Happy 200th Birthday, Pride and Prejudice

I’ll handle this post like a letter to Jane Austen. Unoriginal but here it is. Also, I tried writing it in Jane Austen’s language but I’m no Emma Thompson and I’d like to believe that if she were alive today, Jane would have embraced some variations of the language.

Dear Jane,

It was a rainy Saturday afternoon many years ago and I was bored. My sister had bought Pride and Prejudice and kept it on bedside table and while she was out I decided to give it  a try.

Needless to say, I was hooked by the time I read the Italian translation of “It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife”.

I was so engrossed that I finished the book by that evening. I was so in love with the book that when my sister found out I read it before her, I stole it, locked myself up in a room and read it again. That is the effect that your P&P had on me.

For days after the immersion therapy, my sister didn’t speak to me but I kept telling her and everyone at school and in my family about that book that had changed my life. Here is what I learned reading Pride and Prejudice and discussing it over the years.

1) It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a person becomes someone you want to know if she/he immediately knows P&P well enough to understand references to it. It shows excellent taste.

2) By the time Lizzie had demonstrated the strength needed to refuse Darcy’s proposal, I knew that she was my role-model in how to be a woman. Growing up, I looked up to her and while my sister and I did mend fences after my grand theft, we still fight to this day over who resembles her the most.

3) You probably would have not liked me very much. No matter how hard I try to be like Lizzie I find myself an hybrid between Caroline Bingley and Mary Bennet. No matter, if I ever had the chance to meet you, I would still have worshipped at your feet and accept all those perfectly crafted jabs happily.

4) I think someone should stick up for Caroline Bingley. Watching Darcy fall in love must not have been particularly easy. Which brings me to

5) I realized that it’s possible to fall desperately in love with a fictional character. When then you happen to watch a BBC mini-series and realize that there is an human version of that character and that he is not reachable, well, that is horrible. I will take that piece of Caroline Bingley in me for the rest of my life.

6) The expression lost in translation was not clear to me until I felt the burning need to read Pride and Prejudice in the original language. It made me appreciate even more how able a craftwoman Jane Austen was with words.

7) By the way, if I can write this letter in English I owe it partly to the book we celebrate today. Thanks for that Jane!

8) The passion that I feel for this book is scary for some people. A friend of mine told me that when I speak of P&P, my eyes shine.

9) If your English teacher doesn’t like P&P, it’s your duty to make him change his mind. Mission accomplished ;)

10) No other book could ever make me feel as P&P did and still does. I have it with me every time I move and when I am feeling blue, it’s my go-to book.

11) I am a very pacific person but if someone speaks ill of P&P, I become verbally very violent and I don’t apologize for it.

12) If someone misrepresents P&P as just a “romance novel” I have a 20-minute lecture ready for them. They’ll learn about how it is possible to describe one’s society with a sentence, how romantic love is not the main theme of P&P, people and their evolving emotions are, how it is an exercise of bravura to create characters that could come to life with just one sentence, how wit and irony are the most powerful weapons one could ever have in life and so on and so forth.

I could go on but you were a writer that knew when to stop and I want to try and honor you in this small way. Thank you for changing my life, for making a feminist out of me, for giving me a profound love of literature, for understanding almost all my feelings without even knowing me.

Most of all, thanks for that masterpiece that is Pride and Prejudice. Nobody but you would ever have been able to write a novel that is, in a word, perfect. Image

Mr Darcy, here I come

A few days ago, while reading about the celebrations for the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice, I found out that they were organizing a Regency Ball in June in Cambridge. It had been a dream of mine ever since I saw the 1995 adaptation of P&P. I sent the application with no real hopes. Instead, one of the organizers answered me today saying that there are still tickets for the ball. 

I am going to a Ball. Me, with two left feet and a Mary Bennet perspective on all modern dancing! Me, in Regency Wear, trying my hand at those balls. It’s going to be an experience for sure :)

This is the wrong song

“If you’re gonna hear how much I miss you

If you’re needing to feel better about yourself

If you’re wanting to hear me say hey I forgive you

‘Cause tequila turned you into someone else

If you’re looking for one more chance

A little stand by your man

You got the wrong song

Coming through your speakers

This one is about a liar and a cheater

Who didn’t know what he had till it was gone

You’ve got the wrong girl

‘Cause I’ve got your number

Don’t know what kind of spell you think I’m under

This ain’t a feel-good, everything is fine sing-along

You got the wrong song!”

Preach it girls!!!

 

 

 

They need watching like a hawk

“Think you’re the only one who understands this fucker needs watching like a hawk?”

Saul is thinking about Brody when he utters these words and yet after watching Episode 9, they might apply to almost every character on Homeland.

Carrie, who seems still very much in love with Brody, who is genuinely relieved to see him alive. Carrie who believes his story and who believes him to love her back. Carrie that in discovering that the CIA has a black ops guy in standby ready to kill Brody once he stops being useful could do something very dangerous, like going rogue.

Brody who has been kidnapped by Nazir and lived to tell about it. Not only that, he was left without a scratch, without any of Nazir’s friends following him while he was so central to Nazir’s plot. Brody who might have helped the CIA get half of Nazir’s terrorist cell but is still reticent about his prayers with Nazir.

Dana/Mike/Jessica who at the moment seem useless and secluded in a CIA safe-house playing 7th heaven. But they are still sitting on the information that VP Walden’s son has killed a woman and he has paid her daughter to shut up. Also, they know that Brody is somehow involved with the CIA. What happens if Brody dies or misteriously disappear? Would they go “back to where they were” (I think Brody meant when he was a prisoner of war, in a moment of complete lucidity) or would they try to speak up?

Saul that according to Dar Adal is not trusted by Estes. Why doesn’t the CIA director trust him? Is he afraid that Saul will want the right thing and doesn’t want to get his hands dirty with killing Brody? And yet Saul knows Dar Adal. His past is tainted with black.

Estes for that matter. He knew about the secret drone attack and he wants to protect his own political interests. He has no qualms about murdering a terrorist/congressman/double-agent in cold blood. But is that it? What about Carrie? If Brody dies in a suspicious matter she won’t stop until she gets to the bottom of it. Is she to die too, to tie up all loose ends?

Quinn who we have discovered to be part of a Black Ops operation under Dar Adal, a mysterious character, important enough for Saul to say “in the flesh”. He also has a son and a girlfriend or ex-girlfriend who cares about him enough to engage in a battle of wits with Saul (forgetting that maybe Saul wanted to be called out on his not being an IRS guy, so that she’d call Quinn). He has also been tasked with killing Brody once Nazir is in custody. He entered the big leagues in this episode. Indeed I have been wondering if the writers are setting him up to be the next male lead. If Brody is dead when all is said and done and Carrie suspects the CIA and thus goes rogue, his liking of Carrie could make Quinn the Carrie to Carrie’s Brody. It would be astonishingly sad to lose Brody since Damien Lewis is a spectacular actor but the show would restart over again.

Finally and of course Abu Nazir who might have set the whole entire operation in this episode just to see if Brody was loyal. Misdirection is his middle name and now that he knows for sure that Brody talks with the CIA he can factor him as a victim in the real season finale unveiling of his plan. He could also be working with Brody to take the CIA on a stroll. Nobody knows his will.

Just as Nazir tested Brody with the battery and then the tea, I think Homeland’s writers are testing us, urging us to choose whom to trust only to (probably) being proven wrong. And I love it.

Her, that makes me proud to be a woman

Today is the International day for the elimination of violence against women. I wish I had thought about something smart to say on the subject. Instead, every single time I am reminded of Virginia Woolf and “A room of one’s own” and I feel that to add to her reasoning is superfluous and arrogant on my part.

“But I had been angry because he was angry. Yet it seemed absurd, I thought, turning over the evening paper, that a man with all this power should be angry. Or is anger, I wondered, somehow, the familiar, the attendant sprite on power? Rich people, for example, are often angry because they suspect that the poor want to seize their wealth. The professors, or patriarchs, as it might be more accurate to call them, might be angry for that reason partly, but partly for one that lies a little less obviously on the surface. Possibly they were not ‘angry’ at all; often, indeed, they were admiring, devoted, ex emplary in the relations of private life. Possibly when the professor insisted a little too emphatically upon the inferiority of women, he was concerned not with their inferiority, but with his own superiority. That was what he was protecting rather hot-headedly and with too much emphasis, because it was a jewel to him of the rarest price. Life for both sexes — and I looked at them, shouldering their way along the pavement — is arduous, difficult, a perpetual struggle. It calls for gigantic courage and strength. More than anything, perhaps, creatures of illusion as we are, it calls for confidence in oneself. Without self-confidence we are as babes in the cradle. And how can we generate this imponderable quality, which is yet so invaluable, most quickly? By thinking that other people are inferior to one self. By feeling that one has some innate superiority — it may be wealth, or rank, a straight nose, or the portrait of a grandfather by Romney — for there is no end to the pathetic devices of the human imagination — over other people. Hence the enormous importance to a patriarch who has to conquer, who has to rule, of feeling that great numbers of people, half the human race indeed, are by nature inferior to himself. It must indeed be one of the chief sources of his power. But let me turn the light of this observation on to real life, I thought. Does it help to explain some of those psychological puzzles that one notes in the margin of daily life? Does it explain my astonishment of the other day when Z, most humane, most modest of men, taking up some book by Rebecca West and reading a passage in it, exclaimed, ‘The arrant feminist! She says that men are snobs!’ The exclamation, to me so surprising — for why was Miss West an arrant feminist for making a possibly true if uncomplimentary statement about the other sex? — was not merely the cry of wounded vanity; it was a protest against some infringe ment of his power to believe in himself. Women have served all these centuries as looking-glasses possessing the magic and delicious power of reflecting the figure of man at twice its natural size. Without that power probably the earth would still be swamp and jungle. The glories of all our wars would he unknown. We should still be scratch ing the outlines of deer on the remains of mutton bones and bartering flints for sheep skins or whatever simple ornament took our unsophisticated taste. Supermen and Fingers of Destiny would never have existed. The Czar and the Kaiser would never have worn crowns or lost them. Whatever may be their use in civilized societies, mirrors are essential to all violent and heroic action. That is why Napoleon and Mussolini both insist so emphatically upon the inferiority of women, for if they were not inferior, they would cease to enlarge. That serves to explain in part the necessity that women so often are to men. And it serves to explain how restless they are under her criticism; how impossible it is for her to say to them this book is bad, this picture is feeble, or whatever it may be, without giving far more pain and rousing far more anger than a man would do who gave the same criticism. For if she begins to tell the truth, the figure in the looking-glass shrinks; his fitness for life is diminished. How is he to go on giving judgement, civilizing natives, making laws, writing books, dressing up and speechifying at banquets, unless he can see himself at breakfast and at dinner at least twice the size he really is?

Her name is Knope, it rhymes with hope

There are very few things I have asked for in this world. To build a new park from scratch, to eventually become president and to one day solve a murder on a train.”

I have long believed that feminism today should be about changing culture. Fighting for rights is important but without a change of culture, we will always be on the brink of a Medieval resurrection of long gone customs.

That’s why I care so much about the portrayal of women on TV. And no character inspires me like this councilwoman from Pawnee, Indiana.  She is a political dork and she doesn’t try to cover it. She is ambitious and she is not afraid to flaunt it. She cares about public service and she is not ashamed of it. She has a boyfriend that is ok with being a First Gentleman. She is actually loved and respected because she works harder than anybody else. 

Here is to hoping that an army of Leslie Knopes storms all political castles. 

Can you just stop it? Just for one moment enjoy the fact that you provided a service for people, not a cut, a service and they love it