epershand: A picture of a castle with an arrow next to it. (Castle)
The terrible-amazing-terrible tell-all biography of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother I've been nibbling away at for the last month or so has just outdone itself.

Yet Edward VIII's beliefs and style were far more in keeping with those of our age. Had he been given a fair chance, the British Empire might not have gone into the terminal decline it did as soon as his brother succeeded him. For the fact is, King George VI oversaw the immediate and precipitate decline of the British Empire's fortunes. He oversaw the beginning of the dismantling of the Empire, which continued under his daughter, and might well have been averted had a more progressive king been on the throne. And a progressive king with an American queen might well have been just the antidote to much of the the antipathy which saw nationalists like Gandhi and Jinnah prevail.

- Lady Colin Campbell. The Queen Mother: The Untold Story of Elizabeth Bowes Lyon, Who Became Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. p 356, Nook edition.


(Every time people ask me the title of the book I'm reading, I'm like "uh, something involving the words 'Elizabeth' and 'Queen Mother' repeated a lot of times? I can't remember the order?" If it were up to me the title would be A Very Catty History of the Twentieth Century, By A Determined Partisan of Edward VIII.)

I am just enjoying this book SO MUCH, in, ironically, very much the same way I enjoyed the V&A museum. I'm so used to the historical accounts I read, however biased they are, spend a lot of time appearing to be neutral and objective. It's oddly refreshing to see something so coldly pleased with its own biases that it wears them on its sleeve.

(I'm also in the middle of listening to the audio books of Jo Walton's Small Change Trilogy, which I last read a few years go. I am really excited that I got to the Abdication Crisis in this book right as I got to the Edward VIII bits of Half a Crown. But ACCORDING TO LADY COLIN CAMPBELL that whole "Nazi sympathies" thing was just a nasty rumor Elizabeth started. *nodnod*)
epershand: Photo of AE Housman (Housman)
This morning in the shower I was wondering about the history of Latin scholarship. Presumably folks were running around ancient Rome using the ablative because it felt right and being innovative and playful with it for the heck of it. That's certainly the vibe I get from, say, Catullus or Ovid.

What, then, was the point when people decided it all needed to be codified into ridiculously elaborate rules to memorize, with distinctions, say, between the ablative of means, ablative of manner, dative of agent, etc? Was it during the middle ages when they were coming up with equally elaborate terminology for any metaphysical doubt one might possibly have? Or was it some folks in the Renaissance who looked back at all the Latin written during the middle ages and blushed at how embarrassingly straightforward it all was? (Not that Renaissance Latin is any less silly, grammatically speaking, but they at least *try*. Sort of.)

Which would be an interesting thing to research, I think. Except what actually happened then was that thinking about silly Latin from the middle ages totally diverted me and put the following mash-up poem in my head:

Bibat ille, bibat illa, bibat servus et ancilla
With the rhyming and the chiming of the
Bells, bells, bells, bells, bells, bells, bells!

Cheerier things

Wednesday, 15 December 2010 22:08
epershand: "There is no pretense here. I happen to be genuinely self-absorbed and deeply shallow." (Genuine and deep)
I. "Venetian Tendencies"

I enthused about Daphne du Maurier's bisexuality to the point of being boring last weekend, but only because she is REALLY FASCINATING. Mostly I think her internalized homophobia and insistence that she loved women in a SPECIAL AND UNIQUE way that none of "the L people" did is hilarious. If she had been 40 years older she would have been a garden-variety Sapphist; she was just lined up with the wrong trends. Oh Daphne, you can be a special and unique flower if you want to be, it rubs my "hypocrisy in historical figures" kink just the right way.

Of particular note is the similarity between the language she uses in her letters about the threat of her own homosexuality and the language that the narrator in Rebecca uses about the threat of Mrs. Danvers; I did after all find this article in pursuit of my ongoing trawl for any and all Rebecca fanfiction that might live on the internet. Maybe what I actually want to read is Gothic lesbian pulp novels. Maybe what I want to do is just re-read all the Gothic novels of my youth and slash them.

II. Fangirls

I had an entirely charming encounter with teenage fangirls on Sunday afternoon. I was waiting at a bus stop across the street from Japantown when suddenly I realized the conversation the girls next to me were having was about ST reboot actor RPS. I made hearthands at them, we exchanged fannish smalltalk, and then we went our separate ways, but it made me smile. A lot.

III. You may not know this about me, but there's this band and I'm obsessed with them, because I'm in the honeymoon stage of the relationship. Moving on.

IV. In other news about things that I want to read, let's talk about my to-read list right now:
People of the Book: A Decade of Jewish Science Fiction and Fantasy [ed by Rachel Swirsky]
Citizen, Invert, Queer: Lesbianism and War in Early Twentieth-Century Britain [Deb Cohler]
Constantine's Sword: The Church and the Jews -- A History [James Carroll]
All the INCREDIBLE FICTION that is going to be on the Kobo that I, uh, won in the Carl Brandon Society auction (YAY CARL BRANDON SOCIETY). If the US Postal Service stops holding it hostage... it has been four days since the last update on the delivery tracking.

Basically what I am saying is that I am very much looking forward to Christmas break and the time and brainpower for reading it will bring. As if I will actually read anything but Yuletide... ha!
epershand: An ampersand (Default)
An evening's surfing on the intertubes:

I read [livejournal.com profile] lyssie's girlwank post on people complaining that they can't find the femslash they want to read without looking for it.

This makes me realize that what I would really like to read is some nice psychological Rebecca DeWinter/Mrs. Danvers, or even a Rebecca/Maxim/Danvers love triangle. I pop open a Yuletide tab and an AO3 tab, and naively do a search for "Rebecca" on the AO3.

This leads me to the (admittedly small) fandom Rebecca Drysdale is a Time Traveling Lesbian.

Which leads me to the CANON Rebecca Drysdale is a Time Traveling Lesbian. \o/

Dear Internet,

Will you marry me?

[checkbox] Yes
[checkbox] No

Love,
Molly


The moral of the story is, you can fit a lot of puns on "lesbian" into an 8-episode short.
epershand: An ampersand (Default)
Renoir portrait of Bizelle, Bizelle portrait of Renoir  Caption: Last month, I went to see the French Impressionism exhibit in San Francisco. Needless to say, it was fantastic. These two paintings were hung next to each other. I remember reading something there about their relationship and whatnot and G-d help me... but I want me some fic of those two. Do I really need to explain why this is a secret? I can't believe fandom has gotten so much into my everyday life that I'm starting to ship not only these two but Emily Dickinson/Susan Gilbert and Pilate's Wife/Mary Magdalene {I don't get it either}. Someone, please get my slash goggles the fuck off.
(from this fandom secrets post)

This secret made me so happy, because I had a really great time when I saw this exhibit with my aunt and grandmother a couple of months ago. My aunt and I spent the whole exhibit nattering about how delightful the relationships were and giggling at the contemporary reactions (the use of dappled light in The Swing was "obscene"). I would totally read any Impressionists, together and separately, being Tragic Little Rich Boys rebelling against the establishment in their flannels and ties.

We're going to see the Post-Impressionists in a few weeks and I am VERY excited. My aunt does the best art museum snark.
epershand: One stick figure beheading another. (Beheading)
Executive summary: My view of history is radically affected by the haphazard reading I've done.

Edward VIII's abdication )

Puritans! )

Other Protestants! )

The above subjects, cross-referenced:
- Compare and Contrast Edward VIII abdicating the thrown to marry a divorcee with Henry VIII starting a new church to get a divorce.
- Were Thomas and Oliver Cromwell related? (spoilers: The answer includes Kat and Morgan, Wolf Hall readers!)

Jerusalem

Monday, 30 August 2010 21:58
epershand: "when we have found all the meanings and lost all the mysteries we will be alone on an empty shore" (Alone on an empty shore)
Today when I was at work and didn't want to be, I determined that a much better idea than fiddling with JavaScript was plotting my ideal HBO TV show with [profile] olivia_circe. Picture it...

JERUSALEM, a new HBO series.

It would cover roughly 0-73 CE. You've got everything you need for a TV show along the lines of Rome or The Tudors:

The corrupt royal family: Herod is the corrupt King of Judea for season one. He executes all his wives and half his children. He builds Masada. He builds Caesaria. He re-builds the walls of Jerusalem and executes the architects. You get the picture.

Herod dies at the beginning of season one, at which point you get Herod Antipas, Herdias, and Salome in Gallilee, and Herod Archelaus in Judea. Drama! Incompetence! Pontias Pilate shows up because Archelaus can't handle the job! His hands are very clean!

The meta-historical injokes: Look, you just have to accept that Josephus Flavius will be a main character, and he will constantly be making references to the fact that he is totally writing this all down, so there. PS Dear Romans, will you take me back with you to Rome I hate it here love Josephus.

The obligatory cameos: The finale of season one is when Jesus shows up and Herod Antipas and Pontius Pilate have to cope with the political ramifications. In season two Saul shows up but changes his name after a trip to Damascus and starts founding a new religion. Season three is just Masada, because why the heck not?

The high-budget re-creation of historical tragedy: The season two finale is the destruction of the Second Temple. Totally epic special effects. And wait until you see the digital reconstruction of Masada.

The dubious morals: So, you've got corrupt, oppressive Roman officials. You've got the Zealots, who are in the Top Forty of Religious Extremists Who Made Poor Choices. Josephus is a collaborator. Paul keeps writing wacky letters to everybody. Bottom line, nobody is very sympathetic, and they are all very compelling, just as they should be.

The wacky modern character insertions The Pullo and Vorenus analogs are a pair of women who start relatively young, but by the end have been sold into slavery and wind up being the sole survivors of Masada. Then they hang out with Josephus and tell him the story. In between, they are everything to everybody, they accidentally inspire any number of historical events. For instance, maybe they try to serve Peter shellfish in Jaffa! Also they make lots of snarky commentary.

The questionable timeline: If you are following along with me while also looking at a history, you might notice that season 1 is 4 BCE-4 CE, season 2 is 4-70 CE, and season 3 is 70-73 CE. But I have seen Rome and I tell you, time is pretty fluid.
epershand: A hero. And the text "My hero". (My Hero)
You know what I love about the internet? Sometimes, when you're upset that the book you want is (a) out of print (b) not on Google Books (c) not in the card catalog for your regional library system you remember the wonderful world of online used bookstores.

...$3.64 later, I have a copy of Harvey's The Plantagenets on its way to me. Hopefully I'll still be in this fandom 5-14 days from now when it arrives.
epershand: "when we have found all the meanings and lost all the mysteries we will be alone on an empty shore" (Alone on an empty shore)
Having woken up obscenely early via the magical powers of jetlag, I am engaged in a mildly quixotic quest to find the historical sources that claim that Richard I, Lionheart, was gay.

Progress so far: the evidence seems to be from a public confession that Richard gave in Sicily before leaving for the Crusades in the hopes of getting his troops' morale up, and for getting the Crusade sanctified. In the confession he admits to all kinds of fun and exciting sins of the debaucherous sort, supposedly up to and including sodomy. I have not yet found a copy of the confession itself, and suspect that even if I do it will turn out to be in French, since Richard never spoke English.

The first historian to claim that Richard was queer was J.H. Harvey in his 1948 book The Plantagenets, pages 33-34 of which every other source I've found cites. Unfortunately, The Plantagenets is out of print, not in the SFPL card catalog, and has snippet view only on Google Reader. Also, some review in Speculum that I could only get the first two paragraphs of on JSTOR says that it makes all its claims without having citations, which is hardly useful for my purposes.

Wikipedia's totally bullshit and unreadable passage on Richard's sexuality (which I am planning on re-writing once I've completed my quixotic quest) claims that the major "Richard was gay" scholar was Jean Flori. I've now got Flori's biography ordered on ILL and expect to have it in a couple of days--hopefully it will have what I need.

Surprisingly helpful so far has been the primary "Richard was totally not gay" scholar, John Gillingham. He's at least cited the sources I want to find, but his argument is mostly "people claim that Richard was gay because he only hung out with dudes. Based on that evidence almost every historical monarch is gay." He also points out that the description of how pretty Richard is was by Geoffrey of Monmouth, who criticized at least two other monarchs for being gay but neglected to criticize Richard. At least in the excerpt on Google Books, Gillingham doesn't seem to address the question of the Penitence. I decided not to check out the Gillingham at the library yesterday because it didn't have "homosexuality" in its index, and I think that was probably a wise decision, although I may go back for the couple of pages surrounding the Google Books excerpt.

Wish list:
- English translation of the penitence. It sounds like really fun reading.
- The Harvey, or at least pp 33-34.

(I totally roped a reference librarian at the SFPL into my quest yesterday. I think she was entertained. Side note: I want to marry the third floor of that library. Everything I want is there--biography, poetry, theatre, the GLBT Room. With the exception of fiction, I have never gone to that library on a quest and wound up on any other floor.)

(Hey, remember a week ago when I was eating subpar felafel in Akko, the lame modern city that used to be Richard's capital Acra, between a hike to see Montfort Castle and a visit to a sircar winery? That was sweet. Much less awesome than driving through the valley where Saladin wiped out the Second Crusade, but somehow charming in its banality.)
epershand: A speech bubble with "tl;dr" (tl;dr)
I'm beginning to come down from my WisCon high. I definitely had more of a lobby con than a going to panels con, but it was absolutely the weekend I needed to have.

Things About WisCon )

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