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The Monday round-up returns!


by Jerome Weeks 24 Mar 2008

Fifteen years ago, if you wanted to write about the Victorian governess — all of those formidable females from Mary Wollstonecraft to the steamy romantic heroine to Anna in The King and I — you really had to dig for primary sources, says Kathyrn Hughes. Not many people felt the thoughts and memories of nannies […]

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The Governess Wears Scarlet by Sari Robins

  • Fifteen years ago, if you wanted to write about the Victorian governess — all of those formidable females from Mary Wollstonecraft to the steamy romantic heroine to Anna in The King and I — you really had to dig for primary sources, says Kathyrn Hughes. Not many people felt the thoughts and memories of nannies were worth keeping. (She often ate with the servants.) Now comes a new, popular history of the governess, and nothing new is to be said? And it turns out Anna was more of a hard-headed, look-out-for-herself sort than popularly thought:

It wasn’t just her past that Leonowens faked. Much of her highly spiced account of the years she spent at the “barbarous” court of King Mongkut was later revealed as a work of titillating fancy. Leonowens was determined to find a way of buying herself out of the schoolroom, and if writing passages of barely veiled erotica was the cost, then she was prepared to pay it.

  • When I visited Havana, back at the turn of the millennia, it certainly looked to be the case: Is Cuba going to be the “next hot art market”? 
  • The kind of lead sentence in a review that gets a professional journalist/critic’s attention:

First the good news. It won’t be long before borderline illiterate half-wit blowhards like me, with our fat salaries, expense-account lifestyles and stranglehold on the means of expression, become obsolete. Wikipedia, Second Life, Craigslist, MySpace, Bebo, Facebook, Flickr point the way to the lovely future where sharing caring groups of amateurs can connect in ways that will be experientially satisfying, community-boosting and, fingers crossed, democratically revivifying. I and 35,000 other paid journalists in the UK plus lots more worldwide face the knacker’s yard.

The bad news is that the if two books under question are right, “most professions will be undermined by web-based social tools in similarly harrowing ways… So don’t look so smug.”  But what I want to know is … “expense -account lifestyles”? I seem to have missed some serious perks.

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  • Bill Bixby

    Shouldn’t a “professional journalist/critic” recognize that that’s a lead paragraph of four sentences rather than a “lead sentence”?

  • Actually, it’s only the second sentence in the paragraph that hooked me — hence, my question about all those expense accounts that I’ve apparently failed to enjoy to their five-star restaurant fullest.