this morning's hoarfrost, which turned to dust at a touch: dry, so cold and dry, and riming the branches like weird white glass.

I don't think I was alive the last time we had weather like this.

hawkwing_lb: (helen mirren tempest)
Books 2010: 147-150


147. Laura Bickle, Sparks.

Second book starring Anya Kalinczyk, medium and arson investigator with the Detroit Fire Department. Neat little mystery, with some untidy asides and personal complications. I enjoyed it a lot.


148. Patricia Briggs, Wolfsbane.

Enjoyable modest fantasy with a faked murder, some intrigue, and unquiet ghosts. Also a mercenary and her wolf.


nonfiction


149. James McMurdo, McMurdo's Account of Sind. Oxford In Asia Historical Reprints, Oxford Unversity Press, Oxford, 2007. With an introduction by Sarah Ansari.

A very, very short historical and geographical account of the area along the Indus river then known as Sindh or Sind, by a little-known British officer in the 1830s. For a small piece of historical context, it's interesting, and in a way, somewhat horrifying.

But then. British imperialism. So judgemental.


150. Shaun Tougher, Julian the Apostate. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, 2007.

A short but comprehensive overview of the life of the fourth-century emperor Julian, who attempted with limited success (which may be due as much to the brevity of his reign as anything else) to disentangle the Christian churches from the apparatus of Roman governance. A Hellenophile, a lover of philosophy, and a convinced pagan, his death during a campaign against the Persians remains one of the more interesting "what would have happened if he'd survived?" questions of late Antiquity.

This book's value is greatly enhanced by the fact that its second half comprises a large selection of contemporary or near-contemporary (well, within a couple of centuries at the outside, in the case f the historian Zosimus) writings by and about Julian.

I recommend it.





Today's morning temperatures were -5 degrees Celsius when I went to catch the train at ten to nine. Having thawed up to maybe plus one, tonight we are back at zero, with fluffy, powdery snow six centimeters deep. Or maybe deeper, where it hasn't been disturbed. I cannot recall walking through powdery snow ever before. Nor a sight like this morning's hoarfrost, which turned to dust at a touch: dry, so cold and dry, and riming the branches like weird white glass.

I don't think I was alive the last time we had weather like this.

hawkwing_lb: (Default)
Books 2010: 145-146


145. Anthony Hope, The Prisoner of Zenda.

A ridiculous implausible fantasy (using the word broadly, but if this was written today it would be a genre work, I imagine), but entertaining.


nonfiction


146. Amanda Vickery, The Gentleman's Daughter: Women's Lives in Georgian England. Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 1998.

Because, of course, I really need to be reading books on the eighteenth century while supposed to be researching the third. BCE.

This is a fascinating examination of the wives and daughters of the Georgian gentry, centred on Lancaster, and focusing on the kinship networks of said women, their letters, pocketbooks, and diaries. One Elizabeth Shackleton, née Parker, first married name also Parker, occupies a fair amount of space due to the amount of detail which she left behind her.

The book's divided into seven chapters, not counting the introduction and conclusion. They each deal with aspects of the conventional gentlewoman's life and attitudes towards those aspects as revealed in letters, records, and literature, under the headings, "Gentility," "Love and Duty," "Fortitude and Resignation," "Prudent Economy," "Elegance," "Civility and Vulgarity," and "Propriety."

It's an interesting and extremely readable work, giving access to the kind of information that classicists only wish they had. *sigh* *is jealous of wealth of sources*

hawkwing_lb: (Default)
Books 2010: 145-146


145. Anthony Hope, The Prisoner of Zenda.

A ridiculous implausible fantasy (using the word broadly, but if this was written today it would be a genre work, I imagine), but entertaining.


nonfiction


146. Amanda Vickery, The Gentleman's Daughter: Women's Lives in Georgian England. Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 1998.

Because, of course, I really need to be reading books on the eighteenth century while supposed to be researching the third. BCE.

This is a fascinating examination of the wives and daughters of the Georgian gentry, centred on Lancaster, and focusing on the kinship networks of said women, their letters, pocketbooks, and diaries. One Elizabeth Shackleton, née Parker, first married name also Parker, occupies a fair amount of space due to the amount of detail which she left behind her.

The book's divided into seven chapters, not counting the introduction and conclusion. They each deal with aspects of the conventional gentlewoman's life and attitudes towards those aspects as revealed in letters, records, and literature, under the headings, "Gentility," "Love and Duty," "Fortitude and Resignation," "Prudent Economy," "Elegance," "Civility and Vulgarity," and "Propriety."

It's an interesting and extremely readable work, giving access to the kind of information that classicists only wish they had. *sigh* *is jealous of wealth of sources*

hawkwing_lb: (No dumping dead bodies!)
Books 2010: 139


139. Apollonius of Rhodes, Jason and the Golden Fleece. Oxford University Press, Oxford and New York, 1993. Translated by Richard Hunter.

The son of Aison goes to seek the Golden Fleece in the company of the heroes of the generation before the Trojan War. Many encounters take place. All in all, it's a very interesting example of a Hellenistic epic.

hawkwing_lb: (No dumping dead bodies!)
Books 2010: 139


139. Apollonius of Rhodes, Jason and the Golden Fleece. Oxford University Press, Oxford and New York, 1993. Translated by Richard Hunter.

The son of Aison goes to seek the Golden Fleece in the company of the heroes of the generation before the Trojan War. Many encounters take place. All in all, it's a very interesting example of a Hellenistic epic.

hawkwing_lb: (Default)
Books 2010: 137-138


137. Patrick O'Brian, The Nutmeg of Consolation.

Another brilliant Aubrey and Maturin novel. Only six remain for my enjoyment: I'll have to be careful about reading them slowly.


nonfiction


138. Dan Cruickshank, The Secret History of Georgian London: How the Wages of Sin Shaped the Capital. Windmill, London, 2009.

This is a massive, fascinating, extraordinarily readable social history of prostitution in Georgian London. One word for it is magisterial: Cruickshank occasionally lets his fondness for architectural history run away with him, but for the most part it remains solidly grounded in its human characters, and - for a work dealing with this topic - remarkably generous towards all of them, from streetwalkers to courtesans of the highest class, pimps and madams and bullies, to the artists, magistrates, and political animals with whom they interacted.

It's divided into four "Acts" which in their respective chapters deal with four different primary themes in the sexual life of the city, a prologue dealing with William Hogarth's Harlot's Progress, and three brief Appendices on the London mob, women who lived as men, and the interesting entrepreneur Dr. James Graham. The whole arrangement is broadly, though not particularly, chronological, and while it assumes a little familiarity with the major figures and political developments of the period, in a volume of not less than six hundred pages it could hardly do otherwise.

I enjoyed it sufficiently well to stay up past any reasonable bed-time last night reading it, so I believe whole-hearted recommendation is in order.

(No, it has nothing whatsoever to do with anything I'm supposed to be doing. But it is most fascinating.)

hawkwing_lb: (Default)
Books 2010: 137-138


137. Patrick O'Brian, The Nutmeg of Consolation.

Another brilliant Aubrey and Maturin novel. Only six remain for my enjoyment: I'll have to be careful about reading them slowly.


nonfiction


138. Dan Cruickshank, The Secret History of Georgian London: How the Wages of Sin Shaped the Capital. Windmill, London, 2009.

This is a massive, fascinating, extraordinarily readable social history of prostitution in Georgian London. One word for it is magisterial: Cruickshank occasionally lets his fondness for architectural history run away with him, but for the most part it remains solidly grounded in its human characters, and - for a work dealing with this topic - remarkably generous towards all of them, from streetwalkers to courtesans of the highest class, pimps and madams and bullies, to the artists, magistrates, and political animals with whom they interacted.

It's divided into four "Acts" which in their respective chapters deal with four different primary themes in the sexual life of the city, a prologue dealing with William Hogarth's Harlot's Progress, and three brief Appendices on the London mob, women who lived as men, and the interesting entrepreneur Dr. James Graham. The whole arrangement is broadly, though not particularly, chronological, and while it assumes a little familiarity with the major figures and political developments of the period, in a volume of not less than six hundred pages it could hardly do otherwise.

I enjoyed it sufficiently well to stay up past any reasonable bed-time last night reading it, so I believe whole-hearted recommendation is in order.

(No, it has nothing whatsoever to do with anything I'm supposed to be doing. But it is most fascinating.)

hawkwing_lb: (Default)
Books 2010: 136

nonfiction

136. Tim Mackintosh-Smith, The Travels of Ibn Battutah. Picador, London, 2002.

This text of Ibn Battutah's Travels has been abridged and annotated from the text of the four volumes produced by Sir Hamilton Gibbs and C.F. Beckingham for the Hakluyt Society between 1954 and 1994. In many ways, it does not feel like an abridgement: only seldom does one feel that there is something lacking, that one might desire something more.

Ibn Battutah's travels spanned over twenty years and the breadth of the then-known world. Born in 1304 in Tangiers, at the age of twenty-two he set out for the Hajj and doesn't seem to have looked back until much, much later. The abridged account presented here gives a fascinating and vivid set of pictures of the world which he experience - and which experienced him.

He frequently comes across as a judgemental asshole, but that's not unusual among medieval travellers, and his position as a qadi means he owned his fair share and more of religious biases. But it's a fascinating read, and one which is actually very accessible.

I recommend it.

hawkwing_lb: (Default)
Books 2010: 136

nonfiction

136. Tim Mackintosh-Smith, The Travels of Ibn Battutah. Picador, London, 2002.

This text of Ibn Battutah's Travels has been abridged and annotated from the text of the four volumes produced by Sir Hamilton Gibbs and C.F. Beckingham for the Hakluyt Society between 1954 and 1994. In many ways, it does not feel like an abridgement: only seldom does one feel that there is something lacking, that one might desire something more.

Ibn Battutah's travels spanned over twenty years and the breadth of the then-known world. Born in 1304 in Tangiers, at the age of twenty-two he set out for the Hajj and doesn't seem to have looked back until much, much later. The abridged account presented here gives a fascinating and vivid set of pictures of the world which he experience - and which experienced him.

He frequently comes across as a judgemental asshole, but that's not unusual among medieval travellers, and his position as a qadi means he owned his fair share and more of religious biases. But it's a fascinating read, and one which is actually very accessible.

I recommend it.

hawkwing_lb: (Default)
Quoted from GER Lloyd, 2003, In the Grip of Disease: studies in the Greek imagination:

"[Herodotus] recounts the fate of Pheretime who had punished the people of Barce for the murder of Arcesilaus by cutting off the breasts of the women and impaling the men on stakes round the city wall... Pheretime herself comes to a sticky end: she dies a horrible death, 'her body seething with worms while she was still alive'."

Pheretime, also known as Pheretima, was a Cyrenaean queen. She has a genus of earthworms named after her. (Although as [livejournal.com profile] matociquala said, the worms of which Herodotus speaks are more likely to be maggots.)

Can we all say ick?

hawkwing_lb: (Default)
Quoted from GER Lloyd, 2003, In the Grip of Disease: studies in the Greek imagination:

"[Herodotus] recounts the fate of Pheretime who had punished the people of Barce for the murder of Arcesilaus by cutting off the breasts of the women and impaling the men on stakes round the city wall... Pheretime herself comes to a sticky end: she dies a horrible death, 'her body seething with worms while she was still alive'."

Pheretime, also known as Pheretima, was a Cyrenaean queen. She has a genus of earthworms named after her. (Although as [livejournal.com profile] matociquala said, the worms of which Herodotus speaks are more likely to be maggots.)

Can we all say ick?

hawkwing_lb: (Default)
Books 2010: 130-132


130. Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson, The Gathering Storm.

Apart from both Egwene and Verin having a pretty damn excellent Crowning Moment of Awesome (tm) and there being a sense that - finally, finally - the Last Battle might come... eh. Too much backstory, at this point. I have forgotten most of what I was supposed to remember was important.

Sirs Not Appearing in this book: Elayne, Mat (mostly), Perrin (mostly), Faile (mostly) and Aviendha (who has nearly nothing to do on screen, and thus did not make much impression). The Forsaken are also Sirs Not Appearing, really, apart from Semirhage being batshit, one Graendal plotting scene, and one Moridin and Rand Meet In A Dream scene.

Elaida: good riddance, but still Not Dead Yet. Fain: fortunately Sir Not Appearing. (Is he dead? I've forgotten.)


131. Geoffrey Trease, Cue for Treason.

Historical YA from college library, picked up on mad whim. Entertaining.


nonfiction


132. James Longrigg, Greek Rational Medicine: Philosophy and Medicine from Alcmaeon to the Alexandrians. Routledge, London and New York, 1993.

Being an overview of developments in medicine and connected philosophy from the early period to Hellenistic Alexandria, ending with Erasistratus. As an overview, it is solidly informative, but Longrigg is very much invested in Greek medicine and philosophy as rational processes, and does not define rational nearly well enough for me to agree with him.

Persons interested in these matters may find it here on Google Books.

hawkwing_lb: (Default)
Books 2010: 130-132


130. Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson, The Gathering Storm.

Apart from both Egwene and Verin having a pretty damn excellent Crowning Moment of Awesome (tm) and there being a sense that - finally, finally - the Last Battle might come... eh. Too much backstory, at this point. I have forgotten most of what I was supposed to remember was important.

Sirs Not Appearing in this book: Elayne, Mat (mostly), Perrin (mostly), Faile (mostly) and Aviendha (who has nearly nothing to do on screen, and thus did not make much impression). The Forsaken are also Sirs Not Appearing, really, apart from Semirhage being batshit, one Graendal plotting scene, and one Moridin and Rand Meet In A Dream scene.

Elaida: good riddance, but still Not Dead Yet. Fain: fortunately Sir Not Appearing. (Is he dead? I've forgotten.)


131. Geoffrey Trease, Cue for Treason.

Historical YA from college library, picked up on mad whim. Entertaining.


nonfiction


132. James Longrigg, Greek Rational Medicine: Philosophy and Medicine from Alcmaeon to the Alexandrians. Routledge, London and New York, 1993.

Being an overview of developments in medicine and connected philosophy from the early period to Hellenistic Alexandria, ending with Erasistratus. As an overview, it is solidly informative, but Longrigg is very much invested in Greek medicine and philosophy as rational processes, and does not define rational nearly well enough for me to agree with him.

Persons interested in these matters may find it here on Google Books.

hawkwing_lb: (Default)
Books 2010: 128

nonfiction

128. G.E.R. Lloyd, In the Grip of Disease: Studies in the Greek Imagination. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2003.

Lloyd has a long and distinguished career behind him in investigating Greek science, medicine, and philosophy. In recent years he has published a number of works which compare and contrast ancient Chinese science, medicine, and thought with their Greek equivalents, and in many ways his work focuses on the history of thought as much or more as on the history of actions.

In the Grip of Disease highlights this preference in his research interests. Like most books on Greek antiquity, it is heavily weighted towards the early period, with only one chapter (not counting the epilogue) dealing with developments after Aristotle.

The book is divided into nine parts. "Anthropological Perspectives," an introduction to ways of conceptualising how disease was involved with the Greek imagination; "Archaic Literature and Masters of Truth," which starts off with Homer; "Secularisation and Sacralisation," which discusses the concurrent rise of both "sacred" and "natural" ways of thinking through disease; "Tragedy," which is a brief survey of disease in the Attic tragedians (and by no means as lucid and detailed as Mitchell-Boyask's monograph, which I have already mentioned on this lj); "The Historians," which mainly concerns itself with Herodotos's and Thucydides's orientation to disease; "Plato," which is all Plato, all the time, with particular attention to the teleology of the Timaeus; "Aristotle," for which likewise but with Aristotle; and "After Aristotle: Or Did Anything Change?" which mentions Aelius Aristides but in general does not deliver any particularly new or detailed contribution. The concluding "Epilogue" reflects briefly on attitudes to sickness both ancient and modern, and how the rhetoric of disease is employed.

At the end of each chapeter, the relevent texts are given in both the original Greek and in translation. That's a useful learning tool, but it must have been a copyright nightmare.

Scholarly reviews are available here and here. My conclusion is that Lloyd has written an unusual and engaging book, which nonetheless does not go as far into detail concerning Greek attitudes to disease and sickness as the topic could stand.

Which is kind of good for me, because it means there's probably still room for my thesis topic to make an original contribution to knowledge. I hope.

hawkwing_lb: (Default)
Books 2010: 128

nonfiction

128. G.E.R. Lloyd, In the Grip of Disease: Studies in the Greek Imagination. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2003.

Lloyd has a long and distinguished career behind him in investigating Greek science, medicine, and philosophy. In recent years he has published a number of works which compare and contrast ancient Chinese science, medicine, and thought with their Greek equivalents, and in many ways his work focuses on the history of thought as much or more as on the history of actions.

In the Grip of Disease highlights this preference in his research interests. Like most books on Greek antiquity, it is heavily weighted towards the early period, with only one chapter (not counting the epilogue) dealing with developments after Aristotle.

The book is divided into nine parts. "Anthropological Perspectives," an introduction to ways of conceptualising how disease was involved with the Greek imagination; "Archaic Literature and Masters of Truth," which starts off with Homer; "Secularisation and Sacralisation," which discusses the concurrent rise of both "sacred" and "natural" ways of thinking through disease; "Tragedy," which is a brief survey of disease in the Attic tragedians (and by no means as lucid and detailed as Mitchell-Boyask's monograph, which I have already mentioned on this lj); "The Historians," which mainly concerns itself with Herodotos's and Thucydides's orientation to disease; "Plato," which is all Plato, all the time, with particular attention to the teleology of the Timaeus; "Aristotle," for which likewise but with Aristotle; and "After Aristotle: Or Did Anything Change?" which mentions Aelius Aristides but in general does not deliver any particularly new or detailed contribution. The concluding "Epilogue" reflects briefly on attitudes to sickness both ancient and modern, and how the rhetoric of disease is employed.

At the end of each chapeter, the relevent texts are given in both the original Greek and in translation. That's a useful learning tool, but it must have been a copyright nightmare.

Scholarly reviews are available here and here. My conclusion is that Lloyd has written an unusual and engaging book, which nonetheless does not go as far into detail concerning Greek attitudes to disease and sickness as the topic could stand.

Which is kind of good for me, because it means there's probably still room for my thesis topic to make an original contribution to knowledge. I hope.

Profile

hawkwing_lb: (Default)
hawkwing_lb

July 2017

S M T W T F S
      1
23 45678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031     

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Jul. 22nd, 2017 12:40 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios