piątek, 28 grudnia 2007
Mildmay, Felix and the question of power? [Sarah Monette, "The Doctrine of the Labyrinths"]

What is the dynamics between Mildmay and Felix?

Interestingly enough, the brothers take the roles of the strong one/the weak one or victim/tormentor interchangeably. First Mildmay is a master with mad Felix as a slave (or at least that's how Felix sees himself, identifying Mildmay with his long-dead Keeper; Mildmay more than once mentions the fact that he had to force Felix, beat him, physically abuse him for his own good). Then there's Felix the wizard with Mildmay the boy from the lower class and Felix realizing that Mildmay, behind his tough facade, is psychologically delicate and vulnerable, therefore easy to hurt. Then, as a modification of this theme, there's Mildmay the esclavin with Felix as obligataire bound by the obligation d'ame. But then at the end of The Mirador, when both Felix and Mildmay are in prison, it is Mildmay who is the strong one protecting the grieving Felix in one of the most emotionally moving scenes of the whole cycle so far [p. 403]:

"Do you think it's dark, where Gideon is?" And, powers, his accent has gotten away from him, and his voice was barely more than breath, and he sounded so fucking
"Oh, sweetheart", I said, and my voice broke. "C'mere." We found each other in the dark, and I hugged him, and for once he didn't go stiff or shrug me away, but hugged me back.
"I don't want him to be in the dark", he said into my shoulder. "I don't want him to be afraid".
"His White-Eyed Lady was waiting for him," I said. "She'll take her of him. She'll help him rest".
"Do you think so? Really?" He was crying, the way you learn to cry when you're a kept-thief and you don't dare make any sound about it. But I could feel his tears soaking into my shirt.
"Really", I said and held him against the dark

The Excess of L-Words [Dorothy Dunnett, "The Lymond Chronicles"]

I must admit that, unlike the vast majority of Dorothy Dunnett readers, I never really liked Philippa Somerville. Her motivations always seemed rather unbelievable to me (exactly why is she setting off east? To find a child she has never seen, of a man she thouroughly disliked, leaving her mother, for whom she was the only support?), her stiff moral backbone I found unbearable and her obstinacy was nothing short of irritating. Compared to brilliant and solitary Marthe or to Kate, practical and level-headed, she seemed bleak and unable to capture my imagination.

Thanks to the (doubtful) courtesy of more than one reviewer, I was informed in advance (actually, as early as halfway through The Game of Kings) that it was Philippa that would finally capture Lymond's elusive heart. And right up until Chapter 9 of The Ringed Castle I did not understand why.

The scene at Blackfriars made it believable for me, finally, what is it in Philippa that would make her attractive for Francis. And the answer is, I believe, comprised in these few words that she says to him: I have never, in my whole life, seen you laugh before (p. 439). And that's it, I think: it is wonderfully visible throughout this scene that Philippa is able to make him feel relaxed, to make him feel free and careless and to laugh and play. Not ot mention one more important fact: she is never treated as intellectually inferior, as sillier just because she is a woman; in this scene, she arises as Lymond's equal in both wit and art. The whole scene is brilliantly composed, with the prolepsis at the beginning, pointing out at the importance of the moment and arising the reader's curiosity (It was a short journey and more fateful than any one of them ever knew, p. 429), the subtle suggestion of Lymond's change of heart concerning his nominal wife (And deep within him, missing his accustomed tread, his heart paused and gave one single stroke, as if on an anvil. (...). The air hurt his skin. His nerves, unsheathed, left him oversentitized and defenceless, as sometimes happed; exposed raw to the touch of the his clothes as if his flesh has been stripped off with acid, p. 440-1) and the last sentence, of Lymond remembering the night he spent with a prostitute after his fatal confrontation with Kate and his own reaction and realizing what was happening to him: Too late, too late, too late. It had happened (p. 442).

The core of that scene is a crazy, improvised comedy, played out by Lymond, Philippa, D'Harcourt and young Nicholas Chancellor. The script is full of words starting with L; but the one, most important, the word that describes Lymond's newly found feelings – this L word is never spoken.

In the beginning... there was a worm above the trees.

This is my blog for musings. And since it's a bookworm's blog, the musings will mostly concern books. Also, the blog's in English, because vast majority of these books has not been translated into Polish & I find it easier to write about them in their original language than to do the translator's work and make up Polish equivalents of names, places, inventions...

These are musings, one day to be, perhaps, converted into something more solid, like an essay, an article or a serious review. My reviews and more carefully done stuff (in Polish!) is here; this place is a mosaic in the making, broken and fragmentary.

And just in case anyone wondered about the title...

The Great White Worm

The image is by Pamela Colman Smith, taken from here; the concept is obviously Bram Stoker's