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IlanaSimons
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Gender

[ Edited ]
Gender

Leonora’s an icy woman who believes in high morals. Edward’s a sentimental guy who’s not quite moral. Can you say anything about how gender and morality are cast in this book so far?

Does sentimentality lead us astray from ethics?

Message Edited by IlanaSimons on 02-02-200712:21 PM




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Re: Gender



IlanaSimons wrote:
Gender

Leonora’s an icy woman who believes in high morals. Edward’s a sentimental guy who’s not quite moral. Can you say anything about how gender and morality are cast in this book so far?

Does sentimentality lead us astray from ethics?

Message Edited by IlanaSimons on 02-02-200712:21 PM






Are they? Or is this all that we have to go on, thanks to 'the American'? I'm not sure I feel prepared to comment on other characters, since I haven't yet parsed out exactly what is what concerning the narrator. I do know that I keep laughing at Edward, his red face and his Teddy Roosevelt portraiture.
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Re: Gender

I took Leonora's icy behavior in account from a few factors, first of all her marriage is arranged - so it is unclear that she was ever very attracted to her husband. She was simply doing what she was supposed to do by marrying Edward.
Secondly the time period, the turn of the century and when Modernism was really starting to take off a bit. The Bloomsberg group may not have had the same impact back than as they do now after the fact. She may not have exposed herself to much outside of her realm.

I think I tended to favor Leonora because in some ways I felt sorry that she could accept living like that. Women though were always held in higher esteem in regards to morality and there has been less emphasis on the men holding their morals up than women.

Gender as I can tell thus far (not finished the book yet); plays a role in how far you will see a character go. Much like her upbringing I doubt I am going to see Leonora flying off the deep end anytime soon, she remains proper and well kept. Though the book is narrated by a man and written by one so it may have a tilt more to the favor of a masculine touch in how the women may end up. Tough to say at this point.
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Re: Gender



KT32 wrote:
Women though were always held in higher esteem in regards to morality and there has been less emphasis on the men holding their morals up than women.




Very interesting post. I also like your Bloomsbury comment: that the English Leonora is more proper than the American Florence.
You also suggest that women in this book have a particularly high expectation to look moral, and struggle to fulfill that role.



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Re: Gender



IlanaSimons wrote:
Can you say anything about how gender and morality are cast in this book so far?

What morality? :smileyhappy:
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Re: Gender

[ Edited ]

Everyman wrote:


IlanaSimons wrote:
Can you say anything about how gender and morality are cast in this book so far?

What morality? :smileyhappy:




yeah...it's a strange book, isn't it? He's so _angry_ about a lost morality. That's a feature of modernism in here: The protagonist has a big sense that an old moral order is gone. (I know how much you hate the literary "isms," Everyman; I just still wanna say it, because the loss of the old moral order is such a big theme.)
But as Dowell keeps complaining about immorality, his pain looks so bitter. He's acrid, snakelike.

Message Edited by IlanaSimons on 02-07-200706:27 PM




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Re: Gender

Women have always been in charge of the moral ground in the household. Catholicism requires woman, Catholic or not, to raise the children as Catholics, thus leading to L's decision. Women are the 'nurture to nature', nature in this case to be having affairs without regard to others. E is not moral and society does not actually require too much morality of him. He just must present himself as honourable. The appearance of what is morality as practiced by E dupes Dowell and is amazing. Is it really possible for someone to be so dim?
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Leonora - POSSIBLE SPOILER

"Leonora’s an icy woman who believes in high morals."

I don't find Leonora "icy". She had no control over the hand she was dealt. I think she did the best she possibly could in the situation she found herself in. As to her high morals, if that is the way she was brought up, then I would expect her to try to maintain a similar level of morality. Her seeking marital advice from so-called "spiritual advisors", while seemingly misdirected, should be considered in the context of what her options were. She probably appeared "above it all" because there was no one that [in her estimation] she could trust and let down her guard for. Though her reactions to certain situations may seem to be elevated emotionally, consider how much she had to deal with and how long she continued to struggle with problems unaided. She married a fool and had to go so far as taking complete control of financial matters in order to avoid ruin. And she managed to build that fortune up to its original value, which says alot about her abilities. Maybe she didn't want to be so "closed up"; she certainly seemed to be able to adjust to a relatively normal marital and family life at the end.
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jd as dim



jd wrote:.... E dupes Dowell and is amazing. Is it really possible for someone to be so dim?




Didn't you meet people like him IRL? They are plenty of them around!
Moreover, have you ever met an autistic adult who tries to live a normal life?

No mam, I definitely feel that I need to be on his side to get this book right. That doesn't mean I need to agree with him.

ziki
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Re: Dowell as dim

Hope you did not really mean I was dim, or my secret is out too early :smileyhappy: I suppose IRL there are autistic adults who are normal acting, but then their autism would not be noticeable and I could not tell that they were autistic. I feel Dowell is Nero with his violin watching Rome burn and he keeps playing.
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Re: Dowell as dim

[ Edited ]

jd wrote:
Hope you did not really mean I was dim, or my secret is out too early :smileyhappy: I suppose IRL there are autistic adults who are normal acting, but then their autism would not be noticeable and I could not tell that they were autistic. I feel Dowell is Nero with his violin watching Rome burn and he keeps playing.




Jeezus, I saw it first now...sorry, sorry, how embarrassing. I meant jd as John Dowell...or it was my freudian slip and then you are innocent anyhow.

I said autistic because I was so perplexed by his lack of feeling and involvement. To be honest I must say that days after I finished the book I am still trying to digest that character and find some ways to approach the story. Dowell was a pretty shocking acquintance.

Ziki

Message Edited by ziki on 02-15-200709:35 PM

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Re: Dowell as dim

that's a pretty funny slipup.
I really get your autism comment, Ziki.
Interestingly, we made a similar comment about Kafka in last month's club--that Kafka's Metamorphosis is characterized by a certain intertia, a head-trapped claustrophobia, a character's clinging to his own language as opposed to intimacy.
I think the books are linked by an anxiety about normal relationships (hence the autism link: autism as the inability to get the other person's perspective).
You get the same tone, amped up, in Dostoevsky's Notes From Underground.




ziki wrote:

jd wrote:
Hope you did not really mean I was dim, or my secret is out too early :smileyhappy: I suppose IRL there are autistic adults who are normal acting, but then their autism would not be noticeable and I could not tell that they were autistic. I feel Dowell is Nero with his violin watching Rome burn and he keeps playing.




Jeezus, I saw it first now...sorry, sorry, how embarrassing. I meant jd as John Dowell...or it was my freudian slip and then you are innocent anyhow.

I said autistic because I was so perplexed by his lack of feeling and involvement. To be honest I must say that days after I finished the book I am still trying to digest that character and find some ways to approach the story. Dowell was a pretty shocking acquintance.

Ziki

Message Edited by ziki on 02-15-200709:35 PM







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dostoyevsky



IlanaSimons wrote:You get the same tone, amped up, in Dostoevsky's Notes From Underground.






I am looking forward to that one. I've received the book today and was perplexed by how slim the volume was. I guess its impact is not :-D.

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Re: dostoyevsky

[ Edited ]
It is a super little read and I find myself laughing a lot, which is a welcome respite from some of the books we have been discussing:smileyhappy: It is very reminiscent of Kafka but much more tongue in cheek IMO.

As for sizes of books, I think it is interesting to note that three of the books we are discussing, Utopia, Notes from and Kafka, are slim volumes which have made a great impact on literature and perhaps on society itself. Proving that not everything has to be whale size to be a good meal.:smileyhappy:




ziki wrote:


IlanaSimons wrote:You get the same tone, amped up, in Dostoevsky's Notes From Underground.






I am looking forward to that one. I've received the book today and was perplexed by how slim the volume was. I guess its impact is not :-D.

ziki


Message Edited by Choisya on 02-16-200706:35 AM

Message Edited by Choisya on 02-16-200706:36 AM

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Re: dostoyevsky

[ Edited ]

Choisya wrote:
It is a super little read and I find myself laughing a lot, which is a welcome respite from some of the books we have been discussing:smileyhappy: It is very reminiscent of Kafka but much more tongue in cheek IMO.

As for sizes of books, I think it is interesting to note that three of the books we are discussing, Utopia, Notes from and Kafka, are slim volumes which have made a great impact on literature and perhaps on society itself. Proving that not everything has to be whale size to be a good meal.:smileyhappy:




ziki wrote:


IlanaSimons wrote:You get the same tone, amped up, in Dostoevsky's Notes From Underground.






I am looking forward to that one. I've received the book today and was perplexed by how slim the volume was. I guess its impact is not :-D.

ziki


Message Edited by Choisya on 02-16-200706:35 AM

Message Edited by Choisya on 02-16-200706:36 AM






About Dostoevsky: We'll be reading The Double, which is part of the B&N classic book containing Notes from Underground and The Double. I'm sorry if you ordered only Notes From Underground. If so, that's my fault in communication, and I owe you some cash. I think Notes from Underground is just _too_ reminiscent of this claustrophobic/autistic tone, and The Double will open us up a bit, with some character depth/humor.
(That's for March.)
The Double is also a short book (170 pgs) with big historical importance. There are so many echoes here, from Frankenstein to Kafka to Jekyll&Hyde etc..

Message Edited by IlanaSimons on 02-17-200708:14 AM




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Re: dostoyevsky



IlanaSimons wrote: We'll be reading The Double, which is part of the B&N classic book containing Notes from Underground and The Double. I'm sorry if you ordered only Notes From Underground.



No problem, not your fault. I exhange it.
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Re: Leonora - POSSIBLE SPOILER



ELee wrote:
"Leonora’s an icy woman who believes in high morals."

I don't find Leonora "icy". She had no control over the hand she was dealt. I think she did the best she possibly could in the situation she found herself in. As to her high morals, if that is the way she was brought up, then I would expect her to try to maintain a similar level of morality. Her seeking marital advice from so-called "spiritual advisors", while seemingly misdirected, should be considered in the context of what her options were. She probably appeared "above it all" because there was no one that [in her estimation] she could trust and let down her guard for. Though her reactions to certain situations may seem to be elevated emotionally, consider how much she had to deal with and how long she continued to struggle with problems unaided. She married a fool and had to go so far as taking complete control of financial matters in order to avoid ruin. And she managed to build that fortune up to its original value, which says alot about her abilities. Maybe she didn't want to be so "closed up"; she certainly seemed to be able to adjust to a relatively normal marital and family life at the end.




I wish I could take her into defense as you do but I just can't. I can see the desperate core in her but that vulnerability she will NEVER admit to. To me she is a pathetic manipulative bitch, impaired when it comes to her own feelings and captured in the pretense game. She can't even speak honestly to Edward who is her husband. She is passive and waits until Edward will come to her! but OTH does everything in her power to keep him at bay. She's not willing to adjust to the "married situation" and cut him some slack, she wants only to have her own way and pretty much castrates him. It was she who took Edward to Monte Carlo and her plan backfired. To say that she tries to fix the finances because he is careless and had an affair is a mild exageration. She got herself into the fix, deliberately trying to manipulate Edward's feelings instead of taking responsibility for her own. That is such an ugly ancient female game. She is not an irresponsible victim of Edwards games! She runs the whole show herself and makes it look as if she were the greatest victim of circumstances. She can't make up her own mind and allows herself (her life) to be guided by others, in her case the priests. What they give her is not a sound councel and spiritual advice but dirty tricks. I find her appaling, tragic and her power misdirected. Unfortunately she is a prototype of a controling, estranged and unhappy wife. There are plenty of them around even today, shadows wearing the same psychological frock, sanctioned by the feminist movement that went awry.

(I am not saying a feminist movement is wrong in itself. I say it can be misused, misunderstood and at the end actually hamper the femininity and the nature of a woman. But that is another thread.)

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Re: Dowell as dim

Ziki, no offense taken, jd
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Re: Leonora - POSSIBLE SPOILER


ELee wrote:
"Leonora’s an icy woman who believes in high morals."

I don't find Leonora "icy". She had no control over the hand she was dealt. I think she did the best she possibly could in the situation she found herself in. As to her high morals, if that is the way she was brought up, then I would expect her to try to maintain a similar level of morality. Her seeking marital advice from so-called "spiritual advisors", while seemingly misdirected, should be considered in the context of what her options were. She probably appeared "above it all" because there was no one that [in her estimation] she could trust and let down her guard for. Though her reactions to certain situations may seem to be elevated emotionally, consider how much she had to deal with and how long she continued to struggle with problems unaided. She married a fool and had to go so far as taking complete control of financial matters in order to avoid ruin. And she managed to build that fortune up to its original value, which says alot about her abilities. Maybe she didn't want to be so "closed up"; she certainly seemed to be able to adjust to a relatively normal marital and family life at the end.



I agree with you, ELee.

I mark quotes of interest as I read, and in going back over the book, found a couple which have bearing on this question:

Dowell narrating: "I have not made you see that Leonora was a woman of a strong, cold conscience, like all English Catholics" (pg. 34, Dover Thrift edition).
It seems to me that Dowell (or maybe the author) is associating what he considers to be a characteristic of people of the Catholic religion with Leonora. I don't think Leonora is cold.

I think Dowell talking about what Leonora told him: "And Leonora had a vague sort of idea that, to a man, all women are the same after three weeks of close intercourse" (pg. 106, Dover Thrift edition).
This could support the idea that Leonora is cold toward men. I don't think it is a correct assumption about men, but, given her experiences, it seems to be true of Edward.

Leonora talking about Edward: "He can always make it right for everybody, except me --- excepting me" (pg. 136 Dover Thrift edition)!
Poor Leonora! I felt for her when I read this anguished exclamation. These are not the words of an icy woman. These are the words of a woman repeatedly hurt by her husband, a husband overly willing to acknowledge and help everyone, everyone except his wife.

I think that if Leonora comes across as icy, it is because she has become hardened by the emotional wounds repeatedly inflicted upon her by her husband.
Laura

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Re: Leonora - POSSIBLE SPOILER

Thank you Laura, for this affirmation.

You wrote:
"I think Dowell talking about what Leonora told him: "And Leonora had a vague sort of idea that, to a man, all women are the same after three weeks of close intercourse" (pg. 106, Dover Thrift edition).
This could support the idea that Leonora is cold toward men. I don't think it is a correct assumption about men, but, given her experiences, it seems to be true of Edward.

Leonora talking about Edward: "He can always make it right for everybody, except me --- excepting me" (pg. 136 Dover Thrift edition)!"

Even with all of Edward's other "relationships", I think that Leonora was really in love with her husband. If she did indeed believe that "all women are the same after three weeks...", then she certainly had the right to think that Edward might "come back" to her at some point. Her statement that he could make things right for everyone but her is really heart-wrenching, considering all she had to tolerate. The final disappointment of Edward choosing Nancy I believe to be the "straw that broke the camel's back". I don't think her demands were that unrealistic. After all, in the end she is again married to another man who [discreetly?] had affairs and yet she seems satisfied with her new situation.
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