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Posted 6/15/2014 3:31pm by Eugene Wyatt.

By the way I ordered a used copy, for $0.88 ($3.99 to ship it from CT) of Helen DeWitt's The Last Samurai for its reputed coincidence of moral bearing and writing style, in hardcover via Amazon.

These pages treat the inner workings of sentences and paragraphs as they function in novels. To read for the sentence risks becoming trivial or pedantic: what about character, plot, imagery, the host of other pleasures prose fiction lavishes upon its readers? But the shape of any given sentence—its arc, to use the visual metaphor; its cadence, to rank ear before eye—produces part of its meaning, sometimes the most important part. ...

This is a formalist project in the sense that I will focus very persistently on linguistic details, but I've already started to make the case for the ethical freight of formalism and its reading practices. There seems to me little point in considering style apart from morality, and Helen DeWitt's novel The Last Samurai offers an exceptionally clear and appealing version of the argument that style may itself serve as a kind of morality.

Reading Style, A Life in Sentences Jenny Davidson 2014, pages 11 and 13.

Posted 6/12/2014 7:39pm by Eugene Wyatt.

Thank you. I finished The Portrait of a Lady and started Middlemarch. I was listening to it on the way to the tannery in Quakertown today and I thought of you and colors. "It is strange how deeply colors seem to penetrate one, like scent."
"How very beautiful these gems are!" said Dorothea, under a new current of feeling, as sudden as the gleam. "It is strange how deeply colors seem to penetrate one, like scent. I suppose that is the reason why gems are used as spiritual emblems in the Revelation of St. John. They look like fragments of heaven. I think that emerald is more beautiful than any of them."

"And there is a bracelet to match it," said Celia. "We did not notice this at first."

"They are lovely," said Dorothea, slipping the ring and bracelet on her finely turned finger and wrist, and holding them towards the window on a level with her eyes. All the while her thought was trying to justify her delight in the colors by merging them in her mystic religious joy.

"You would like those, Dorothea," said Celia, rather falteringly, beginning to think with wonder that her sister showed some weakness, and also that emeralds would suit her own complexion even better than purple amethysts. "You must keep that ring and bracelet—if nothing else. But see, these agates are very pretty and quiet."

Middlemarch, George Eliot 1869-1872, page 9.
I bought the Kindle edition for $0.99 and clicked the Audiobook Companion for $3.49, totaling $4.48; both the Kindle edition and an Audible recording of Middlemarch, at a value of $14.95 or $28.53 (depending on membership), are on my iPhone. This is where I read and listen.

PS: A drawback to the Audiobook Companion is you can't choose the narration (Audible offers four different narrators for Middlemarch depending on the recording you buy) but the person they've chosen to read has a slight Irish accent—she is difficult to understand with the window cracked at 70 MPH.
Posted 6/12/2014 6:09pm by Eugene Wyatt.

Sheep-stealing was a capital offense in England in 1869.

She (Dorothea Brooke) bethought herself now of the condemned criminal. "What news have you brought about the sheep-stealer, uncle?"

"What, poor Bunch?—well, it seems we can't get him off—he is to be hanged."

Middlemarch, George Eliot 1869-1872, page 24.

Posted 6/12/2014 5:55pm by Eugene Wyatt.

MissBrooke (Dorothea, or Dodo as her sister tenderly calls her) had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress.

Her hand and wrist were so finely formed that she could wear sleeves not less bare of style than those in which the Blessed Virgin appeared to Italian painters; and her profile as well as her stature and bearing seemed to gain the more dignity from her plain garments, which by the side of provincial fashion gave her the impressiveness of a fine quotation from the Bible—or from one of our elder poets—in a paragraph of today's newspaper.

Middlemarch, George Eliot 1869-1872, page 5.

Tips From Fashion Insiders on How to Wear Sneakers With a Suit, from the New York Times


“Wearing sneakers with a suit is a way to show that you’re wearing the suit because you want to, not because you have to. It’s a declaration of cool. The suit has to be pretty slim and hip to begin with for this to be effective. Start with minimal sneakers that aren’t covered in crazy colors or logos..."

These are minimal. I remember Converse All Stars; when I was a kid, I wore them long before Nike made shoes.

Converse Rubber Shoe Company was created by Marquis Mills Converse in 1908 in Malden, Massachusetts. In 1917, the company designed a shoe called the All Star. The shoe was composed of a rubber sole and canvas upper and was designed to be an elite shoe for the professional basketball league. In 1921, a basketball player by the name of Charles "Chuck" Taylor joined a basketball team sponsored by the Converse Company called The Converse All Stars. Taylor held basketball clinics in high schools all over the county and while teaching the fundamentals of the game, he sold the All Star shoes. As a salesman and athlete for the company, Taylor also made improvements to the shoe he loved. His ideas for the shoe were designed to provide enhanced flexibility and support and also incorporated a patch to protect the ankle. All Stars were soon worn by a variety of professional basketball players and became the envy of all aspiring basketball players...

From Wikipedia

Today's poor dress will be tomorrow's fashion; a girl friend winkingly  said, "I make my own style," as if she were a modern day  "Dodo".

Posted 6/10/2014 3:54pm by Eugene Wyatt.

In Leonard (Woolf’s) autobiography, The Journey Not the Arrival Matters, Leonard wrote about how he and Virginia had always wanted the Cavatina of Beethoven’s B flat quartet, Op. 130, to be played during their cremation because there is a gentle lull in the middle of the song that seems like an opportune moment for “gently propelling the dead in the eternity of oblivion.” 

From The Virgina Woolf Blog

Posted 6/8/2014 7:02pm by Eugene Wyatt.

Having preferred non-fiction to fiction over the years—I change direction—I'm reading one or two fictional works of noted authors of the 19th and early 20th century: Stendhal, Flaubert, Balzac, Proust, Wharton, Woolf, Joyce et al. 

Now I'm impressed by Henry James's writing in The Portrait of a Lady. Oftentimes the story or the plot turns on what his characters say to one another; he writes an easy-flowing, but revealing, dialogue. It's so modern in tone it surprises one that it was written in the late 1870's.

James made it easy for the screenwriters who followed him to adapt the conversational portions of his work.

Tags: Dialogue
Posted 6/8/2014 6:55pm by Eugene Wyatt.

She had been obliged to introduce him (Caspar Goodwood) to Gilbert (her husband); it was impossible she should not ask him to dinner, to her Thursday evenings, of which she had grown very weary, but to which her husband still held for the sake not so much of inviting people as of not inviting them.

The Portrait of a Lady, Henry James 1881, revised 1906.

Posted 6/5/2014 8:52am by Eugene Wyatt.

wonder what My Life In Middlemarch will have to say about Henry James, if at all. To find out I should read it, and George Eliot too.

A New Yorker writer revisits the seminal book of her youth--Middlemarch--and fashions a singular, involving story of how a passionate attachment to a great work of literature can shape our lives and help us to read our own histories. 

Rebecca Mead was a young woman in an English coastal town when she first read George Eliot's Middlemarch, regarded by many as the greatest English novel. After gaining admission to Oxford, and moving to the United States to become a journalist, through several love affairs, then marriage and family, Mead read and reread Middlemarch. The novel, which Virginia Woolf famously described as "one of the few English novels written for grown-up people," offered Mead something that modern life and literature did not.

In this wise and revealing work of biography, reporting, and memoir, Rebecca Mead leads us into the life that the book made for her, as well as the many lives the novel has led since it was written. Employing a structure that deftly mirrors that of the novel, My Life in Middlemarch takes the themes of Eliot's masterpiece--the complexity of love, the meaning of marriage, the foundations of morality, and the drama of aspiration and failure--and brings them into our world. Offering both a fascinating reading of Eliot's biography and an exploration of the way aspects of Mead's life uncannily echo that of Eliot herself, My Life in Middlemarch is for every ardent lover of literature who cares about why we read books, and how they read us.

From the hardcover of My Life In Middlemarch, Rebecca Mead 2014.

Posted 6/3/2014 6:48pm by Eugene Wyatt.

"13 other people highlighted this part of the book," my Kindle edition says.

Knowledge in his world (James's) remains a scarce resource, and he almost never allows himself the novelist's privilege of shuttling from mind to mind. Even in the third person he restricts himself to the point of view of a single character, a figure who understands as little about the other characters' inner lives as we do of our neighbors'.

Portrait of a Novel: Henry James and the Making of an American Masterpiece, Michael Gorra 2012, page 86. 

Posted 6/1/2014 7:41pm by Eugene Wyatt.

It happened yesterday, or the day before yesterday, or some time before Dominique saw the dark fleece around the horns of a Saxon Merino ram Sunday afternoon. We don't know exactly when flystrike started but the ram had gotten wet from the recent rains, the wool close to the horns rotted (it happens every year), green bottle flies laid their eggs in the discolored fleece and the eggs hatched into maggots—1000's of them.

The maggots advance at skin level eating and killing as they go—turning the skin hard, the fleece dark and rotting both—inviting more green bottle flies to lay their eggs as decaying organic matter is an attraction. The number of maggots and the area they inhabit enlarges rapidly. It's fatal to the sheep if not treated promptly by the shepherd.

At pasture in the Summer, Saxon Merino sheep flock, i. e. they move as a unit, and if one sees a sheep separated from the group—his head down in a depressed manner—the shepherd looks at him more closely for the telltale evidence of flystrike: flies buzzing around patchs of dark, lifeless fleece usually near the head.

Treating a sheep for flystrike is time consuming: you must catch the sheep and that is not easy in an open field—if you can't catch it, you must take the entire flock to a closed area with a herding dog where the flystruck sheep can be forced into a blind alley of steel panels and be more easily caught. Then using a good pair of hand shears one trims the rotted wool away exposing the maggots—they hate light—and squirm away from the shears. When one has cut away all the affected fleece to the skin level, one pours on a 7% Iodine solution that desiccates the skin and kills the remaining maggots. Finally one treats the flystruck area with a pyrethrin that will keep flies away.

The prognosis is good on this blue ear tag ram—all Saxon Merino sheep born in 2011 were ear tagged blue; I think we used him to breed purebred Saxon ewes last year. Thanks to Dominique, we caught the flystrike in time and after trimming and treatment we returned him to the flock but we'll keep an eye on him until he's more healed.

Flystrike, when wool sheep are run in larger flocks (or mobs) is why they mules sheep in Australia. The Australian sheep farmer may only see his Merinos once a year at shearing. In America with smaller groups of un-mulesed Merinos someone must look at the sheep every day of the year. Dangerous things can happen on the most beautiful days of Summer. 

Summertime Blues, Blue Cheer 1968-1992

Tags: Flystrike