Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Wilkie-Along Post III: Bringing the sensation novel into the home

Summer Wilkie Readalong, post the third! And can I say thank you to Alice (aka Reading Rambo aka Readalong Queen) for keeping this week's section short cos the holiday weekend was eating into my reading time. But there was important stuff to do, like watch The Muppets Take Manhattan in the park.
This epoch dealt with Wilkie not so much falling out with Caroline but sort of drifting away and picking up a new mistress, Martha. There's also a lot about Victorian publishing rules which is now added to the list of things I sort of skimmed over. There's less talk of venereal diseases, more issues with gout and rheumatism (which, I mean, could have been more STIs cos medical science at that point had only come so far) and the deaths of both Wilkie's mother and BFF (although there had been some drama there) Dickens. Oh also Wilkie and Martha have two daughters together but Wilkie basically doesn't talk about them. So. Father of the year, over there.

Alright, let's list out some stuff that happened

  • The section starts with Wilkie's meeting of Martha, which Lycett describes as "a buxom wench" and really Lycett? What are you doing? 
  • In this description we also get "she was as near as Wilkie could reasonably get to his ideal of the broad-buttocked Italian woman". I don't know if any of this is coming from Wilkie's writing or just Lycett's feelings on the lady. I mean, if Wilkie specifically talked about her butt whyyyyyy aren't we getting those direct quotes, because they would probably be hilarious. Anyway, call back to the first epoch and Wilkie losing his virginity to the "voluptuous Roman lady".
  • There's a paragraph about how Victorian men were sexually aroused by women in inferior positions and this is apparently what Wilkie saw in Martha? Lycett seems to have a problem with her.
  • In addition to commenting on women's hats and crinolines (earlier epochs), he's now giving footwear advice. He advised a woman, Nina Lehmann, "not to be afraid to wear thick boots. It was wrong to think that women could not look attractive in such footwear, he declared with an air of authority, adding that men understood such matters." I would love to see this from Nina's pov where she is just rolling her eyes at him. Or who knows, maybe he can speak with authority on the topic of women's fashion. Then I'm sort of wishing we could have some time traveling and get him to be a judge on Project Runway.
Wilkie does
  • One day Wilkie is working with the window opened and a kitten wanders in and drapes itself on Wilkie. This makes it difficult to write but no one can resist an adorable kitten.
  • Caroline gets married to a twenty-three year old and Lycett seems VERY JUDGY about this. "She was thirty-seven and quite what she saw in the mere stripling was hard to determine." I'm sorry she decided she wanted to find someone and get married and didn't want to wait around for gouty, opium addicted Wilkie. 
  • Dickens, continuing to be a dick to Caroline, wrote to a friend saying that Caroline's wedding was probably a sham affair and an attempt to trick Wilkie into marrying her via emotional blackmail. 
  • Publishers make Wilkie remove the word "damn" from his work and Wilkie does it but is annoyed. In his words "Readers who object to expletives in books are - as to my experience - readers who object to a great many other things in books, which they are too stupid to understand." 
  • Later more "inappropriate language" is cut from his work and Wilkie is VERY unhappy, claiming he does not look to young people as the court of appeal and maybe his work isn't meant for children.   
So there we go. Until next week!