Storytelling

Thursday, 21 April 2011 12:30
epershand: Rose brandishing knitting needles. (Rose)
I was just reminded of this anecdote and decided to write it down.

A year or so my grandparents and I were having a conversation about Lise Meitner and the degree to which she got ignored by her contemporaries despite the huge impact she had on the field of nuclear physics, quantum electrodynamics in particular. A couple of examples: One of the particles she discovered is named after a dude who discovered it independently, two years ago. Her work was integral to the discovery of nuclear fission, but the Nobel Prize for it went to all the guys she worked with and not to her.

A bit of background is relevant here: my grandparents are retired academics, my grandmother in early-twentieth-century women's history and my grandfather in nano-physics. So they're both super into the conversation. As is usual, they both want to run to their libraries to grab books on the subject.

"I know of a book that talks about her!" my grandfather exclaims. He runs to his bookshelves and grabs the book in question. We turn to the index eagerly, only to find that Meitner is mentioned in exactly one footnote.

The title of the book in question? Quantum Electrodynamics and the Men Who Made It.
epershand: "It was becoming an obsession" (Obsession)
I'm listening to an audiobook of Amin Maalouf's The Crusades Through Arab Eyes, and my addiction to that stretch of history is growing again.

So I'm looking for recommendations of similar books. I've read a fair amount about the Crusades from the Byzantine perspective, but this is the first I've read from the Arab perspective. Are there any other good books on the Arab perspective of the "Frankish invasions", or books on Saladin?

No I am totally not plotting Richard/Saladin in the Dragon Waiting verse. Why would you think that?
epershand: Adams and Jefferson, being slashy. (Damn you Mr. Adams)
Today contained my best twitter conversation of all time. Twitter usernames swapped out for LJ/DW usernames to protect the 1776-obsessed.

[livejournal.com profile] belledezuylen: @[personal profile] epershand Why do you insist on dancing with Mr. Adams? Good Lord, Sir, you don't even like him!
[personal profile] epershand: @[livejournal.com profile] belledezuylen It's true, he annoys me quite a lot. But still I'd rather trot to Mr. Adams' new gavotte.
[livejournal.com profile] belledezuylen: @[personal profile] epershand But why? For personal glory? A place in history? Be careful, sir! History will brand him and his followers as traitors!
[personal profile] epershand: @[livejournal.com profile] belledezuylen Traitors, Mr. Dickinson? To what? The British Crown or the British half-crown?
[personal profile] epershand: @[livejournal.com profile] belledezuylen Fortunately there are not enough men of property in America to dictate policy.
[livejournal.com profile] belledezuylen: @[personal profile] epershand Perhaps not--but don't forget that most men with nothing would rather protect the possibility of becoming rich...
[livejournal.com profile] belledezuylen: @[personal profile] epershand ... than face the reality of being poor. And that is why they will always follow us.
[livejournal.com profile] penguinkye: @[livejournal.com profile] belledezuylen @[personal profile] epershand TO THE CHORUS!
[personal profile] epershand: @[livejournal.com profile] penguinkye TO THE RIGHT, EVER TO THE RIGHT. NEVER TO THE LEFT, FOREVER TO THE RIGHT.
[personal profile] epershand: @[livejournal.com profile] belledezuylen (Wow, I kind of want to smoke a cigarette after all that.)

epershand: An ampersand (Default)
(narrated Dinosaur Comics style because my inner fangirl sounds surprisingly like t-rex)

Ok, guys, I have a New Historical Obsession. And it is....

... Alexander Dumas Fils (or, as I like to call him, Little Dumas. But I will call him Dumas Fils here because that it is what everyone else calls him).

Guys, Dumas Fils fell in love with a courtesan who had consumption. And he convinced her to run away with him to the country. And then she went back to Paris because she liked her lifestyle and tragically died of consumption.

And then he wrote a book about it and now it's a romantic cliche! It's possible that he even threw money at her feet at a party and declared "I have paid for my whore."!

Bottom line is, even if the woman you love died of consumption and also was a bit of a whore, having something that actually happens to you turn into a literary cliche is kind of the best thing ever. Right?

(Her name was Marie Duplessis she had lots of famous lovers other than Dumas fils. So allow me to upgrade the previous paragraph. Even if you die of consumption and sort of get your agency taken away by being turned into a fictional character, becoming a literary cliche is still the best thing ever.)

Back story: I saw La Traviata at the San Francisco Opera yesterday and it was brilliant. People who are in the Bay Area: go see it! It was good opera, and also it was well-staged, which is in my experience not a common combination.

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