Thursday, January 31, 2008

Massive book love!

I am head-over-heels in love with this book:


It's not just that the title cleverly combines two iconic works (the Little House series and Diet for a Small Planet). This book is blowing my mind just a little bit. I thought it would be, you know, floor plans, space-saving ideas, things like that. No. It is a manifesto. 'Build a glove, not a warehouse.' 'Pay Off your Debts.' 'Quit Jonesing.' 'Give Up Your Loneliness.' 'Reclaim the Commons.' The books is so dense with stories and information that I'm on my third day of reading. Three days for one book! I even took it to work to read on my break. Little House goes far, far beyond the concept of 'small house', to embrace sailboats and Airstream trailers, shared living, communities, communes and commons. I am inspired to sketch and doodle floorplans again for the first time in a long while. Would anyone like to start a commune with me? Location still to be determined.

And also: this one.
Pride and Prejudice has been one of my favorites for maybe 12 years or so; I've re-read it at least a dozen times, as well as the rest of Jane Austen's works. So obviously, I know all about it; that's what I assumed until I found this annotated version. I flipped it open thinking that it wouldn't be very useful for an experienced reader; I learned three new things in as many pages. Whoever this man is that wrote the notes, I hope he does the same for Emma and Sense and Sensibility, right away. He explains social conventions of the day; these details that would tell the contemporary reader what's happening, but that the modern reader has no context for. For example: the higher the class, the later they ate. So when Elizabeth finishes breakfast at her own home and later walks to Netherfield to find the occupants still eating, it's a subtle sign of the class distincion between them. Likewise, as 'dinner' grew later and later in the evening, 'supper' faded away to a mere snack in fashionable society; Mrs. Philip's hot suppers show her social inferiority. Vingt-Un, Commerce, loo, Whist, lottery tickets, cassino, and quadrille were ALL card games. (Man, these people played a lot of cards.) But the preference of a paticular card game by any character would give a clue to their personality: Lydia's preference for lottery tickets, Anne de Bourgh's for cassino, Lady Catherine's for whist: each subtly describes the character that would play it. I had no idea. Who knew that 'morning' at that time meant the time until 4 or 5p.m.? Jane Bennet's 'waiting all morning' for someone to call upon her, or Mr Bennet and Mr Bingley spending all morning sporting does not mean what I thought it did; it means what we would consider all day-- from breakfast until dinner.


The notes also discuss the current literary ideas and works that influenced Austin; novels that she borrowed from, concepts that she scorned and poked fun at. Extracts from her personal correspondence demonstrate her personal thoughts about those other books and even about her own. I dare anyone to read this and claim to know it all already.

4 comments:

Bella said...

You have given me something to seek out and read!!!

Rachel said...

Oooo... both those sound amazing, especially the Little House book (I'm looking into the Itty Bitty house movement right now). Thanks, I will see if these are at the library!

Bex said...

a little weird but lex and I have been talking both airstream and/or commune for awhile.

Mara said...

Nice that your hubby is so open-minded! Don doesn't mind the idea of a small house, but he's not so into the idea of communal or mobile living.