Monday, March 22, 2010

Because I must return to editing the academic art-criticism book today, I slept badly last night. I was filled with fruitless worries that I would forget to work instead of write, and I was also worrying about the plot of the novel I'm reading--Kate O'Brien's That Lady--which I've already read a number of times but which still manages to disturb me. It's a fictional retelling, in the vein of Ford Madox Ford's The Fifth Queen, of the story of beautiful, one-eyed Ana de Mendoza, Princess of Eboli during the reign of Philip II of Spain (the conquistador-and-armada king). She has an affair with Philip's secretary of state and pays for it. The plot is both more and less sensational than that sentence implies--more sensational in its intrigue and Spanish trappings; less sensational in its heroine, who is described as a kind, well-behaved, middle-aged widow and mother who makes a sudden last stand in favor of her own pleasure. It's a good book--not as extravagantly good as The Fifth Queen, which is a fictionalized tale of Katherine Howard, who married Henry VIII and was beheaded. But in addition to their Tudor-Spanish-Elizabethan settings and highborn troubles, both novels share extremely interesting heroines who think they are making good decisions about men and their own individuality but come to bad ends anyway. So I was up all night worrying about Ana's bad end, and about editing, and about remembering to buy my nephew a birthday present; and I was listening to a mouse race through the walls, and I was wondering if it might be raining and if I would ever fall asleep. You know how it is: those nights when you can't turn off your brain. They are very exasperating.

I didn't have much of a post yesterday because my computer has been co-opted for (1) a three-D project for high science fair and (2) live streaming of the NCAA basketball tournaments. Instead of writing to you, I was pruning rosebushes and a very dry and unwholesome-looking grapevine; cleaning the chicken house; planting flats of zinnia, sunflower, pumpkin, cucumber, and basil seeds; and vacuuming my bedroom. All so I could concentrate on the editing work that I am not now doing.

Here is a small random quotation from Shelley's "Hymn to Intellectual Beauty" that exactly fits the my state of mind:

The awful shadow of some unseen Power
Floats tho' unseen amongst us.

It certainly does, and I wish it would stop keeping me awake.

2 comments:

Ruth said...

That is my normal Sunday night state. This despite already having work prepared for Monday morning.
I apologize for not responding to last week's post; however, I just had nothing to add.

Angela said...

My occasional drive by. Read today that one of the men accused of murdering Malcolm X has now gained partial release to be with his family for part of the week. I read his auto some time ago, and have tried to foist it onto every niece or nephew or friend of Amber's and Lucy's who gives me any encouragement.