Dear friends and readers,
I’m spending half a day at a pca/aca conference and in honor of its popular purview — and to make visual I am going to hear a paper on the Poldark mini-series (or novels it’s not clear), 2 on Downton Abbey. You see at the top of this blog one of my many favorite shots from the first Poldark mini-series: I like to call it “A Young Lady’s Entrance into the World
In the mini-series she does very well (pt 6), all very sweet an holding her on in repartee against women, not so in the book where the problem is not female spite but male aggression. There the abrasive behavior of the males towards this (as they know) originally low status, and as to “le monde,” innocent female is rather like the abrasive behavior of males I discussed in my posting on Villette, Anna Karenina, and Ethelinde, and for that Demelza is not equipped. At no time does Ross help her either; in this case (and spectacularly in The Angry Tide) he makes things much worse. Her eventual semi-retirement from any world but Cornwall is a direct reaction to this ruthless shameless aggression she meets with. While her initial experiences at balls and dances is done from her point of view (at first frightened, then, mistakenly delighted, and finally desperate to get away) as are the later reactions, it’s not clear how much Graham is aware of what he is accurately and sympathetically registering, for he just as clearly enacts Ross’s anger at her and insistence on the centrality and greater importance of his pride as at risk in these social encounters. It is true that Monk Adderly’s behavior edges towards rape.
Further, though Demelza is presented as doing much better in later years in the later Poldarks (part of the retreat of the novel series from its first political outlook unmediated by conventional portrayals of experience), She is still basically someone at home because safe and valued there. It would be accurate to say that a central aspect of Demelza Poldark’s life behavior derives from huge blast of sexual harassment she has to endure (and fails to cope with — as who could) the first time she enters the world — as a low status woman who married up (her original low status never forgotten).
I’ve blogged on all the Poldark novels and a few of Graham’s mystery novels: see: The Poldark series … Winston Graham.
This will tell you about the conference: Popular Culture & American Culture Association. It’s about popular culture from a literary standpoint, a sort of outgrowth of the humanities as it’s developed in the last quarter century: later this afternoon, with any luck, I should hear three (3!) papers on Ralph Fienne’s Corilanus. Many sessions on films, though unfortunately many on male-action movies which are filled with violence and pornography. Those I could not get myself to go to. All the invites to dinners and groups are really for people who know one another or are gregarious or come in little groups of people so I’ll be coming home to rest each night.
I dread most large social encounters but then when I arrive it’s never as bad as I feared (single friends or a duo is different); indeed I can and often do come away exhilarated. I begin with low expectations for safety. I will at least see more of what’s called “real life” and come back with information and experiences I would not be able to get otherwise.