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Elizabethan era / idioms / literary devices
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as your wish is my command
= bending the rules to make one’s art more captivating.
Poetic license means the ‘license’ or ‘liberty’ taken by a poet, prose writer, or other artist in deviating from facts and genre conventions etc. so as to be able to produce more interesting and/or effective artwork.
For instance, we know that we should follow poetic rhyming conventions and syllable and stanza counts but sometimes, the message is more important than the mode so, we take the liberty of scrapping some of the rules every once in a while (see: “Sun, Sand &”).
Why not see this post too: ‘Poetic justice’
**** Standing on the shoulders of giants. This metaphor/phrase/idiom: ‘of dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants’ (Latin: nanos gigantum humeris insidentes) means, discovering truth by building on previous discoveries. This idea/notion has been traced to the 12th c. and is attributed to Bernard of Chartres. Famously, in 1675, Isaac Newton wrote the following, “if I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.”
[American | 1862-1937]
Edith Wharton was born in 1862 (which was during the American Civil War) and published her first short story in 1891. Wharton’s first novel–The Valley of Decision–came out in 1902 and, arguably, her most famous work, The House of Mirth, was published in 1905 See below). She was the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Literature in 1921 (see all Pulitzer Prize winners here). Edith Wharton died in France in her villa, “Pavilion Colombes,” in 1937.
Beware of monotony; it’s the mother of all the deadly sins.
(Rather like, ‘the devil finds work for idle hands’ if people don’t have anything to do with their time, they are likely to get up to monkey business.)
As with most of the novels Wharton set in New York this book makes an ironic commentary on the cruelties and hypocrisies of upper class American society in the years before, during and after WWII.
It frightened him to think what must have gone to the making of her eyes.
― Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence
When this novel was first published in 1911, most of the reviews were critical and negative. Reviewers said the story was cruel and violent (sales in those early years were poor too). But, fast forward to today and this book is one of Wharton’s most widely read works. Different in both tone and theme from Wharton’s other works, Ethan Frome has become perhaps her most enduring and most widely read novel; it centres on a haunting tale of forbidden romance in the frozen waste of a harsh rural New England winter.
I want to put my hand out and touch you. I want to do for you and care for you. I want to be there when you’re sick and when you’re lonesome.
― Edith Wharton, Ethan Frome
This is often described as a black comedy centering on huge wealth and a woman (Lily) who can define herself only through the perceptions of others. Wharton is mercilessly frank as she chronicles Lily’s fall from grace, contrasting psychological insights with descriptions of external effects.
It is so easy for a woman to become what the man she loves believes her to be.
― Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth
[English | 1885–1930]
D H Lawrence is amongst the greatest figures of 20th c. English literature. Taken as a whole his work represents an extended reflection upon the dehumanising effects of modernity and industrialisation.
In his poetry, prose and paintings, Lawrence confronts issues relating to emotional health and vitality as well as human sexuality and instinct. At the time of his death in 1928 it was said that his public reputation was that of a pornographer and a wasted talent. Yet, as stated on the Portry Foundation’s website, E.M. Forster–think: Room with a View–begged to differ. In an obituary notice he went so far as to declare that Lawrence was, “the greatest imaginative novelist of [that] generation.”
One must learn to love, and go through a good deal of suffering to get to it, and the journey is always towards the other soul.
“Lady Constance Chatterley is trapped in a loveless marriage to a man who is impotent. Oppressed by her dreary life, she is drawn to Mellors the gamekeeper. Breaking out against the constraints of society she yields to her instinctive desire for him and discovers the transforming power of physical love which leads them both towards fulfilment.”
‘Connie was aware, however, of a growing restlessness…It thrilled inside her body, in her womb, somewhere, till she felt she must jump into water and swim to get away from it; a mad restlessness. It made her heart beat violently for no reason…’
Lady Chatterley’s Lover (📙 read the book, pdf format) was first published privately in 1928 in Italy, and in 1929 in France–it was banned (forbidden/prohibited) in the U.K. Indeed, it wasn’t properly published in uncensored format in the U.K. until 1960. As Wikipedia say, the book’s publication only happened after an obscenity trial against the publisher Penguin Books was won by Penguin. After winning, in short order, Penguin sold 3 million copies. The book was/is notorious for its story of the physical (and emotional) relationship between a working class man and an upper class woman, its explicit descriptions of sex, and its use of then-unprintable (four-letter) words.
We fucked a flame into being.
― D H Lawrence, Lady Chatterley’s Lover
Women in Love begins one blossoming spring day in England and ends with a terrible catastrophe in the snow of the Alps. Ursula and Gudrun are very different sisters who become entangled with two friends, Rupert and Gerald, who live in their hometown. The bonds between the couples quickly become intense and passionate but whether this passion is creative or destructive is unclear.
In this groundbreaking work–widely considered to be one of Lawrence’s best–he explores what it means to be human in an age of conflict and confusion.
Like above, The Rainbow was considered controversial in its time due to its portrayal of how sexual desire, especially in women, can affect relationships. Not only was is banned in the U.K. for 11 years but 1,000 copies were ceremoniously burned.
The novel is set between the 1840s and the early years of the twentieth century and tells the story of three generations of the Brangwen family; by way of, “courting, pregnancy, marriage and defiance Lawrence explores love and the conflicts it brings.”
Sons and Lovers was published in 1913 and–surprise, surprise–was initially considered to be obscenity. Today though it is regarded as a masterpiece by many critics and amongst Lawrence’s finest achievements.
In the novel, protagonist Paul Morel is the focus of his disappointed and fiercely protective mother’s life. Their tender, devoted and intense bond comes under strain when Paul falls in love with Miriam Leivers, a local girl his mother disapproves of. The arrival of the provocatively modern Clara Dawes causes further tension and Paul is torn between his individual desires and family allegiances.
Love is never a fulfillment. Life is never a thing of continuous bliss. There is no paradise. Fight and laugh and feel bitter and feel bliss: and fight again. Fight, fight. That is life.
From, ‘Love Poems and Others’ (1913)
Under the long, dark boughs, like jewels red
In the hair of an Eastern girl
Shine strings of crimson cherries, as if had bled
Blood-drops beneath each curl.
Under the glistening cherries, with folded wings
Three dead birds lie:
Pale-breasted throstles and a blackbird, robberlings
Stained with red dye.
Under the haystack a girl stands laughing at me,
With cherries hung round her ears—
Offering me her scarlet fruit: I will see
If she has any tears.
— D H Lawrance
— Philip Larkin
The difficult part of love
Is being selfish enough,
Is having the blind persistence
To upset an existence
Just for your own sake.
What cheek it may take.
And then the unselfish side –
How can you be satisfied,
Putting someone else first
So that you come off worst?
My life is for me.
As well ignore gravity.
Still, vicious or virtuous,
Love suits most of us.
Only the bleeder found
Selfish this wrong way round
Is ever wholly rebuffed,
And he can get stuffed.
It’s about give and it’s about take…
We don’t know, but we hear something and make a judgment then, we hear something else and we either become dogmatic or we reevaluate our previous perspective…
They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.
But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another’s throats.
Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don’t have any kids yourself.
― Philip Larkin, High Windows (1974)
‘Philip Larkin, racist, bigot and poet’
John Newsinger (2017)
‘In search of the real Philip Larkin’
Rachel Cooke (2010)
Reflecting on The Desert Rose
— John Milton
Methought I saw my late espoused saint
Brought to me, like Alcestis, from the grave,
Whom Jove’s great son to her glad husband gave,
Rescu’d from death by force, though pale and faint.
Mine, as whom wash’d from spot of child-bed taint
Purification in the old Law did save,
And such as yet once more I trust to have
Full sight of her in Heaven without restraint,
Came vested all in white, pure as her mind;
Her face was veil’d, yet to my fancied sight
Love, sweetness, goodness, in her person shin’d
So clear as in no face with more delight.
But Oh! as to embrace me she inclin’d, I wak’d, she fled, and day brought back my night.
Losing a lover ain’t easy…
Innocence, Once Lost, Can Never Be Regained. Darkness, Once Gazed Upon, Can Never Be Lost.
— Read Milton’s words ^ and think: Nietzsche’s abyss!!
A good book is the precious life-blood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life.
— From Milton’s Areopagitica