Tis About Lit and Reading It

Monthly Archives: August 2011

“The British Romantic conception of the vampire is… indebted in particular to the writings of George Brodon, Lord Byron, and to the cult of the Byronic Hero which the poet actively fostered around his behaviour.” – The Handbook of the Gothic, edited by Marie Mulvey-Roberts, 2nd Edition.

No shocker there about vampires being fantastic lovers then. After all, Lord Byron was the literary Casanova of his day (the kind who probably seduces both wo/men with sexy poetry, prose in his wonderfully sexy voice).

Of course, the Byronic hero helps reinforce the idea of vampires being sexy. As The Handbook of the Gothic also writes in its glossary on Vampires, blood is quite irrevocably tied to semen. So yes, there is something quite sexy about blood (apparently).

Personally, I don’t quite find it sexy. Especially if you have nose-bled for almost more than half of your life. Nose-bleeding is not at all appealing. Just rather disgusting.

For my Science-Fiction and Fantasy project, I have decided to focus on Victorian monster mash-ups. Not that I particularly wanted to. Especially since it sounded rather juvenile and not like the “Austen purist” that I am.

Quite frankly, I was desperate and time was running out. Of course, re-reading Ford’s Jane Bites Back did have a hand in forming any vague notion of a s/f project. It really was quite bizarre and I was anxiously anticipating the academic anvil to befall this crazy, pop-culture of a project.

(I can’t resist: Alliteration!)

My e-mail conversation with the prof went like this:

Nicole >> Prof

Dear Prof ___

Many (very sincere) apologies for not getting back to you about my project, the reason lies in being unable to decide what to do for the project and what to do it on! I was wondering if you could tell me if not doing a project on recent monster mash-ups (ie. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) would be advisable? Sorry, I’m feeling a little lost so I thought I would take a stab at something.

Prof >> Nicole

Funny that.  I had just put aside Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and the other one to give away as prizes some other week….

do you have the second one?

Nicole >> Prof

Uh second one? As in Sense and Sensibility and Seamonsters? Or Dawn of the Dreadfuls?

Prof  >> Nicole

S and S and S

Nicole >> Prof

Oh no, sorry I don’t own a copy of S & S & S.

Um is my project viable?

Prof >> Nicole

What do you want to do with it?

Nicole >> Prof

Oh I was thinking of investigating some of the Jane Austen monster mash-ups OR the other monster mash-ups by Quirk Books in relation to speculative fiction- like how there is a mix between alternate history and speculative fiction. Why the fascination with Jane Austen and monsters? I’ll try to narrow it down though.

Does it have to be an argumentative essay/project? Or can it be an in-depth expository project?

Prof >> Nicole

Yes that sounds ok.  It can be expository, though a modicum of argument is also good!

And you can have the copy of S and S and S.

I almost fell off my chair reading the last line. She is such a dear.Thus, giving birth to my project on Austenesque Monster Mash-Ups or it may change to Victorian Monster Mayhem.

I haven’t quite decided, though the present-day reader may find “Victorian” and “Austenesque” quite interchangeable these days. The Victorian era only started after Austen’s death, at least according to Wikipedia.

So far, I have compiled a list of books that would be of interest:

Alexia Tarabotti series by Gail Carriger

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

Dawn of the Dreadfuls by Steve Hockensmith

Dreadfully Ever After by Steve Hockensmith

Sense and Sensibility and Seamonsters by Jane Austen and Ben H Winters

Jane Bites Back, Jane Goes Batty (Michael Thomas Ford)

Jane and the Damned by Janet Mullany

Basically, quite a lot of fantastic, mainstream novels. My literary tastes are slowly eroding and dying inside me thinks.

But also quite excited at the same time. What do you think?

P.S. As the Internet isn’t as much of a private space as I would like it to be, I have just decided to name all my Lit profs “Profs”. Originality at its height.

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All I did was ask you for a role-playing game. You never warned me I’d be pitched into it for real! And I asked you for hobbits on a grail quest, and not one hobbit have I seen! – Hexwood, Diana Wynne Jones.

As a loud and proud Austen (and Shakespeare) reader, not many of my friends know about my side interest in fantasy literature.

I do not proclaim this loudly for several reasons. It would make me look like a bigger nerd than I already am. Secretly, I am a louder and prouder Austen fan because it makes me look like a sophisticated and chic geek (ironic as it sounds).

Thus, I am also somewhat an avid closet Diana Wynne Jones (and J K Rowling) reader. The Castle and Chrestomanci series *literally* enchanted me. Since I pride myself to be a DWJ fan, it is rather strange that I have not encountered Hexwood in my reading history.

Unfortunately, Hexwood has been out of print for a long time. The local libraries require me to reserve the book from the repository book collection. No wonder it’s a literary recluse.

I’m not quite sure how to sum up the synopsis of Hexwood because one gets rather confused since the plot and story twists and turns too much that I don’t think I can do justice to it. Thankfully, if you (like me) have done Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne, confusing plots may bamboozle you for awhile though will also endow any reader with the patience to keep on reading. Ah one of the many rewards of reading the 500 page Tristram Shandy.

However, if you are in desperate need of reading the synopsis of Hexwood, I suppose Wikipedia offers a good enough summary of it.

Written in Jones’ typical style, I suppose that the characters of Mordion and Ann Stavely still bamboozle the mind as Jones has a fascination with time and space. The sci-fi elements of war, time and space are explored though I have to confess to being really bamboozled.

Still, I thoroughly enjoyed the read. I’m not sure how I am supposed to go about analysing this lovely book and tearing it apart with what drone-like professors do to tear them apart. Not that I think my prof is a drone. Teaching a module entitled “Science Fiction and Fantasy” surely implies that she has a wonderful sense of humour and bearings.