Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Two Nerdy History Girls debut

You may have noticed the new link under My Other Blog.

Susan Holloway Scott & I have joined forces to indulge our historical obsessions.

We've been working on it quietly in the background for a while, but finally decided it's time to spring it on an unsuspecting public.

Michelle Buonfiglio at Romance B(u)y the Book hosts our launch party.

She's got more at her Heart to Heart blog at Barnes & Noble.

It's not too late to stop by and say something.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Scandalous prints

In Don’t Tempt Me, I make frequent mention of satirical prints. These were something like today’s editorial cartoons. They were often but not always political. They tended to mock Society, high and low. Most interesting of all, I think, is what the artists got away with. True, the erotic prints tended to be kept under the counter for special customers, but a great deal hung in print shop windows for all the world to see.

An online exhibit of works by Gillray at the New York Public Library shows you Humphrey’s Print Shop in St. James’s Street--where my fictional Duke of Marchmont would have paused to study the prints dealing with Zoe.

And here, in case you were wondering, is the print, Is She Not a Spunky One, that Marchmont plants in the journalist’s mind.

Them's fightin' words

A Central Massachusetts columnist today called for civility in the discussion about health care. I, too, would prefer civilized discussions to scream fests, on this and all other topics. I found myself thinking, though, how differently these things were handled a couple of centuries ago. I’ve been watching, courtesy NetFlix, John Adams. The shouting matches in Congress (and hey, how interesting that our legislators all fit in one small room in those days) reminded me that the debates often went beyond shouting to shooting.

In Gentleman’s Blood: A History of Dueling, Barbara Holland quotes Adams: “ ‘Politics . . . had always been the systematic organization of hatreds.’” According to Holland, “Every faction considered all other factions a threat to the republic and a personal insult.”

In those days, gentlemen stuck to their guns, literally. They weren’t likely to retreat from a long-held position simply because people were yelling at them. If a man did retreat, someone would call him a coward, and then he’d have to fight a duel to prove he wasn’t.

I don’t know if we’re doing better today because our politicos don’t shoot each other so much, or our forefathers did better because they'd put their lives on the line in defense of principle (or manly pride).

History simply makes me ask questions. And watching the miniseries has made me want to read the book.