Caturday, vol. II

Further feline frolics from the fin de siècle (mostly). Puss, my apple ‘gainst thy mouse I’ll lay, The game’s mine if thou hast ne’er a trump to play! … Apes and Cats to play at cards are fit, Men and women ought to have more wit.     Previous Caturday posts can be found here….

Visual Trope Gallery of the Week: Fisticuffs and skirmishes

The novels that have been indexed by the British Library Labs collection are typically embellished with illustrations featuring attractive scenery, frolicking cherubs, or decorous ladies making polite conversation in parlours.  However, a little rummaging turns up a wide variety of images on other themes, some of which are quite bizarre and occur more frequently than…

Never underestimate the power wielded by the lady’s maid

“Among all privileged spies, a lady’s-maid has the highest privileges; it is she who bathes Lady Theresa’s eyes with eau-de-cologne after her ladyship’s quarrel with the colonel; it is she who administers sal-volatile to Miss Fanny when Count Beaudesert, of the Blues, has jilted her. She has a hundred methods for the finding out of her mistress’ secrets….

An injured body: novelists disapproving of novels

In chapter 5 of Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen starts off by describing the activities of Catherine Morland and Isabella Thorpe, but gets sidetracked rather quickly, and spends almost the entire second half in a delightful rant about the hypocrisy of novelists who deride their own genre: I will not adopt that ungenerous and impolitic custom…

Insult of the Week: you confounded fools

Middlemarch‘s Fred Vincy momentarily loses the run of himself while intervening in a local territorial skirmish: “What do you confounded fools mean?” shouted Fred, pursuing the divided group in a zigzag, and cutting right and left with his whip. “I’ll swear to every one of you before the magistrate. You’ve knocked the lad down and…

Wot larx: men in ladies’ clothing edition

While characters in some of our novels adopt the typical clothing of the opposite sex for serious purposes (for example, the title character in Katherine Cecil Thurston’s Max), others – especially gentlemen – disguise themselves solely for the lolz. Jane Eyre‘s Mr. Rochester famously dresses up as a fortune-teller in order to spy on his…