Terrible Valentine’s Day Playlist Redux

Once again, and a month late: a playlist for those whose Valentine’s day was more traumatic than tender, loosely inspired by women from books and their mediocre-to-terrifying suitors. Possibly a bit spoiler-y; previous version here. 

Mary Garth re Fred Vincy

Gwendolyn Harleth re Grandcourt

Lydia Glasher re Grandcourt

Fanny Price re Edmund Bertram

Bertha Mason re Mr. Rochester

Tess Durbeyfield re Alec Durbeyfield

Katie Nolan re Johnny Nolan

Lizzy Bennet re Mr. Collins

Lizzy Bennet re Wickham

Dunya re Svidrigailov

Literally every woman Don Juan interacts with/molests, that Venn diagram is pretty much fully intersectional

Penelope re all her suitors

Harriet Vane re Phillip Boyes

honorable mention, because she deserves it, poor girl.

Dorothea re Causabon

Books and Baked Goods 9

Your baked good for this week is this  Smitten Kitchen’s plum cake, for maximum convenience suggested well after all the plums have vanished from the greengrocer’s. I tried to make this cake in a toaster over, which, I was promised, worked as well as or better than what I was used to. In point of fact the oven burned the top and failed to cook the rest, so I ended up scraping the burnt crust off and cooking it for ten more minutes before serving it with ice cream as plum pudding. It was surprisingly scrumptious.

Moral of the story: when everything goes wrong, serve it as a pudding.

Chapters 60 to 69! Previous installments here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. Explanation of this ghastly drawn out Bataan death march of a book club, here.

Will is finding a little more about his family, and the plot thickens.

“[Bulstrode] was simply a man whose desires had been stronger than his theoretic beliefs, and who had gradually explained the gratifaction of his desires into satisfactory arrangement with those beliefs.”

Ouch.

Bulstrode’s sanctification of profit scheme does not hold up very well to the light. He and his constant terror of exposure are so pitable.

Arghh. Will and Dorothea talking past each other is driving me insane. Lesson learned, folks: if you think it’s one hundred percent certain that the object of your affections must grok the hints and allusions you are dropping….they probably don’t.

Why won’t Lydgate let Farebrother help him? But his pride can’t hold long with the vise of debt squeezing him. The thread of debt runs all through the novel–Fred’s debts, his reliance on the death of a patron to absolve him; Lydgate’s debts, and the degradation in which they immerse him; Caleb’s disinclination to be in Bulstrode’s “debt” by accepting his patronage; even Dorothea’s relation to Will is colored by what she feels she owes him and cannot render him.

“The poor thing saw only that the world was not to her liking, and that Lydgate was the world.”

Rosamund sees herself, and the world, not herself among selves. Her narcissism seems to totally lack a theory of mind.

The idea of letting her house to the man she rejected must be terribly painful for her, coinciding with the loss of Will Ladislaw’s attentions.

Lydgate can only go lower than his original picture of a passive adoring spouse, not higher. Still, his continued love for Rosamund, and more than that, his fervent desire that he might continue to love her, is deeply touching

“In marriage, the certainty, “She will never love me more,” is easier to bear than the fear “I shall love her no more.”

This is true, and not just for marriage, I think. What terrifies me about my sin is not that God will stop loving me, but that I will lose my ability to love God.

This is also why Rosamund is more pitiable than Lydgate.

The alienation of their marriage  is so painful to watch–and Lydgate, with his many real excellencies, could have had a marriage of so much tenderness, respect, and mutual support had he treated the character of a wife more seriously. And instead he ends up sobbing with her while their furniture is sold, a togetherness without unity or intimacy.

Re Fred stopping Lydgate’s gambling, it strikes me how much important action of the novel takes place in public space.

And, as usual, Farebrother is being a hero to Fred. What else is new?

Speaking of news, Raffles has returned, sick and delirious. Uh oh. Is it all over for Bulstrode? Will Bulstrode murder Raffles? Tune in for chapters 70-79 to find out!

I’ll end with this quote.

He had never liked the makeshifts of poverty and they had never before entered into his prospects for himself, but he was beginning now to imagine how two creatures who loved each other and had a stock of thoughts in common might laugh over their shabby furniture and their calculations how far they could afford butter and eggs.

Unrelated: IT’S MY BIRTHDAY. Consider this my birthday present to you, after the manner of hobbits.

Books and Baked Goods 8

Right now, my feelings about this project resemble Frodo’s towards the ring on one of the steeper trails up Mt. Doom.

I will finish this. I must.

And be you Gollums or Sams, you are welcome to plod up the summit with me. In place of Lembas, I offer you Smitten Kitchen’s cream scones. I made these once with yogurt, once with cream. The yogurt ones were more second breakfast, the cream version a decadent afternoon tea treat. I also added approximately an extra half to full tablespoon of butter, because why not? Substitute tiny pieces of chopped up apples, add a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg to the batter, and swap some of the sugar for maple syrup if you, like me, insist that all your baked goods from September to Christmas scream autumn in the most predictable of ways.

Chapters 50 to 59!

It seemed that where there was a baby, things were right enough, and that error, in general, was a mere lack of that central poising force.

I love the impersonal universality of this axiom.

Dorothea’s terrible shock at realizing someone she trusted had “hidden thoughts” from and about her is probably familiar to a lot of people; I think this discovery is one of the most agonizing blows to a friendship possible.

Dorothea also just seems to have awakened to Will’s erotic potential. Well, this should be interesting.

But Will is an Italian with white mice, and he might as well be in Rome. Dorothea is an uncomfortable and misplaced product of Victorian Protestant England, and Will is a disruptive, sensual, and suspect foreigner. But Will’s  rootless disruptiveness can be channeled politically into a useful engine of reform–what happens to Dorothea?

“But if you are to wait till we get a logical Bill, you must put yourself forward as a revolutionist, and then Middlemarch would not elect you, I fancy.”

Indeed.

Also

“But as to one family, there’s creditor and debtor, I hope; they’re not going to reform that away; else I should vote for things staying as they are.”

Farebrother is finally getting his due! I’m so glad. He is so very lovable in these chapters. The scene wherein he pleads Fred Vincy’s case to the woman he himself loves, particularly.

The English evangelicalism of this period is fascinating, especially since we’re mostly used to think of revivals et al. as American phenomena.

I think the most realistic touch Eliot gives Bulstrode is his sincerity; he really does think he is a humble servant endowed by the Lord with a mission to prosper. But now he has Raffles jamming up the works! Secrets and scandal! Bulstrode’s apparent relation to Ladislaw reminds me of a Dickens story, where each character is intricately tangled up in another, sometimes by roots that remain subterranean for most of the novel.

“to sit like a model for Saint Catherine looking rapturously at Celia’s baby would not do for many hours in the day, and to remain in that momentous babe’s presence with persistent disregard was a course that could not have been tolerated in a childless sister.”

This sounds…familiar.

James and Celia’s worries over Dorothea being lonely are loving and innocuous, but we see the general determination to keep her docile in Mrs. Cadwallader’s warnings against “seeing visions.”

“But I see clearly a husband is the right thing to keep her in order.”

But it’s not as though Dorothea’s non-conformity is unambiguously valorized, either. Rather, much of it seems her poor-woman’s negative substitute for greatness of action and leadership.  Although now, it seems, she’s planning to build some kind of commune.

Will and Dorothea’s awkward fumbling around each other feels surprisingly possible and relatable, despite the ostensibly Victorian obstacles separating them.

The railroad is cutting its way through Lowick, the the disapproval of the workmen, who see only rich owners turning a profit from the disruption of their lives.

And Rosamund has suffered a miscarriage. It’s only mentioned in passing dialogue, given much less time and attention than any other events of these chapters. What does this mean to her? We get no peek into an interior world where loss and grief exist.

“…Mary always desired to be clear that she loved Fred best.”

This seems like the root of fidelity.

Lydgate’s belief in Rosamund’s innate submissiveness and adoring deference crumbling, he has no way of being married beyond alienation and sterility. He never saw her as one with real agendas and desires of her own, so he can’t ask her to give them up in loving mutual sacrifice. She can’t help and suffer with him in his struggles, because she was never to take an “unwomanly” interest in his work, never to be his partner in any real sense.

And she wouldn’t recognize the call to that kind of heroism; nor can she ask him to enter into her own projects. She has only learned how to gently thwart others’ plans for her. It’s a damning look at a dynamic that’s sometimes romanticized.

And then he compares her to Laure, with his “It is the way with all women.” I had almost forgotten about Laure; poor foolish Lydgate.

He also remembers Dorothea, and I’m still not sure the poor chump’s wrapped his around the fact that Dorothea’s absolute loyalty to her husband is not some natural feminine clinging but active, struggling virtue.

But now Will knows about the codicil! What will happen next? Tune in next time for the surprising adventures of me, Sir Digby Chicken Ceasar, I mean, uh….Middlemarch.

Books and Baked Goods 7

I know, it’s embarrassing. I don’t even want to know how many months its been since I dropped the ball. It was an accident! I took a a little break from blogging, and then when I came back I had psyched myself out of the book club posts. But I am determined to finish this, especially because the book starts getting really good from here.

As a sin offering, brandied cherry pie. This is really easy. Buy a bottle of brandy–it doesn’t have to be the good stuff–and pour it into a bowl of pitted cherries (enough for pie making.) The cherries should be submerged in the brandy. Cover and leave in the fridge over night. The next day, pre-bake your pie crust. I like this one, with the addition that I’ve found it doesn’t really help to skimp on the ice water. I’ve always needed more than recipes call for to make my crusts come together. But that’s me, in my kitchen, and your mileage will probably vary. The only really hard and fast rule of crust making is to keep everything cold, chilling and re-chilling at every step. Too rigorous an insistence on other instructions (for instance, my crusts never transfer into the pan in one whole foldable circle) will generally leave you with a crust that looks prettier than it tastes. The brandied cherries mean that this crust doesn’t need a lot of sugar. When the pie comes out of the oven, spoon in your now deliciously brandy-infused cherries (and you can even save the now cherry infused brandy!) Top with something delicious–a drizzle of dark chocolate, a dollop of whipped cream, maybe–and eat!

Since it’s been so long, here’s where we’ve been: parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.

I did chapters 40-50 here, to get back up to speed. On Friday I’ll try doing ten chapters again, from 50-60.

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Why I love Mary Garth:

“If you made her angry, she would not raise her voice, but she would probably say one of the bitterest things you have ever tasted the flavor of; if you did her a kindness, she would never forget it.”

The intensity behind her flippancy is strange, and, I think, invites equally intense sympathy.

Speaking of which, the Vicar and Mary are so much better suited for each other than Mary and Fred! He comes so much closer to being her equal in sense, and is like her in complexity of character. But she loves Fred.  (For now at least.) Alas, such is life.

“It was certainly not her plainness that attracted [men] (and let all plain young ladies be warned against the dangerous encouragement given them by society to confide in their want of beauty).”

I can see why Mary’s wonderful capacity for bitterness is so believable.

Who is this Raffles character? Bulstrode seems to be the center of great intrigue.

52 is an amazing chapter. Let’s look at some passages.

“It would be quite unjust to him to suppose that he could have entered into any coarse misinterpretation of Dorothea; his own habits of mind and conduct, quite as much as the open elevation of her nature, saved him from any such mistake. What he was jealous of was her opinion…”

and

“He thinks of making an easy conquest and of entering into my nest.”

This is the charged language of a very sexual jealousy, and yet earlier we learn that Causabon is referring mostly to an intellectual rivalry. So we have this more of this weird reversal going on, where Dorothea tries to satisfy her longing for intellectual/spiritual fulfillment by entering into a sexual contract, and Causabon can only couch his cuckold anxieties in intellectual terms

Plenty of mystics and artists have described union with or devotion to Christ in in ardent, sexually connotative language. Dorothea recreates this pattern in a degraded way, stooping according to restrictions placed even on the shape of her goodness (we see the greatness of her soul is signalled by dress, and particularly how she is perceived by men), and submitting herself instead to a human idol.

The utter futility and unfittingness of this attempt at escape becomes apparent in Causabon’s engagement with her: there is nothing elevated about their relationship–he can only transpose sexual possessiveness onto the life of the mind.

(Unrelated: I love how Eliot presents the misunderstandings, rejections, and fears that come between people imperceptibly and insuperably in excruciating detail; how a momentary submission to resentment and harshness builds unlooked for wall of alienation.)

In the agonizing mockery of her marriage, her pain and anger and impotence, her eventual self-forgetfulness (dearly bought, not theoretical), Dorothea is growing up rapidly.

Her anger and indignation after her husband’s rejection seems a climactic or transformative struggle. It’s a violent and terrible storm of passion that leaves her sitting still in the dark for hours on end, and the the final resignation and submission she finally wrestles herself into are almost brutal.

I can’t think of any more vivid portrait of a marriage, miserable ill-judged, unhappy, probably doomed to unhappiness as long as it lasts, and yet sanctifying.

I was reading Flannery O’Connor the other day, and thinking about how the different ways the two authors approach grace, especially as they are both interested in Grace and Bad Stuff. Eliot’s grace is the animating fire behind many tiny movements that in no way mitigate, but ennoble and sustain people through lifetimes of grinding disappointment, failure, and misery.

Contrast this “And just as clearly in the miserable light she saw her own and her husband’s solitude–how they walked apart so she was obliged to survey him”

with this

“She put her hand into her husband’s; and they went along the broad corridor together.”

It’s a beautiful and horrifying picture of conjugal unity and conjugal grace.

Right, on to more mundane things!

Note that every time Rosamond encounters Dorothea, we are reminded of the differences in their castes.

“When one sees a perfect woman, one never thinks of her attributes–one is conscious of her presence.”

You know, this is probably a perfectly sensible observation about people in general, but somehow young Will Ladislaw annoys me indeed .

Because this! Again! “Mrs. Causabon is too unlike other women for them to be compared with her.”

On the other hand, this is probably true, and both Dorothea’s and Rosamond’s tragedy.

There’s a lot else going on these here–Reform! Ladislaw! His Polish, Italian, French connections are emphasized a lot in these chapters. All Catholic countries ( “Mrs. Bulstrode felt that his mode of talking about Catholic countries, as if there were any truce with Antichrist, illustrated the usual tendency to unsoundness in intellectual men.”), all very Not English (“mixed blood” and “general laxity”).

“Rosamond was expecting to have a baby, and Lydgate wished to save her from any perturbation.” Rosamond’s maternity only further infantilizes her.

Aaaand to wrap it all up, we have Causabon’s horrible, horrible, creepy, manipulative little request that Dorothea basically offer herself up as a sacrifice on his funeral pyre. And the best part is his horrible, creepy, manipulative way of asking, which is to NOT ASK directly until she has promised to do it. Because, Dorothea, can’t you “confide in the nature of my wishes?”

No, Causabon, no we can’t, because you are horrible and creepy.

But never mind, he’s dead.

OH wait, he’s still doing horrible things from beyond the grave. To wit, his codicil.

Books and Baked Goods 6

So, this time, (no really!) I have a valid excuse for failure. The excuse being, my entire family got hit with a world-historical stomach bug, and I spent the whole week feverishly making ginger tea, stroking fevered brows,  and trying to talk like Florence Nightengale.

Or at least, how I imagine she would talk, for I have not yet had the privilege of making that honored lady’s acquaintance.

See? You know it’s time when you’re talking like Casaubon.

But first, banana bread. This is the best banana bread I have ever made, and I have made a lot.  I dialed back the sugar (I used closer to half a cup), upped the spices, and added a dollop of molasses, because I like my fall quickbreads autumnally spicy, and duh, molasses makes everything better.

I also discovered an interesting variation on this recipe during one of my adventures in failure. Recently, for some reason that was probably not my fault, I forgot to add flour before putting the batter in the oven. Ten minutes later, as I was going about my business, I realized why I could not shake the nagging feeling that something was not right. I mixed in the the flour and put the bread back in the oven in a lame attempt at salvage, and when I took it out it was…a pudding. Or a bread, but an uber moist, rich, pudding-y bread that looked ugly but tasted quite delicious, especially served over ice cream. I don’t really recommend you try to replicate this freakish success, especially not by forgetting the flour or other vital ingredients, but if you’re bored it might be fun to fiddle around with baking times.

Ok, on to Middlemarch.

1. Fred! Penniless, spendthrift Fred! What will he do with himself? On the other hand, could the dashing of all his lazy hazy hopes finally spur him to steadiness and self-improvement? It remains to be seen, but I watch his career with growing interest.

On a related note, who is Joshua Rigg? Thoughts? I like the description of his frog-face. His impassability seems vaguely sinister, at least to the people of Middlemarch. This is one of the things I love about sprawling Victorian novels–new, intricately interconnected yet tangential characters are liable to pop up wherever, whenever. It’s kind of like The Silmarillion that way.

I love how important death and marriage both are to this society, specifically, in negotiating the transfer of property; we’ve seen marriage a couple of times, in Mrs. Cadwallader’s remarks and Ladislaw’s story about his parentage, but this is the first time we see death. And death is the more important of the two, I think–it  allows property to be named, allotted, shrouded in the mantle of sacred and impersonal law. Marriage creates the families that function as receptacles for property, but death itself effects its dynamic transfer. Property and death belong to each other, and both define the boundaries and obligations of human relationships, as we see with Will’s story. Is it worth noting that Dorothea and will are both orphans?

If anyone’s read The Mill on the Floss, the relationship between law, death, and property seems to be steady thread that runs through Eliot.

Ok, Lydgate and Rosamond: I thought it particularly interesting that, while Lydgate falls into a genuine if shallow passion for Rosamand, she does not do the same for him. She doesn’t seem to have any idea what that would look like–I think Eliot says that she sincerely believed that no one could be capable of loving more than she loves Lydgate. Poor stunted creature, she has no idea how to love, how to move beyond herself even in Lydgate’s flimsy fashion; she has no idea how to be anything but acted upon, and how to arrange and re-arrange the small circle of her self and accessory objects.

If she cannot be anything but acted upon, though, she is very determined to dictate how she is acted upon, and so poor stupid Lydgate .

“Lydgate relied much on the psychological difference between what for the sake of variety I will call goose and gander: especially on the innate submissiveness of the goose as beautifully corresponding to the strength of the gander.”

It is painful to watch his delusion–but after all, he never asks anything better of her. He is getting exactly what he wants, God help him.

And, last for best, Will and Dorothea. Casaubon is getting meaner and smaller by the minute, Will is very obviously falling very much in love with Dorothea, Dorothea is oblivious and unhappy and good.

There is one line about how she dresses as though she had taken a vow to always look different from other women. This is part of her problem, I think, that she has to set herself apart from other women. There is no place for Dorothea, and so the best she can do is attach herself to a man.

“I used to feel about that, even when I was a little girl; and it always seemed to me that the use I should like to make of my life would be to help some one who did great works, so that his burthen might be lighter.”

She can only envision herself as a helper or page. There is the hint of a great work of her own–Sir James speaks of her cottage plans as displaying real talent, and she seems to have a genius for sympathy and the itch for justice that hint at a vocation to reform–but neither she nor anyone else can recognize her own gifts, and so she puts her energies at the service of a parsing, precise intellectualism totally unrelated to her character, even before Casaubon’s vices enter the equation. Will Ladislaw doesn’t seem to help much here–his concern is all for her happiness, and how much that happiness depends on him. Very sweet, but not touching on the real problem.

But what do we think of the whole Will, Dorothea, Casuabon situation. Does anyone else think it makes it somehow much worse that Casaubon’s distrust of Ladislaw isn’t even motivated by sexual jealousy, but pure pride?

And all these local politics. They are making my head spin. This is a big age of reform, which is perhaps why the political dustups create such a poignant contrast to Dorothea’s seclusion at Lowick.

And I’ll leave you with this.

“I know the sort,” said Mr. Hawley; “some emissary. He’ll begin with flourishing about the Rights of Man and end with murdering a wench. That’s the style.”

Point of Order

You will have noticed that there is no Middlemarch post up.

This is not, as it might seem, because I am bone-lazy and incompetent. At least not just because.

I’ve heard it from a reliable source that some people who would like to discuss have fallen behind, so we’re all getting a week off to catch up.

Tune in on Friday for chapters 30-39!

Books and Baked Goods 1

In which we discuss Middlemarch, Ch. 1-4.

But first, the important stuff. As in, food. Since summer is rapidly slipping away, it seemed best to capitalize on seasonal desserts while we still can. So, here is an easy key lime pie recipe.

Two things that will make it much, much better: buy key limes and juice them yourself (I find it’s easiest to cut them in half and press down on each half with a fork), and make your own whipped cream. Just beat heavy cream with sugar added to taste until it forms stiff peaks. Easy peasy, even if you do it by hand (this is what I owe any and all definition in my arms to). Also, if you make your own whipped cream, you can add all kinds of fun stuff to it, like, I don’t know, tequila?

To make the graham cracker crust, just crush a packet and a half or so of graham crackers into little crumbs (this is so. much. fun), zest a lime into half a cup of sugar and rub together with fingers, melt half a stick of butter (or however much it takes to hold your crust together) and mix it all up. Press into a pie pan. Ok, now you know what to do. The great thing about key lime pie is that the lime juice really controls the taste. If you like a tart pie, as I do, go crazy with the lime juice–I definitely used more than half a cup. Of course, if you are afraid of raw eggs, like normal people, and therefore unwilling to taste the concoction through various stages of limeyness, you should probably just stick with the recipe. Also, after the pie is cooked and chilled and topped with mounds of fresh whipped cream, zest another lime all over the top. It makes it look so purty.

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Ok, on to Middlemarch. Here are my basically unconnected thoughts.

1. This book is going to be all about Dorothea, at least on some level. All the book’s energy and our emotional responses so far center on her and this intimate, loving portrait Eliot is drawing of her soul’s travails–yet Eliot also goes out of her way to draw our attention to a specific moment in a specific cultural context. In the first four chapters, she name-drops Pascal, Jeremy Taylor, William Wilberforce, and John Locke (am I missing anyone?) and alludes more than once to an uncomfortable triangulation of Puritanism, Catholicism, and comfortable middle-class Anglicanism. What gives? Notable that Dorothea herself is compared first to St. Teresa of Avila, and then to a Puritan–these are two wildly different religious traditions.

2. Dorothea. She already drives one of my friends crazy. Full disclosure, I loved her from the first page of my first reading all the way to the end, and probably will again. But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t drive me crazy too.

Eliot seems very aware of her flaws–her tone alternates between fond mockery and respectful compassion, I think. In  Dorothea’s first appearance of the novel, Eliot connects her asceticism with her notions of gentry and ladyhood—Dorothea’s religious impulses are tied to class boundaries, and for all her eccentricity, her religion is part of a larger conception of self that depends on the lines her fervor transgresses. It seems to me that D’s inability to extricate herself from these boundaries is a gentle jab at her, but even more so, a pointed and serious indictment of how far the limits imposed on her bind her ardent mind.

Also, we first learn about her piquant character, her devotion and austerity through her distaste for adornment. We are introduced to the quality of her mind through the contours of her clothes–there seems no way to escape the primacy of female decorativeness–not even in the narration of it’s rejection. Something to keep an eye on.

On a side note, can I just say how much I love Celia? That willingness to forgive and be forgiven combined  with the discomfiting acuity that sees through Dorothea’s playacting–this seems very characteristic of sisters, to me, especially sisters so different.

And Dorothea does a lot of playacting; I think this dishonesty will come up more as the novel progresses. In the scene where she rejects Sir James’s gift of a lapdog, she echoes what Eliot says of her own narrow female existence two paragraphs above. She can only accurately assess her own situation and voice her own discontents when she applies them to a creature of a much lower order. Which may be somehow why she sees in Causaubon a creature of a much higher order, when everyone else can already tell he’s a complete wet fish? It is telling that she sees in him a “mirror.”

Dorothea seems to want to play the part of eromenos. She is completely cut off from any intellectual or public life–we see it with the constant dismissal of her intellect, the inanity of her expected pursuits, the fact that she can only put  her plan for the cottages into action through Sir James’ courtship–and so for her, marriage is initiation and access to the world of men. She casts herself into a stereotypically wifely and feminine submission and self-abnegation in order play a much more ambiguously gendered and typically male role. Remember that Eliot describes her as a “beautiful boy,” in the dinner party scene where she snubs Sir James (who is happy to let her dominate intellectually and practically because the terms of any erotic relationship between them cannot threaten his fundamental male privilege.)

Ok, I will stop rambling and leave you with this quote.

“Sir James had no idea that he should ever like to put down the predominance of this handsome girl, in whose cleverness he delighted.  Why not?  A man’s mind–what there is of it–has always the advantage of being masculine,–as the smallest birch-tree is of a higher kind than the most soaring palm,–and even his ignorance is of a sounder quality.  Sir James might not have originated this estimate; but a kind Providence furnishes the limpest personality with a little gunk or starch in the form of tradition.”

 Now, get to it!

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Logistics:

Sorry I didn’t put this up sooner! Will try to get it up earlier in future. For now, just think of this as a weekend-long book club thread.

How did everyone find the length? Too long, too short, just right? I hope you now feel like literary Goldilockses. Let me know, and I will update this post with how far we’ll go next time, determined by consensus, or by me if no one chimes in.