The Miriam Hopkins Blogathon, which I co-hosted with Ruth of Silver Screenings, was a roaring success! If you’d like to learn more about this fabulous actress or her films, please follow the links to the daily post round-ups.
As many of you know, the blogathon coincided with the official launch of my new blog, Font and Frock. Our review of Miriam’s film Design for Living is a great introduction to the blog’s eccentric concept. Each film we review will be done in the same, four-part manner. One classic film=four segments, covering film, fashion, flash fiction, and feminism. Check out the links below to see it in action.
Title: Queen of the Wits A Life of Laetitia Pilkington
Author: Norma Clarke
Year Published: 2008 (Faber and Faber Limited)
Year Purchased: September, 2012
Source: My mom bought it for me in Ireland.
About: If emotions could flash across time, whether born of sympathy or distaste, then Laetitia Pilkington would be knocked over by waves of righteous indignation sent her way from 21st century readers of Norma Clarke’s compelling biography. It would be all too easy to write off what happened to the 18th century writer and wit as just another example of the appalling, often violent double standard facing women of the time. It’s not that simple. She was a pet favourite of Jonathan Swift, a precocious young writer, budding intellectual, wife, mother, and beloved daughter. Whether she had an affair or not (and it is hard to tell if her explanation was pure cheek or plain truth) doesn’t matter within the context of her place and time; the fact that her ill-tempered husband, a curate with literary ambitions, was allowed to carry on dalliances without punishment or even censure, whilst she was publicly castigated as a whore, is the central theme of what became an extended nightmare for his wife. Continue reading →
Title: American Moderns Bohemian New York and the Creation of a New Century
Author: Christine Stansell
Year Published: 2000 (Metropolitan Books)
Year Purchased: 2000
Source: History Book Club
About: American Moderns is one of my favourite non-fiction books. It was published on the edge of our own new century, and chronicles the birth and growing pains of the one then ending. The narrative focuses on the considerable contributions of the various bohemian elements that came to brilliant prominence in the promising light of this new era. Feminism, labor activism, and radical intellectualism, all action-oriented, fused together to form a progressive platform that, for the first time in America, allowed for a broad, increasingly inclusive, though still problematic, alternative to traditional and oppressive modes of being. These movements were peopled with characters worthy of grand, gritty fiction, including: Louise Bryant, Emma Goldman, John Reed, Hutchins Hapgood, Neith Boyce, Margaret Sanger, Randolph Bourne, Margaret Anderson, Max Eastman, Crystal Eastman, and Susan Glaspell. The resilience of the women is particularly striking. Stansell’s clear voice and excellent scholarship couldn’t be put to better use than they are here, in the complicated telling of this compelling, fractious, and momentous period of history.
Motivation: I was thirteen or fourteen when I became interested in the history of activism and feminism. The only things that have changed since then are my knowledge and level of personal involvement in these areas. I also love the literature and pop culture of the earliest years of the twentieth century.
Times Read: 3 or 4
Random Excerpt/Page 28: “As women lingered at the edges of these urbane circles, they added a sense of themselves as heroines in a new story to bohemia’s increasing store of plots. Just as bohemian identity was intimately intertwined with its representation in print, so was being a New Woman: what one read shaped how one lived.”
Happiness Scale: 10+++
Crystal Eastman was a noted anti-militarist, who helped found the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Title: Wild Irish Women Extraordinary Lives from History
Author: Marian Broderick
Year Published: 2001/This Edition: 2002 (The O’Brien Press)
Year Purchased: September 2012
Source: My momma.
About: Besides hailing from the fair island of Ireland (or, in some cases, having Irish parentage), all of the women profiled in this book have one thing in common: they are all dead. Just my cup of tea! I love historical ladies, whatever their professional or social province or claim to immortality, however slight. The more eccentric, the better. The 75 women included in this volume, for good or ill, do our complicated place in history justice. The stories of their often oppressive lives are stimulating, maddening, thought-provoking, and inspiring. They were artists, writers, intellectuals, wives, mothers, sisters, daughters, lovers, republicans, actresses, scientists, and activists. One thing they never were, was boring. Since my curiosity about the women who smoothed my path is unapologetically insatiable, I couldn’t flip the pages fast enough. It’s a wonderful tease into the fascinating subject of forgotten women. Distilling-or gutting-the essence of a life, human and flawed and fertile, into a few pages comprised of paper and ink could be, and often is, problematic. Lives aren’t edited, but history is; what is left out is as important as what remains. Take this book as a nice starting point, then go forth and learn more.
Motivation: My love of feisty, original, gutsy women is well-known. Naturally, this book reminded my mom of me.
Times Read: 1
Random Excerpt/Page 49: “However, there was something that lifted the spirits of Peig (Sayers) and the other islanders on the long, dark winter nights: storytelling. This important form of entertainment was part of the old Irish oral tradition. A dail, or assembly, would meet at night in a house, and a comedy, mystery or tragedy would slowly unfold. Peig, with her pure Irish and her beautiful embellishments and turns of phrase, was an acknowledged master of the art. She kept hundreds of stories in her phenomenal memory, and she was able to memorize a story that would take a week in the telling after hearing it just once.”
Title: Feminist Ryan Gosling Feminist Theory As Imagined from Your Favorite Sensitive Movie Dude (Unauthorized)
Author: Danielle Henderson
Year Published: 2012 (Running Press)
Year Purchased: 2012
Source: This was a birthday gift from my mom.
About: Based on the hilarious blog of the same name, this book is every bit as good as the original source. I do not have an opinion on Ryan Gosling. Is he a fine actor? Word-of-mouth and critical response indicates as much. Is he as good-looking as many people think? That’s a matter of opinion. Until a year ago, I never even gave him any thought. As soon as I saw the first blog post, I was in love. With this concept. Feminist theory coming out of the mouth* of an actor known for his positive sentiments about women? Next to photographs of him looking thoughtful and sensitive (really, is there any other kind?). The very idea cracks me up. Hey girl, indeed. *(Naturally, he never said any of the quotes attributed to him in the blog or book. Is that a detraction? Nope. In fact, it makes it even better.)
Motivation: I’m a feminist with a sense of humor. There are lots of us, by the way, and this book is proof.
Times Read: More than once, and I’ve only had it one week.
Random Excerpt/Pages 62 & 99: “Hey girl. We’d be more successful at reclaiming public space for women if we were willing to address the patriarchal fixtures that made it unsafe in the first place.”/ “Hey girl. I literally have no idea how to react to someone who hasn’t read Judy Blume’s Forever.”
Title: Votes for Women The Struggle for Suffrage Revisited
Editor: Jean H. Baker
Year Published: 2002 (Oxford University Press, Inc.)
Year Purchased: 2003/2004
About: Twelve of the fourteen contributors are professors, so this book has a decidedly academic quality. If that’s not your usual cup of tea, don’t be scared: the voices, although straightforward, are distinct and the chapters highly readable. Continue reading →