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IlanaSimons
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Catholicism, Country, and Class

[ Edited ]
Catholicism, Country, and Class

CATHOLICISM
One of the central themes of the book is a tension between Protestant and Catholic orientations to the world.
Ford Madox Ford says nasty things about Leonora’s Catholicism, but he was in fact a sort of Catholic in his own life.
What do you make of this tension?

One virtue of Leonora’s Catholicism is her ability to keep silent. At times the narrator admires this composure, but he’s also the one telling us all the nasty secrets throughout this drama. What do you think the book itself claims to be the virtues and flaws of silence?

COUNTRY
The narrator, Dowell, also makes a big deal about the difference between American and British personalities. Again we see Ford Madox Ford impersonating the opposite of what he was: Here's a Brit inhabiting the head of an American. How do you make sense of what he’s doing here?

CLASS
What role does class play so far in this book?

Does the book draw a connection between morality, intellect, and class?
Early in the book, the narrator told us that he had to keep his wife thinking about history, art, and information, to keep her away from real passions of the heart. But there also seems to be some isulation of class here.
What do you think the relationship between intellect and heart is in this book so far?

Message Edited by IlanaSimons on 02-02-200712:28 PM




Ilana
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prince_alfie
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Re: Catholicism, Country, and Class

Could Ford's take on Catholicism be similar to say, Roth's satire of Jewishness or Bellow's questioning of the Jewish mental state? I think that it's a good thing a member of the religion can step out of their own box once in awhile.
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Re: Catholicism, Country, and Class

As to class, J.D. makes it clear in discussing the Grand Duke that he, J.D., does not assign himself "with royalty" but does consider him and the others of the group as "good" people". Therefore, I think FMF is more concerned with manners/cultural endowment than frank class. He is elitist in a high middle class sort of way.
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cosmotrotter
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Re: Catholicism, Country, and Class



IlanaSimons wrote:
Catholicism, Country, and Class

CATHOLICISM
One of the central themes of the book is a tension between Protestant and Catholic orientations to the world.
Ford Madox Ford says nasty things about Leonora’s Catholicism, but he was in fact a sort of Catholic in his own life.
What do you make of this tension?

One virtue of Leonora’s Catholicism is her ability to keep silent. At times the narrator admires this composure, but he’s also the one telling us all the nasty secrets throughout this drama. What do you think the book itself claims to be the virtues and flaws of silence?

COUNTRY
The narrator, Dowell, also makes a big deal about the difference between American and British personalities. Again we see Ford Madox Ford impersonating the opposite of what he was: Here's a Brit inhabiting the head of an American. How do you make sense of what he’s doing here?

CLASS
What role does class play so far in this book?

Does the book draw a connection between morality, intellect, and class?
Early in the book, the narrator told us that he had to keep his wife thinking about history, art, and information, to keep her away from real passions of the heart. But there also seems to be some isulation of class here.
What do you think the relationship between intellect and heart is in this book so far?

Message Edited by IlanaSimons on 02-02-200712:28 PM






I'm not sure I agree with you that FMF says nasty things about Leonora's Catholicism - I think that our American narrator, a Pennsylvania Quaker who wants to be British, is disdainful of 'continental Catholics' but has a slightly more accepting view of the English Church and its famous split over divorce - not much, but slightly. Being Quaker, he should also be disdainful of classism, judgmental behavior, and so forth, but he clearly isn't, as he must jettison his origins in his yearnings to be a member of the British leisure class. He says he has to take cold baths in the morning, etc, when he'd rather do the opposite. In other words, we are listening to an individual who would throw out even life's simple pleasures just to feel included in a hierarchical segment that will never truly accept him, that probably keeps him around for entertainment (like Larry and Gerry Durrell and their animal menagerie on Corfu), and that reveals a shallowness with no core. What FMF thought, floating over all of this, is another question altogether.
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Choisya
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Re: Catholicism, Country, and Class

Nice insightful post cosmotrotter - I see that in your absence you have not lost your form!:smileyhappy:



cosmotrotter wrote:


IlanaSimons wrote:
Catholicism, Country, and Class

CATHOLICISM
One of the central themes of the book is a tension between Protestant and Catholic orientations to the world.
Ford Madox Ford says nasty things about Leonora’s Catholicism, but he was in fact a sort of Catholic in his own life.
What do you make of this tension?

One virtue of Leonora’s Catholicism is her ability to keep silent. At times the narrator admires this composure, but he’s also the one telling us all the nasty secrets throughout this drama. What do you think the book itself claims to be the virtues and flaws of silence?

COUNTRY
The narrator, Dowell, also makes a big deal about the difference between American and British personalities. Again we see Ford Madox Ford impersonating the opposite of what he was: Here's a Brit inhabiting the head of an American. How do you make sense of what he’s doing here?

CLASS
What role does class play so far in this book?

Does the book draw a connection between morality, intellect, and class?
Early in the book, the narrator told us that he had to keep his wife thinking about history, art, and information, to keep her away from real passions of the heart. But there also seems to be some isulation of class here.
What do you think the relationship between intellect and heart is in this book so far?

Message Edited by IlanaSimons on 02-02-200712:28 PM






I'm not sure I agree with you that FMF says nasty things about Leonora's Catholicism - I think that our American narrator, a Pennsylvania Quaker who wants to be British, is disdainful of 'continental Catholics' but has a slightly more accepting view of the English Church and its famous split over divorce - not much, but slightly. Being Quaker, he should also be disdainful of classism, judgmental behavior, and so forth, but he clearly isn't, as he must jettison his origins in his yearnings to be a member of the British leisure class. He says he has to take cold baths in the morning, etc, when he'd rather do the opposite. In other words, we are listening to an individual who would throw out even life's simple pleasures just to feel included in a hierarchical segment that will never truly accept him, that probably keeps him around for entertainment (like Larry and Gerry Durrell and their animal menagerie on Corfu), and that reveals a shallowness with no core. What FMF thought, floating over all of this, is another question altogether.


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IlanaSimons
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Re: Catholicism, Country, and Class



cosmotrotter wrote: I'm not sure I agree with you that FMF says nasty things about Leonora's Catholicism



You're right that Dowell is more often sympathetic to the tight-lipped Catholic manner than Edward and Florence's looser (passionate, "sick"-hearted) ways. I was mainly thinking of a spot in which Dowell _says_ he doesn't like Leonora's Catholicism: "I confess that I do not like your religion. But I like you intensely" (59).
The fact is--as you say--this guy _is_ himself a highly reserved person who treasures restraint. Later he says that "Catholics, who always have reservation and queer spots of secrecy, can manage these things better.... She was a Catholic--of a people that can think thoughts alien to ours and keep them to themselves" (111).



Ilana
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cosmotrotter
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Re: Catholicism, Country, and Class



IlanaSimons wrote:


cosmotrotter wrote: I'm not sure I agree with you that FMF says nasty things about Leonora's Catholicism



You're right that Dowell is more often sympathetic to the tight-lipped Catholic manner than Edward and Florence's looser (passionate, "sick"-hearted) ways. br>

Exactly. I think I was making a differentiation between FMF and Dowell - when Dowell says something to us, it's not necessarily FMF saying it.
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Everyman
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Re: Catholicism, Country, and Class

...our American narrator, a Pennsylvania Quaker who wants to be British,...

As one raised a Pennsylvania Quaker, who has attended meetings in the Arch Street Meetinghouse Ford mentions, I can say that Dowell's representation of Pennsylvania Quakerism is very far off the mark of what I know of Pennsylvania Quakerism.

I don't want to get into a religious discussion here, but readers should be aware that this representation of Dowell as a PQ is questionable at best.

I am sort of wondering, as I read, why Ford bothered to present Dowell in this light at all. But I'm not finished the book yet (we're still only on day four of the book club, after all!), and I don't remember enough from my first reading decades ago to have any opinion, so I'll wait and see whether there was any meaningful reason for this representation.
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Re: Catholicism, Country, and Class



Everyman wrote:
...our American narrator, a Pennsylvania Quaker who wants to be British,...

As one raised a Pennsylvania Quaker, who has attended meetings in the Arch Street Meetinghouse Ford mentions, I can say that Dowell's representation of Pennsylvania Quakerism is very far off the mark of what I know of Pennsylvania Quakerism.

I don't want to get into a religious discussion here, but readers should be aware that this representation of Dowell as a PQ is questionable at best.

I am sort of wondering, as I read, why Ford bothered to present Dowell in this light at all. But I'm not finished the book yet (we're still only on day four of the book club, after all!), and I don't remember enough from my first reading decades ago to have any opinion, so I'll wait and see whether there was any meaningful reason for this representation.




Thank you for this post. I have wondered why Dowell was a PQ. I look forward to any insight you can give, if any, regarding this.
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Choisya
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Re: Catholicism, Country, and Class

Thanks Everyman. In what way does the interpretation differ from the Quakers you know?
And how does Pennsylvania Quakerism differ from other Quakerism?




Everyman wrote:
...our American narrator, a Pennsylvania Quaker who wants to be British,...

As one raised a Pennsylvania Quaker, who has attended meetings in the Arch Street Meetinghouse Ford mentions, I can say that Dowell's representation of Pennsylvania Quakerism is very far off the mark of what I know of Pennsylvania Quakerism.

I don't want to get into a religious discussion here, but readers should be aware that this representation of Dowell as a PQ is questionable at best.

I am sort of wondering, as I read, why Ford bothered to present Dowell in this light at all. But I'm not finished the book yet (we're still only on day four of the book club, after all!), and I don't remember enough from my first reading decades ago to have any opinion, so I'll wait and see whether there was any meaningful reason for this representation.


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cosmotrotter
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Re: Catholicism, Country, and Class

While we wait for his response, Choisya, I'll say what I know/think, which may be all off course.

In my understanding, the PQs in the states are sort of the original Quakers. Much of Abolitionist thought came from these congregations. They were pretty egalitarian, pro-gender-equality, hardworking, socially conscious, and quietly supportive of the common good in various aspects of life - as a principle (this, of course, is over-generalizing).

Dowell, then, wouldn't seem very Quaker.
Nixon doesn't either, for that matter, but he thought he was...
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quaker wiki link

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Re: Off Topic



cosmotrotter wrote:
WDowell, then, wouldn't seem very Quaker.
Nixon doesn't either, for that matter, but he thought he was...



Nixon was read out of his meeting, which is the Quaker equivalent of excommunication.
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Choisya
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Re: Catholicism, Country, and Class

Thanks cosmotrotter but what do you mean by the 'original Quakers'? The Friends were founded in England by Fox and others in the 1650s so do you mean that Pennsylvania was where the immigrant Quakers first settled or that the PQs kept to the original principles?




cosmotrotter wrote:
While we wait for his response, Choisya, I'll say what I know/think, which may be all off course.

In my understanding, the PQs in the states are sort of the original Quakers. Much of Abolitionist thought came from these congregations. They were pretty egalitarian, pro-gender-equality, hardworking, socially conscious, and quietly supportive of the common good in various aspects of life - as a principle (this, of course, is over-generalizing).

Dowell, then, wouldn't seem very Quaker.
Nixon doesn't either, for that matter, but he thought he was...


jd
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jd
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Re: Catholicism, Country, and Class

I think the tension is superimposed over the "real" relationship of the four people involved in the affair and coverup of the affair. Catholicism only allows a woman to marry once unless her husband dies. Quakers are called friends which is so appropriate for Dowell, for he is a friend to all concerned including his wife.

Dowel does think that English people are superior. He travels Europe and is wealthy but still manages to fall in love with a trollop. Edward marries a nice Catholic girl who is virtuous and quiet and allows him to have numerous affairs.

Still thinking the heart issue, jd
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cosmotrotter
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Re: Catholicism, Country, and Class

Choisya,
In fact, I think I mean neither, though you could probably convince me otherwise. :smileywink: I was writing with the intent of "they were the first Qs in America"... From that, you could logically extend to your two thoughts, which I might have continued to think if I had continued thinking.


Choisya wrote:
Thanks cosmotrotter but what do you mean by the 'original Quakers'? The Friends were founded in England by Fox and others in the 1650s so do you mean that Pennsylvania was where the immigrant Quakers first settled or that the PQs kept to the original principles?




cosmotrotter wrote:
While we wait for his response, Choisya, I'll say what I know/think, which may be all off course.

In my understanding, the PQs in the states are sort of the original Quakers. Much of Abolitionist thought came from these congregations. They were pretty egalitarian, pro-gender-equality, hardworking, socially conscious, and quietly supportive of the common good in various aspects of life - as a principle (this, of course, is over-generalizing).

Dowell, then, wouldn't seem very Quaker.
Nixon doesn't either, for that matter, but he thought he was...





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Re: Catholicism, Country, and Class

CATHOLICISM
Virtues and flaws of silence... I am Roman Catholic. The religion has changed so much from when I was in Catholic school (I'm now 34 years old). I remember feeling so guilty all the time, I was always going to end up in Purgatory! But today it's easy to get an annulment in most congregations.

Leonora, with one small exception (when she first met Florence) kept her mouth shut and continued to support her husband through his extra-marital relationships. It was virtuous of her to try to hold her marriage together and try to save Edward's reputation with her silence but not flawless because in the end it made the situation more painful for Dowell.

COUNTRY
Maybe I'm wrong here, but it seems that many Europeans find the American people in general as loud mouthed, overweight and self-centered (I've been to both Italy and France over the past year and made some friends). Has it always been like this? Is it possible that Dowell was trying to portray an American who agreed with this sentiment? He wanted his audience to believe that even Americans felt Americans were obnoxious in public? I'm remembering here their first dinner together wherein both Dowell and Florence made some loud and somewhat embarassing comments for all to hear.

CLASS
The main characters are wealthy - supposedly making them upper class. Yet the characters with the strongest morals seem to be Maisie the maid and Nancy the domestically abused, abandoned and adopted child. The more money you have the more reckless you behave? The more intellect, the less heart?

Dowell seemed worried about his wife's heart condition, therefore he was afraid to let her enjoy her intellect - which seems to be what she really wanted to do (in addition to cheating on her husband)! Florence, in a sense, condemned herself with the exaggerated heart condition as it caused Dowell to limit her fun and intervene in her affairs.
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Re: Catholicism, Country, and Class

Great post, KathleenVitale

I'm interested in the last part. You make a great point: that the lower classes seem less degraded. But Dowell himself seems classist--valuing erudition as a way to fend off harmful passions. e.g. his respect for Leonora's stiff demeanor.
Where does the book itself seem to stand on this issue for you? Classist? Not?
i.e. is the book just simplifying/romanticizing the lower classes in portraying Maisie and Nancy's purity?




KathleenVitale wrote:
CATHOLICISM
Virtues and flaws of silence... I am Roman Catholic. The religion has changed so much from when I was in Catholic school (I'm now 34 years old). I remember feeling so guilty all the time, I was always going to end up in Purgatory! But today it's easy to get an annulment in most congregations.

Leonora, with one small exception (when she first met Florence) kept her mouth shut and continued to support her husband through his extra-marital relationships. It was virtuous of her to try to hold her marriage together and try to save Edward's reputation with her silence but not flawless because in the end it made the situation more painful for Dowell.

COUNTRY
Maybe I'm wrong here, but it seems that many Europeans find the American people in general as loud mouthed, overweight and self-centered (I've been to both Italy and France over the past year and made some friends). Has it always been like this? Is it possible that Dowell was trying to portray an American who agreed with this sentiment? He wanted his audience to believe that even Americans felt Americans were obnoxious in public? I'm remembering here their first dinner together wherein both Dowell and Florence made some loud and somewhat embarassing comments for all to hear.

CLASS
The main characters are wealthy - supposedly making them upper class. Yet the characters with the strongest morals seem to be Maisie the maid and Nancy the domestically abused, abandoned and adopted child. The more money you have the more reckless you behave? The more intellect, the less heart?

Dowell seemed worried about his wife's heart condition, therefore he was afraid to let her enjoy her intellect - which seems to be what she really wanted to do (in addition to cheating on her husband)! Florence, in a sense, condemned herself with the exaggerated heart condition as it caused Dowell to limit her fun and intervene in her affairs.





Ilana
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jd
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jd
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Re: Catholicism, Country, and Class

During the time Ford wrote the book was it possible to not be classist? Isn't it always more honorable to be poor, because there is less opportunity to buy a way out of less than honorable situations, such as L's coverup for E repeatedly. E has only honor that can be purchased and maisy and nancy are truly innocents.
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IlanaSimons
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Re: Catholicism, Country, and Class

[ Edited ]

jd wrote:
During the time Ford wrote the book was it possible to not be classist?



Good point. I wouldn't want to hold him to inappropriate standards, but erudition and money seem so important in his sense of safety and importance.

Message Edited by IlanaSimons on 02-15-200712:54 PM




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