lesbiassparrow: (Default)
[personal profile] lesbiassparrow
Having read 2 1/2 Georgette Heyer novels (These Old Shades, Devil's Cub, and half of The Corinthian) recently, I pine for the following things to happen in one of her novels:

1. The hero's valet to stab him through the however many caped greatcoat he is wearing after being asked to polish his boots from ye authentick bootmaker one more time. (Sadly, valets are there in Heyer to swoon over the hero's manliness or something)

2. The same valet, the housemaid, and who ever else wants away from the most snobbish people in the universe to run off to the new world with the contents of the hero's strongbox

3. A revolution to occur in England.

Sadly, none of these things would ever happen in Heyer's Britain where everyone is either noble or well bred or if none of those things, a jumped up vulgar 'cit.' Oh - I forgot the loyal servants!

These Old Shades was not content to have the hero say that true blood (=upper class blood) will always out and being born a peasant even when you've been raised as a gentleman will inevitably show through, but also endorsed that attitude as being absolute truth. Ditto for The Devil's Cub, where the heroine was saved because she took after her aristocrat father and not her (naturally) vulgar middle class mother or sister. I gave up on The Corinthian half way through when the heroine's natural breeding seemed to be shining out like a lighthouse on a cold winter's day.

The thing is, I just don't understand why you'd write books even more conservative than the period actually was. As far as I know the 18th and 19th centuries were periods where people were exploring radical new ideas about status, birth, and gender. The 1700s alone gave us both the Enlightenment and the French Revolution and new political movements all over Europe. Everyone didn't subscribe to these ideas and certainly very few had access to them in book form, but if you look at studies of popular literature, papers, etc. in the period they were certainly circulating widely enough. And that goes double for 1800 on. Even Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice is about how the authentically upper class people are quite often horrible or just plain idiots while many of the middle classes (the cits of Heyer) are where true emotion and value lies. In Heyer's world Elizabeth's aunts would both be vulgar and horrible because, hey, they have no breeding! Their husbands work for a living! They live in the city! And to go one step further back: Richardson's Pamela would be a money grubbing vulgar wench.
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lesbiassparrow

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