To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis is simply brilliant. It is a must-read for historians, English majors*, and time-travel enthusiasts. Ned Henry, a twenty-first century historian, suffers from an advanced case of time-lag. His prescription: two weeks’ uninterrupted bed rest, but he isn’t going to find it in this century. Instead, he is sent back to 1888 to escape the demanding Lady Schrapnell and, hopefully, recover. While he’s there (then?), he meets the calamity, communes with the Other Side, encounters a swan and the forerunner of Jeeves, and becomes one of three men in a boat, to say nothing of the dog. Or the cat. If you wish to ruminate on Waterloo, know the origin of jumble sales, the most hideous and indestructible object, or the identity of Mr. C, then read on. This may very well be the cleverest comedy you ever read. By the end you truly will believe (and cringe) that, “God is in the details.”
My only complaint is that in the entirety of this well-researched, historically sensitive book, Willis failed to accurately present a page’s worth of dialogue in Middle English. The rest of the book, however, redeems this fault. Kelly rates it a 9.5/10.0 on ‘the well-established grounds that if you do not think it is funny, you are not a human.’
In other news, I went to see Peter Pan performed in the castle on Monday. Pictures can be seen here. I had my last Arthurian Legend class yesterday, which is slightly sad, though I must admit that my patience was waning in regards to one or two of my classmates. I will be writing my essay on Sir Gawain in English folk romances, a topic of which I doubt anyone is surprised. My other essay will be on the idealization of chivalry and its relationship to kingship, and I am less confident about it. I have 2.5 weeks to write both of these essays.
I have turned in my PhD application and have accepted the offer of a room to live with the Keddie’s and their kitties (to say nothing of the dog). I have also done half of my to-do list for today, and it’s not yet lunch time, so I am going to have some tea and resume what hopes to be a productive day.
* Why do historians have a noun whereas those who study literature do not? Are we literary critics? (That sounds like we post reviews, and not study literature academically.) Litterateurs? Literati?