Gilman's prose is exquisite--no stodgy pastiche, but a lacework of Elizabethan poesy and paradigm spun with subtle modern thread to make it pleasing t...moreGilman's prose is exquisite--no stodgy pastiche, but a lacework of Elizabethan poesy and paradigm spun with subtle modern thread to make it pleasing to the contemporary eye.
Here's Will Shakespeare coming onto the scene, just after the opening, when another player's boy has been murdered and buried:
Will's grieving was distracted, and his mourning ink. He had this next week's plays to fit with one less boy. So needs must write a paltry for the tyrant or the wit to speak--a patch of nothing--while the boy, sent off upon an errand to himself, was changed, came out new-gendered, and sailed on. Enter the Lady. Will could fit a metamorphosis within a fool's soliloquy, and to a line.
It isn't just the language, but the Elizabethan paradigm, from its stenches to its glories, that Gilman evokes, weaving in and out of the gender-blurring world of the theatre to track down a murderer whose self-involvement began with private theater. Players were brought in to speak his lines on a stage with only him as thrilled audience, but gradually turned into horror.
Ben cannot bring innocent lives back, but he can get justice for the dead, and prevent any more murders . . . by using words as weapons.
This short tale is still resonating with me days later; it goes on my list for Nebula nominees.(less)
The back of this elegant little booklet says: Around 1235, Japanese poet and scholar Fujiwara no Teika compiled for his son's father-in-law a collecti...moreThe back of this elegant little booklet says: Around 1235, Japanese poet and scholar Fujiwara no Teika compiled for his son's father-in-law a collection of 100 poems by 100 poets.
Within its chronological summary of six centuries of Japanese literature, Teika arranged a poetic conversation that ebbs and flows through a variety of subjects and styles. The collection became the exemplar of the genre--a mini-manual of classical poetry, taught in the standard school curriculum and used in a memory card game still played during New Year's.
Larry Hammer, the translator, not only gives alternate meanings for phrases, but he furnishes clues to meanings otherwise hidden to the Westerner ignorant of the subtleties of the various styles through these six centuries of Japanese history.
Here's one that I liked:
80. Empress Haiken's Horikawa
Whether his feelings will also last, I don't know, and my black hair is disordered as, this morning, my thoughts certainly are.
The image of the lover with long, ruffled hair is so evocative and romantic! About it, Hammer says, An attendant of the imperial court . . .the origin of the use-name Horikawa ("moat-river") is uknown, but it seems unrelated to the earlier emperor of that name. Again, the "mono" thought about is clearly the other person.
How about this one?
My sleeve is like a rock in the open sea unseen at low tide, for no one knows about it and so it never dries out.
That's evocative enough, right there--and then Hammer furnishes the hidden clues: A lady-in-waiting to retired emperor Nijo and later to a consort of Go-Toba, her use-name is from Sanuki Province (now Kagawa Prefecture) but her connection to it is obscure.
Written on "love compared to a stone." The original can be read as that it's either people in general or a particular person who does not know her sleeves are wet. Sleeves were normally all that a modest court lady showed of herself in public, so the implication is she's hiding hers to avoid revealing they're damp from crying over a broken heart, keeping them from drying.
The poems do ebb and flow, furnishing an elliptical, or elusive, conversation, if one reads them in order. But I found equal pleasure in opening the book anywhere, and picking one to read and think about. (less)
Was fuer ein Mut gehoerte aber in zehnten Jahrhundert schon allein dazu, ein Drama zu dichten! Was fuer ein Wagnis war es darueber hinaus fuer eine No...moreWas fuer ein Mut gehoerte aber in zehnten Jahrhundert schon allein dazu, ein Drama zu dichten! Was fuer ein Wagnis war es darueber hinaus fuer eine Nonne, hierbei den Stoff und das Milieu des Terenz aufzugreifen! Es ist ja unglaublich, Hrosvitha kannte ja kein Theater, nichtdestoweniger . . . so unternahm sie etwas damals ungewohnt Neues, womit sie allein stand--und allein blieb.(less)