Edith Wharton

I liked the look of an image (in gold) I found on one of the websites I found about Ms Wharton, and discovered it was not an image of Edith at all, but had an interesting little side story so here is the link: http://www.npg.si.edu/exh/wharton/howell.htm

Edith Wharton was known for her ghost stories in her time, so I thought this was funny:

Apparently when she was young she had experiences being “haunted by formless horrors”, and it led to her later ghost story success. Her home “The Mount” was a school until 1976- Foxhollow School for Girls, and residents of that school, actors from an acting troupe/company that used the building after the school was closed, and an episode of the TV show Ghost Hunters all reported unexplained noises and ghost sightings. I couldn’t find a link to the actual episode at The Mount, but here is a clip of the findings: http://video.search.yahoo.com/search/video;_ylt=A0S00MrG2sVO0ygA2hL7w8QF;_ylu=X3oDMTBncGdyMzQ0BHNlYwNzZWFyY2gEdnRpZAM-?p=ghost+hunters+the+mount+season+5&ei=utf-8&n=21&tnr=20

And apparently The Mount offers ‘ghost tours’ on Friday nights during the summer-woo!

I just think its really interesting the Wharton was so successful in so many different genre’s of writing. The reach of her writing is impressive. How many authors can say they have published a successful ghost story, book of poetry, travel diary/book, book on home decoration, and a novel of legitimate literary value, let alone multiples of each? Edith Wharton had to have been a woman of legitimate genius. She was able to posses such a wealth of information on each of these topics that she could turn it into all of those books and stories.

 

1 comment November 17, 2011

Autobiography of an ex-colored Man

I think its really sad that the narrator was basically forced to give up his music in order to conform to society’s image of him as a white man, and to provide a safer life for his family. I am left wondering though, if the novel would have provided a better discourse on society at the time if either the rich gentleman had helped more to further the excolored man’s place in society as a black man, or if the excolored man himself had actually risen above society to use his music and stature as a smart African American to help all African Americans. The rich gentleman and he excolored man had a relationship reminiscent of that of a slave and owner, but at the same time, we’re clearly friends. I think if the excolored man had stepped up to the plate, and the rich gentleman used his societal influence, they might have actually made a difference in the plight of African Americans.

1 comment October 20, 2011

Get it together, Ishmael!

Extending from the previous section of our reading (chp. 78-97) through the current one, but also stretching through the book as a whole, I find Ishmael’s continued search for ‘the whale’ intellectually both interesting and strange. He spends all this time describing images, articles, books, art, fossils-anything he can find-trying to understand the whale, and still, he can’t wrap his head around it. And then he still continues to hunt the whale as well. For me, it seems that if it takes that much thought and research and you still can’t understand the ‘being’ that is the whale, or describe it in it’s entirety, perhaps it isn’t something you should be hunting.

I also find it interesting that the dialogues, and soliloquies are continuing to be used. The feeling of a play pervades the novel, and it seems more and more like Ahab is creating his own drama and that the mission or hunt for Moby Dick is just as counterfeit as a play.

3 comments September 22, 2011

Ishmael-Smishmael

Just from the ‘first line’ of the book, “Call me Ishmael”, a certain sense of ambiguity is given to our narrorator. If you know anything about the bible, you may also know that “Ishmael” is an outcast (see the book of Genesis). At first, I didn’t make the biblical connedtion, and I thought it was strange and interesting that Ishmael would so suddenly form such a close friendship with someone such as Queequeg. After further consideration, I realized their friendship came so easily (not only because Queequag is such a good person) because both characters are outcasts of sorts. Queequeg is a dark man living in a white town, has the appearance of a cannibal, and his mannerisms appear cannibalistic as well (the tomahawk/pipe scene); Ishmael equates his going to sea as saving himself from suicide, he can tolerate land for a time, but the sea is where he feels at home, seperating him from the majority of people on land.

I thought the footnote on page 29 was interesting and important. Prior to Ishmael’s actually meeting Queequag, the footnote mentions that after the particular instance on this page, Queequeg is the only one refered to as Ishmael’s comrade the rest of the novel.

The book mentions how Queequeg’s wildness makes him more civil, but I think it makes Ishmael more civil as well. Ishmael is not necessairly ‘uncivilized’, but I think he-like many other white men of his time-sometimes forget it’s importance. Their first meeting, when Queequeg doesn’t judge Ishmael despite Ishmael’s judgement of him, and the scene where Queequeg jumps into the water to save a man who had just slighted him, both show Ishmael civility he may otherwise not have known. I particularly like the scene where Ishmael worships Queequeg’s idol with him, because of the golden rule and that he would hope for Queequeg to follow suit-I think Ishmael has seen his friends example and followed it.

The following are just some random Moby Dick related links:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-R0quok0dR0

http://colophon.com/gallery/melville/illus.html

this one is fun 🙂 : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=egDbGqXNjT8&feature=related

2 comments September 8, 2011

Mildly disjointed thoughts on ‘The Blithedale Romance’

So after looking online in class today, I decided to follow through with article I discovered, which can be found here:

http://www.jstor.org/stable/460546

The article’s author, Robert Stanton, makes an interesting assertion about the novel’s main characters:

“Hollingsworth has the strongest effect upon the plot, and Hawthorne originally intended to name the novel after him; Zenobia is the most vivid character, and her story recieves even more space than Hollingsworth’s; Coverdale is the character whom we know most intimately”.

I find this interesting for a few reasons. While Hollingsworth is indeed a main character, and certainly much of his relationship with Coverdale drives the plot, I would find it strange if the novel were titled after Hollingsworth, yet narrarated by Coverdale. I think that Zenobia may be ‘the most vivid character’, but much of her vivaciousness comes from Coverdale’s predilections to her and the significance he holds with her (or his perceptions of her). And then of course there is Coverdale. Of course we think we know him most intimately of all the characters, he is the narrarator of our story, but it seems to me that Coverdale’s perceptions of himself aren’t reliable, so we don’t necessairly know him any more intimately than any of the other characters.

This passage, however, made me wonder how different our insight into the experiment and characters of Blithedale might have been, were the story in fact told from the perspective of Hollingsworth or Zenobia. But I have a feeling that most of the characters would  actually be nearly as self-absorbed as Coverdale. Espcially when thinking of the three aforementioned characters, all of them continuously put their own motives and desires above those of the community that Blithedale is supposed to be.

If you’ll excuse my slight tangent, I think the community of Blithedale was doomed to fail for the same reason I think all of the characters may have been drawn to the idea of it-they are all self-absorbed. What I mean by this is, all of the characters liked the idea of this utopian society, being a part of a community (which seems to be something none of them were necessairly really a part of prior to their arrival at Blithedale), but all of them were too stuck in their own bubbles and mind-sets for the communal distribution of labors and ideas required for such a society to work.

The following link is a video (more related to Hawthorne himself than ‘The Blithedale Romance’) that features “Julian Hawthorne” (Giles Hopkins Holt), the son of Nathaniel Hawthorne, on a tour of the family home in Concord, Massachusetts. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1f3fy2eO64&NR=1

4 comments September 2, 2011

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