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October 13, 2009

I am coughing as I write about the tubercular Fanny Blood, Mary Wollstonecraft’s “perfect” friend. It’s a strange kind of mimesis. I don’t like being sick, but I like picturing their first meeting. Fanny is eighteen. Mary is sixteen. Mary’s completely smitten by the older girl. “I could dwell forever on Fanny’s praises,” she writes. Fanny can play the piano! She can draw! She is pretty and delicate and so gentle with her younger brothers and sisters! Mary wants to run away with Fanny. It is love at first sight. Who cares if Fanny’s engaged. Mary’s certain that Fanny will see that life with Mary is far preferable to life with her lukewarm fiancee. Of course, that is not what happens. And Fanny will die as a result of the silly choice she makes. Alas.
After years of reading 18th century novels, it’s a pleasure to write about this time. So much easier than the biblical landscape. I have been steeped in this material most of my reading life. The female “romantic friendship.” Male suiters. Independent women finding a way to succeed in the midst of societal restrictions. All my favorite things.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 15, 2009 9:05 am

    I never exactly thought I was going blind when I was writing about Milton, but I did start to feel visually vulnerable. “Paradise Lost” is extremely difficult to picture while simultaneously being full of visual detail. I think that must correlate in some way to his blindness.

  2. October 15, 2009 9:09 am

    It is hard to picture. I remember that feeling. He gives you such exact coordinates, the rivers and the boundaries and the directions — it felt like we Should be able to see it. But it was always out of focus.

    I can’t believe you have the blue fairy book on your list of books.

  3. October 16, 2009 9:54 am

    I also own the red, green, and crimson books. Did you read these Lang collections as a kid? I used to get them out of the library in stacks.

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