Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Perhaps, like me, you have wondered about the temporal relationship between Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, and Anthony Trollope. In that case, the following will be of interest to you.

From Wikipedia:

Jane Austen (16 December 1775 – 18 July 1817) was an English novelist whose realism, biting social commentary and masterful use of free indirect speech, burlesque, and irony have earned her a place as one of the most widely read and most beloved writers in English literature.

Charles Dickens was born on 7 February 1812, in Landport, Portsmouth, in Hampshire, the second of eight children to John Dickens (1786–1851), a clerk in the Navy Pay Office at Portsmouth, and his wife, Elizabeth (née Barrow, 1789–1863).
...on 9 June 1870, he died at his home in Gad's Hill Place. He was mourned by all his readers.

Anthony Trollope ( 24 April 1815 – 6 December 1882 ) became one of the most successful, prolific and respected English novelists of the Victorian era.

So now you know, if you didn't before, that Jane Austen was writing in a period more or less following the Revolutionary War in America, while Dickens and Trollope were firmly established in their own writing careers during the American Civil War. These events leave little to no impression on the works of these authors, even though the histories of America and England were finely intertwoven throughout both events.

For good measure, let's include some more British authors:

Charlotte Brontë (21 April 1816 – 31 March 1855) was a British novelist, the eldest of the three famous Brontë sisters whose novels have become standards of English literature. Charlotte Brontë, who used the pen name Currer Bell, is best known for Jane Eyre, one of the most famous of English novels.

I find it interesting that even though the Bronte sisters were writing well after Jane Austen's literary success, they still felt it incumbent upon themselves to use masculine pen names.

William Makepeace Thackeray (18 July 1811 – 24 December 1863) was an English novelist of the 19th century. He was famous for his satirical works, particularly Vanity Fair, a panoramic portrait of English society.

I include Thackeray because I know that Charlotte Bronte and Anthony Trollope both admired him tremendously. And now I know, which I didn't before, how contemporary all of these authors, excepting only Jane Austen, were. I wonder, two hundred years from now, which of our popular writers who will continue to find audiences as these writers have done.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Nobody knows the trouble I've seen

You're a mom. You drop your son and daughter off at a birthday party.

Your son comes home with a big lump on his forehead. He's also hurt his leg. He is sobbing uncontrollably, telling you about the crazy kid at the party who scared him and chased him and beat him after he fell down. How bad do you feel? All night you watch over your son to make sure he's OK, and you promise yourself he'll never have to be anywhere near that crazy kid again.

You're a mom. You know your kid has problems with large groups of kids, so anywhere you take him you've always got one ear listening to the background noise, waiting for any trouble, hoping you can intervene before things get out of hand. In fact you get up to check a couple of times and just generally see how the playing is going on. SO YOU FRICKIN KNOW YOUR KID HAS NOT BEEN HARASSING ANYBODY. Oops, I guess you figured out which mom I am.

I'm the mom who had to listen to the other mom tell me how she felt irresponsible for having let her children go to a party when she knew my son would be there. (The horror!) Who had to sympathize when she told me, crying uncontrollably, that she always liked me, and she knows I'm doing the best I can, and she feels so bad that she just couldn't ever ask her kids to be anywhere where my son was. She just couldn't do that to them.

I'm the mom who stayed at the party. Who heard the other kids say that it wasn't my son's fault that this other boy was running without looking where he was going, tripped, fell down, and hit his head. Who saw that same boy, apparently recovered from his trauma, play a board game and eat birthday cake, all in the presence of my monster son. Who now knows that this mom is going to need to vent (just like I do) and is therefore going to be telling people what her son told her, no matter how exaggerated and unfair.

I have to say, I appreciate her honesty. I genuinely like this woman. Without meaning to make light of her son's experience, though, that bump on his forehead is going to go away. The words she and her family are going to say about my son are going to circulate around our small homeschool circle for years. People who already don't like my son are going to know they were always right not to like him. People who've never met him are going to think they know who he is, but they won't.

You know what? No matter how much that mom wishes she hadn't let her kids go to that party, I wish the same thing about mine. Only more. Way more.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

An addition to the lexicon

Courtesy of Maya.

Hufflegrumping: This is what a bird is doing when it ruffles up its feathers and looks cross.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Normally I have no use for lolcats

But I love this picture.
funny pictures of cats with captions

And since I'm dragging stuff over here, I like this one, too.
funny pictures of cats with captions