Monday, October 28, 2013

Kristen: ENG 7021 10/30

The accepted writing genre of Prince of Rasselas

Perhaps it would have been more fitting for Johnson to keep the title of his apologue "The Choice of Life," as at the moment he wrote, his mother lay dying. It is these small decisions that have catastrophic consequences in one person's path, and Johnson was able to link different genres of media to make decisions of people.

The genre itself, an apologue, is not new, though in terms of Johnson's work, this text has little point. While the characters leave their utopia Abyssinia, they eventually end up back in the same place. Perhaps this is a commentary on the types of works that last the longest-written works will span generations.

The Prince later encounters a professor, who functions as a mouthpiece for rhetorical oration within Johnson's text. The Prince notes that " "His look was venerable, his action graceful, his pronunciation clear, and his diction elegant." (2704) In this case the spoken word is given a higher authority, but Imlac slays this admiration by adding: "Be not too trust or admire the teachers of morality: they discourse like angels, but they live like men." (2704) The audience senses that the words are just a mask for men to behave poorly, as the Prince leaves "convinced of the emptiness of rhetorical sound." (2705) Could this be a commentary on the genre of rhetorical composition as a whole?

This is later earlier commented upon when the Prince encounters music that attempts to rhetorically argue for confinement: "To heighten their opinion of their own felicity, they were daily entertained with songs, the subject of which was the happy valley." (2682) Here again words are used as a weapon, a way to mask the truth behind a situation. While the valley's inhabitants were safe and cared-for, they were all not certainly happy. Songs are the spoken word, and the Prince can see through their superficiality.

The only sense of a genre that functions to its purpose is poetry. Imlac discusses the importance of the poet and his work: "He must write as the interpreter of nature and the legislator of mankind, and consider himself as presiding over the thoughts and manners of future generations, as a being superior to time and place." (2694) Poetry is praised as a form of truth after careful attention from the poet himself. The reader is left to believe that this written genre is the most honest, the most acceptable to read, as Imlac is a highly respected and well-traveled character. He is the fountain of knowledge within the confines of Abyssinia. The written word, but most especially poetry, is given a higher status.

In the end, this poetry is unattainable by all the characters, even Imlac. They realize that their goals are impossible and return to Abyssinia, to the songs without the poetry. I believe the function of genre within Johnson's work is to bare the morality of the character; the spoken word can be false, while the written poetry passes through generations. Johnson could even be commenting on his own work, that this written apologue, while it does not have a clear point for the characters, functions within the print culture of the day: "To a poet, nothing can be useless." (2693) Not even a story that seems to go nowhere.

Greenblatt, Stephen. The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Eighth Edition, Volume 1: The Middle Ages through the Restoration and the Eighteenth Century: 8th Edition. 8th. New York: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc., 2005. Print.


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Flip this! Work Tonight and Cant Sleep -Becky

Seriously. I work nights at the hospital down the block, from 11-7 am and I cant sleep. I have way too much on my mind. Aka fabric that I just bought!

I just bought this fabulous light weight 51% Linen/49% Cotton fabric at a great price!

I plan on making Folkwear's 228 Christening gown this winter.

However! I promised myself that I MUST finish all the UFO (un-finished objects) Ive started. And trust me, I have over 20! This week, I feel as if I did some major work and finished all the cloth sacks I started 2 years ago. Im now working on finishing some baby chemises, that I might give away to someone else who is having a baby around the same time as me. The next projects will be a pinner apron, finishing Sophia's bag (only have to put on the straps)! I also have 3 unfinished bonnets to put together. Kris' is one of them! Ahh I only picked up her bonnet in May! Its been that long?!

What has made me work so hard on cleaning up my immense supply of incomplete projects was not only the space that they were taking up, but because Prince George was christened this week!

Prince George of Cambridge's gown has some major history behind it. It may have history behind the gown, but in fact George is the first one to wear it! 

Prince George's gown is a replica of the same gown worn first by Queen Victoria's daughter in 1841, and has graced 60 royal babies since.

A spinster by the name of Miss Sutherland worked for Queen Victoria when she was 34 until her death at the age of 45. The seamstress' inspiration of the christening gown was of Victoria's wedding dress she wore in 1840.

It's amazing that a gown has been worn 60 times for 172 years, but with that said, it is now extremely fragile. The gown was worn by George's father, Prince William, his grandfather, Prince Charles, and his Great-Grandmother, the Queen of England, Queen Elizabeth! It is now "retired" and is kept safe and sound, but now this replica, the tradition can go on!

I have also researched some gowns from the same age of Princess Vicky's on Pintress. Ive learned that the length of the skirt was somewhat of a social status in its own right. The longest skirt Ive seen is 20" long. It makes sense that the amount of fabric used would be the equivalent of how much the family could afford. I mean come on! This is an infant! They dont need THAT much fabric!

Most of these garments are made of "off white" cotton. I feel as if the description of "off white" is the description of the garment at the current state, and I personally feel that the garment has turned color with age. The patterns of fabric very from solid white to check- windowpane and even sheer Swiss. The gowns also vary in design. Some are simple as this picture; sleeves and gathered skirt sewn to a neckline.

This one is more elaborate with a waist band and a "V" bodice. I also think the skirt looks longer than the one above.

The most elaborate design that is pinned on my broad is of this fashion plate. I wish to have a larger picture to see some detail, but the skirt is split down two sides and is separated by lace in between.

Im too excited about this! I think from tonight until I get the fabric, I will have accomplished much more and will be so much closer to making this gown!

Kristen: Plymouth Cemetery Walk

My fingers were numb, my toes in a block of ice. It was dark, creepy, and I swear I continuously saw ghosts lurking about. IT WAS AWESOME!

The Plymouth Historical Society asks volunteers to "pretend" to be an actual person laid to rest as visitors tour their graves. I had an amazing time, and learned quite a bit about Ellen Shattuck!

Here's a bit of my script...

Who disturbs my mourning? Oh, visitors! You must all take care here, for there are some who would like you to stay.

Let me introduce myself. I was born Ellen Edgerton Hinsdale on August 19th, 1832 in Vermont. My parents, Hiram and Roxalany, were kind and loving. I lived a quiet, happy life, until I met Mr. Franklin Shattuck, my beloved husband.

On January 1st of 1859 we married and moved to Plymouth. My dearest Franklin! He was so handsome and strong! Now he is a meal for the worms!

My dear Franklin’s family was so affectionate towards me, but their misfortunes were many. My mother-in-law Sarah lost her little daughter Caroline as a baby, and she was buried in a stranger’s cemetery. That strong proud woman gave birth to 12 children, all subjected to the agony of which I will soon describe.

In 1832 Alfred and Sarah started their settlement here in Plymouth on the banks of the Rouge River. He purchased 300 acres, where he bred fine horses and established a stage coach service that ran between Detroit and the new capital, Lansing. They were known to be the fastest of all the stagecoaches, my husband especially!

Tragedy was never far behind the family I married into. I never did meet Alfred-in 1847, a colt he was training kicked him, and a few days and broken ribs later, he died from pneumonia. He left behind such a large, sad family; I wish I could have known that great man.

I don’t know how things could have gotten worse, but they did. In the early 1860’s that horrific war started, one that they now teach as the American Civil War. Death darkened nearly every doorstep, and the Shattuck family was no exception.

Dear Lute, the youngest of the family, such a handsome and clever boy could not exist! He even studied at the University in Ann Arbor! He was so popular. He enlisted with the 24th Michigan infantry. How sad we were to see him go! Lute wrote often, but then the letters stopped. 

In 1863 he had been promoted to lieutenant. We were so proud! He marched into battle at Gettysburg, was wounded in the arm. When Lute was told to have his wounds dressed, he refused, and cried “I enlisted to fight, and I will remain with my comrades!” By the end of the day his wounds were mortal. I can still hear poor Sarah’s screams when she read his name in the paper. She never stops screaming, never!

Franklin and I eventually took over the west section of the farm. The Shattuck family then spread to all corners of the earth, from Washington DC to the Dakotas! I even here something about a place called hay-why-ee, but I’m not sure where that is.

Franklin and I went on to have 3 children, and my little daughter Kitty, born in October of 1857, died in May of 1864. At 7 years old I delivered her to the soft earth from which we all rise. I am glad to know that she is at peace now, but I mourned so deeply as long as I lived.

My other sons Franklin and Henry died in the 1930’s and 40’s. Both of their spouses died in my lifetime. Perhaps the most grief I felt was at the death of my husband, on October 2, 1889. I myself died in 1917, in the midst of another great and terrible war.

It seems that great tragedy has followed my family throughout these years. It is with great pleasure that I lie here with my family, and as I spent most of my life mourning death, I now spend my death mourning life. 

Would you believe that I wrote that script? I received so many compliments! If there were little girls in the tour group, I reached out my hands to ask if they wanted to stay with my daughter Kitty. One actually said yes! I did my routine 14 times for over 200 people, from 3:30-9:00. The other volunteers had excellent presentations as well.

We couldn't help but snap a few pics before we left. The cemetery is incredibly creepy at night! And of course my widow's outfit added to the ambiance. I looked like I belonged there!

By the end of the night I was chilled to the bone; even with many layers of wool, I eventually went numb. The best part? I would do it again in a heartbeat!


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Kristen: How to Do Everything and Still Feel Good

I have been asked on numerous occasions how I do as much as I do. Besides stating the obvious (no children, no fiance in this country...) I have come up with how I save time, spend time, and waste time, all to my health.

We all have a list of obligations that take up various amounts of time. In order to prioritize to be the most efficient, here is my order: health, education, and sewing/reenacting. Let me explain...

My number one priority is my health, however this doesn't always just mean eating healthy or walking on the treadmill. Feeling good physically requires superhuman strength it seems, though the reality is much simpler. Here was my process:

1. Stop going out to eat. Cut that sugar down!
2. Buy a *few* foods that are healthy treats. (Treat Yo-self)
3. Eat at least 3-5 servings of fruits or veggies daily.
4. Do something physical minimum 30 min a day. (I hula hoop)
5. Do 1 thing I love every day. (This includes co-ed soccer, sewing night)

It took me a few days to overcome the "sugar" hangover. Have you ever cut pop/coffee from your diet, only to find that you get headaches? It's the same with high amounts of sugar, from spaghetti sauce to flavored waters. I've already lost 10 pounds in 2 months, and feel REALLY good physically.

Also note #5. How is it possible to do something I love EVERY DAY? It's actually easy. I've identified what I love (sewing, historical photos, talking to family) and I make at least 5 minutes for it every day. Even if it's only a quick glimpse at my pinterest boards or a phone call home, I feel settled on the busiest days. Stress can kill a person. I'm not about that life.

By now you have probably noticed that I am blogging for my Master's English class. I am currently studying English at Wayne State University, with a focus on composition and rhetoric. Readings can top 700 pages a week, on top of weekly blog posts, projects, and papers. How do I work full time AND do assignments? Well...

1. All "extra time" at work is spent reading. (Lunch, between classes)
2. I hula hoop and read at the same time. (Yes it is possible-I'm a pro!)
3. I keep a meticulous planner of every assignment and when I should start.
4. Schoolwork trumps everything.

Education is of the utmost importance in my life. My fiance is thousands of miles away studying medicine, and while I miss him, he has my deepest respect. Bettering your mind is the greatest gift you can give yourself, though not necessarily with traditional school. There are a thousand paths to achieving your self-realization (thank you Maslow...) so don't feel stifled by another person's journey. Let me stress this again-EDUCATE YOURSELF!

Ah, yes, the only category that truly applies to this blog. I've been asked my "secret" to finishing so many projects. In fact, I plan to finish 2 dresses, a chemise, and Regency accessories all before Christmas (also Becky's super secret shower stuff) How is that even POSSIBLE?

1. Order parts for project in advance.
2. Study pattern/instructions until memorized. (Whilst hula hooping)
3. Cut/wash fabric VERY early.
4. Set daily/weekly/monthly goals and time for them.
5. Don't feel bad if project catches on fire.
6. Experiment a little. (Try to avoid aforementioned fire)
5. Envision success when project is finished.

Seriously, I've only been sewing for a few years and you can check my portfolio page here to see some of it. It doesn't cover everything! My sewing parallels my reenacting, as both are so closely related. Making time for my creativity has been the best decision of my life! Doing what you love doesn't just happen-like a child it requires time, love, and patience.

Perhaps the greatest lesson I've learned through it all is to 


Throw a wrench in the plans, rip up the schedule, do something out of turn. In fact, that's how this post started. I *planned* to exercise today, as well as sew (I already read for school). I listened to my body; she sounded tired! I drove home from class more slowly, stopped at a bead store just to look around, and ate a homemade goat cheese and honey sandwich. Today would not be considered a continuance of my "plan," but it was necessary. Spend time breaking your routine.

At that, I will leave you dear reader. I plan to cuddle with my pets and reread Pride and Prejudice for the hundredth time.


***I must mention my cleaning routine too-every day I clean for 10 minutes. While not perfect, my living space is tidy. This is a huge improvement for me!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Kristen: ENG 7021 10/16

High and Low Culture: Punch meets Aristotle in Tom Jones

As I noted in my previous post, Tom Jones was a "novel" piece of writing for that time in the 18th century. It is no wonder that this author, probably accustomed to the classics, needed to find a way to entrench his book within the reader's mind. He does so by referencing as many well-known works as possible, though
this book was truly novel as there was "low culture" as well as classical learning. This book could be read by both upper and lower class citizens, a compliment to Hogarth and Addison and Steele and the raunchy plays of the day.

The author makes numerous references to what would be considered higher cultured artists: "O Shakespeare, had I thy pen! O, Hogarth, had I thy pencil!" (482) While in this section he claims he cannot write or draw the scene the way these two great masters would, simply by invoking their names he uses their technique to add complexity to the moment. Such a great moment would need a great artist to depict it! And since the author is the creator of said moment, in a way he lends credibility to his own words.

It is also important to note that there is a serious conversation on the topic of Punch and his Wife Joan. I thought it sounded rather familiar, and then I realized I myself had once seen the Punch and Judy show at
one of my Civil War reenactments. Throughout the show the little puppet pillaged and murdered, to the glee of the giggling children. As an adult I witnessed the violent themes, ones that would have been popular with that lower class that even the puppet master talking to Mr. Jones noted: "when I first too to the business, there was a great deal of low stuff that did very well to make folks laugh; but was never calculated to improve the morals of young people..." (556) Yet Mrs. Jones' response seems to echo the author's feeling of this lower class culture: "I would have been glad to have seen my old acquaintance master Punch, for all leaving out him and his merry wife Joan, you have spoiled your puppet-show." (556) Mr. Jones notes that by not including this "low" art, the entire scene itself is ruined. He implies we need both for true entertainment.

Why does Mr. Jones defend such violent and crude humor, and yet not too much farther in the text, breath Aristotle or Odyssey? In the same way that The Beggar's Opera appealed to so many people, this writing reaches all readers, as most would have seen a Punch and Joan show. By including these works he pushes the boundaries of the new "novel" genre, and lays the groundwork for a bourgeois culture

In the end, it is ironic that Fielding draws from both the classics and the "modern" in order to create this new genre. Is it that it would be not as accepted to a wider audience unless it contained these references? It is odd, as now this once "new" literary genre has taken over the print culture, and Tom Jones itself is considered one of the classics from which to draw inspiration.

Tom Jones

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Sunday, October 20, 2013

Kristen: Civil War Spectacle Case

Oh dear reader! I have found myself in another pocket of research from which I fear I won't recover. It all started with a leftover piece of red linen from my travel bag. I just could not part with it!

I wanted to do something memorable with it, and not just a reticule! Finally, I came across a "spectacle case" pattern in Godey's Lady's book. While it called for velvet or canvas work, I improvised with my red linen and black cotton soutache. Here is a basic rundown of the process. It only took a few hours in front of the television!

My only question now: What is the level of accuracy? I know they existed on a *basic* level, so I can't be convinced that a lady wouldn't have one if she needed it. So far, here is my research (which spans over 20 years). It includes The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Godey's Lady's Book, and a basic google search.

The Work Table Scagliola Work: Spectacle Case August 1849
Take a piece of card board, of the desired size and shape; cover this with a good cream-colored drawing paper. Upon this draw the design with a pencil; trace over the pencil marks with Indian ink and a fine quill; then fill in the ground with Indian ink and a camel’s hair brush. After two or three days, varnish with the best picture varnish. If preferred, this design may be worked in embroidery stitch, either with silk or gold thread-the material leather or green velvet. Stiffen the cardboard, and line with white velvet.

Godey's Ladies Book: Spectacle Case March 1861

This little article is to be worked on fine silk canvas with floss silks in tent-stitch. This will prevent the necessity of filling in the ground, and it also leaves the design more distinct when it is worked. The centre cross is in three colors, the little star in the middle is four white stitches with one gray in the centre. Round it there are eight stitches in rich dark crimson; round these four lines the cross is enlarged by two rows of bright blue stitches, in two shades. The six little stars around are in two shades of crimson. The remainder of the scroll pattern round the cross is in grays, shaded with black, the lightest parts being worked in white. The little pattern, which it carried round the edge, is in alternate blue and scarlet, with the rows nearest the edge in black. This will be found, when worked, a pretty effective arrangement of colors. When the two sides are completed, they must be lined with crimson silk, and joined together afterwards. The stitches are to be hid with a row of small beads,  either white, steel, or gold. The case is closed at the bottom and left open at the top.

Godey's Ladies Book Braided Spectacle Case December 1862 (No description)

Godey's Ladies Book: Spectacle case on Fine Canvas in Berlin Wool June 1862
A little article suitable for a token of friendship from the young to the old, easily worked, find pretty when completed. A fine canvas is required, and the light shades used in the pattern should be in floss silk. The ground is in crimson, and the pattern is worked in black, blues, and grays. The little border round has a black ground, the pattern being in alternate reds, blues, and whites. The colors should not be chosen for the gaiety of their contrasts, as it is the neatness of the work, and the suitability of style in the pattern, which render the article, when completed, appropriate for the purpose for which it is intended. The two sides must be lined with silk, an inner lining of flannel being first inserted; they must then be sewed together, leaving one end open to admit the spectacles, after which the stitches must be hid by a very small black silk cord sewed on all around, and at the opening on both sides of each half.

(This one is made from linen!)

I have also found examples of these cases in Godey's Lady's Book, 1868 and 1869.

Also, I have already scoured The Sewing Academy's site.

So my final question is this: can MY spectacle case be used for Civil War reenacting? Also, if you have any tidbits of research, could you please post below?


***Note the irony: I don't wear glasses.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Kristen: Regency Stays Part II

So I've learned quite a bit in the past few weeks. Gussets, binding, corsetry; I am really stepping up my knowledge with each project. However, I forgot probably the most important thing of all: I've lost weight.

It's not just a few pounds weight either. I'm sweating 6 days a week, battling through coed soccer and weightlifting. In the space of 6 weeks I've lost over 10 pounds (I swear I'm eating healthy! Just not heavy on the sugar anymore...) I'm delighted, but I've lost a feel for how my clothing fits.

Where was I? Oh yes-my Regency short stays. They're finished, boned and all. Here are the shots that I could get, whenever I wasn't hemorrhaging from sticking my finger under the needle. After basting together my layers, I added boning (4) and sewed together the gussets. Most of the rest was eyelets and binding.

At some point ink found its way onto the linen, and I'm surprised it's not dripping in tears and blood. The gussets turned out okay, though I had to go back and resew a few times. Overall, not a bad first set of Regency stays.

They are of course slightly too big. I am underestimating my weight loss when measuring myself, and a part of me is afraid to cut too small. What if I gain all that back? I like my healthier self and would like to stay this way!

Well, now that my dear reader has seen my in my skivvies, I suppose I can retire my scandal for the moment. That is, until I put up another blog post for my master's class about 18th century rakes...


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Kristen: Regency Short Stays Part I

I've recently had a quick moment (between family, reading, working, and exercising) to work on my new Regency short stays! I am using the Sense and Sensibility pattern, which you can buy here. I recommend this pattern very highly, though it did run a bit large on me.
Also, you need two adorable cuddling dogs

I am by no means an advanced seamstress; those of you with experience would laugh at my feeble attempts (and sometimes bleeding fingers!). Yet I am proud of this project so far, even if I've made a few mistakes.
Cut pattern (I'm size 8ish)
Cut gussets
Iron down edges
Prepare to attach gussets
Pin them down
Make sure they're pinned!
Sew them down
...and then attach everything else!

So I may have skipped a few steps in here, though if you buy the pattern it will be very clear. The goal is to create a "shelf" of a bosom, and I noticed that immediately when trying it on (with a chemise underneath). So far the process has not been terribly difficult, and all I have left is to bone and bind. Ideally this would be done in the next week, because I would like to start my Regency dress for the Jane Austen tea on  December 8th! Here's just a peek, you nosy neighbor you!

By the way, I think I'll watch Pride and Prejudice at some point this week. I need a little Elizabeth Bennet to liven up these dreary fall nights...

Monday, October 14, 2013

I Still Claim Part of this Blog! -Becky

I still claim part of this blog, but it seems like Kris is taking over this month!

I haven't done any sewing, but I am planning a major baby shower! Im expecting close to 60 people!
We finally set the date for the shower this morning! I am so behind on everything. I have a lot of help, but deciding who would be great at a certain job is still undecided.

Plus the theme of this shower has switched! I had bought duck invitations, thinking I would have a rubber ducky theme, but there have been too many suggestions to do a Christmas/ winter theme. Im quite overwhelmed! Now I have duckie invites for a "Baby it's cold outside" baby shower. Humph!

So with an update:

Ive stopped working on a pregnancy corset. It may be easier to make a post prego corset with nursing flaps.

I went to Ft Wayne with my future Father-In-Law. I enjoyed my day trip and my father and step-mom did a great job as tour guides for the F-I-L and Step- Mom's parents. That day was the first time I met Andrea and Jillian.

Jillian and I spent a day at Joanns and washing some fabric for her corset.---We havent touched it since :/

Wolcott Mill was a bust! There were so many things that went wrong. There were ways that I could have attended on Saturday, but no one updated me on it. I made it on Sunday, I had some trading and people depended on me being there. It was canceled when my boyfriend and I walked though the gate.

And personal updates:

Almost every weekend is booked with my boyfriend. This week was so hectic! This was my weeks prep for a wedding on Friday:

Monday I searched for shower favors, gift ideas, and table candy. I also had a well needed manicure and pedicure. Doing my eyebrows was a fabulous bonus!

Tuesday I went for a Dr. apt and found that I have gained, and gained a lot.

Wednesday was another shopping day. I purchased some shoes. I never buy shoes until the one's Im wearing are broken. I also bought a dress with tights, but the next day I had to return the dress when I found a better fitting one the next day.

Thursday I went back to shopping with my younger cousin at Motherhood maternity. I never thought that I would like the mature look that the store sells, but I LOVE the store! So with buying a dress from Motherhood, I had to return the other dress that was too large.

Friday was the biggest prep day! I got my hair done. Colored, cut and styled for the wedding hours away. The driving situation was never determined and made the whole day uneasy. We never did make the wedding because the boyfriend's brother arrived late from work, didn't fit into any of his clothing and decided we need to buy him a shirt that day. I was quite mad. He literally wore the shirt that he bought minutes before the reception!

The reception was great. The table arrangements were appropriate and I enjoyed who I was assigned with. I didnt dance, I found the people I sat with were more entertaining than I would be on the dance floor. They talked about how all three weddings were the week after the other. They made a big bachelor party in Vegas and what wild time that they had.

Since then I have been conditioning my body to switch back for work. Im exited to go back on a mini vacation for my boyfriend and I's first anniversary in Frankenmuth in two weeks!

Kristen: ENG 7021 10/16

After reading part of Henry Fielding's Tom Jones and viewing Hogarth's paintings, I have found startling similarities between the two. Not only is there an omniscient narrator present in both, but that presence is essential to understanding the credibility of the author.

The most expressive set of paintings I encountered was A Rake's Progress. It in many ways parallels Tom Jones' life; a young man set out in the world with good opportunity and finds mischief in its vices. This set of pictures allows the "reader" to be invited into personal, private spaces and gives credibility to the artist as one to portray the truth. A Rake's Progress does not suppress, as each painting contains numerous stories in an instantaneous moment. For example, the third painting shows a brothel with each individual captured in a moment; women tend to their customers, they drink, and even steal. The reader does not doubt that he/she is looking upon the truth; these intimate seconds feel authenticate, as they are scenes not favorable when discussing any person (orgy, chase by debters, and etc.). It would take an omniscient presence to capture the scene properly, with all the details included. This means that the author is all-knowing.

In Tom Jones, the story is told from a 3rd person perspective, with the narrator constantly chiming in when necessary. Fielding alludes to writing as nourishment, noting that his is serving "up the first course of our history for their entertainment" (31). While the narrator may be admitting that this novel is for entertainment, not too much later he attempts to relay only the truth: "As we determined, when we first sat down to write history, to flatter no man, but to guide our pen throughout by the direction of truth" (103). Is this a story of truth or fiction? The reader is left to guess.

But the narrator does note that this text is entirely different from others already in print, a different genre: "For all which I shall not look on myself as accountable to any court of critical jurisdiction whatever: for as I am, in reality, the founder of a new province of writing, so I am at liberty to make what laws I please therein" (68). It is possible that this "new" genre can involve a mix of both truth and entertainment, known now as the comic novel. This invention also shows attitudes toward print culture; written works could be completely and unapologetically fiction, giving way for the novel as a genre.

It is this sincerity for the truth and the denial of perfection that both interests and repels me. Obviously this is a work of fiction, but the role of the narrator at times feels too much. "...and here I must intermeddle with affairs, or works, which no ways concern them"(33). I think Fielding does meddle more than necessary, but if only to demonstrate the nosiness that the reader must feel on occasion. After observing orgies and reading about scandal, I certainly feel as if I've received too much information.

Fielding, Henry . Tom Jones. 3rd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008. Print.

Photo 1-'s_Progress

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Sunday, October 13, 2013

Kristen: Fall with the Family

As of late I've been feeling a bit "family sick." This is akin to homesickness, except it is centered around seeing family members. So I packed my car and my sewing and drove out to South Rockwood, MI to watch fall begin with my parents and neighbors.

The air is just starting to get crisp, and the trees are starting to turn colors. In the front yard my parents have a few apple and pear trees. They do not spray them for bugs, though the natural beauty of the whole scene tends to be peaceful even with their incessantly angry buzzing.

Our neighbors passed the time by coring apples in preparation for apple butter (that I will not be tasting since I had to leave the next day...) They brought their dogs too, and they nipped at apple pieces whenever given the opportunity. There was no mess left behind! I need to snag that recipe sometime soon...

I'm very grateful to have this oasis of calm whenever I feel a bit stressed by school and work. Simply walking around their yard soothes even the most worried student, and I often did this trip back in my undergraduate days. I also made everyone dinner: red pepper/tomato bisque soup with honey and cheese rolls. It felt so good to relax! I am alleviated by this time that I desperately needed.

Unfortunately I have to return to reality, which includes reading with healthy doses of exercise and sewing. I am rejuvenated, ready to survive another hectic week 


On My Bookshelf: December

December has been a really rough month. Between what happened in Oxford (not far from where I live...) and just the general pandemic issues,...