[identity profile] sheep-noises.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] trennels
This time o' year always reminds me of

1) The Christmas Play in Wade Minster, from "End of Term" (which I don't have atm as my copy gave up the ghost and fell to pieces >:( ) ;

2) The unconventional Christmas Dinner in a cave, with poor old Ann staying home in case the phone rings :( , from "Run Away Home"; but mostly

3) "Peter's Room". For me, this is the most magical of all those magical books. I must admit I've always skipped the bits in Italics, so I still don't know what fantasy it was that they acted out that Christmas, even though I've read it dozens of times. Don't care, either. The wonderful descriptions of the day-to-day Marlow (and a bit o' Merrick) winter doings are enough to keep me going :)

Date: 2008-12-29 10:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ankaret.livejournal.com
There are some books that I love, but frequently skip bits of for whatever reason - the example that comes to hand right now is the bit with the Jewish moneylender in The Grand Sophy - but I can't imagine skipping bits of a beloved book by a beloved author and never reading them once.

Date: 2008-12-29 11:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] legionseagle.livejournal.com
I think it'd be quite an interesting parlour game to try - like putting on a performance of Hamlet, leaving out The Mousetrap altogether and letting the audience form their own views of what the play must have been in order to wind up the Royal party so.

these days, I always skip the slow-building train-wreck at the start of Memory because I know it's there, so I don't have to harrow my feelings by going through it again. But if you haven't gone down into the depths with Miles at least once, it's very difficult to appreciate the scale of his achievement in pulling himself out of them (with a bit of help from his friends).

Date: 2008-12-29 11:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ankaret.livejournal.com
Yes, it might. How about Autumn Term without the play, vote at the end for what it was? You could probably get a fairly long way thinking that Tim was making drastic cuts and alterations to The Comedy of Errors, or doing her own take on The Parent Trap.

Date: 2008-12-29 02:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] legionseagle.livejournal.com
Actually I read Peter's Room before I read End of Term so I formed an entirely different view about what the climactic row had been about, simply from the breakfast time comments of Mrs Marlow, Rowan and Mrs Orly. For example, I assumed one twin had substituted as the other in a team for the whole term.

Date: 2008-12-30 02:02 pm (UTC)
owl: Miles Vorkosigan: We have advanced to new and surpising levels of bafflement (milesbaffled)
From: [personal profile] owl
Oh, I do that with Memory as well. It's just too painful to read as often as I want to read the rest of the book.

Date: 2008-12-29 11:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ankaret.livejournal.com
Thanks: a Happy New Year to you, too!

Date: 2008-12-30 02:05 pm (UTC)
owl: Stylized barn owl (Default)
From: [personal profile] owl
For italics: type <i>stuff you want italicised</i>
Same for bold, with b for i; just standard HTML tags.

Date: 2009-01-01 01:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rosathome.livejournal.com
How do you get it to show the code?

Date: 2009-01-01 09:55 pm (UTC)
owl: Stylized barn owl (Default)
From: [personal profile] owl
&lt; = <
&gt; = >

There is a tag for showing the code, but I've forgotten it.

Date: 2008-12-29 01:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rosathome.livejournal.com
Yes, quite. I remember when I said I struggled with Jane Eyre, being given the excellent advice that 'You only have to read the school stuff once.' But you do need to read it once, to make sense of the rest. The Gondal bits aren't my favourite either, but how on earth does one make sense of the hunt, the ball, and all the rest without them?

Date: 2008-12-29 02:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] legionseagle.livejournal.com
I do like the Gondal bits - they suffer from the same problem, in my view, as Peter Duck - they're too narratively complex to be a plausible product of the people and circumstances under which they're supposed to be produced - and, indeed, the circumstances under which they are actually produced are wisely left fairly vague - but I love the growing spill-over as Lawrie, Patrick and Ginty in particular take their narratives off in different directions which start affecting their other lives in unpredictable ways. And the moment when Nicola, having nearly been killed by Patrick jumping on her looks up and sees him looking back at her with his Gondal fact really is one of the most chillingly memorable bits in the book, because of course death doesn't matter in the narrative but people in "real life" stay dead, so the fact that he's starting to blur that particular distinction is really worrying.

Date: 2008-12-29 02:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rosathome.livejournal.com
Yes, I agree. I like the idea of Gondal a lot, and the way that AF uses it to explore the boundaries between fact and fiction. I forget which book it is when AF talks about how fictional characters are real to Nicola in a way that they will never be to Ann, and not just because she's younger. But in Peter's Room, I think you get Nicola realising the opposite - that fictional characters are, in very important ways, not real at all, while Patrick and Ginty start to inhabit the fictional world and lose their sense of the real world. Lawrie, I think, is acting in Peter's Room, just like she acts in The Prince and the Pauper, and the Christmas Play. So although she always has a strong sense of how to play at being another person, she doesn't seem to me to be so profoundly affected by Gondal as Patrick and Ginty.

Date: 2008-12-29 02:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] legionseagle.livejournal.com
That was one of the points I made in my talk at the AF con - that Lawrie is sort of protected by its being "business as usual" (though God help us all if some idiot at drama school ever introduces her to the Method).

Date: 2008-12-29 02:42 pm (UTC)
ext_22860: Dr Who in a t-shirt reading 'trust me, I'm a Doctor' (happy ships)
From: [identity profile] coughingbear.livejournal.com
Yes, about the worst thing that happens to Lawrie is that she refuses a second helping of pudding and gets a bit cold while working out one part for herself, I think.

One way it goes on into other books of course is the Patrick/Ginty relationship, which never escapes Gondal and is consequently (we can see) doomed. Fascinating moment when Patrick wonders, after the Great Kerfuffle in Attic Term, whether Ginty would like to hear from him as Rupert or as himself, and his consequent profession of devoted love lacking all conviction as a consequence.

Date: 2008-12-29 02:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rosathome.livejournal.com
Yes. I read Attic Term many years before I got my hands on Peter's Room and was somewhat taken aback by the Rupert/Rosina stuff. Except that even without the backstory it did pretty effectively indicate that this was unlikely to be a lasting relationship.

Date: 2008-12-29 02:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] legionseagle.livejournal.com
I have to say, though, Ginty's reaction to the letter is quite reasonable - having presumably heaved huge sighs of relief that she hasn't managed to get herself or Nicola expelled it must have come as a nasty shock to realise she had managed to get Patrick the boot and failed him his 'O' levels (as we find out in RAH) into the bargain. No wonder she goes into a flat spin and bolts to the other end of the country.

Date: 2008-12-29 02:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rosathome.livejournal.com
Has anyone ever written fic of Ginty's next meeting with Patrick? I would like to read that.

Date: 2008-12-29 03:01 pm (UTC)
ext_22860: Dr Who in a t-shirt reading 'trust me, I'm a Doctor' (blood for breakfast)
From: [identity profile] coughingbear.livejournal.com
Oh entirely. I remember empathising very strongly with her sense that however much Patrick claimed to be delighted to be expelled, his parents and her parents were really not going to see it in the same way.

Date: 2008-12-29 03:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] legionseagle.livejournal.com
Especially given Helena's - um - somewhat chilly personality and the impact on Anthony's political ambitions of any scandal - I know Patrick explains to Jukey that his dad has no ambitions for Cabinet Office, but I bet Ginty doesn't know that.

Date: 2008-12-29 06:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] smellingbottle.livejournal.com
I'm not sure I've ever really thought the Gondal narratives were too complex to be feasible in the world of the Marlows and Kingscote as AF constructs it. I accepted it much as I accepted her teenagers producing and acting in extraordinarily impressive school plays, having a fairly sophisticated relationship with literary and historical figures, being generally all-round clever and Marlow/Merrick-ish - I don't find the Gondal imaginings that huge a step beyond the vivid fantasy lives of nearly all the characters involved, and their talents. I mean, there are things in the books I find harder to get my head around - small things like affected mummy's girl Pomona being 'surprisingly in character' as Henry on the first read-through!

I agree that the question of how exactly the Gondal narrative is put together is wisely left vague though - and that's a good point about Lawrie being shielded from the blurring of fact and fantasy by her acting.

Date: 2008-12-29 07:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] legionseagle.livejournal.com
I think it's not so much the narrative being too complex but too coherent - given all the competing egos in play, each character gets a surprisingly equal amount of airtime and character development. But maybe it's because I never really see how joint writing - even where only two people are involved - works, even though there are plenty of examples where it works brilliantly.

I have to say our school plays were so ghastly that I'm inclined to regard the inordinate success of the AF ones as being at least as big a fantasy as Gondal, but perhaps much can be said for boarding school in the sense of providing an absence of competing distractions and much more rehearsal time.

My principal bit of disbelief came when Elaine Rees managed to pick up Marie's part on the spot and gave Nick her feed lines.

Date: 2008-12-29 07:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rosathome.livejournal.com
My experience of boarding-school plays is that they are as much a mixed bag as any other school play. Occasionally it all comes together brilliantly, and more often it's a bit of a mess. There was an awful lot of spare time to be filled up at school and play rehearsals was one way of doing this. Given the amount of time Third Remove had spent on their play, it strikes me as just possible that Elaine might have Marie's lines memorised enough to keep things going.

I completely agree with the joint writing thing. I just can't imagine how that works at all. Do you imagine that the Gondals were written down? In my mind, they just sit around telling the story, each taking turns to do 'their bit'.

Date: 2008-12-29 08:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] legionseagle.livejournal.com
Of course, owing to the somewhat Miss Keithish idea that my headmistress, Big O, had, to the effect that gels doing exams shouldn't have distractions you were only eligible for school plays as an actor in Lower Sixth and Fourth forms (and, exceptionally, 1st or 2nd forms when they needed a Moth or Mustardseed) so I expect part of the problem was that there was only the same limited pool of actors to choose from and our year wasn't very good at acting.

Fortunately Art Club got to do sets, backstage and noises off irrespective of our ages or exam commitments - my finest hour was being exploding tomato cans in Thornton Wilder's The Matchmaker.

Date: 2008-12-29 08:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rosathome.livejournal.com
Oh, ours was much more of the Crommie school of thought that one ought to be able to take exams in one's stride without any fuss. I was definitely in a school performance of Blithe Spirit when I was in Upper VI. The backstage crew had lots of fun with that one. And, actually we had lots of fun with it too - not least because we had been allowed to 'borrow' two boys for the male parts from the local boys' school.

Date: 2008-12-29 08:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] legionseagle.livejournal.com
Do you imagine that the Gondals were written down?

I imagine they spend about four hours each day (and an awful lot of roast potatoes and chestnuts) planning out what's going to happen (probably involving either paper or a blackboard), an hour of so for people to prepare for the planned scene and two hours or so improvising it, with a great deal of interruptions and "Lal! You can't possibly" sort of interjections, and quite possibly Gin and Patrick going all Agatha and Frederick and rehearsing indefatigably in dark corners shoved in throughout.

Date: 2008-12-29 11:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] colne-dsr.livejournal.com
Funny, because I've always imagined quite the opposite. Ie. that it was done "live", as it were, and tidied up by AF to cut out all the "he said, she said" bits that would distract.

(Exactly like Ransome's 'Peter Duck', if you've ever seen the first few draft chapters. It had to jump back between the boat on the Broads (real life, where the children were inventing the story) and the South Seas (where the story was set). He abandoned that idea, and if AF ever tried that way of doing it, she clearly abandoned it too.)

Date: 2008-12-30 06:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] legionseagle.livejournal.com
The only unfinished one I've seen is that rather promising one where the Death and Glories hide on board a launch which is being trucked from the boatyard to the Lakes and arrive in the middle of a sea-battle between the Swallows and the Amazons and think it's all rather childish and silly. I'd have liked to see where he went with that one.

Date: 2008-12-29 11:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ethelmay.livejournal.com
I did the exact opposite -- I read the part about Jane as a little girl over and over, and couldn't read more than a couple of chapters of the rest for a long time. But that was coming to it as a child and not being interested in all the adults.

I skimmed the Gondal bits in Peter's Room first time through, finding them terribly dull. They've grown on me since.

Date: 2008-12-30 09:21 am (UTC)
ext_22860: Dr Who in a t-shirt reading 'trust me, I'm a Doctor' (marlows)
From: [identity profile] coughingbear.livejournal.com
I remember being a bit daunted by the Gondal bits the first time, and wondering if there really had to be so much of it, but then getting into it.

Which is reminding me that there is a Margaret Atwood that includes a Gothic novel in italics that the heroine is writing, and I remember being very disappointed that she didn't finish it, as I was enjoying that part as much as the main text. I think AF handles the end of the Gondal really well, so that for the reader it really does feel like an ending, and that Patrick and Ginty are right that they can't go on with that bit at least.

Date: 2009-02-06 03:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bookwormsarah.livejournal.com
I only read the Gondal bits on my third reading of Peter's Room and it did make so much more sense...

Date: 2008-12-29 11:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] smellingbottle.livejournal.com
The fantasy segments in PR are really interesting just for the light they throw on the characters playing the characters (so to speak). You get to see Nicola wishing she wasn't involved and being as colourless as possible, Ginty making up to Patrick via this rather homoerotic friendship between their characters (pre-empting the Rosina stuff), Peter dealing with his own fears of cowardice via the torture scene etc etc. You also get to see AF writing a very different kind of fiction, too, and I think it makes the 'real life' Christmas segments of the book more compelling by contrast, if you can see why, say, Ginty is unwilling even to spare an afternoon to go shopping for a non-awful dress.

(frozen)

Date: 2008-12-29 12:11 pm (UTC)
ext_22860: Dr Who in a t-shirt reading 'trust me, I'm a Doctor' (marlows)
From: [identity profile] coughingbear.livejournal.com
I'm freezing replies to this, as I think it's not necessary to respond apart from saying that your response to the comments above is inappropriate.

Date: 2008-12-30 09:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] alliekiwi.livejournal.com
I've never been a fan of the Gondal bits either. Actually, I doubt I've read them all the way through as the first bits annoyed and bored me. I sort of see their point - the play acting and all that - but I coudl have done without them. But then, I am most certainly not a Bronte fan. Rather like Nicola and her dislike of all things Dickens.

The bit that strikes a cord with me in the Christmas dinner scene in Runaway Home, is that it's the magic type of day that accidentally falls together and can never be repeated. I've had a few of those and have also felt that I wish it could happen again... but know that it cannot. Reading that scene makes me so nostalgic for those few perfect days of my own.

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