Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Diary of a Lit Nerd is on Sabbatical

      To the two or three people who read my blog, sorry that I have not posted in awhile.The past few weeks have been crazy as I have been preparing for college and spending time with my friends, and I have had very little time to read, much less blog.

     I'm sorry to say that The Great Shakespearean Challenge and my other literary ramblings will be put on hold for the next month or so. In a week I will be beginning my freshman year of college, and thus spare time for blogging will be scarce.

     BUT! Never fear, I am still determined to make my way through the entirety of my ginormous Shakespeare book, and once I find time to do so, I WILL be blogging about it. Thanks so much to all of you who have been reading my blog, I truly appreciate it, and please check back in later this fall for more Diary of a Lit Nerd!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Charles Frazier's "Nightwoods"

     As eager as I was to read Nightwoods by Charles Frazier, I was also a little nervous. The only other book I've read by Charles Frazier is his first novel, Cold Mountain. And for anyone whose read my first few awkward blog posts, you know that Cold Mountain is one of my absolute favorite books. Ever. Right up there with Jane Eyre.

     So for about two seconds I was kind of nervous that I wouldn't like Nightwoods because it wouldn't be half as good as Cold Mountain because hardly any book is as good as Cold Mountain.

     Those two seconds were a very short, very foolish two seconds.

     Charles Frazier is amazing. A brilliant wordsmith. Seriously. Frazier could write directions on how to open a soup can and it would sound like poetry.

     Like Cold Mountain, Nightwoods is a historical novelTaking place in the 1960s, the novel tells the story of Luce, a young woman content to live alone in an abandoned lodge just outside her small hometown. But Luce's life of peaceful solitude is interrupted when her murdered sister's troubled children are dropped at her doorstep.

     Nightwoods is a relatively short book--only 259 pages. It's short but it's searing. The plot moves fast (but not too fast, it's swift and unpredictable like a river flowing through the mountains, slowing at all the right points and sweeping you away at all the right points). By the time I was halfway through, the book was all but glued to my hands. Plot twists keep the reader on her toes, break the reader's heart and leave the reader re-reading certain sentences over and over. But unlike some suspense/thriller/mystery type books, the plot twists are believable. They surprise the reader, but don't leave you wading through a confusing, contorted plot.

     The novel takes place in small town North Carolina at the foot of the Appalachian Mountains (Frazier really likes his mountains) and, like Cold Mountain, setting plays a pivotal role in the novel, described and emphasized and developed as if the woods and mountains were a living, breathing character. To Luce, nature certainly is a character. Before the children come, she spends her days studying the environment, watching the seasons change and learning about the animals and plants that inhabit her environment. She finds companionship in the natural world.

     Frazier's love and attention to setting is one of the many things that (I think) sets him apart from other authors. And it's not just the sweeping vistas and sunsets that he describes so poetically that you can practically see the mountains rising up out of the paper, but it's also Frazier's attention to detail. It's the little things. Like how Nightwoods is divided into three parts, and these three parts correspond with the changing seasons. Leaves are turning red and gold at the end of part one and are falling off the trees at the end of part two. For Frazier, it seems that setting isn't just a sloppily painted 2-D background that hangs behind the main action of the plot. No, the setting, the seasons, they are the building blocks of the plot. Yes, the novel is character driven, and the North Carolina topography and weather are as big a player as Luce when it comes to driving the plot.

     Nature seems to be a recurring theme--a motif, if you will--throughout all of his books. (Okay, I've only read two of his three books, but two out of three is pretty decent odds, right?) Frazier's love of nature is one of the principal reasons I was so enchanted by Cold Mountain. But Frazier does not limit his lovely imagery to the natural world in Nightwoods. He puts the same love thoughtfulness into his descriptions of Luce's hometown. An especially beautiful image that kept coming up was the effect lights have on a windshield streaked with water. Frazier also seems drawn to neon lights, a nice artificial juxtaposition to the natural world he loves so much. Lights in general are a poignant motif in his descriptions of the town. (Perhaps symbolic of something controlled and constant, unlike the ever-changing seasons, artificial light is something that humans can control...but I digress)

     Just to clarify, this book isn't just wonderful imagery and descriptions of nature. Trust me, there's a plot. A wonderful plot with lovable and fascinating characters. And like Cold Mountain, a beautiful yet understated love story. Another clarification: as much as I keep comparing Nightwoods to Cold Mountain, the two novels are very different. They share the same lyrical, literary voice (obviously, they share the same author), and many of the themes are the same (themes of natural cycles, love, survival, redemption) but they are not at all the same novel.

     Nightwoods is very much a story about family. About parenting and domestic abuse and familial duties. What does it mean to be a mother, sister, aunt, daughter? What does it mean to love your family? To not love them?

     But enough about plot. I don't want to spoil anything for you. Like all good stories, it's better the less you know before you even open the book.

     In short--read Nightwoods. It's gritty yet lyrical, searing yet sweet (Frazier is a master of incongruous juxtapositions). Whether or not it's better than Cold Mountain, well, that one's up in the air.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Great Shakespearean Challenge Day 168

     175 out of 1194 pages read.

     And now, for some more on Titus Andronicus.

     As I mentioned in my previous post, I had a few issues with the characters in Titus. My biggest complaint was Aaron, the big bully who is evil for seemingly no reason at all. But I also take issue with Shakespeare's treatment of the female characters in the play.

     There are only two women in Titus Andronicus. The first female character we meet is Tamora, Queen of the Goths. (The "Goths," by the way, are a catchall term for the Germanic tribes that roamed Europe circa the time of the Roman Empire. The Romans considered them barbarians, and Shakespeare characterizes them as such in this play). But anyway. Tamora. We meet her in Act I Scene I when Titus brings her in as a prisoner after he returns from defeating the Goths. Titus kills her oldest son as a sacrifice for the gods (who's the barbarian now?) and Tamora proceeds to seduce Saturninus, who takes her as his bride and makes her Empress of Rome.

     Our other lovely lady is Lavinia, Titus's only daughter. Lavinia is the definition of passivity. She is beautiful and virtuous and basically every male character who isn't related to her wants to marry her.

     And she is also super annoying.

     Lavinia has absolutely zero say in anything that happens to her. At the beginning of the play Titus offers Saturninus Lavinia's hand in marriage. How does Lavinia feel about this? Who knows. She is neither happy nor upset about the arrangement. She's just like "Sure, Dad, whatever you say. I'll marry whoever you want me to."

     It's Bassianus, Saturninus's brother, who has a problem with Saturninus marrying Lavinia. After it is decided that Saturninus will marry Lavinia, Bassianus steps in and spouts off my favorite line: "Lord Titus, by your leave, this maid is mine."

     Note the word "mine." Apparently Bassianus owns her. But I'm being unfair. What he means is "Hey, dude I was already engaged to this chick, so you can't marry her off to my brother."

     "What?!" the reader exclaims, "what?! But if Lavinia were engaged to Bassianus, then why didn't she freak out when her father handed her over to Saturninus?'"

     That's a very good question, dear reader. A question I asked myself while reading Titus. A possible answer would be that Lavinia does not love Bassianus as much as he loves her. Maybe she'd rather marry Saturninus. I mean, really, wouldn't you want to be Empress of Rome? Okay, sure, but when Bassianus exclaims, "This wench is mine!" what does Lavinia do?

     Absolutely nothing.

     She's just like, "Oh, sure, I guess I'll marry him now." Except, she doesn't even say that. She says nothing at all. She's almost unrealistically passive. The reader never knows what Lavinia wants. Even though Lavinia may live in a patriarchal society where she has little control in who she marries, wouldn't she at least say, "Hey, Dad, this is cool and all but I'm already engaged." So, when Lavinia gets her tongue cut out, she almost doesn't lose anything. Perhaps this is a bit harsh, but she hardly used her tongue.

     Oh, wait. That's a lie. Lavinia gets a bit sassy in Act II Scene III.

     In Act II, Scene III Lavinia and Bassianus come across Tamora and Aaron scheming and canoodling in the woods. Bassianus and Lavinia insult Tamora. The only time Lavinia speaks out is to insult Tamora, the only other female character. So let's discuss Tamora a bit further.

     Tamora and her lover, Aaron the Moor, are the play's antagonists. Like Aaron, Tamora is portrayed as nearly heartless. Her only moment of pity is when she pleads Titus to save her oldest son's life. Other than that, she is the antithesis of Lavinia. Whereas Lavinia is passive and chaste, Tamora cheats on Saturninus, she encourages her sons to rape and maim Lavinia, and she orders her illegitimate son to be killed.

     In other words, the only moment where Lavinia speaks out is in Act II Scene III, and the only reason she speaks out is to first insult an unwomanly woman and then to plead for mercy from that same woman when Chiron and Demetrius start dragging her into the woods.

     It should be noted that after this scene, the next time we see Lavinia, she has no tongue and no hands.

     What exactly is Shakespeare trying to say? He gives us the two extremes of female archetypes: the passive damsel in distress and the cruel evil queen. Both of them suffer. Lavinia does not deserve her lot, and Tamora...she perhaps can be viewed as a tragic hero of sorts. The more I consider her actions and reactions, the more parallels I draw between her and Titus. How much different is she from her enemy? Both kill their own children and both kill each others children. Both hit disturbing lows: Tamora's role in Lavinia's rape and Titus's use of cannibalism as revenge.

     So is Tamora really any worse than Titus? Maybe. Maybe not. Unlike Aaron, she has reason to be evil. She has motive to destroy the Adronicus family. Is it justified? Well, we could easily ask if Titus's reasoning for killing Tamora's son is justified.

     This is all very confusing. As much as I've been complaining about Titus Adronicus, I am completely fascinated by it. But that's enough about Titus for now.

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Great Shakespearean Challenge Day 162

     165 out of 1194 pages read.

     Two days ago I finished Titus Andronicus and I still don't know what to make of this play. Titus Andronicus is considered Shakespeare's bloodiest play--an epithet which I see no reason to argue with. The play is violent, gruesome, and at times disturbing. Yet, for whatever reason, I was completely sucked into the plot. I read nearly the entire play in one sitting. Partly because I was tired and had nothing better to do with my time, but mainly because I just couldn't put the book down.

     Despite the play's addictive quality, I'm torn as to whether I like this play or not. The reason for my uncertainty is not so much the dismembered limbs, cannibalism, etc., but the characters. I mean, sure, Titus is great. He's your archetypal tragic hero; a great guy whose hubris (aka pride) causes him to make a really crappy decision (or a few, like killing Tamora's son, making Saturninus emperor, offering Saturninus Lavinia's hand in marriage, and killing his own son), and the rest of the play he struggles to right his wrongs (in the form of seeking revenge) as his life falls pieces.

     But what's up with this Aaron guy?

    He's a fairly heartless fellow. Tamora is evil too, but at least she sort of has reason to be evil; Titus defeated her people and killed her oldest son. So yeah, I can see where she might be a bit angry. But what about Aaron? He seems to be evil just because he thinks its fun. Aaron is the one who suggests that Chiron and Demetrius should violently rape Lavinia in the woods, when originally they were just going to woo her away from her husband. And then, later, he tricks Titus into cutting off his hand.

     "Hey, Titus," Aaron says, "Saturninus said that if you chop off your hand and give it to him, he won't kill your sons. Isn't that nice of him?" Little does Titus know, Saturninus made no such proposition. Oh, but Aaron does return Titus's sons to him...well, he gives Titus their heads, which happen to be unattached from their bodies. (Did I mention this play was super violent? No wonder we never read it in school...)

     But WHY? What are Aaron's motives? Is he mad because Tamora, his lover, marries Saturninus? Is he angry at Titus because he killed Tamora's son? Aaron is just a character I couldn't understand...couldn't quite believe. If there is anything I can't stand, it is a character that is 100% good or 100% evil which is why tragic heroes and Byronic heroes are my favorite character archetypes and why I don't like superhero movies (seriously, don't get me started on Superman...I can't stand that guy).

     Though, to be fair, Aaron proves not to be totally heartless. When Tamora gives birth to a son who is obviously Aaron's and not Saturninus's, Tamora orders the child to be killed, but Aaron refuses to do it. He runs off with his son, and willingly lets Lucius capture him on the condition that Lucius makes sure the baby is cared for. However, we can't forget that Aaron kills the nurse so no one finds out that the kid is his, tries to switch out his baby for another baby, and oh yeah, there's this conversation:

     "Yeah, of course I'm sorry--sorry I didn't do more evil things! Mwahaha!"

     Um, what?

     Okay, so the hopeless optimist within me hopes that maybe, just maybe, this is all talk. That Aaron is just trying to sound tough and intimidating. But he did murder and wreak havoc upon the other characters for seemingly no reason at all. So I just don't even know. Aaron baffles me.

     I've done it again; I've rambled on for much longer than I planned. Aaron wasn't the only character in this tragedy that irritated me; Shakespeare's treatment of the female characters in this play also irked me, but alas, I'm afraid we'll have to discuss Tamora and Lavinia at a latter date.

     So stay tuned, coming up on Diary of a Lit Nerd I will have more thoughts on Titus Andronicus as well as more rambling about Charlotte Bronte. The next Shakespeare play I'll be diving into is The Comedy of Errors (finally! a comedy!) and I'm also reading Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen (get ready for an Austen/Bronte showdown).

     Thanks for reading! :)

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Téa Obreht's "The Tiger's Wife"

     Plot twist: I do actually read books published in the past century! In fact, the book I just finished up today came out in 2011. That's only two years ago!

     But in all seriousness, Téa Obreht's novel, "The Tiger's Wife" is absolutely fantastic.

     It is hard to describe the novel's plot because the novel is really several stories woven together into one lovely narrative. On the most basic level it is the story of Natalia, a young doctor, telling the story of her grandfather. But this explanation is too basic to do the novel any justice.

     In regards to time frame the novel jumps from the present to the past back to the present and then even farther into the past...basically it's all over the place. Confusing as this sounds, the book was very easy to follow along with. I think one reason why the story is so coherent, despite it's jumps in time and story, is that the entire book is told in first person from Natalia's point of view. Natalia is even our narrator when she tells the reader of the Tiger's Wife, even though the story took place before Natalia was born. That Natalia is consistently in the story adds to the sense of unity between the different plotlines. She is the thread that weaves all the pieces together.

     Part of the reason for the varying plots, and also one of the reasons that I love this novel, is that Obreht fleshes out nearly every character. And by flesh out, I mean tell you what the character was like when he or she was a kid and thus, the reader understands every character's motives. Because of this, the reader finds him or herself liking all the characters at one point or another, even the ones that are seemingly unlikeable.

     Another reason why I found this book so compelling is the lovely struggle between reality and folklore. The novel takes place in a fictional unspecified Balkan country. Many of the characters are extremely superstitious whereas others, like Natalia's grandfather, value science and logic over old wives' tales. This struggle adds a fantasy-like facet to the novel, and the reader is never quite sure what is real and what is myth. I think another reason why this novel is told from first person point of view is that it reinforces the Balkan tradition of storytelling, and how myth and reality are nearly inseparable to the point that the reader is never sure of how things actually happened. Thus, the novel appeals to the reader's imagination without coming across as unbelievable, and the ambiguity prompts interesting questions.

     I would try to better explain the plot of this book, but it's the type of novel that is most magical when you know very little going in, and simply are able to watch the plot unfold.

     All in all, I would highly, highly recommend this book. It takes a chapter or two to really get into it, but reading the entire book is most definitely worth your time. Téa Obreht's The Tiger's Wife is like a carefully woven quilt, where, if you look closely, the stitches may look incongruous and haphazard, but when you step back, the big picture is beautiful.


Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Great Shakespearean Challenge Day 158

      138 out of 1194 pages read

     King Richard III picks up where King Henry VI Part Three leaves off. King Edward IV, who ascends the throne at the end of Henry VI, is now older, very ill, and trying to maintain peace between two disputing factions of his court. Little does he know, his brother Richard is plotting to take the throne.

     Richard III was a nice change of pace after three plays of Henry VI. Whereas Henry VI is a weak king, overwhelmed by power, naïve, and easily pushed around, Richard is a man completely possessed by his desire for power. He is willing to do anything to become king including (but not limited to) killing his brother, killing his two young nephews, killing his wife...well, killing just about everyone. A sharp contrast to the pious Henry VI, who tries to defeat his adversaries with words rather than violence.

     And, while being a pushover is not an effective way to rule a kingdom, neither is killing the majority of your family. Richard becomes consumed by his greed for power and his insecurity that everyone is conspiring against him (which, by the end of the play, everyone is pretty much fed up with the guy). For awhile things start looking good for Richard and the reader thinks that maybe he will be able to hold onto the throne, however, his sins quite literally come back to haunt him when, the night before the end battle that will decide if Richard or the Earl of Richmond will become king, Richard is visited by the ghosts of those he killed. The ghosts curse him and, the next morning, King Richard is defeated.

This is White Tower, which is where
Edward V and Richard were supposedly
murdered. It is now nicknamed (no doubt
for the benefit of tourists) "Bloody Tower."
     King Richard III was, obviously, an actual English king, but how accurate is this play as a historical record? Was Richard really as evil and greedy as Shakespeare portrays him? The mystery that baffles historians the most is the murder of Edward IV's young sons, Edward V and Richard. According to the play, Richard III ordered Sir James Tyrrel to murder Edward and Richard. Richard III had already started rumors of Edward V's illegitimacy, as well as the illegitimacy of Edward IV, but, if you want to be king, killing the heir to the throne is much more effective than spreading rumors about him. With Edward V and his brother out of the way, Richard III was the next logical heir.

     But was Richard III really that desperate to become king? Desperate enough to kill his two young nephews and numerous other family members? Or was Richard III simply painted a villain by the Earl of Richmond, who would defeat Richard III and ascend the throne as King Henry VII? Richard III certainly was not the only man to have motive to kill the two young princes. Here is an interesting article for anyone wanting more information on the real-life mystery.

      If we're being honest, historians will probably never figure out who actually killed Edward V and Richard. Regardless, Shakespeare's Richard III still represents a powerful example of literature's effect on history. If in fact Richard III was innocent, the play represents how easy it was for the ruling monarch to bend history. After all, Elizabeth I was queen when Shakespeare was writing plays, and, being the granddaughter of Henry VII, she would not have appreciated anyone praising her grandfather's enemy. Thus, it makes sense that Shakespeare portrays Richard III as a nearly compassionless villain, rather than a misunderstood tragic hero (Richard III does kind of start to feel bad after he is cursed by the ghosts of those he killed, but during the end battle, he still fights ruthlessly for his right to be king, thus the recognition of his sins does not seem to be fully realized). Had Shakespeare said good things about Richard III, we would probably study Shakespeare as "that writer guy who made the queen angry and ended up with his head on a pike" and we would be deprived of Hamlet, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Romeo and Juliet, etc., and we would live a very sad, very meaningless existence.

      But I digress.

     Point is, King Richard III gives us an interesting look into the life of 16th and 17th century royalty. Whether Richard III himself was that bloody or not is inconsequential because someone killed those two princes, someone was desperate enough for power to kill two young boys. So perhaps we should look at Richard III the character not as Richard III the actual king, but rather, as an archetype for power-hungry nobles, a symbol for the underlying greed and deceit in every monarch's court. After all, it's not like Richard III was the only guy willing to kill family members for the throne. Stuff like this happened way before his time, and will continue to happen with Henry VII's descendants. Just wait until we get to King Henry VIII.

     Well, after four plays of bloody English history, I will now move onto a bloody Roman tragedy as I dive into Titus Andronicus. Yay! Or as the Romans say--Euge!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Charlotte Bronte's "Villette"

     You may have guessed this already, but Charlotte Bronte is one of my favorite authors. Possibly my favorite author ever, but don't hold me to that. I don't like picking favorites.

     Just a few days ago, I finished Villette, which is Bronte's last and most autobiographical novel. And, of course, while reading Villette, I couldn't help but to make comparisons to Jane Eyre.

     In many ways, Jane Eyre and Villette are very similar. Both are about young women who are more or less on their own and who find themselves questioning their roles in society. Both Jane and Lucy Snowe (Villette's protagonist) achieve independence through education. Jane becomes a governess; Lucy becomes a teacher and ultimately ***SPOILER ALERT*** Lucy opens a school of her own. Both protagonists fall in love with Byronic men whose mysterious pasts make it difficult for our protagonists to marry them.

     Jane and Lucy are not completely similar, however. Lucy I think is a more (for lack of better word) controlled version of Jane. What I mean is that both young women are passionate, but Lucy is much better at controlling her emotions. In fact she is so good at controlling her emotions that every character has a different opinion of her. Graham, Paulina, Paulina's father, and Mrs. Bretton think Lucy is solemn and perhaps a little dull, as well as a loyal and kind friend. Ginerva Fanshawe thinks Lucy to be grumpy and crotchety. And the eccentric M. Paul Emanuel's first impression of Lucy is that she is strange, passionate, and a little vain. For the most part, Lucy is very reserved, but when sufficiently provoked, she erupts into a fury of passion.

     Jane Eyre, on the other hand, is less reserved. This is especially true at the beginning of the novel when Jane is a young girl not afraid to state her opinions and to talk back if she feels she has been wronged. As Jane grows older, she does better control her passions, but there is still a poignant difference between Jane and Lucy's attitudes. And I think that main difference is that Jane is more confident than Lucy.

     Of course, one of the main themes of Jane Eyre is Jane's uncertainty of her position in society. She is a woman in a patriarchal society; she is a governess, her place is above that of a servant, but she is scorned by Mr. Rochester's equals; and she struggles to balance her feelings for Mr. Rochester and her duty to God. Yet despite this, throughout the book Jane seems to know who Jane is. Her personality is consistent and Jane always stays true to herself which is why, in the end, she able to find that balance between passion and duty. Jane Eyre may not know where she belongs in society, she may feel alienated and out-of-place, but she is certain of herself.

     Unlike Jane, I think Lucy Snowe is uncertain of herself. She has recently lost her family and finds herself in a country that speaks a language which she hardly knows. A Protestant in a country of Catholics, Lucy finds herself questioning her religion in a very different way than Jane Eyre. Jane is in a situation where she needs to decide whether she is willing to sacrifice her values and religious duties so that she can be with Rochester. But she never wavers in her actual religious beliefs. Lucy, however, finds herself comparing and contrasting Protestantism and Catholicism. She feels alienated because her religious beliefs, and she questions which religion is superior. For the most part, Lucy is fairly stalwart in her preference of Protestantism, however, at one point in the novel she does seek comfort in a Catholic church and pours her heart out in a confessional.

     But more importantly, there is the differences in how all the other characters view Lucy. Villette is told in first person from Lucy's point of view, but she is fairly reserved in the thoughts she divulges to the reader. Thus we, the readers, as we try to discover Lucy's personality by reading between the lines, find great interest in what the other characters think of her. And while Lucy does not necessarily change herself for different people, the reader does see that different sides of Lucy come out when she is dealing with different people. And, as we read between the lines, we see that because Lucy is so out-of-place in this new country, because different people bring out different sides of her, both the reader and the Lucy are aware of a certain degree of insecurity in the narrator.

     Lucy Snowe is a young woman who is unsure of who she is; feelings which no doubt stem from her lack of family (I think it is very notable, and not at all an accident, that the reader knows absolutely nothing about Lucy's family and of their fate), from her alienation as a foreigner, and from the differing opinions her friends hold of her. She appears, to the reader, rootless.

     The rootlessness and uncertainty of Lucy Snowe's character should be no surprise to any reader who knows a little bit about Charlotte Bronte's life. At the time Villette was written, Bronte had lost all of her siblings to tuberculosis and was questioning her place in society as she found herself in the literary spotlight and facing the harsh criticisms of Jane Eyre and Shirley. The back of my copy of Villette dubs the novel, "Charlotte Bronte's last and most autobiographical novel," an epithet which I find very believable, having read The Life of Charlotte Bronte by Elizabeth Gaskell.

     Lucy Snowe's experiences in the fictional country of  Lambassecour are based off of Charlotte and her sister Emily's experiences at a girl's school in Brussels. Charlotte and Emily had attended a school in Brussels, and to help pay their tuition, they taught a music class. Charlotte allegedly developed feelings for the school's headmaster, M. Heger, a pious Catholic Frenchman with a wife. Thus, we see the inspiration for M. Paul as well as Lucy's battle with unrequited love. Furthermore, because of her awkward position in society as a controversial female writer, Bronte no doubt many a time questioned who she was as she tried to separate the Charlotte Bronte from Currer Bell.

      Oh geez, I was hoping to also compare M. Paul's character to Mr. Rochester as well as go into more detail about the autobiographical facet of the novel but this post is already super long. I haven't even told you of what I thought of the book overall! I guess this will have to be a multi-post extravaganza. So stay tuned for more on Villette! And for those of you following my Great Shakespearean Challenge, look forward to a post on Richard III, coming soon!