Tuesday News: Valentine’s Day, The Bachelorette, and the “real” Mr. Darcy
How the Valentine’s Day Heart Got Its Shape – Ever wonder why the lovey-dovey heart emoji looks the way it does? Like most symbols, it was a gradual evolution, in this case one that owes something to courtly love, medical dissection, and developing myths about the heart’s symbolic function.
“It didn’t mean love before the 13th and 14th centuries,” says Eric Jager, author of The Book of the Heart and medieval literature professor at UCLA. When the shape was drawn before that point, it was generally for decorative purposes, he says, citing the enamel at the French Cluny Abbey (c. 1300) as one prominent example. As the idea of romantic love began to take shape during that medieval period, so did the symbolism. . . .
Carlos Machado, a cardiologist and medical illustrator, says that familiar shape does somewhat resemble the four chambers of the heart, if it is cut open, or the image of the heart that appears in echocardiograms. But the shape is even closer to the look of a bird or reptile heart — which makes sense, he says, given that the study of anatomy before the 14th century was based on the dissection of animals. It is thought that the Catholic Church objected to the d issection of the human body during the Middle Ages. – TIME
7 Unconventional Books To Give As Valentine’s Day Gifts – I never realized how many Valentine’s Day book lists contain such “unconventional” titles as Gone With The Wind and the like. Yes, that can be a romantic read, but as for lasting happiness, not so much. I like this list because it isn’t overtly hearts and flowers, but it’s not so cynical, either. It even includes Jenny Johnson’s Valentine’s Day release, In Full Velvet.
There is nothing more wonderful than sharing in the joy of a book. If you ask me, the best gifts are books that you yourself love. Sharing your favorite book is like sharing an intimate part of yourself. So, if you don’t find the perfect book on this list, think about the books that excite you the most. Or maybe even find a book that the two of you can read together. It’s the personal touch that makes giving a book so fantastically special. I’m sure Cupid would agree. – Bustle
ABC Has Its 1st Black Bachelorette … Yay? – After a mere thirty-three seasons(!!), the Bachelor/Bachelorette franchise has chosen a black bachelorette, Rachel Lindsay, an attorney who appeared during the current season of The Bachelor. The long-overdue change coincides with the hiring of the first African American programming head at ABC (go figure – publishers take note). It’s ridiculous (and boring, and gross) how unremittingly white the series has been, so I hope this signals a real and lasting commitment to diversity.
“I’m obviously nervous and excited to take on this opportunity, but I don’t feel added pressure being the first black bachelorette, because to me, I’m just a black woman trying to find love. Yes, I’m doing [it] on this huge stage, but again, my journey of love isn’t any different just because my skin color is.” . . .
Last year, ABC Entertainment chief Channing Dungey, the first African American to head programming at a major broadcast network, said she was striving for the network to have a bigger commitment when it came to diversity, especially on the dating show. – The Root
Historically Accurate Portrait of Mr. Darcy Isn’t What You’d Expect – A collaboration between Amanda Vickery, John Sutherland, and Nick Hardcastle has produced an image of Mr. Darcy that may confirm the wisdom of not ever having romantic novels illustrated.
When Austen wrote the novel in 1790, men who were broad shouldered, tanned, and toned usually indicated that they were working class, not aristocratic gentlemen. That’s why Hardcastle’s illustration portrays Mr. Darcy as pale with narrow features, and of course, a stylish powdered wig. – Bookstr
I was less than impressed with the Darcy article. Why would they use information from 1790 to re-create an 1813 character???? Not to mention “First Impressions” was started in 1796, NOT 1790, and fashions changed a lot in the 1790s. Also, might have been ORIGINALLY started in 1796, but Austin made SIGNIFICANT revisions in 1811 and 1812 – essentially re-wrting the book, no one even knows what was in the original draft. As events and fashions were current to 1813 in the final P&P, why on earth would these so-called experts (Not Austen experts, that’s for sure) assume that only Darcy remained 20 years in the past? To me, it just sounded like these scholars had an pet theory they wanted to prove, which makes me wonder what their beef with Darcy was….
Example? Wigs went largely out of fashion, due to a wig-related tax, in the late 1790s. A young, wealthy man would NOT have worn a wig.
@Harukogirl: Excellent points! I always felt the BBC did a great job with the clothes and hair in the production with Colin Firth, they put a lot of time into being period accurate to the early 1800’s (as you point out not 1790’s) – and no powdered wigs!
@Harukogirl: Thank you for articulating what I wanted to rant about! :D
@Harukogirl: I agree with your points on wig and powder, but I think the point Sutherland and Vickery make about trying to imagine the person in Austen’s mind’s eye is a reasonable one, and that image would have dated back to the original writing. They talk about the two men who have been suggested as the models for Darcy, and both wore wigs and powdered hair when Austen knew and was influenced by them. So maybe it’s not so much that they are conjecturing the Mr Darcy of the 1813 P&P but the Mr Darcy Jane had in her head. Obviously if you don’t buy their reasoning the whole thing falls apart, but if you do then their conclusions make more sense.
For what it’s worth, both Sutherland and Vickery ARE experts on Modern English Literature and Georgian History respectively, and both have written on Austen and know the period well. So while the piece was definitely commissioned for commercial and publicity value, I don’t think they are unreasonable scholars to have asked. In a piece Sutherland wrote in the Evening Standard he refers to the 1790s (as does Vickery in the Guardian article), not the year 1790, as when Austen first starting writing the novel, so I think that mistake should be attributed to Bookstr and not them.
I was looking at Lawrence’s portraits from the early 19thC to see if Vickery and Sutherland’s argument about body and face shapes held up, and I ran across his painting of William Lamb (later Lord Melbourne), circa 1805. He is very reminiscent of Colin Firth’s Darcy, right down to the side-whiskers.