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Seems to me there's always room for this kind of thread on a board, so I'll start this one off:

 

Currently Reading:

 

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (I've read this countless times and it never gets old. The use of language, the visual imagery, the story, a perfect combination)

 

John Cheever - Collected Short Stories by John Cheever (Got into his writing through a film, The Swimmer with Burt Lancaster, only just got around to acquiring the short stories. They're slice-of-life for the most part, and have dark undercurrents running through them all.)

 

Kolchak, the Night Stalker Chronicles by various (Loved the Kolchak series when I was a kid, and this is a great way to have some more adventures with my favorite shambling monster hunter/journalist)

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Nice idea.

 

Recently Read:

 

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K.Rowling (I wanted to see what the fuss was about. Besides, you know how it is once you start a series.)

 

Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions by Edwin Abbott Abbott (I had read it in the 1970s and, after the DVD came out this year, I decided to re-read it. It's sort of a political thriller sci-fi published in 1884.)

 

Technology In The Ancient World by Henry Hodges (To quote a blurb I agree with: "Lucid, fast moving, easy to read and with broad implications." I find myself thinking, "How did they know how to do that?")

 

Currently Re-Reading:

 

From Dawn To Decadence by Jacques Barzun (History from the last 500 years with an eye on the cultural changes. It's truly amazing how the more things change the more they stay the same.)

 

-Thoth.

 

BTW I'm assuming the "Kolchak, the Night Stalker Chronicles" you're referring to is more like the (very good) 1974 TV series and not the (very bad) 2005 remake. (I hope NBC will be able to improve on the 1970s "The Bionic Woman" remake this Fall. But you never know.)

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BTW I'm assuming the "Kolchak, the Night Stalker Chronicles" you're referring to is more like the (very good) 1974 TV series and not the (very bad) 2005 remake. (I hope NBC will be able to improve on the 1970s "The Bionic Woman" remake this Fall. But you never know.)

 

Yeah, the original Kolchak, with Darrin McGavin, yellow Mustang, powder-blue suit, straw hat. The remake was awful, no wonder it got cancelled :) I'm wondering too about the updated Bionic Woman show, I'll give it a look see when it comes out. If it's like the recent Battlestar Galactica remake, it might be worth watching.

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Interesting idea. I have about four books going at the moment, all of which I put aside to finish Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

 

The current crop:

 

Research—

Jane Austen, Emma

Daniel Pool, What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew

Christopher Vogler, The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 2nd ed.

Francine Prose, Reading like a Writer

 

For fun—

Deborah Crombie, Kiss a Sad Goodbye

 

And waiting in the wings:

Jasper Fforde, First among Sequels

Laurie Viera Rigler, Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict (see a theme here? :) )

Marc McCutcheon, Everyday Life in the 1800s: A Guide for Writers, Students, and Historians

 

Not to mention, if it ever arrives,

Elizabeth Sinclair, The Dreaded Synopsis

 

So far, Deborah Crombie is knocking the rest of them out of the water, but I am making some progress on Emma.

Best,

Marguerite

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Eddings, The Redemption of Althalus (Recommended by a friend, jacket looked interesting - went for it.)

Piers Anthony, The Color of Her Panties (A fantasy novel with that title? I have to find out why.)

Terry Pratchett, The Fifth Elephant (Mr. Pratchett writes some of the wittiest books out there. Always goofy, entertaining, out of this world while throwing spit-balls at ours. Anyone who has read Hogfather knows what I mean.)

 

In November: Terry Goodkind, Confessor (I spent I don't know how long last summer going through his gigantic series. I really liked them for the most part. This is the closer. I mean, who reads 10 books in a series but not the last one?)

 

Will Durant, The Story of Civilization (This is eleven volumes of world history. I've been on it forever. The whole thing was for $50, and what writer couldn't benefit boning up on history?)

 

I mostly read fantasy and science fiction, some horror. Older literature if I need something to sink my teeth into. I refuse to read modern "literature". What I've tried is as stale as yesterday's bath water, badly written, or about such inconceivably boring subjects as to cause me to slip into a coma at page one.

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Piers Anthony, The Color of Her Panties (A fantasy novel with that title? I have to find out why.)

 

Hello Thoyd.

 

I've been a Piers Anthony fan for 30 years now - since A Spell For Chameleon came out in 1977. I thought you might like to know that The Color Of Her Panties (1992) is just the 15th book in the 31-novel (and counting!) Xanth series. The 31st book is called "Air Apparent" and is scheduled to be released today :) . ("Two To The Fifth" is next.)

 

Xanth is only one of Piers Anthony Dillingham Jacob's eight series (not to mention his many one-offs). Not bad for a man of 73. I think this tells us something important about a writer's life: the "craft" keeps you young in both heart and head.

 

Cheers.

-Thoth.

 

BTW-1 If you liked The Fifth Elephant, keep in mind that it is only the 24th of Terry Pratchett's 36-book (and counting) Discworld series. Not to mention the various Discworld companion books.

 

BTW-2 Terry Pratchett, who is also terrific, makes extensive use of footnotes in his novels. I only mention this because some of us have asked Steve for a footnote feature for Storyist. You might want to comment.

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About an hour ago Amazon delivered How To Talk About Books You Haven't Read by Pierre Bayard. It's an international bestseller that hit #1 in both France and Germany, and has just come to America. Several reviewers have called it a love letter to books. Given all the good buzz about it I thought I'd give it a try.

 

Written but not read,

-Thoth.

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About an hour ago Amazon delivered How To Talk About Books You Haven't Read by Pierre Bayard. It's an international bestseller that hit #1 in both France and Germany, and has just come to America. Several reviewers have called it a love letter to books. Given all the good buzz about it I thought I'd give it a try.

 

Written but not read,

-Thoth.

Thought it might be time to revive this thread, as nobody's posted anything in months. My current list includes:

 

William Thackeray, Vanity Fair: somehow I missed this one in my Bronte/Dickens period, probably daunted by the 800-page heft of it, but my mistake: the man skewers the follies of humanity even better and more relentlessly than Austen, if you can imagine such a thing, and 70 pages passed in a flash. What an asset he must have been at parties: all the best gossip, and no scruples about sharing it.

 

Francine Prose, Reading Like a Writer: I mentioned this earlier, but finally got around to starting it—not writing advice so much as a kind of writing appreciation course, but fun all the same.

 

John Truby, The Anatomy of Story, which I just realized I began weeks ago and never got past chap. 1, having become sidetracked by Dramatica (Truby's theory has nothing to do with Dramatica's, so far as I can tell, and is written in English, to boot).

 

And on the horizon:

Uta Hagen, A Challenge for the Actor, given that I have actors in my next novel and figured I probably ought to have a clue how they work; and

 

Valerie Steele, The Corset: A Cultural History, since my actress is going to have to wear steel stays for 200 pages at least (Thoth, I can hear you laughing from here :lol: ).

 

Oh, yes, and I almost forgot (but it's a re-read)—

Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone, the focus of DP #2. If you've never tackled it, I highly recommend it—a fascinating book and remarkably liberated for 1868, although not as deliciously wicked as Vanity Fair. Collins pulls off a rotating first-person POV—quite a trick, so instructive for writers as well a generally good read.

 

So, where are the rest of you at present, reading-wise?

Marguerite

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A couple of weeks ago I gave a copy of the Kamasutra to a friend. It's not what you think. It contains a lot of poetry and, from a 21st century perspective, a lot of humor (although I'm sure that wasn't the intention). Only 10 of its 36 chapters are about sexual positions, and, to be honest, I'm way too old to attempt most of them. Unfortunately, many books calling themselves the Kamasutra are really just these ten chapters. The really good stuff are in the other 16 chapters. (Damn, I am getting old.) Anyway, he was going through a bad divorce and I thought this would cheer him up. I was right. (The two chapters on the proper conduct of wives had him laughing out loud. Again, not the author's intention.) He had such a good time with it that I decided to re-read it. It's a classic for a reason, people.

 

In return he acquired an advanced copy of Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult, for me. It's the story of a death row inmate who wants to donate his heart to the sister of the little girl he murdered. This really complicates his execution and seems to inspire a series of miracles in the prison (e.g., a dead pet bird comes back to life). 447 pages but worth the time. My only complaint is that Picoult has this nasty habit of changing her POV character with little or no notice to the reader. (Perhaps she should read The Moonstone.)

 

Nothing else comes to mind at the moment.

 

Laughing at your steel corset stays,

-Thoth.

 

Afterthought: Someone should write a book about why, historically, women put themselves through such self-mutilation as corsets. I mean, does having something less than a wasp waist so destroy your chances at marriage or employment?

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My only complaint is that Picoult has this nasty habit of changing her POV character with little or no notice to the reader. (Perhaps she should read The Moonstone.)

 

Afterthought: Someone should write a book about why, historically, women put themselves through such self-mutilation as corsets. I mean, does having something less than a wasp waist so destroy your chances at marriage or employment?

People who switch POV mid-scene are one of my pet peeves. I work really hard not to do it myself, so I don't see why they can't do the same—or why, since I assume the writer just isn't aware of the problem, the agent or editor doesn't insist s/he fix it. But maybe I'm just grumpy because Picoult et al. are in print, and my much cleaner text is not, as yet. :lol:

 

The neat feature, or at least one neat feature, of The Moonstone is that the rotating first-person POV forces the author to create a dozen different characters all clearly delineated by speech and sensibility. The transitions are sharper, somehow, than with the more common rotating third-person. Open the book at any point (after you've read it once), and you can recognize whose narrative you're in by the way the person writes. I don't think I could manage that level of complexity myself, although I'm tempted to try, but it's fascinating to study how Collins does it. And the story is more accessible than his genuinely creepy Woman in White, which I find quite disturbing.

 

The Corset: A Cultural History supposedly tackles the question in your afterthought. That's why I want to read it rather than a general description of Victorian women's clothing. Since I can't get it from the library till tomorrow, I can't say whether it actually does answer the question, but I wanted to know not just what corsets looked like in that period and how it felt to wear one but why women clung to them even in, say, the Regency period, when the style of the outer dress didn't require them. (And yes, I know that many women did not cling to them in that period—dampening their muslins and effectively abandoning upper body coverage, the hussies, but others did.) Something akin to Muslim women embracing the veil, perhaps?

 

In any case, I shall soon learn more, I hope.

M

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People who switch POV mid-scene are one of my pet peeves.

Mine too. But I think I know the reason some people do it: They're thinking like screenwriters. In a movie the camera is your POV, even when there's a narrator. The illusion of second person or first person is created by shooting over the speaker's shoulder (so to speak). So in a screenplay, changing point-of-view is not only trivial it's often mandatory. I recently saw the Jessica Alba remake of The Eye (a cute actress in a horrible remake). The camera kept switching from normal to blurry many times per scene. The "blurry" was the character's point of view since she just had a double cornea transplant. We get it right away, but it's still very annoying.

The Corset: A Cultural History supposedly tackles the question in your afterthought. That's why I want to read it rather than a general description of Victorian women's clothing. Since I can't get it from the library till tomorrow, I can't say whether it actually does answer the question, but I wanted to know not just what corsets looked like in that period and how it felt to wear one but why women clung to them even in, say, the Regency period, when the style of the outer dress didn't require them.

Please let us know what you find out. When Jeri Ryan ("7 of 9" on Star Trek: Voyager) was asked why Borg women wear high heels she said: "They make our legs look nice." I never really understood high heels (especially stiletto heels) but maybe that's all there is to it. Have you considered trying on a steel ribbed corset for research purposes? (If so, send us pictures! :lol: )

 

Curious,

-Thoth.

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Have you considered trying on a steel ribbed corset for research purposes? (If so, send us a picture! :o )

Curious,

-Thoth.

Actually, I may do just that. In a "too strange for fiction" coincidence, a self-proclaimed leading expert on Victorian clothing lives in my town. It'd be a shame to ignore such an opportunity. :) And compared to some writers mentioned in a recent cautionary article I read—they'd gone hiking in the Andes in January without proper gear and nearly killed themselves—this seems like a minor sacrifice!

 

Weirder than the high heels and steel stays (which replaced whalebone because they were more flexible—hard to believe, huh?—as well as easier to obtain) is that aristocratic early Victorian women were apparently supposed to languish around looking pale and fragile and as though they were about to faint at any moment. I'm sure the steel compressing the ribs helped in that endeavor, but really, who wanted to marry a girl who looked like the Bride of Dracula?

 

On the picture, you wish. :lol: That's a good point about screenplays; I hadn't considered that. It doesn't explain why the publishing house editors don't catch the mixed POV, though. Every writing book I ever read lists that as the first sign that the author's an amateur, and yet numerous folks seem to make it into print (and in Picoult's case an extended career and good reviews) regardless.

M

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In a "too strange for fiction" coincidence, a self-proclaimed leading expert on Victorian clothing lives in my town. It'd be a shame to ignore such an opportunity.

Could you float a theory by this expert for me? Is it possible that once you start wearing a ribbed corset you can't stop because the back and abdominal muscles become too weak to support the spine?

 

Just a thought,

-Thoth.

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Could you float a theory by this expert for me? Is it possible that once you start wearing a ribbed corset you can't stop because the back and abdominal muscles become too weak to support the spine?

 

Just a thought,

-Thoth.

Yes, I will ask her. I know the opposite is true. Dancers wore corsets until the 1920s, and the modern technique replicates that carriage using muscles alone. You can see the results any time you watch a classically trained dancer work, or even walk. The whole effort is directed at strengthening the core abdominal and back muscles, which improves body alignment and allows the arms and legs to move freely (more freely than a corset would permit, as you can see if you compare the ballerinas in Degas's paintings with any modern photo).

 

BTW, noblemen wore corsets, too—mainly for fashion in the 17th and 18th centuries (when they also used whalebone to puff out the skirts of their coats and wore high heels and those outrageous wigs) and as a substitute for weight control in the early 19th century (the future George IV of England and his brother William, neither of whom ever met a meal he didn't like, were famous for creaking as they bent over a lady's hand). But the practice must have continued into the Victorian period, because there's a wonderful scene in the movie Topsy-Turvy where Gilbert (or is it Sullivan?) tries to persuade his leading man to abandon his corset while playing Nanki-Poo in The Mikado. The guy nearly walks out: he doesn't know how to sing without that support!

 

Aren't you sorry you asked? :lol:

M

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Aren't you sorry you asked? :lol:

Not at all. This is quite edifying. I knew men of the period wore wigs but I didn't know about the high heels and corsets. Nor did I know that dancers wore corsets to improve their posture, or that singers wore them for support of the diaphragm. But did this truly work or was this just pseudo-science? I'm sure if someone famous claimed that a corset made him/her a better writer there would be some of us wearing them right now. (And how do I know there aren't?)

 

Still curious,

Thoth.

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Not at all. This is quite edifying. I knew men of the period wore wigs but I didn't know about the high heels and corsets. Nor did I know that dancers wore corsets to improve their posture, or that singers wore them for support of the diaphragm. But did this truly work or was this just pseudo-science? I'm sure if someone famous claimed that a corset made him/her a better writer there would be some of us wearing them right now. (And how do I know there aren't?)

 

Still curious,

Thoth.

I don't think it worked for dancers. Corsets substituted for weak muscles, allowing a ballerina to be aligned without working as hard, but they also restricted movement. Degas's dancers can't do a proper arabesque or attitude (standing on one leg with the other at 90 degrees or above to the back, either straight [arabesque] or slightly bent [attitude, which unlike arabesque also refers to poses to the side or front]). They have to bend forward until their bodies are almost parallel to the floor, which makes it harder to balance. Modern dancers are much stronger and can perform steps far beyond the capacity of even the great ballerinas of the Victorian era.

 

I doubt it worked for singers, either, for the same reason. But if you were used to dancing/singing/walking in one, I can imagine the thought of performing without it was terrifying. And since young elite women were not supposed to, gasp!, exercise, they may well have needed the corsets for support. George IV just wore his so he didn't look quite so tubby in his evening dress. The size of the rest of him meant that he wasn't fooling anyone, though.

 

I have the book now from the library, and it looks very interesting, so I should have more information before long.

Best,

M

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Could you float a theory by this expert for me? Is it possible that once you start wearing a ribbed corset you can't stop because the back and abdominal muscles become too weak to support the spine?

Just a thought,

-Thoth.

OK, three chapters into the "cultural history" I have your answer. Clever Thoth, you are correct. Although many of the illnesses attributed to corset-wearing were bad science (women wear corsets more often than men, women get depressed more often than men, ergo corsets cause depression), the long-term effects that modern medicine can reproduce include muscular atrophy in the back and abs, to the point that years of wearing corsets would leave you too weak (unless you engaged in strenuous physical training) to support yourself without one. Worse, people often reacted to the weakness by tightening their corsets, thus accelerating the downward spiral.

 

Other reproducible ill effects include shifting breathing away from the diaphragm (so much for Nanki-Poo's singing) toward the upper respiratory tract, leading to oxygen deprivation, hyperventilating, and fainting; also rearrangement of various internal organs and—if you adopted the wasp-waist corset in adolescence, as most girls did—distortion of the rib cage. How much these problems affected a given person depended on how tightly s/he laced. Turns out Scarlett O'Hara's 16-inch waist was the exception, not the rule. The average size of surviving corsets is 20" to 26", to which you can add 2" to 3" of lacing. They ranged in size up to 36" or more, although above 30" you had to pay more. All of which makes a certain sense, as our ancestors mostly didn't go for the skinny Kate Moss look, to put it mildly.

 

So why did women wear these "instruments of torture" for about 250 years (amazingly, some still do)? Here's where it gets interesting. There's the 7 of 9 factor (creating a fashionable silhouette and making sure you had something to display in that modish décolleté gown) and the support factor (no bras till 1914 or so), however misguided in terms of muscular development. But a big reason seems to have been that "good" women reined themselves in and "bad" ones didn't, so no one wanted to be (or have her daughter or granddaughter branded as) the first person on the block to break the tradition. This is the origin of the term "straitlaced," which then as now implied moral probity, perhaps carried to extremes but preferable to license. Oh, yes, and the upper classes assumed you had to suffer for the sake of fashion—comfort itself is a fairly modern notion (although see Kate Moss, above).

 

Men also used corsets for fashion and support and, bizarrely, discipline. There's a story in this book about a boy's school where they put all the boys in corsets to teach them self-restraint!

 

So now you know. Good guesses all.

 

There are, however, no confirmed cases of ladies having their lower ribs removed to reduce the size of their waists, for which, given the state of 19th-century medicine, their relatives must have been profoundly grateful (unless said lady stood between them and an inheritance, of course). :D

M

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Thanks M, for a thorough and informative (not to mention entertaining) answer. Now if only I can figure out why men still wear ties, and put an end to that nonsense, I'll be sitting pretty (sans corset).

 

-Thoth.

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Thanks M, for a thorough and informative (not to mention entertaining) answer. Now if only I can figure out why men still wear ties, and put an end to that nonsense, I'll be sitting pretty (sans corset).

 

-Thoth.

 

Don't know if it's true, but I was told that men started wearing ties because they didn't have enough money for fancy jeweled buttons. Upper class men used to have fancy jewelry to button up their shirts. Their poorer counterparts just had normal buttons. The ties hid the normal buttons and somehow replaced the fancier fashion.

 

IF

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Interesting. But it is possible, even likely, that the very very rich King Louis XIV of France was the first to popularize the necktie. What's more, how can we explain the explosion of men's bow ties in the 1840s?

 

Just to complicate matters, and to show how knotty this necktie problem can be, consider that one of the oldest examples of a necktie is found on the life-size terracotta soldiers buried with Chinese emperor Shih Huang Ti in 210 B.C. Each statue wears a silk cloth around its neck. Other early neckties are depicted on a marble column erected by Roman emperor Trajan in 113 A.D. The column shows legionnaires wearing three versions of neckties. But there is no real evidence that either Chinese or Roman men wore neckties regularly.

 

Etymologists have their own theories. Many believe the word "cravat" (meaning a soft necktie) comes from the French interpretation of "Croate," short for "Croatian." Croatia may just have given birth to the necktie as we know it today. There is other supporting evidence: sometime during the 1630s Croatian mercenaries involved in the Thirty Years' War visited King Louis XIV. It is speculated that the king was very impressed by the soldiers' traditional uniforms, which, in fact, featured soft scarves tied around their necks. And by 1650, Louis and his court were wearing Croatian neck scarves instead of the full lace ruffs that had previously been fashionable.

 

Unfortunately, none of this explains why we wear them today!

 

-Thoth.

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Interesting. But it is possible, even likely, that the very very rich King Louis XIV of France was the first to popularize the necktie. What's more, how can we explain the explosion of men's bow ties in the 1840s?

 

Just to complicate matters, and to show how knotty this necktie problem can be, consider that one of the oldest examples of a necktie is found on the life-size terracotta soldiers buried with Chinese emperor Shih Huang Ti in 210 B.C. Each statue wears a silk cloth around its neck. Other early neckties are depicted on a marble column erected by Roman emperor Trajan in 113 A.D. The column shows legionnaires wearing three versions of neckties. But there is no real evidence that either Chinese or Roman men wore neckties regularly.

 

Etymologists have their own theories. Many believe the word "cravat" (meaning a soft necktie) comes from the French interpretation of "Croate," short for "Croatian." Croatia may just have given birth to the necktie as we know it today. There is other supporting evidence: sometime during the 1630s Croatian mercenaries involved in the Thirty Years' War visited King Louis XIV. It is speculated that the king was very impressed by the soldiers' traditional uniforms, which, in fact, featured soft scarves tied around their necks. And by 1650, Louis and his court were wearing Croatian neck scarves instead of the full lace ruffs that had previously been fashionable.

 

Unfortunately, none of this explains why we wear them today!

 

-Thoth.

 

Perhaps they remain today as a symbol of the leash we wear that is held by the Man.

 

IF

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Perhaps they [neckties] remain today as a symbol of the leash we wear that is held by the Man.

 

I once had a boss who had that same theory. He claimed the "establishment" made us wear them as symbols of their dominance over us. (As you say.) But it seems like 60s paranoia, if you ask me. There has got to be better explanation.

 

Currently untied,

-Thoth.

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A strange foray into the Google archives has given me everything from: "the tie--look at its shape--is a PHALLIC symbol. and thus is worn by thepatrirchal overlord elite in their shitty business dealings which are raping Planet Earth" to "I was told many years ago by a school teacher that men wore ties in order to hide buttons!". So.. I don't think anyone knows. Though, the hiding buttons one makes a certain amount of sense to me.

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The Corset: A Cultural History supposedly tackles the question in your afterthought.

 

In any case, I shall soon learn more, I hope.

M

 

Hi Marguerite,

 

I am an amateur student of historic costume, and I have an extensive costume library (mostly boxed up while my sewing room is renovated--um, Steve?). I have that corset book, too. I also took a corset-making class with a historic costumer and we made an authentic Victorian corset, with cotton coutil and steel stays and all the rest of it. A couple of notes you might be interested in--our instructor was a very full-figured woman (BBW), and she said that wearing a corset was far more comfortable for her than wearing any kind of bra, because it supported her around her torso, rather than putting all the weight on her shoulders. It also gave her a more flattering silhouette.

 

My corset is fairly comfortable also, as long as it is not tightly laced. (I believe the book says that tight lacing was only done for evening/special occasions and was not an everyday thing, despite what we tend to believe in modern times.) Even when it's tightly laced, it's not painful, just really restrictive. I can't breathe deeply, kind of like when I have bad bronchitis.

 

As you might already know, there is a subculture of corset-wearers, and if you want more information about what it's like to wear a corset regularly, you might search online for groups to question. Here's one Web site: http://www.romantasy.com I know there are lots more.

 

There's a man in Paris known as Mr. Pearl who makes super-expensive custom corsets for Dita Von Teese and anyone else who can drop a few thousand $ on one item of clothing. His work is beautiful--I saw it in Vogue. I always thought that custom corset making would be a fun job to have (if I could get paid what he does).

 

Christina

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Hi Marguerite,

 

I am an amateur student of historic costume, and I have an extensive costume library (mostly boxed up while my sewing room is renovated--um, Steve?). I have that corset book, too. I also took a corset-making class with a historic costumer and we made an authentic Victorian corset, with cotton coutil and steel stays and all the rest of it. A couple of notes you might be interested in--our instructor was a very full-figured woman (BBW), and she said that wearing a corset was far more comfortable for her than wearing any kind of bra, because it supported her around her torso, rather than putting all the weight on her shoulders. It also gave her a more flattering silhouette.

 

My corset is fairly comfortable also, as long as it is not tightly laced. (I believe the book says that tight lacing was only done for evening/special occasions and was not an everyday thing, despite what we tend to believe in modern times.) Even when it's tightly laced, it's not painful, just really restrictive. I can't breathe deeply, kind of like when I have bad bronchitis.

 

As you might already know, there is a subculture of corset-wearers, and if you want more information about what it's like to wear a corset regularly, you might search online for groups to question. Here's one Web site: http://www.romantasy.com I know there are lots more.

 

There's a man in Paris known as Mr. Pearl who makes super-expensive custom corsets for Dita Von Teese and anyone else who can drop a few thousand $ on one item of clothing. His work is beautiful--I saw it in Vogue. I always thought that custom corset making would be a fun job to have (if I could get paid what he does).

 

Christina

Thanks! That's great to know. Corset-wearing is not a big element of the new book, but it is part of the Victorian experience to which my heroine is reacting. She's an actress, and in doing some research on how actors create characters, I noticed that they start with the physical—that's where this comes from. Even if she'd worn corsets in period plays, I'm guessing it would feel different in "reality," since costumers update the look of the past as needed to serve the performance and the times in which it's given. So this is valuable information. Perhaps I can send you the relevant chapter when I get that far, and you can tell me if it's accurate?! (See, I need that neat interrobang character of yours.)

 

Steele's book is great, I think: very practical and balanced, as well as fun to read. She mentions Mr. Pearl somewhere. The gown on the cover is also gorgeous, as is one by Dior (?)—pink satin—pictured in the last chapter.

 

Thanks also for the web link. I'll check it out.

 

Glad to know all our ancestresses weren't writhing in their whalebone and steel.

Best.

M

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