I was amused by a couple of bookish connections in the last couple of days. First, in the Christmas chapters of Orley Farm, Anthony Trollope wrote about children "who could not hurry fast enough into the vortex of its dissipations." That made me laugh, not just with the eager children, but because it reminded me of Jane Austen. In gently critiquing the novel her niece Anna was writing, Austen wrote,
Devereaux Forester's being ruined by his Vanity is extremely good; but I wish you would not let him plunge into a "vortex of Dissipation". I do not object to the Thing, but I cannot bear the expression; - it is such thorough novel slang - and so old, that I dare say Adam met with it in the first novel he opened... (Letter, Sept. 28, 1814)Trollope uses a similar phrase later in the book, "a vortex of ruin and misery." He was a big fan of Austen's novels, but he died two years before the first edition of her letters was published, so he could not have seen this. I wonder what he would have thought of her advice to a fellow author.
Second, have you ever had a quotation from a book niggling away in the back of your mind? It drives me crazy, until I can pin it down. From the massive biography of William Lloyd Garrison, I learned that Louisa May Alcott's father Bronson was a supporter of Garrison's work, and that her maternal uncle Samuel May was one of his closest friends and allies. I knew that there was at least one reference to Garrison in Alcott's novels, but I could not for the life of me track it down in the nine I own. I came across one completely by accident in Rose in Bloom, while trying to find a different quote about obligatory Christmas presents.
[Rose's] heroes ceased to be the world's favorites; and became such as Garrison fighting for his chosen people; Howe, restoring lost senses to the deaf, the dumb, the blind; Sumner, unbribable, when other men were bought and sold; and many a large-hearted woman working as quietly as Abby Gibbons, who for thirty years has made Christmas merry for two hundred little paupers in a city almshouse, beside saving Magdalens and teaching convicts.Oh, the satisfaction of tracking down an elusive quote! (Being more of a print reader, it never occurred to me until just now that I could easily search the digital editions of her books.)
Third, Melanie posted something from Little House on the Prairie in her Christmas greetings. It mentions little heart-shaped cakes that Mary and Laura find in their Christmas stockings, along with a tin cup and a stick of striped candy each. Every time I read about the Ingalls' family Christmases, I am struck by how grateful they were, for so little. Anyway, the mention of the cakes sent me off to find my copy of The Little House Cookbook, which includes a recipe for the cakes.
|My copy has the same style cover as the books themselves - the familiar yellow.|
Leafing through this, with all the familiar Garth Williams illustrations, has made me want to pull the books off the shelf again - and also bake some little cakes. They're made with lard, though, and I'm wondering if I can substitute shortening.
Finally, I only received one book for Christmas (not counting the one I bought myself, which hasn't arrived yet). It's one I've been wanting to read for a while:
I hope you are all enjoying the holiday weekend. Going back to work tomorrow will be a bit of shock, I have to say.