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marcialou
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Literary Highlights

I thought we might use this thread to note passages that we especially enjoyed. I’ll start with the image of the naked Maria Antonia being reborn as Marie Antoinette.

The sky blue silk of my discarded skirt wreathes my ankles, and I fancy I am standing barefooted in a puddle of pretty water…The bare ends of my toes yet touch the blue silk of Austria, puddled on the floor around my feet… It is the littlest toenail of the most little toe on the left foot that lastly brushes the fabric of the House of Hapsburg.

“She’s like Venus rising from the sea” my Austrian attendant exclaims.

This lovely, wistful word picture makes a nice counterpoint to the passages where she describes her sorrow for leaving home and her eager but nervous anticipation for what lies ahead.

Marcia
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SenaJeterNaslund
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Re: Literary Highlights

It's really enlightening for me as a writer to know what passages especially engaged readers, either becuase they were moving, or exciting, or evocative, or for whatever reason. Do tell!
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Re: In the Garden: A Dragon

On pages 110-2 of the hardback (In the Garden : A Dragon), I noticed that Sena used the imagery of the dragon water fountain and the dogs to describe how MA was feeling.

“No. The question is whether I shall strangle on bitterness or shame. People say I am pretty and have great charm, but to my husband I am more hideous than a dragon. I want to throw back my head and spout up my misery. I want to be torn apart by dogs.” (pg. 112)

I have been on the lookout for more imagery that ties to MA’s feelings since I read this!
Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
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marcialou
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Re: In the Garden: A Dragon

[ Edited ]

Fozzie wrote:
I noticed that Sena used the imagery of the dragon water fountain and the dogs to describe how MA was feeling.




I loved use of the dragon, too. I was going to cite it if you hadn't. I especially liked the way one image was used twice to express different moods.

I found a picture of the dragon which I will also post on the photo thread. http://www.ukstudentlife.com/Travel/Tours/France/Versailles/DragonFountain2.jpg

Marcia

Message Edited by marcialou on 08-12-2007 06:50 PM
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marcialou
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Re: In the Garden: A Dragon

I also liked p 73 of the paperback edition, where the morning after another unsuccessful night MA reports, {i}I discover that my husband, who is not yet my husband, dropped his game bag just inside the door. The blood from the birds has seeped through the canvas bag onto the carpet and of course the meat has spoiled.{/i}

This passage reflects how the sexually uninterested/impotent Dauphin has left blood on the carpet rather than on the bedsheets, and the marriage has already spoiled.

Marcia
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viva2
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Re: In the Garden: A Dragon


marcialou wrote:
I also liked p 73 of the paperback edition, where the morning after another unsuccessful night MA reports, {i}I discover that my husband, who is not yet my husband, dropped his game bag just inside the door. The blood from the birds has seeped through the canvas bag onto the carpet and of course the meat has spoiled.{/i}

This passage reflects how the sexually uninterested/impotent Dauphin has left blood on the carpet rather than on the bedsheets, and the marriage has already spoiled.

Marcia




Marcialou, the first thing that came to mind with your comparisons was the masterful complexity of musical counterpoint. Sena does it with words and you point it out to us.

My gratitude, for the example of written counterpoint and for the photo of the amazing Dragon Fountain. Sena asked for the picture of the fountain and you delivered. It is one thing to read about the fountain and quite another to see it in a photo. Many thanks.
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Re: In the Garden: A Dragon

I'm glad you enjoyed this passage.
Sena




Fozzie wrote:
On pages 110-2 of the hardback (In the Garden : A Dragon), I noticed that Sena used the imagery of the dragon water fountain and the dogs to describe how MA was feeling.

“No. The question is whether I shall strangle on bitterness or shame. People say I am pretty and have great charm, but to my husband I am more hideous than a dragon. I want to throw back my head and spout up my misery. I want to be torn apart by dogs.” (pg. 112)

I have been on the lookout for more imagery that ties to MA’s feelings since I read this!


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Re: In the Garden: A Dragon

Yes, there is an earthy, life or death side to life in the 18th century. I love the rich response several of you made to the image of the game bag on the carpet. Do you feel some sympathy for Louis XVI as well as for MA?


br>

marcialou wrote:
I also liked p 73 of the paperback edition, where the morning after another unsuccessful night MA reports, {i}I discover that my husband, who is not yet my husband, dropped his game bag just inside the door. The blood from the birds has seeped through the canvas bag onto the carpet and of course the meat has spoiled.{/i}

This passage reflects how the sexually uninterested/impotent Dauphin has left blood on the carpet rather than on the bedsheets, and the marriage has already spoiled.

Marcia


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marcialou
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Dead Gamebirds on the Floor


SenaJeterNaslund wrote:
Do you feel some sympathy for Louis XVI as well as for MA?


Absolutely. Poor guy. He wasn't cut out for being a husband at 15 or a king at 20. He was like one of those nerdy guys in highschool that no girl would want to date, but that's ok, because he wouldn't ask them out anyway. He would have had a great time playing computer games or being in the Great Books club, though.

He tried being a good husband to Marie Antoinette. They both had to make the best of a bad situation.

Marcia
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Fozzie
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Re: Sympathy

[ Edited ]

SenaJeterNaslund wrote:
Do you feel some sympathy for Louis XVI as well as for MA?



I do feel sympathy for both. They were complete strangers and young when they were married. I do think that once they become King and Queen, that they should consumate their marriage (still reading Act Three). I do think they have both acted honorably toward each other, from what I have read in this book. As the Empress, MA's mother said, it is good for them to be friends. It puts MA in a much safer and influential situation.

Message Edited by Fozzie on 08-15-2007 07:54 PM
Laura

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marcialou
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The Stag

[ Edited ]
I like the description of the death of the stag in the hunt, back in Act I, p88.


"Do you agree," the Dauphin asks me... "the next to the last stag was the most beautiful? He ran the most swiftly and threaded his way most gracefully."

...I say, "he did not deign to look us."

"I noticed that as well. His gaze was on the sky."



The stag is often considered a noble animal, as in the painting, "The Monarch of the Glen." The scene forshadows the bloody but honorable deaths of the King and Queen of France.

Marcia

Message Edited by marcialou on 08-15-2007 08:38 PM
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Re: Jacques - Page 242-3

I found this passage sad, but telling of MA's feelings about children --- she really wanted children, and wanted them to be her own.

"But one day I do not see Jacques at the table, and I do not send for him. They bring him less often. Jacques will always be a part of our household. I will always speak to him with kindness.
But Jacques has not redeemed my life.
Jacques is not really mine."
Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
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marcialou
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Re: Jacques - Page 242-3

I feel more sympathy for Jacques than I do MA in this situation. She essentially adopted him, but didn't live up to her implied promise to care for him. Still, he may have led a better life than he would have in complete poverty.

Marcia
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Re: Jacques - Page 242-3



marcialou wrote:
I feel more sympathy for Jacques than I do MA in this situation. She essentially adopted him, but didn't live up to her implied promise to care for him. Still, he may have led a better life than he would have in complete poverty.





Interesting. I didn't think about it that way. I assumed that he really didn't know the difference. From what I have read, in general, royal parents, or members of the court who were parents, didn't spend much time with their children anyway.

I always enjoy reading differing opinions of the same scenes!
Laura

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marcialou
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Re: Jacques - Page 242-3



Fozzie said:

Interesting. From what I have read, in general, royal parents, or members of the court who were parents, didn't spend much time with their children anyway.





You're probably right about that. Louis Auguste didn't get much attention according to Wikipedia but MA seemed to give her own kids more attention than was "normal". She was even faulted by members of the court for spending too much time with her kids instead of performing her queenly duties and paying attention to them. In the book, Jacques gets dropped from the narrative like the dog, Mops, so it's like he doesn't exist for her anymore.

As you say, it's interesting to hear different perspectives. Different people will see different things in any work of art.

Marcia
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Re: Literary Highlights

Here is what I think is a very poetic passage, from page 256:

"I am taken into his strong arms and held close for the longest of embraces, which seems only a moment but surely partakes of the completeness of eternity."
Laura

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marcialou
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Re: Literary Highlights

She's referring to her brother here. The passage certainly speaks of abundance.

Marcia
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Re: Dead Gamebirds on the Floor

His shyness in the early days is so painful, and he really just did not have much sex drive. Later, both the sons of Artois failed to consummate their marriages. One of them was married to the daughter of Louis XVI and MA.
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Re: The Stag

What an astute reading of the scene with the stag! Both Louis XVI and MA met their deaths with courage and nobility, as everyone will see as the novel draws to a close. In their last testaments they both asked that their deaths not be avenged and stated that they forgave those responsible for their deaths.



marcialou wrote:
I like the description of the death of the stag in the hunt, back in Act I, p88.


"Do you agree," the Dauphin asks me... "the next to the last stag was the most beautiful? He ran the most swiftly and threaded his way most gracefully."

...I say, "he did not deign to look us."

"I noticed that as well. His gaze was on the sky."



The stag is often considered a noble animal, as in the painting, "The Monarch of the Glen." The scene forshadows the bloody but honorable deaths of the King and Queen of France.

Marcia

Message Edited by marcialou on 08-15-2007 08:38 PM


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Re: Jacques - Page 242-3

When Antoinette finally did have children, she was utterly devoted to them. She followed her own heart in spending time with them and in trying to give them good moral guidance. At one point she was very worried about her daughter's selfishness. She imported a peasant to play with her, just as her mother the Empress had made sure Antoine knew people who were common folk. But Antoinette's daughter persisted for a while in acting "superior."




Fozzie wrote:
I found this passage sad, but telling of MA's feelings about children --- she really wanted children, and wanted them to be her own.

"But one day I do not see Jacques at the table, and I do not send for him. They bring him less often. Jacques will always be a part of our household. I will always speak to him with kindness.
But Jacques has not redeemed my life.
Jacques is not really mine."


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