Posts Tagged ‘1700s’

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The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne

October 29, 2011

So there’s this thing, the Classics Circuit. They organize blog tours. You pick a book in keeping with the theme of the tour, read it, and post a review on an assigned date. I thought it would be easy. I was wrong.

It’s my own fault, mostly. I started by choosing Jane Talbot, by Charles Brockden Brown, from the list of Gothic novels provided by the Classics Circuit. I ended up reading a little over half of it before realizing that nothing you’d expect to find in a Gothic novel had shown up yet, and, with less than half the book left, nothing was likely to. So I did a bit of googling and found that, while Brown did write four Gothic novels, Jane Talbot has never been considered one of them.

I’ll be coming back to Jane Talbot at some point, because it’s a really interesting book, but it didn’t seem appropriate to read something that clearly wasn’t a Gothic novel for the Gothic Lit Tour. So I decided to read The Recess, by Sophia Lee. It’s one of the early proto-Gothic novels, and it’s about two daughters of Mary, Queen of Scots, being raised in an underground apartment and eventually (I’m guessing) finding their way to the surface, falling in love with inappropriate people, and having lots of terrible things happen to them. But, as you can see, The Recess is not the book listed at the top of this post. I’d still kind of like to read it, despite the fact that the beginning creeped me out a little, but only if I find a hard copy or it shows up as a proper etext somewhere. The only place I could find it was Google Books (in three separate volumes, no less) and I just didn’t have the patience.

At that point I figured I might as well just give up on finding something new and go read some Ann Radcliffe. I know I’m capable of dealing with Radcliffe. I mean, I like The Mysteries of Udolpho enough to have read it multiple times (and by multiple I mean two and a half). The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne was Radcliffe’s first novel, and the only one of her books that fit in a single volume, both of which seemed like positive things at the time.

I was wrong about that, too. Read the rest of this entry ?

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The Art of Confectionary

September 29, 2009

Have you ever wanted to boil sugar “to the Degree called Smooth”? Do you urgently need to draw a jelly from pippins? Have you, like me, always been curious about the preparation of cochineal? Do you wish to know the difference between preserving gooseberries green and preserving them white?

The Art of Confectionary, published 1761, has all the answers and much more. I’m tempted to try some of the recipes, if only I could decipher them. Take the following, for example, a recipe for “The Feathered Sugar”:

The Feathered Sugar,

Is a higher Degree of boiling Sugar, which is to be proved by dipping the Scummer when it hath boiled somewhat longer; shake it first over the Pan, then giving it a sudden Flurt behind you; if it be enough, the Sugar will fly off like Feathers.

What is the Scummer? What does “it” refer to? And, most importantly, what is a Flurt?