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We're finally getting to some examples of positive companionship in different forms. This chapter emphasizes three components that are one way of achiving that goal: a benevolent and good-tempered mistress, a carefully hand-picked companion, and sufficient inequity in their positions that the lines of authority are clear. These are not women who are infantilized by having a hyper-competent housekeeper-companion, or who drive away a good prospect by the sort of bullying that comes from insecurity and narcissism.

OK, maybe I've been working through this book too long and I'm just getting bored. Or maybe it's the sense that Rizzo is trying to build a narrative that she's already established in her mind, rather than study the sources. Whatever the reason, I'm feeling a bit snippish. The book is starting to feel like a random series of 18th century biographies that can in some way be related to the idea of "companions".

I can't help but think that the story of Baddeley & Steele is more fascinating than the rather sordid, mercenary mess that Rizzo presents it as. If I were still doing the more detailed notetaking that I'm trying to step back from, I'm not sure how I would have stopped on this one. It would make a fascinating movie, full of intrigue, drama, and larger than life characters. (Almost none of which is apparent in her rather thin Wikipedia entry. Though it does have a link to Steele's biography of her.)

I could have sworn I posted this yesterday, but I'm so busy getting the legacy podcast episodes up it's not surprising a lose track of all the rotating tasks. I needed to take a day off anyway, it's just a matter of which one. Again, not much commentery on this one other than to recommend watching The Duchess, and not just because I'm a Keira Knightly fan-girl.

Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast - Episode 50d - 17th Century Poet Katherine Philips - transcript

(Originally aired 2020/09/26 - listen here)


I think the "read through then dictate" process is working as intended. No really comments on this one. Written in haste...

For today’s entry, I experimented with reading through the chapter, then dictating the summary directly. It probably shows a little in the flow of the blog, even with some editorial clean-up. But it means I’m better able to condense the notes down to the highlights rather than going off into the weeds of details as I’m reading. We’ll see how it continues.

It’s always tricky to figure out what level of summary to create for a publication. Some works are so dense I throw up my hands and give only a cursory outline. Some are so scanty I can summarize the whole. In the middle, I find the structure of a book influences my approach—if only because I have an idea of a maximum blog length that people are likely to read. (Not sure what it is exactly, but I have a vague idea.)

OK, maybe that isn't the nicest tag line for this chapter in Rizzo's book, but Elizabeth Chudleigh wasn't a very nice person. And yet, as I summed up this chapter, I couldn't help but dwell on how very gendered our impressions of people's behavior can be. Someone who is strong-willed, knows what they want and goes after it in clever and single-minded ways, knows how--and when--to be charming, and when they don't have to bother with it. These are all things that can either be admirable or hateful depending on our relation to the person and our expectations for their behavior.

Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast - Episode 50c - Book Appreciation: 17-18th century Stories in England and France - transcript

(Originally aired 2020/09/19 - listen here)


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