books

Meek and boring heroines

Another great comic from Hark, A Vagrant. It is a fair zinger too, though the odd gutsy female appears in Dickens (Madame Defarge in A Tale Of Two Cities may not be the heroine, but she does rather steal the book due to sheer bloodthirsty charisma. She is French though so cannot be expected to know how to behave.)

That rather underscores the point, though: women in Dickens are generally either Good (meek, mild, modest, and mouse-like) or Bad (proud, scornful, controlling, and harridanical). We know which one is going to get the boy (this and other mysteries are not usually a matter of great suspense in Dickens). There is generally a young male paragon in the story too, upright, honest, clear-eyed, and full of good clean Victorian spunk. In this situation a wedding on the last-but-one page is virtually guaranteed, unless one of them suddenly dies of consumption.

However, the novel being what it is, you can expect that the young couple will have to endure many tribulations and obstacles before their chastely joyful union, including the hero sometimes marrying the wrong person by mistake. David Copperfield does this in David Copperfield, hooking up with Dora Spenlow, who is in the memorable words of Blackadder, “wetter than a haddock’s bathing costume”.

My favourite Dickensienne is probably Little Dorrit in Little Dorrit. She supports her ungrateful father and feckless brother with furious and sustained bouts of needlework, and generally is a shining light of common sense and industry though surrounded by the usual Dickensian rabble of thieves, blackmailers, villains, cheats, debtors, simpletons, angry lesbians, wicked landlords, rakish artists, corrupt officials, confidence tricksters, and evil butlers.

Least favourite: I heartily agree with Oscar Wilde who remarked, “One would have to have a heart of stone to read the death of Little Nell without dissolving into tears… of laughter.”

The Jazz Age

From Great Gatsbys by Kate Beaton of Hark, a vagrant. I love her take on Macbeth as well.

Invasion of the Potter People

In some ways it is like Harry Potter is some type of bizarre alien virus that has taken hold of people’s minds and caused them to talk about Harry Potter a lot and buy all his books and say he is really good.

Do not write in saying I am a fool for not liking Harry Potter because I do. I saw that movie about Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix which was pretty great in fact! There I said it. On the other hand the people that like Harry Potter related things too much scare me.

It is OK basically but JK Rowling’s writing is curiously stilted and uninvolving, and even though Order of the Pheonix is gorgeously filmed and put together with wit and charm, it dissolves in the mind like popcorn in Fanta. Nothing remains after a few minutes except a pleasant burp of computerised special effects.

In a way that is what is so appealing, not everyone wants Battleship Potemkin with their Cornetto, but how to explain the many otherwise well-balanced seeming people who think Harry Potter is the best thing ever. By miles.

I know it makes me seem a bit stern and grumpy, as though I want to punish children for lifting up their laughing, happy little faces to see a magical wizard and his friends and token ethnic companions defeating Evil.

I do not. I only think some type of police licensing system could be introduced, where if you received a certain number of points for offences involving being over enthusiastic about Harry Potter, you would be banned from talking about Harry Potter or writing ungrammatical and overtly sexual fan fiction on the Internet.

More Asterix books

Don’t miss these great titles, coming soon:

keithlard activity update

It’s time for another highly concentrated information pellet, predigested for you by Montmorency the Internet Owl. I’ve been doing lots of web site work - with my Mum on HuntTheArtist.com and Cornish Ceremonies, and I just set up a new Go blog where I can waffle about my favourite game in peace, without interference, or readers.

I gave up Twitter and Facebook for Lent, which was surprisingly easy, and leaves me with a lot more free time to spend on things like polishing the car, sitting on the sofa, compiling my list of the best thousand Simpsons episodes, crisp research, walks investergating local ducks and coots, picking locks, drinking intresting beers, and looking out of the window to see if the car’s been stolen yet.

It also gives me more time for reading. Right now I’m enjoying Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen’s Figments of Reality: The Evolution of the Curious Mind and George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1).

Man I am glad I do not live in a dystopic faux-feudal land of ice, war, incest, murder and betrayal. Finchley is exciting enough for me, especially if you try to get into Tescos on a Friday teatime, or the big kids who hang around outside the fried chicken shop mug you for your dinner money.