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10-27 lecture Gibbons

10-27 lecture Gibbons - We spoke last time about how Stella...

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We spoke last time about how Stella Gibbons parodies the rural genre by bringing Flora’s language—that of a realistic and sensible modern woman who detests “messes” (like Jane Austen)—into collision with the language of the rural “loam and lovechild” novels that Gibbons is parodying --in terms of dialect (made-up words that make the dialogue of the country people dense and muddled) --Flora doesn’t need to know the specifics of what the words mean, and neither do we --in terms of descriptions (inflated over-the-top descriptions using the pathetic fallacy that Gibbons identifies for the clued-in reader as parodic by the use of her “asterisk” system --often in the text the contrast between the metaphorical, pumped-up language she encounters in such books (or from literary folk like Mr. Mybug) is specifically noted by Flora: “she was not in the habit of thinking that things looked exactly like other things which were as different from them in appearance as it was possible to be.” (203) --so the narrator may say, in an often repeated simile, that the farm looks like a crouching beast, or Mr. Mybug may say so, but Flora knows this is mere nonsense. By the end of the book, she has dispelled this kind of language: as she gets rid of the family’s “messes,” the asterisked passages
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disappear from the book. In short, both literally and figuratively, she has “let the bull out” of Cold Comfort Farm. What does “cleaning up messes” entail? The family that Flora encounters, as I mentioned last time, is also a set of types familiar to the reader of rural romances: --back in London, Flora reveals her expectations when talking to her friend Mary about what she’s likely to encounter: she worries that there might be cousins named Seth or Reuben—a problem because “highly sexed young men living on farms are always called Seth or Reuben, and it would be such a nuisance. And my cousin's name, remember, is Judith. That in itself is most ominous. Her husband is almost certain to be called Amos, and if he is , it will be a typical farm, and you know what they are like.” (22) --“typical” as rendered in “loam and lovechild” books—since obviously Flora has no familiarity with real farms Indeed, one of the things the book leads us to question is whether there is indeed at all by 1932 any such thing as the “real” country—or just a series of representations of it
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