So, a few days back I became approximately the last person on the geeky side of the internet to see Inception
, which was, well, fun. Really fun. I'm still a bit baffled as to why it became INSTANT FANDOM CATNIP, however - I guess it did a pretty elegant job at creating side characters one wants to see fleshed out, and the oneiromancers-for-hire bit of the worldbuilding is simultaneously fairly intriguing and entirely disposable (incidentally, Cob and Moll? MOST BORING ARCHITECTS EVER. Seriously, they get a lifetime to build an entire world, and they come up with a city full of indentikit skyscrapers
? I mean, I suppose I should be grateful that the film didn't indulge in too much visual noodling of the Gilliam variety, but, still. I might feel more kindly towards Cobb if his plot hadn't involved a touch too many sadface SLOW MOTION KIDS sequences). Also, I guess almost the entire cast was made up of eminently slashable guys. That probably helped.
But if the, uh, fandom lens (tm) doesn't always make things all that much clearer, it worked wonders on the fandom I was assigned for Yuletide, Philip Sidney's Arcadia
. Admittedly, the last time the fandom for this one was exactly flourishing was in the early years of the seventeenth century, but as my very sweet recipient, yunitsa
, says, if any early modern text deserves to have a present-day fandom, it's this one, which in its most basic form (it has a fairly complicated textual history. Here
's the expanded 1590 version, if anyone's interested - warning for sixteenth-century attitudes to sex, death, peasants, lions and bears, etc etc) is the average exquisite tale of a couple of Arcadian princesses forced into a year of pastoral seclusion by their father (why? AN ORACLE DID IT), being wooed and won by a pair of dashing princes, Pyrocles and Mucidorus.
Oh, and of course Mucidorus disguises himself as a shepherd while Pyrocles decides to dress up as an Amazon - and, oh boy, the text goes to great trouble to impress upon us that he makes a very pretty Amazon indeed
. So pretty, in fact, that the princess' mother and father both fall for him/her. Oh, and Sidney makes a point of keeping Pyrocles as a 'her' for as long as possible, even when the Amazon disguise is a very open secret indeed (how open? well, morning-after-with-princess-Philoclea open, for one). Shenanigans ensue.
Anyway, while my love for Sidney's 1579-ish An Apology for Poetry
is deep and abiding, I've never really made friends with the Arcadia
. Which is, y'know, a pity, because it is the
early modern English prose romance. Really, want to know what Shakespeare was playing off in the forest of Arden or the outskirts of Athens? Take a spin through the Arcadia
. Also, it doubles as a testing ground for Sidney's sideline in reforming English poetics - see, for instance, his spectacular double sestina, Ye Goatherd Gods
. I mean, let me hasten to say that I think TS Eliot was talking out of his arse when he (I think) sniffed at the Arcadia as 'a monument of dullness', but, well, for me, at least, the Arcadia works spectacularly well when read curled up in my brain's fandom windowseat. Suddenly the massive slashiness and curlicuing plotlines, the general humming sexiness and the gorgeous, gorgeous clothes work so much better
. (Well, I always enjoyed the gorgeous clothes).
I guess I have a tendency to read stuff much too earnestly? Anyway, my only regret about this year's Yuletide is that I ran out of time to make the whole thing into a MASSIVE SPACE AU (no, no, it's ok! My recipient actually suggested this
As it is, I went for highschool (um, yep): Glasses, or Feathers
And girls-only romance (nope, not that kind, alas. The thrones and shipwrecks and distant shores kind): A Perfect Woman's Shape
This second one is a crossover with a particularly excellent (and exceedingly epic) Arcadia fic (well, though there's a lot of Spenser and Shakespeare in there as well) from 1621, The Countess of Montgomery's Urania, by
Lady Mary Wroth. I'd never read this before (and I haven't read all of it now - there's a manuscript continuation that I didn't get hold of, although it's in the modern edition
), but it's pretty fascinating, not least for its full-on girlifying of romance narrative.
And it has a great frontispiece, courtesy of Simon van de Passe, the guy who did that picture
of Pocahontas. Check it out:( And now, finally, a cut. With Jacobean courtly shenanigans and ladies being awesome behind it. )