You know how something serendipitous happens, and it's not just that you had the good fortune of having that thing happen, but it also feels like it was therefore meant to be? Or approved by the Fates, or whatever? Which is just a complicated way of saying, we were all tired in Literature of Antebellum Reform last night from writing papers, so Temple was like, "Uh... let's go home," so we got out half an hour early. Now, I'd been trying to figure out when I was going to squeeze in some library time, so this was an absolute godsend--I skipped across the street to Sterne and proceeded to check out the following:
Martyrdom of an Empress, Marguerite Cunliffe-Owen, Countess du Platz
Sarah Bernhardt's First American Theatrical Tour, Patricia Marks
The Divine Sarah, Arthur Gold
My Double Life: The Memoirs of Sarah Bernhardt, Sarah Bernhardt
Spellbound: Studies on Mesmerism and Literature, Maria M. Tatar
Elegant Wits and Grand Horizontals, Cornelia Otis Skinner
Pleasures of the Belle Époque, Charles Rearick
That last one, by the way--I'm looking at the table of contents, and there's a chapter called "The Right to Be Lazy and to Enjoy." Testify!
I started by reading the first one on the list, the Empress Sissi book, and... well, turns out it was written in 1899. By one of Sissi's ladies-in-waiting. It is, shall we say, biased, and there are tons of things that historians could add that the Countess can't, even if she wanted to. It's extremely romanticized and sentimental--white-washed, even--although there was an interesting bit about Hungarian cowboys. (No, really.) So it's basically of more use as a cultural document--getting a feel for the Victorian-era voice, vocabulary, etc.--than it is for historical research. I knocked out about fifty pages before I flopped asleep last night sometime after midnight, but I think I'll move on to another book for the time being.
This is where I am going to take the opportunity to say: I hate library binding. For some reason, it always seems to be this ghetto '70s-colored olive green or burnt orange, the paper feels dusty, and the font is always hideous and oversized. I understand the durability factor, but it really, really, really makes me feel like I'm reading some cultural relic from the '50s ('70s binding notwithstanding) that's about to tell me how not to get my pearls in the cake batter (YOUR HUSBAND'S ALMOST HOME! DID YOU REMEMBER TO DUST??). Here's what really makes it lame: they still bind new books this way, too. Or at least they were in the mid-90s, when I stumbled across the entire oeuvre of Anne Rice bound in dirty moss green.
Hmm. First American Tour is short. And has a nice glossy paperback cover. I may read that first.