Thursday, November 25, 2010

I'm thankful for literature. Well, some of it.

Current book: The Portrait of a Lady
Pages read: 57 - 132

That's right, ladies and gentlemen, blog post on Thanksgiving! That is the level of dedication here. Working on Thanksgiving: U.S. postal service? No! Deus ex Libris? Yes!

Unfortunately, despite all the above fanfare, not that much happened in the book. Isabel is attracted to Lord Warburton, but is warned off of him by Mr. Touchett the elder. Warburton proposes to Isabel after only a few days of acquaintance and she turns him down, crushing his hopes and rather angering him. She cites as the reason that she can't marry him the fact that she feels a social responsibility not to let herself be blissfully and ignorantly happy. Simultaneously, Isabel's American friend, Henrietta Stackpole (Which man, is quite the name. I have this thing where I associate the name Henrietta with white farmyard chickens. Why? No idea.), comes to visit her and brings her the news that another rejected suitor of hers, Caspar Goodwood (Also quite the name. I feel like this whole thing is begging to be made into a comic book, where Isabel Archer is actually a superhero, and only refusing her suitors out of a sense of duty to the populace to continue her masked crime-fighting career.), is in the country and wants to see her. Meanwhile, Ralph Touchett realizes that he has feelings for Isabel, though he's been trying to deny it to himself.

Man, I am having a problem with Henry James because he keeps featuring free-spirited young women in his books who follow their independent ideals and come to no good end. I mean, ok, I don't actually know what's going to happen to Isabel, but twenty bucks says she comes to no good end. I get the feeling Mr. James wasn't too fond of feminine independence. He always makes these women out to be both independent and ignorant, rash, and arrogant. Because women can't possibly be well-informed and independent at the same time. That would be absurd.

I feel a little bad for poor old Lord Warburton. He's quite charming and amiable and is given every reason in the world to think that Isabel will be amenable to his proposal of marriage, and then she shuts him down because of what she conceives of as her civic duty to tend to the misery of others. He makes the very fine point that there's no reason she can't be his wife and also tend to the misery of others, but she's immovable. It's pretty harsh.

No post tomorrow, because, though I'm dedicated, I'm not getting carried away or anything. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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