January 3rd, 2007

mystique pensive

New light on the meaning of the verb "to kipple"

In 1907 Marguerite Radclyffe-Hall -- who hadn't taken the pen name "Radclyffe Hall" yet -- fell in love with a married lieder singer named Mabel Batten. Hall's biographer Sally Cline is explaining how well Hall got along with Mabel's husband when suddenly her rhetoric throws a shoe:
At seventy-six George was more than old enough to be Marguerite's father. In his jokey, paternalistic but patently affectionate attitude towards her, he often behaved like one. Sometimes he treated his wife's lover as his son-in-law. They discussed business and speculations, hunting and country matters.
That phrase. I don't think it means what you think it means. Don't bring the Shakespeare unless you know what you're doing.

And this is from after the first censorship trial of The Well of Loneliness, when they were getting ready for the appeal, and almost the whole literary world was prepared to defend Hall's right to publish, but Rudyard Kipling had agreed to testify for the prosecution. Hugh Walpole asked him why:
I asked him at luncheon whether he approved of censorship (apropos of this tiresome, stupid The Well of Loneliness). No, he doesn't approve of the book. Too much of the abnormal in all of us to play about with it. Hates opening up reserves. All the same he'd had friends once and again he'd done more for than for any woman. Luckily Ma Kipling doesn't hear this.
Historical RPS writers take note.

This quotespam is in honor of my Wikipedia article on The Well of Loneliness being finished -- where finished means "okay, sick of looking at this now, not working on it anymore." I had a great time writing it, though. The book seems to have been under a curse that required everyone involved to behave as ridiculously as possible. It was fun describing the idiocies on all sides in an encyclopedic deadpan, even though the heart of the story -- a few highly-placed homophobes using obscenity law to establish that you were not allowed to say anything good about love between women, but that writing about the "moral and physical degradation which indulgence in those vices must necessary involve" was still OK -- is about as funny as the Black Death. Writing dark humor about history isn't exactly a new thing for me, come to think of it.

ETA: forgot to mention that at jade_lightning's request, the Mystique/Destiny FST is available again for as long as the sendspace link lasts. (Original post here.)