Friday, January 20, 2006

Romance Fans in Unlikely Places

As preparation for an upcoming grad school interview (also known as "attempt to use my wit, wisdom, stawberry-fresh hair and vast appreciation of her corpus of work to charm senior professor into pulling for me with the admissions committee") I've been reading Mary Poovey's book "The Woman Writer and the Proper Lady." It's a really interesting look at Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Shelley and Jane Austen and the ways each of them reacted to and against the myth of the "Proper Woman," which developed at the beginning of the nineteenth century and really took root in the Victorian period. I know it sounds dry, but it's fascinating and, hey, this is what I want to go to school for, right?

One of the quirks of my NYPL-issued copy (thank God for the Mid-Manhattan circulating branch) is that at least two, and possibly three of the book's previous readers have provided copious and sometimes entertaining notes in the margins. They include brief summaries of Poovey's major points, ammendments to her arguments and sometimes outright denials (I've seen "NO!" and "I don't think so" written a few times).

But imagine my surprise when, deep in a chapter about prostitution as empowerment in Wollstonecraft's final, unfinished novel Maria, I see the note "See The Bride of the Unicorn, Kasey Michaels."

I read Kasey Michaels! I read the Bride of the Unicorn! A later note about Joan Smith's A Kiss In the Dark sealed the deal.

Romance readers a clever bunch, no?


Kate D. said...

Yay for marginalia! You know that's actually a serious course of study for medievalists... they get a lot of information out of the notes monks scribbled on the sides of manuscripts that they copied.

On another note... Jennifer Crusie edited a book called, "Flirting with Pride and Prejudice: Fresh Perspectives on the Original Chick-Lit Masterpiece." Apparently it's part of the SmartPop series, which I sense myself about to become obsessed with...

P.Devi said...

Well, I'm intrigued enough that I've put BRIDE OF THE UNICORN on my Amazon wish list without knowing anything more. I did read Michaels' Regencies but never followed her into historicals.

theflitgirl said...

Bride was very good. It's an older Michael's historical, not as frothy as her later books. Parts set in a mental institution, illiterate foundling taught to read (and instructed in the ways of love, of course) by arrogant aristocrat.

The author of my marginalia was comparing the Michael's to the way Wollstonecraft's minor character learns to read and gains empowerment from becoming a prostitute/mistress.

Kate D. said...

Best mistress empowerment book EVER = The Duke, by Gaelen Foley