Posts tagged history.
I worked with Paul Newman on the movie Twilight (1998). When Joanne Woodward came on set, he put his arm around my shoulder and said to me, “Will you look at the ass on her?” That really struck me as an ideal relationship. I love the idea that a guy approaching 80 still loved his wife’s ass. — Liev Schreiber for Elle
happy Ides of March all y’all plebeians
how is it possible to love fictional characters this much and also have people always been this way?
like, did queen elizabeth lie in bed late sometimes thinking ‘VERILY I CANNOT EVEN FOR MERCUTIO HATH SLAIN ME WITH FEELS’
was caesar like ‘ET TU ODYSSEUS’
sometimes i wonder
oh my GOD
the answer is yes they did. there’s a lot of research about the highly emotional reactions to the first novels widely available in print.
here’s a thing; the printing press was invented in 1450 and whilst it was revolutionary it wasn’t very good. but then it got better over time and by the 16th century there were publications, novels, scientific journals, folios, pamphlets and newspapers all over Europe. at first most were educational or theological, or reprints of classical works.
however, novels gained in popularity, as basically what most people wanted was to read for pleasure. they became salacious, extremely dramatic, with tragic heroines and doomed love and flawed heroes (see classical literature, only more extreme.) books in the form of letters were common. sensationalism was par the course and apparently used to teach moral lessons. there was also a lot of erotica floating around.
but here’s the thing: due to the greater availability of literature and the rise of comfy furniture (i shit you not this is an actual historical fact, the 16th and 17th century was when beds and chairs got comfy) people started reading novels for pleasure, women especially. as these novels were highly emotional, they too became…highly emotional. there are loads of contemporary reports of young women especially fainting, having hysterics, or crying fits lasting for days due to the death of a character or their otp’s doomed love. they became insensible over books and characters, and were very vocal about it. men weren’t immune-there’s a long letter a middle-aged man wrote to the author of his favourite work basically saying that the novel is too sad, he can’t handle all his feels, if they don’t get together he won’t be able to go on, and his heart is already broken at the heroine’s tragic state (IIRC ehh).
conservatives at the time were seriously worried about the effects of literature on people’s mental health, and thought it damaging to both morals and society. so basically yes it is exactly like what happens on tumblr when we cry over attractive British men, only my historical theory (get me) is that their emotions were even more intense, as they hadn’t had a life of sensationalist media to numb the pain for them beforehand in the same way we do, nor did they have the giant group therapy session that is tumblr.
(don’t even get me started on the classical/early medieval dudes and their boners for the Iliad i will be here all week. suffice to say, the members of the Byzantine court used Homeric puns instead of talking normally to each other if someone who hand’t studied the classics was in the room. they had dickish fandom in-jokes. boom.)
I needed to know this.
See, we’re all just the current steps in a time-honored tradition! (And this post is good to read along with Affectingly’s post this week about old-school-fandom-and-history-and-stuff.
Ancient Iliad fandom is intense
Alexander the Great and and his boyfriend totally RPed Achilles and Patroclus. Alexander shipped that hard. (It’s possible that this story is apocryphal, but that would just mean that ancient historians were writing RPS about Alexander and Hephaestion RPing Iliad slash and honestly that’s just as good).
And then there’s this gem from Plato:
“Very different was the reward of the true love of Achilles towards his lover Patroclus - his lover and not his love (the notion that Patroclus was the beloved one is a foolish error into which Aeschylus has fallen, for Achilles was surely the fairer of the two, fairer also than all the other heroes; and, as Homer informs us, he was still beardless, and younger far)” - Symposium
That’s right: 4th Century BCE arguments about who topped. Nihil novi sub sole my friends.
Has your cat ever walked across your keyboard? Well, it’s not a new problem. Medieval book historian Erik Kwakkel recently Tweeted this photo of a 15th century book with… you guessed it… cat paw prints in ink on the pages! We’re part of a long and glorious historical movement, friends. (Source: Dr. Marty Becker)
Ah this is the best thing! Those medieval cats!
Cats gon’ be cats
Here is a collection of anti suffragette posters, postcards and cartoons. They’re old, and comically out of date, but looking at them gives me something like despair, because as a woman today I cannot imagine facing that attitude, and fighting it. Going out there and demanding better, and getting this kind of … unbelievable ignorance and intolerance in your face. This article has also been making the rounds.
I can’t believe that in 2012 I read about an American congressman who really believes that women’s bodies have a way of shutting down pregnancy if they are “really” raped. I cannot believe a lot of the things I have seen come out in American news lately.
You are voting today, right?
As Rose Winslow wrote from prison in 1917:
“All the officers here know we are making this hunger strike that women fighting for liberty may be considered political prisoners; we have told them. God knows we don’t want other women ever to have to do this over again.”
Two sailors ca. 1940-1945. An image featured in the “Love and War” exhibit at the Kinsey Institute Gallery. More info on the exhibit can be found here.
“The photo is usually seen cropped from the waist up, as it was in the 1980s when the activist organization ACT-UP used in it on a T-shirt in their Read My Lips campaign. But the print hanging in the Kinsey gallery is the original version. Below decks, the sailors’ flies are open, and they are, so to speak, crossing swords.”
Artificial left arm, Europe, 1850-1910
“Made from steel and brass, the elbow joint on this artificial arm can be moved by releasing a spring, the top joint of the wrist rotates and moves up & down, and the fingers can curl up and straighten out. The wearer may have disguised it with a glove. Among the most common causes of amputation throughout the 1800s were injuries received as a result of warfare.”
Mahmud of Ghazni and Malik Ayaz.
Mahmud of Ghazni founded the Ghaznavid Empire and ruled as a sultan. He fell in love with Malik Ayaz, a Turkish slave, and their relationship became the epitome of idealized love in Islamic legend and Sufi literature. As the story goes, Ayaz asked Mahmud who the most powerful man in the kingdom was. When the sultan replied that it was himself, Ayaz corrected him, claiming that in fact Ayaz was the most powerful, since Mahmud was his slave. The “slave to a slave” became a favorite trope in Persian literature. R.G.L.