Author Comment    
Isabel Trent

Apr 25, 05 - 2:03 PM
The Best Novel

"What is more interesting, to me at least, in the context of the contributors to this forum is: What consensus is there, if any, on the archetypal Best Novel?"

Thank you, Lucinda, for beginning such an amusing conversation, although I can't agree with you that Miss du Maurier's Rebecca is an excellent candidate. I found it rather wearisome... perhaps because having already seen dear Mr. Hitchcock's film, there remained for me no suspense. Let this be a lesson to you, girls; read the book before you go to the cinema!

Has anyone any idea of the parameters by which we might define the Best Novel? Ought it to be full of noble, uplifting sentiments? Ought it to be an example of the writer's art, full of exquisite metaphors and well-turned sentences? Ought it to turn one's life upside down, or simply be a marvellously enthralling read?

My own first thoughts are as follows:

In this House of Brede, by Rumer Godden
Olivia, by Olivia
Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
The Leopard, by Giuseppe de Lampedusa
The Feminine Regime, by Miss Regina Snow
Claudine, by Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette

As you can see, my literary tastes are simple, bordering on the infantile! I can't wait to see what the rest of you girls think. Even if we never manage to agree on the merits of any particular tome, what fun we'll have reading each other's favourites.

Oh; I've just begun The Tale of Genji, by Murasaki Shikibu, and I suspect that before I'm finished with it it will be placed on the above list. It's charming so far.
Miss Sharona

Apr 25th, 2005 - 9:07 PM
Re: The Best Novel

Colette my dear, must be the most talented writer!
I have therefore decided that I will not read any other book until I have read all her wonderful little tales. They are my friends, simply perfect!

"Amelia, if one were to believe her, had not hesitated to leave a sleeping and satiated sultan and go on foot, veiled, through the night streets of Constantinople to a hotel room where a sweet, blonde, and very young woman was waiting up for her..."

-diamond polishes diamond - a woman refines a woman..

Words of true wisdom from The Pure & The Impure
Isabel Trent

Apr 26th, 2005 - 8:45 AM
Re: The Best Novel

Ah, I know that story well! There are a few tidbits in Elektraspace here if any novice should like to examine Colette's prose for herself. Sleepless Nights is particularly apropos -- and Aphroditist.

What a tragedy it is that more of her work isn't readily available -- or available at all! -- in English. I have only read the five Claudines, the two Cheris, the two Renees, The Pure and the Impure, The Other One, My Apprenticeships, and her complete short stories. And Gigi, of course, and The Cat, and perhaps one or two others... all right, perhaps it isn't such a tragedy, but it would be a blessing if there were more.

The resident feline autocrat stalking through my lap is a devotee also. Her favourite line at the moment is: "The prostrate cat will now for a certainty stretch herself to a phenomenal length, produce from her body a front paw the exact length of which no one knows, and say, with a yawn like a flower: 'It is long past four o'clock.'"

Don't tell her I said so, but my little one yawns more like a wildcat than a flower!
Daphne D.

Apr 26th, 2005 - 8:29 PM
Re: The Best Novel

I do not believe there can truly be a "Best Novel"; novels are as diverse as their readers. Even of a single author's work there is rarely agreement about which is the best. There are good novels, and favourite novels, with hopefully some overlap. These are two of mine: James Hilton Lost Horizon and Jean Webster Daddy-Long-Legs.
Princess Mushroom

May 2nd, 2005 - 7:29 PM
Re: The Best Novel

I think Olivia has to be my favourite novel, and of non-girly novels, The Picture of Dorian Gray.

When I was young I loved The Wind on the Moon by the late Poet Laureate, Eric Linklater. The book made me cry copiously and swear I should never read another book, but I suspect that had more to do with my emotonal state at the time than with the book itself.

Patricia Prefect by Ethel Talbot is another rather fascinating book. It isn't at all well-written, I fear, but it is the story of an upright and dilligent blonde and a wayward and artistic brunette and the conflict between Love and Duty - and, of course, being a girls' school story, it is set in an all-female world. It really is a miniature Shakespearian tragedy - and it really is a tragedy to - but I shan't spoil the plot for you just in case you read it.

I really should like to re-publish this book, and perhaps some day we shall.

May 3rd, 2005 - 4:36 AM
Re: The Best Novel

An aspiring author myself, I could not resist replying to this intriguing question. There are a few characteristics which I treasured in the classics of my childhood, and I have always promised myself to include them in my own book one day. My ideal novel would have a table of contents at the front of the book, one for the thoughtfully named chapter titles, and another for each page-large picture, labelled by the quote that would appear beneath each one, drawn from the opposing page. Each copy of the book would have a thin ribbon bookmark attached to the spine with which to mark one's page when they absolutely must set the book down, if only for a very brief time. The novel would make the reader cry at least twice-once due to some revelation made whilst reading the book, and again when she has finished reading and deeply laments that the novel has ended. The ideal novel should make its reader laugh far more often than it makes its reader cry, and each word should be chosen for the express reason of making the reader feel something, and making her feel it as strongly and distinctly as possible. The ideal novel should make the reader feel love, because we need more of that in the world. The ideal novel should overwhelm with the reader with feelings, but its back cover should decline with a sigh that echoes that of its reader, who should enjoy the pleasure of utter closure after an intense emotional experience.
Having offered these few suggestions towards an idea of the ideal novel, I would like to take a moment to gloat over the fact that I have recently completed my sixth year of French language classes and have finally achieved a relative level of fluency. Therefore, I have an incomparably broad range of novels by Colette completely and utterly available to me and my improved intellect. Thank you for tolerating my lapse in humility, I wish you the best of luck in your search for the ideal novel.

P.S. Try trilogies instead-
I suggest His Dark Materials, by Philip Pullman, however it should be taken into consideration that those novels are favorites from my childhood infatuation with fantasy novels of controversial content.
Lady Aquila

May 3rd, 2005 - 11:08 AM
Re: The Best Novel

This attention to the physical production of a book was very much in the minds of the publishers of the Aristasian novels The Feminine Regime and Children of the Void - from the choice of the burgundy Wibalin cloth covers to the careful typesetting, using the renaissance-derived Bembo typeface with attention to such matters as ligatures and old-style numeric figures - matters unnoticed by ninety-nine readers in a hundred if not more but adding to the traditional feel of the book. The four margins are in the correct traditional proportions. The books are works of typography rarely seen in ordinator-designed volumes.

The gold-stamping on the spines was made by brasses cut from designs made at the (Aristasian) Imperial Press and are among the best Art-Neo brasses designed since the 1950s.

The format of the books is Demy Octavo rather than some dreadful bongo metric size or even an exact imperial measure (which would seem natural, but is not traditional in book production).

Between The Feminine Regime and Children of the Void some changes were made. Most notably from the use of Felsted white wove paper to the mellower-looking Felsted cream wove and the use throughout of a more unconventional design style based on the more "advanced" typography of Trent, Kadoria and Quirinelle - intended to express the book's provenance as part of the New [artistic] Movement - the title of one of the chapters. This style is most notable in the bold mixing of Bodoni Ultra with a rather dashing informal script face on the title page, contents page and the pages that head the book's four main sections.

Nor must one forget the commissioning of the four charming art-Neo illustrations by Giacomella Daqui. The one chosen as the frontispiece is a miniature masterpiece of Art-Neo style.

Incidentally, the inclusion of a ribbon-bookmark was considered, but apparently the binder was unable to do this to the satisfaction of the Imperial Press.

May 10th, 2005 - 9:30 PM
Re: The Best Novel

One of my favourite books is Grimm's fairy tales. After a session of reading these magical tales, I begin to feel that my life is a fairy tale, anything may happen and at any moment I may be tested, the outcome depending on how I respond. That everything which happens has meaning and can lead to awakening of the soul, if I know how to understand it.

It seems to me that there is more truth in these tales than in Darwin's theory of evolution or "rational" , scientific ways of looking at life. I think their theories are actually fairy tales ( in the derogatory sense).
Sushuri Novaryana

May 10th, 2005 - 11:23 PM
Re: The Best Novel

Fairy tales really are a Sattwic as opposed to Rajasic form of literature. (you'll find the meaning of those terms here if they are unfamiliar to you). As you say, they contain great depths of spiritual and metaphysical meaning. We keep meaning to post a fairy tale with an Aristasian spiritual commentary.

Of course the modern (by which I mean Rajasic-era) versions, such as those of Perrault, Andersen and Grimm, do have their failings from a Sattwic point of view. Grimm's ones can be a bit on the harsh side. But the fundamental meanings, of course, are still there.