What did you finish reading?Margaret the First by Danielle Dutton
I'm reading Blazing World
next partly to tell what I think of this book, which honestly felt very much like the author's notes at the end: She read a bunch of Virginia Woolf and then wrote a novel about Margaret Cavendish.
I appreciated all the historical detail, and the research the author put in, and it was certainly literary and attempting to show warts and all, but I don't think I came out with a hold of what was driven Cavendish to write, or at very least what was driving her to publish. The prose is dreamy and disconnected, with occasional vivid moments, and the end impression of Cavendish is the same. Which doesn't marry with what I've read of her writing.
I am left perplexed. The Description of a New World, Called The Blazing-World by
Margaret Cavendish the Thrice Noble, Illustrious, and Excellent Princesse, the Duchess of Newcastle.
So this book is very much of its time, which is interesting in an of itself because the form of the novel hadn't really hit England, let alone been codified, and the author has this huge amount of space to do whatever she wants.
Granted, whatever she wants is more or less long sections of complaining about the Royal Society (a Tradition Swift would pick up and run with), and attempting cosmology, which was theoretically interesting, but did tend to drag on. Also there are very few full stops, fewer paragraph breaks, no dialogue punctuation and the spelling is eccentric.
However, it also allowed her to write a secondary world sff story where in someone from a made up world traveled to yet another world, became its empress, and started talking to people from our own world on the astral plane. Which was pretty nifty, but then the empress starts hanging out, on the astral plane, with the author of the book in a way that is described in the text as "Platonic" but which I would called "Slashy as all get out" and I really can't tell if this is basically self-insert self-cest or what, but it's fascinating.
AND THEN! The Empress decides to invade and conquer her original world, and there is an earnest discussion of the efficacy of a zombie army, but they eventually go with submarine warfare and aerial fire bombing. And then the book ends. Which in and of itself, upgrade the book to four stars.
If I were to read it again, I'd read up to where she starts talking about philosophy, then skip to where the Duchess of Newcastle shows up and read through to the end of the war, then skip the five pages of describing lutes and read the epilogue.
(I saw a couple reviewers saying Cavendish invented the submarine, which is incorrect. There were working(ish) submarines in England in the 1620s, which were witnessed by Constantijn Huygens, who was in Cavendish's circle. It might be the first novel portaying submarine warfare though?)What are you reading now?Gate of Ivrel
by C.J. Cherryh, which is pretty fab. Also rereading Moon Over Soho
by Ben Aaronovitch.What are you reading next?
Presumably Well of Shiuan
, and also some library books once I get back home.