research question #1

Must ponder what I want in the way of a Victorian icon. For now, I shall use the MNC one.

Anyway. The real point of this post.

This question is particularly aimed at d_aulnoy, since I know she’s a Victorianist, but if any of the rest of you happen to have familiarity with nineteenth-century literature, please feel free to jump in.

I’m trying to come up with a title for the Victorian sequel. I want to do something in the vein of Midnight Never Come: that is, a poetic phrase taken from the literature of the period, which is also (of course) applicable to the substance of the novel. Mind you, I’m still working on figuring out what that substance is — but you’d be surprised (or maybe not) how much having a compelling title can help shape a story.

But of course there’s a lot of Victorian literature out there; I need to narrow it down. Specifically, I want things apropos of London, industrialization, urbanization, maybe the underworld . . . you get the drift. Soppy poems about love and/or how pretty nature is need not apply. Random odes to a hat the poet saw someone wear to the opera, ditto. Stuff that’s a little grittier and grimmer. What poems/poets should I look at?

0 Responses to “research question #1”

  1. elizaeffect

    Keeping in mind the fact that my History and Literature are even worse than my math…

    I’m pretty sure Tennyson is not nearly gritty enough for where you were aiming, but right after I read this I was reading this book on the toilet and it’s all like,

    “And every hundred years to rise
    And learn the world, and sleep again,
    To sleep thro’ terms of mighty wars,
    And wake on science grown to more,
    On secrets of the brain, the stars,
    As wild as aught of fairy lore;
    And all that else the years will show,
    The Poet-forms of stronger hours,
    The vast Republics that may grow,
    The Federations and the Powers;
    Titanic forces taking birth
    In divers seasons, divers climes;
    For we are Ancients of the earth,
    And in the morning of the times.”

    And I was all like, “Hey! That reminds me of that blog post I just read!” And then my hands were like, “Comment!”

    • Marie Brennan

      Re: Keeping in mind the fact that my History and Literature are even worse than my math…

      <g> Go serendipity!

      “Ancients of the Earth” seems the most snippable bit out of that — though as I said a couple comments down to , any number of bits might work as short story titles.

      I’d never really pondered the title differences between the two forms before, but now that I think about it, you really can get away with longer, more lyrical titles in short fiction. (“Every Hundred Years to Rise” sounds like it should be some Victorian Cthulhu story.)

      • juushika

        Re: Keeping in mind the fact that my History and Literature are even worse than my math…

        I think that Learn the World might be a lovely title snippet too.

        A unexplained random friending today reminded me how weird they can be, so I thought I’d explain my random friending of you from a few weeks back. I discovered your journal some bit ago, and became so taken with the process and concept of Midnight Never Come that I added you mostly to remind myself to keep tabs on the book—and to read it as soon as it comes out. ^_^ The perk of watching this new story develop is just icing on the cake.

        Good luck with your work!

        • novalis

          Re: Keeping in mind the fact that my History and Literature are even worse than my math…

          Sadly, Ken MacLeod got to almost that title first. Even more sadly, the book was not good.

        • Marie Brennan

          Re: Keeping in mind the fact that my History and Literature are even worse than my math…

          I have no problem with random friendings, don’t worry. I’m glad to know my process-blogging is interesting! (That’s the idea, of course, but it’s good to know it’s working.)

          “Learn the World” is also a good phrase, but not, I think, for this book. Or so saith my hindbrain.

      • thespisgeoff

        Re: Keeping in mind the fact that my History and Literature are even worse than my math…

        I also really like “Forms of Longer Hours” as a snippet for a title…it breaks up the word, but seems pretty strong and plot-appropriate.

        • Marie Brennan

          Re: Keeping in mind the fact that my History and Literature are even worse than my math…

          Nnnnnngh . . . this is where we move into “clicky subconscious” territory. While I like the phrase, the half-formed idea in the back of my head isn’t clicking with it.

          I’m probably going to have to read an appalling amount of Victorian poetry, aren’t I?

          • thespisgeoff

            Re: Keeping in mind the fact that my History and Literature are even worse than my math…

            Yes. Yes you are. The good news is, Victorian poetry is certainly more varied than the Victorian novel, making for a livelier, if no shorter, research process.

          • Marie Brennan

            Re: Keeping in mind the fact that my History and Literature are even worse than my math…

            I might be able to get something good out of Dickens, but I can’t quite stomach plowing through novel after novel written by a man who was paid by the word, in search of three or four words to make a title.

      • kendokamel

        Re: Keeping in mind the fact that my History and Literature are even worse than my math…

        “Every Hundred Years to Rise” sounds like it should be some Victorian Cthulhu story
        Teehee! (I’d read it.)

  2. d_aulnoy

    I remember your mentioning Rossetti and “Goblin Market” for inclusion in the text, so I’m automatically veering that’a’way, but just in case it doesn’t fit for whatever reason … may I suggest Swinburne?

    “Lady of Pain” and “My people, my children, my chosen: marked cross from the womb and perverse” are two random phrase of his that I’ve always loved (which, somehow, seems applicable to your prior descriptions of the Queen of the Onyx Court and, alternately, to a tale of Faerie set in his period): “harsh time’s imperious child” (“Discord”) is another that might somehow fit; and, of course, the classic “lilies and langors of virtue, the roses and raptures of vice” (“Dolores” again … rather obviously, I have a fondness for this one). One thing to narrow it down … are you looking for *any* phrase from Victorian lit. which seems applicable, or would you like to limit it to fairy poetry?

    • Marie Brennan

      Any Victorian lit. (Especially since the odds of getting industrialization and fairies in the same poem seem small.) And the more concise, the better; “Harsh Time’s Imperious Child,” for example, might make a very good short story title, but it’s less novel-like, at least in my head.

      • d_aulnoy

        Carole G. Silver has a great chapter exactly on this topic in _Strange and Secret Peoples: Fairies and Victorian Consciousness_, titled “Farewell to the Fairies”. “Titania’s Farewell” (Besant & Rice, 1876) sounds like *exactly* what you’re looking for: I don’t have a copy on hand, but Silver quotes it pretty extensively. She also goes into Baring-Gould and Dunsany, Lang and Kendall … I’d peg it as a good starting point.

        • Marie Brennan

          I read that book years ago, and have it on my shelf even now, as one of the things I need to review before starting on the novel. But I hadn’t thought of it as a source for titles, so thanks!

  3. sartorias

    poets…is Hopkins too late for you? He’s full of awesome images.

    • Marie Brennan

      Since I haven’t settled on a year yet, it’s hard to say what’s too late and what isn’t. But I probably won’t be going past about 1875 at the latest.

      I’ll keep him in mind.

    • buzzermccain


      How about The Wreck of the Deutschland?

      Bound Bones, Thy Dark Descending, The Sour Scythe Cringe, The Whorl and the Wheel, The Fountains of Air, Your Bower of Bone, He Scores it in Scarlet, The Gnarls of the Nails, Sealed in Wild Waters, The Heaven of Desire, The Beat of Endragonรจd Seas (Seriously-!), A Bitterer Vein, The Uttermost Mark.

      I like “The Whorl and the Wheel”.

      • sartorias

        Oh that poem is filled with serious awesomeness.

        How about some lesser known Keats?

        No! those days are gone away,
        And their hours are old and gray,
        And their minutes buried all
        Under the down-trodden pall
        Of the leaves of many years:
        Many times have winter’s shears,
        Frozen North, and chilling East,
        Sounded tempests to the feast
        Of the forest’s whispering fleeces,
        Since men knew nor rent nor leases.

        No, the bugle sounds no more,
        And the twanging bow no more;
        Silent is the ivory shrill
        Past the heath and up the hill;
        There is no mid-forest laugh,
        Where lone Echo gives the half
        To some wight, amaz’d to hear
        Jesting, deep in forest drear.

        On the fairest time of June
        You may go, with sun or moon,
        Or the seven stars to light you,
        Or the polar ray to right you;
        But you never may behold
        Little John, or Robin bold;
        Never one, of all the clan,
        Thrumming on an empty can
        Some old hunting ditty, while
        He doth his green way beguile
        To fair hostess Merriment,
        Down beside the pasture Trent;
        For he left the merry tale
        Messenger for spicy ale.

        Gone, the merry morris din;
        Gone, the song of Gamelyn;
        Gone, the tough-belted outlaw
        Idling in the “grene shawe;”
        All are gone away and past!
        And if Robin should be cast
        Sudden from his turfed grave,
        And if Marian should have
        Once again her forest days,
        She would weep, and he would craze:
        He would swear, for all his oaks,
        Fall’n beneath the dockyard strokes,
        Have rotted on the briny seas;
        She would weep that her wild bees
        Sang not to her–strange! that honey
        Can’t be got without hard money!

        So it is: yet let us sing,
        Honour to the old bow-string!
        Honour to the bugle-horn!
        Honour to the woods unshorn!
        Honour to the Lincoln green!
        Honour to the archer keen!
        Honour to tight little John,
        And the horse he rode upon!
        Honour to bold Robin Hood,
        Sleeping in the underwood!
        Honour to maid Marian,
        And to all the Sherwood-clan!
        Though their days have hurried by
        Let us two a burden try.

        (John Keats, “Robin Hood. To a Friend”)

        • Marie Brennan

          I’m looking more for things in an urban rather than natural bent. Apropos of Keats, though, I do wish it were appropriate to reuse the title from the 1828 segment of my game Memento, which I called “This Living Hand.”

          Alas, that doesn’t fit this story.

  4. katfeete

    You might look at some of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s more politically active stuff… here’s a stanza from “The Cry of the Children”:

    “For all day, the wheels are droning, turning;
    Their wind comes in our faces,-
    Till our hearts turn, – our heads with pulses burning,
    And the walls turn in their places;
    Turns the sky in the high window blank and reeling,
    Turns the long light that drops adown the wall,
    Turn the black flies that crawl along the ceiling:
    All are turning, all the day, and we with all.
    And all day, the iron wheels are droning,
    And sometimes we could pray,
    ‘O ye wheels,’ (breaking out in a mad moaning)
    ‘Stop! be silent for to-day!'”

    God, I love overwrought Victorians. Anyway, both she and her husband Robert Browning may be good bets, only I can’t dig up any more right now because I am Late For Work and my parrot has taken this opportunity to disassemble the left side of my keyboard. I blame any stray characters on him.

    • Marie Brennan

      I’ve gone through everything of the Brownings’ that’s in the 1964 Norton antho (which is what we happen to have on hand), but of course that isn’t everything they wrote. (Elizabeth, for example, gets all of two sonnets in there.)

  5. raisinfish

    Hardy is gritty. It’s a pity, though, that Blake was a Romantic. Your description there makes me think of the chimney sweep (and others) in Songs of Innocence/Experience.

    • Marie Brennan

      I’m potentially willing to quote a Romantic if that ends up being the best option — specifically because Blake came very much to mind. None of his poems I’ve read so far, though, quite gave me what I needed.

  6. mrissa

    I asked , because this is her field of grad work, and she said Robert Browning is the likeliest candidate from her perspective, with his “murders and madmen.” She describes Matthew Arnold as urban and Thomas Hardy with fin de siecle despair.

    • Marie Brennan

      Hadn’t tried Hardy, and I may just have to dig up some complete works of Browning and Arnold, because nothing in the 1964 Norton antho worked, but they might have tidbits squirreled away in other poems.

      Thank for me. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. difrancis

    Something more specific would be useful, as I am actually a Victorianist. What comes to my mind at this point is the poem “City of Dreadful Night” Here’s a URL for an e-version:

    I might also look at Matthew Arnold. “Dover Beach” has always been one of my favorites (and Dover Bitch, the parody of it). I might also look at some of Tennyson and both Brownings. I personally find Hardy’s poetry very dark and a heavy commentary on the Victorians–he’s later though.

    But if you have more sense of the substance, I might have something better. But check out City of Dreadful night. It’s a long poem, and very dark. All about the later Victorian bitterness and disillusion.

    • Marie Brennan

      Aha! James Thomson is the one was trying to remember the other night. Thanks.

      The lack of specificity is a problem on my end, too. I just haven’t developed the idea enough yet to be able to delineate it sharply — but then again, for me, titles tend to be an important part of that development.

      If I had to be specific, I’d say I would love a nice, concise phrase or image that describes Victorian London. Something that captures the city itself — especially central London, the City with a capital C.

      • difrancis

        I suggest looking at the first few pages of Bleak House. A great description of London and it might have just what you’re looking for. It’s online. Also, it’s not Victorian, but The Love song of J. Alfred Prufrock (by Eliot) has great imagery for the city, though it doesn’t have anything that I see as easily liftable (though the murder and create line is fabulous).

        Also, this is the Victorian Women’s Writers project and has a lot of lesser known writers of all genres. Oh, you might look at EBB Aurora Leigh. It’s a novel in verse and is lovely.


        • Marie Brennan

          Thanks. I know Dickens has the sensibility I want, but where to start? Now I know.

          • difrancis

            oh, and another

            Also, Byron’s “Darkness” is fabulous in terms of this sort of post-apocalyptic feel to it. I might also look at Arthur Clough.


          • Marie Brennan

            Re: oh, and another

            Hee — I’d never read “Darkness” before, but I like it muchly.

            Arthur Clough is not familiar to me, but I’ll check him out.

  8. wrathchylde

    I would have suggested the Brownings myself, but it looks like I’ve been beat to it.

    But I can point you at a livejournal group I joined a while back, dark victoria. For some reason I can never post lj communities with hotlinks, but if you peek at my profile you’ll see it listed there. It might be a good place to post your question.

    • Marie Brennan

      Oooh, thanks! I will do exactly that.

      • wrathchylde

        Oh, also … Dickens? Perhaps? If you’re just looking for a phrase, you might find something perfect.

        • Marie Brennan

          Yeah . . . the problem is the sheer volume of Dickens there is to look through. (I’ve already tried various quote dictionaries, which yielded a few possibilities, but nothing immediately compelling.)

          • wrathchylde

            What do you mean you don’t want to spend the next month doing nothing but reading Dickens? ๐Ÿ˜›

            One last thought and then it’s back to work for me. If I’m not mistaken, Dickens named his chapters … so maybe the chapter titles would be a good place to look?

          • Marie Brennan

            I’ll check that out.

  9. thucyken

    Writ in Water?

    If you’re open to Romantics, I was always struck by Keats’ tombstone. He wanted nothing written on it but, “Here lies one whose name was writ in water.”

    • Marie Brennan

      Re: Writ in Water?

      And I think that’s an allusion back to a line of Shakespeare’s, from . . . Henry the somethingth, can’t recall what.

  10. oddsboy

    Just some suggestions on possible titles from everyone’s favorite helpful Crow.

    Midnight Never Come Again?
    The Reckoning. II. The Prequel. (Because all good prequel/sequels are called the Reckoning)
    The Good, the Bad and the Eldritch.
    “Midnight’s finally here, and it’s here to kick ass…”
    Erasmus: Sexinator
    A Snifter Full of Whupass
    That Morningish Period After a Bender Never Come, ‘lest it’s with a Good Curry
    Blind Rage: The Tiresius Chronicles (sort of like that Vin Diesel flick after Pitch Black)

  11. wanderingbastet

    Hi! You don’t know me, I don’t think, though I believe perhaps we met at a party in Bloomington at one point several years ago… We have a handful of LJ friends in common. Anyhoo, just letting you know I’ll be popping by occasionally. ๐Ÿ™‚ (Oh, and if you get the chance, would you mind crediting me on your icon page for the Rosencratnz & Guildenstern icon? I’m particularly proud of that one…)

    • Marie Brennan

      Done. I didn’t realize it had originated with you, or I would have credited it sooner. (I knew you had that icon, but figuring out where things started in cyberspace can be a challenge.)

      • wanderingbastet

        ‘Sall good. I know a bunch of people have asked to steal it, and eventually it gets to the point where no one knows where something started… Makes me feel all glowy that so many people like it. ๐Ÿ˜€

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