Category: Non-Fiction
Legacy; Frankenstein
Legacy; FrankensteinIn 1841, small-town parish clerk William Hinton got his first look at an English locomotive in action. Writer Julian Young recorded Hinton’s breathless reaction: “Well Sir, that was a sight to have seen; but one I never care to see again! How awful! I tremble to think of it! I don’t know what to compare it to, unless it be to a messenger … with a commission to spread desolation and destruction over this fair land!…
Heavenly Bodies
Heavenly BodiesAnd thou shalt embroider the coat of fine linen, and thou shalt make the mitre of fine linen, and thou shalt make the girdle of needlework … and thou shalt make for them girdles, and bonnets shalt thou make for them, for glory and for beauty. — Exodus 28: 39-40 Over the last decade or so, the Costume Institute has become the socialite daughter of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.…
The Queen’s Embroiderer
The Queen's EmbroidererDeJean describes the impetus behind this book as her desire to unravel the love story between Marie Louise Magoulet and her husband (briefly), Louis Chevrot. But inevitably, the young lovers take a backseat to the generations of in-laws before them, who eventually reach such a cartoonish level of underhanded dealings that by the time DeJean is suggesting Jean Magoulet impersonated his own dead brother for years to facilitate a double life, she includes several original documents, as if she knows things are beginning to beggar belief.…
Elementary: “An Infinite Capacity for Taking Pains”
Elementary: "An Infinite Capacity for Taking Pains"“An Infinite Capacity For Taking Pains” is a telling title. It’s a quote close to Sherlock’s heart (episode writer Bob Goodman had Sherlock advise Kitty to “accept that you’ll be taking pains” in the third season). It’s also a paraphrase of this Carlyle quote about Frederick the Great—the saying is more popular than the actual quote but inexact, which perfectly suits an episode where Sherlock has to deal with the idea that soon he might be as fallible as anyone else.…
A Place of Darkness
A Place of DarknessThe camera is an instrument of suspense. Given a movie frame, you want to understand what’s happening in it — and what will happen next. That balance of wonder and dread is a fundamental draw of film, and a touchstone of the horror genre. The questions Kendall R. Phillips asks in A Place of Darkness: The Rhetoric of Horror in Early American Cinema are: How did we get from the nickelodeon special-effects “cinema of attractions” to understanding horror narratives as their own genre?…
Monster Portraits
Monster PortraitsThe fantastic bestiary is a time-honored speculative tradition. But some of the earliest ones didn’t even know they were speculative; early bestiaries routinely included dragons and unicorns alongside panthers and hyenas, creating pockets of the uncanny amid history. For those who have never seen the beasts they draw, it’s only possible to guess, and there’s always some element of dread in the unknown.…