November 05, 2005

Beau Sabreur, P. C. Wren

I will start at the very nadir of my fortunes, at their very lowest depths, and you shall see them rise to their zenith, that highest point where they are crowned by Failure.

That's the first line and, alas, it might be the best. P. C. Wren is famous for Beau Geste, and for the story of the men who died but could not fall at Zinderneuf; this novel is tied into that story at several points, but doesn't need them.

It isn't quite an all-out swashbuckling novel, although it manages to combine the heroic characters of the square-jawed English gentry, the subtle and nationalist French gentry, the dashing Sheik, and the jes' natural Western cowboy into fewer actual characters than you'd think that would take. The narrative structure is more complicated than I expected, and does the combined identities proud. It might be just a little too late (1926) to carry off the noble burden of the colonizer. Anyway, something didn't jell. It wasn't a bad waste of time, but it wasn't good.

Find in a Library

Posted by clew at 04:24 PM

History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 4, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, et al., eds.

And probably no class of women have been such sticklers for the cultivation of all woman's modest, unassuming home duties as have been the great, ambitious teachers on this suffrage platform....
But this will not be the training of the girl of the future. It is not the sort of preparation to which the boy of the present is urged. "Jack of all trades, good at none" is the old epithet bestowed upon a man who thus diffuses his energies. You do not expect a distinguished lawyer to clean his own clothes, a doctor to groom his horse, a teacher to take care of the schoolhouse furnace, a preacher to half-sole his shoes. This would be illogical, and men are nothing if not logical. Yet a woman who enters upon any line of achievement is invariably hampered, for at least the early years, with the inbred desire to add to the labor of her profession all the so-called feminine duties, which, fulfilled to-day, are yet to be done to-morrow, which bring to her neither comfort, gain nor reputation, and which by their perpetual demand diminish her powers for a higher quality of work....
Everywhere there is too much housekeeping. It is not economy of time or money for every little family of moderate means to undertake alone the expensive and wearing routine. The married woman of the future will be set free by co-operative methods, half the families on a square, perhaps, enjoying one luxurious, well-appointed dining-room with expenses divided pro rata. In many other ways housekeeping will be simplified. Homes have no longer room for people--they are consecrated to things. Parlors and bedrooms are full of the cheap and incongruous or expensive and harmonious belongings of a junk shop. Plush gods hold the fort. All the average house needs to make it a museum is the sign, "Hands off."...
The girl of the future will select her own avocation and take her own training for it. If she be a houseworker, and many will prefer to be, she will be so valuable in that line as to command much respect and good wages. If she be an architect, a jeweler, an electrical engineer, she will not rob a cook by mutilating a dinner, or a dressmaker by amateur cutting and sewing, or a milliner by creating her own bonnet. The house helper will not be incompetent, because the development and training of woman for her best and truest work will have extended to her also, and she will do housework because she loves it and is better adapted to it than to any other employment. She will preside in the kitchen with skill and science.
The service girl of the future will be paid perhaps double or treble her present wages, with wholesome food, a cheerful room, an opportunity to see an occasional cousin and some leisure for recreation. At present this would be ruinous, and why? Because too frequently the family has but one producer. The wife, herself a consumer, produces more consumers. Daughters grow up around a man like lilies of the field, which toil not, neither do they spin. Every member of every family in the future will be a producer of some kind and in some degree.

Lo; we may or may not still be the Victorians but we're certainly still having their arguments.

That was from "the address of Mrs. Ruth C.D. Havens (D.C.) on The Girl of the Future"; the previous extract was a Just-So story, not overtly evo-socio-bio-psych but identifiably of the breed, explaining that the 'protective' duties of Man towards Woman were a result of Woman having left off her original tigress-like warring first, because her inventions of production and trade, as well as her biological investment in the young, showed War up as a bad deal.

This volume is going through Distributed Proofreaders, will show up on Project Gutenberg in due time.

Posted by clew at 04:13 PM
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