Friday, April 20, 2007



Ma chère Susan,--I do hope my missive will reach you in time. I am afraid it takes at least two or three weeks for letters to cross to Dover in these troubled times. Would you believe I have come across a recent publication which apparently is a faithful copy of your correspondence exchange with Alicia Jonhson over the period when you were staying with Charles and Catherine at Churchhill? Seemingly, Jane had learnt --probably from Catherine-- about your mildly successful endeavour, and had bargained from the family the assent to make copies of all the letters shuttled between Churchhill and Parklands at that time.

The story would not have developed any further had she not made another even more audacious move. As she was staying in London for some other business, she met with Alicia, and in circumstances that are still not clear to me but which I am inclined to believe involved some amount of dupery, she also managed to get hold of your letters to her as well as the draft versions of Alicia's replies to you.

You may or may not know that Jane fancies herself a famous writer, and your unfortunate state of affairs when you had to depart from Langford and bury yourself at Churchhill is now published as an epistolary novel under her signature! I hope I am mistaken, but I am quite certain she did not have your approval to act so. Obviously, all names are disguised, still I wager that some of our acquintances will find it easy to make the appropriate connections, and I doubt this would advance your current entreprise in any desirable way.

I must confess I read the book with great interest, not only because you have an incredibly sharp quill, but also because the letters that Jane selected and the order in which she presents them create a veritably romanesque atmosphere that had me captivated. From your first letter to Charles, I did recognize the force de caractère that makes you such a unique woman, and I gather the readers will feel some sympathy towards you, as I did when we first met; especially men, who are so often inclined to yield to loveliness, and will forgive all manner of conduct when the defence is a fair face that even women are drawn to admire.
The book does however gradually draw an ever darker portrait of you, simultaneously tarnished by Catherine's calumny and your continuous bad habit of opening your heart to Alicia in ways that you would never voice in the flesh. Your frankness of writing, which I believe reaches even beyond your true intentions, unveils elements about you that I would probably have preferred to remain ignorant of.

Yet, I could not help siding with you all along, as you seemed the only one that made things happen, for good or bad. I do not personally know Reginald and therefore am no judge as to whether he had deserved to fall victim of your manoeuvers, but even when I was convinced that you were probably pushing your draughts too far in that game -- because it was a game, ma chère, as it always is with you --, I was invariably drawn to admire you, apparently against my own reason.

I do not know if you have met Madame de Merteuil. She earned quite a réputation on this side of the Manche over the years. I am almost sure that although she would chuckle and call you an amateur in public, she would probably agree in private to take you under her wing should you issue such a request. Please be assured that you are la bienvenue here in Saint-Fargeau, in case you need to take some distances with London while the scandal of the publication subsides, or just for the palette of pleasures and adventures that France can offer.



Sunday, April 08, 2007

The Envelope Please

Well, there is overwhelming support for The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford. For me, this is another of those books I picked up some time ago for some specific reason that I can no longer recall, so it will be interesting to read. If you have already read it, consider rereading it, or skimming it to refresh, and at the very least participate in the final discussion.

Buy it, mooch it, borrow it from the library, or download it from Project Gutenberg. Just read it and have your thoughts ready to share on Thursday 31 May. I would greatly appreciate if someone with greater knowledge than me could set up a discussion page at Metaxucafe for this book. I will add links to the left side as well. Please feel free to post any other information you find relevant to the discussion at any time.

I hope everyone enjoys the book!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Next Up

Participation this last time seemed a little thin, while we still maintained our devoted core. This surprised me, because it seemed last time there was a lot of response, and many new readers, commentors, and would-be enthusiasts. I am going to offer up a few titles from my collection, and ask for votes on which should be the next selection. I haven't read any of these, just heard good things or have been wanting to read them for some time.

I would also like to hear from other Slaves about which of you wants to choose the next book. Putting nominations to a popular vote is not required, so if you want to decree what next we read, please tell me why you should be so honored. Comments or email are accepted.

Now, the titles:
1. The Wood Beyond the World by William Morris. The cover calls it the first great fantasy novel ever written.
2. The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford. A Tale of Passion
3. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. A Whitbread Book of the Year.
4. A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr.
5. Thunder on the Left by Christopher Morley.
6. The Road by Cormac McCarthy.

A wide range of offerings, I think. Shout out your vote. By Sunday evening I will announce the final tally and decision, and we can all start reading. Thanks!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The next Slaves read?

I've asked Quillhill to choose the next Slaves of Golconda book, so be on the look-out for his choices -- I believe he will be offering up a few titles for a vote.

I hope you all enjoyed Lady Susan -- I, for one, am very glad I read it, and I certainly enjoyed reading everybody's posts.