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review 2018-11-27 15:37
The Rambling World
The Blazing World and Other Writings - Margaret Cavendish,Kate Lilley

This edition contains three Texts by Cavendish, but I skipped both The Contract and Assaulted and Pursued Chasity and only read The Description of a New World, Called The Blazing World from 1666, the one and only text of its kind written by a 17th century authoress. It is a mixture of what I perceive as a fairy tale, utopian fiction, romance, „scientific“ speculation and a little bit of meta science fiction elements thrown into it with a very peculiar punctuation and way too few paragraph breaks.


The story itself was okay, the ramblings about natural philosophy and alchemy were extremely tedious and way too long, but the part where the protagonist Empress starts to hang out with the author of the book (her „platonic“ bestie) woke me up again. I would have loved the Empress to prefer the zombie army over the submarines to conquer the world she originally came from, but well, I guess the 17th century was a bit too early for a zombie hype.

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review 2018-06-12 13:47
My one-hundred and fourth podcast is up!
 Margaret Cavendish: Gender, Science and Politics - Lisa M. Walters

My latest podcast is up on the New Books Network! In it I interview Lisa Walters about her study of the thought of the 17th century writer and philosopher Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Enjoy!

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text 2014-12-29 20:35
Books I Read and REALLY Liked in 2014

I've been enjoying everyone's end of year summings up (in various fun forms) and thinking on making one of my own - and I couldn't quite come up with a way to rank anything. Which is I suppose what happens when you end up reading a variety of random things. Anyway, there's no order to this - except I have a particular fondness for the first book mentioned. History wins out this year, which isn't always the case.


Annoyingly all my favorite reads have also been the ones that I haven't written reviews for. (Except one!) But I think I can explain that! (There's a trend of laziness too, but we'll ignore that bit.)


[Jan 2, 2015: Since this has been linked at booklikes I thought I should add - a few of these are much more academic than others and have what I'd call "some dryer patches" reading-wise. Mad Madge in particular. I'll go into more detail when I review them, and add links to this. In this list I was more focused on how the book impacted me personally - I usually post more info as to readability in my reviews to give readers a head's up. Which is usually why I go quote-happy.]



Mad Madge: The Extraordinary Life of Margaret, Duchess of Newcastle, the First Woman to Live by Her Pen

by Katie Whitaker


This book was the perfect sort for the mood I was in - but it also requires a bit of backstory. So about a year ago I started the fun process of getting divorced, and it turns out that ends up effecting everything, even things you'd not thought over. Like what you enjoy reading.


Madge is Margaret Cavendish, and she gradually realizes that not only does she enjoy writing, but that it's important to her. And she wants to publish a book. Noble women of her day did NOT do this. They especially did not do this without asking their husbands first. Margaret did both. The author spends a good bit of text quoting what contemporary men and women felt about women authors (and educated women) - not much of which is positive. And because I've read enough fiction, this looked like the ol' set up of Woman Tells Husband Her Big Secret and He Reacts Badly. (I always have hated the Big Misunderstanding/Disagreement trope.) Here's the fun part - in reality William Cavendish was not upset, and in fact was extremely proud of his wife and wents on to brag about her to anyone and everyone he knew (and some no doubt rolled their eyes a good deal). Theirs was also a love match, and there's a chapter that's full of some of the love poems he wrote to her.

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text 2014-03-20 19:42
Bookish Update: Mad Madge - The "But I Don't Want To Finish It" Book Moment
Mad Madge: The Extraordinary Life of Margaret, Duchess of Newcastle, the First Woman to Live by Her Pen - Katie Whitaker
Charles Addams: A Cartoonist's Life - Linda H. Davis,Charles Addams

  I really love this history book. It's very much a historical biography, in that this is a person living in the 1600s and there's always going to be a lack of complete biographical material compared to people who lived centuries later. But somehow I've really fallen in love with the Margaret in this book, even when I recognize the facts that would make her a pain in the ass to deal with on a daily basis. Once I reached the part where she and her husband are aging and there are issues with inheritance, etc. - I had to set the book aside for a week or so. Not because it'd become boring, but because I'm still happy with my idea of Margaret and don't want to have to imagine the eventual loss of her husband (and how that will effect her life, not to mention the whole "will she have enough money to live on") and then her own death. I'll probably finish off the last few chapters this weekend - they're not long. But this is one of those "I don't want to read about the sadder parts" where I switch from one book to another.


    Last time I did this - or that I immediately remember - was with the biography of Charles Addams, a book I really enjoyed for all the weird anecdotes about his life. Until I got to the part about his ex-wife constantly trying to wheedle away his copyrights and money from him. And Addams kept giving in to because he didn't like conflict. That annoyed me to the point where that book sat on a shelf multiple weeks. (Ever want to reach into a book and grab a person, shake them and say "stop doing that!!!" - ?! I wanted to do that to both Addams and the ex.) I only went back to the book after I'd looked up in the index to the last entry for the ex-wife in hope that'd she'd die off. Oh and a gossipy aside - this is the ex-wife who had outrageous/ridiculous demands for the production of the Addams Family movie - and dealing with her made multiple people in Hollywood very crazy. She (and her demands) was why production took longer than expected. Because yes, Addams had signed all the Addams Family rights over to the ex-wife.


On a happier note I'm going to quote a lot about Margaret and her husband when I get to the review, because they're an extremely loving couple. That we still have some of the love poems her husband wrote to her is kind of amazing, considering that they're over 360 years old.

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review 2014-03-20 00:00
The Blazing World and Other Writings
The Blazing World and Other Writings - Margaret Cavendish,Kate Lilley Acknowledgements
Introduction & Notes
Note on this Edition
Works by Margaret Cavendish
Further Reading

From Nature's Pictures (1656)
--'The Contract'
--'Assaulted and Pursued Chastity'

--The Description of a New World, Called The Blazing World (1666)

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