Monday, February 27, 2012

Those Crazy Victorians!

Those of you familiar with my somewhat free-range reading choices know that I don't shy away from the Victorian-era novels. I'm a fan of Dickens, Hardy, Eliot, the Brontes etc. You know? The writers so well-known they don't need first names?
Currently I am in the midst of a real doorstop of a massive tome.
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. First published in 1860, apparently an age in which razors, electric or otherwise, were yet to be invented.
<-- Look at the rat's nest on the guy!
I loved his other famous novel, The Moonstone, and this one is also a dandy.
Thing about these Victorians that always throws me for a loop is how long it takes them to say stuff.
I mean… the excessive verbiage. Trollope is a fine example.
For instance, here in my current book, the sweet heroine Laura Fairlie has been betrothed to this guy Percival, but in the meantime she has fallen in love with another guy, her art teacher, Walter Hartright. So she figures she should tell Percival of this complication prior to any actual nuptials taking place. White-knuckled, poor Percival grips the table and hears --

"I have heard," she said, "and I believe it, that the fondest and truest of affections is the affection which a woman ought to bear her husband. When our engagement began that affection was mine to give, if I could, and yours to win, if you could. Will you pardon me, and spare me, Sir Percival, if I acknowledge that it is not so any longer?"

Say what?
The wild thing is that Percy totally GETS the message.
If that was me I would have said, "Darling… umm, me no understandee!"
It just so cracks me up how these crazy Victorians say things.

So -- I'm going to start talking like this, I think.
Next time I idle the ol' Mazda up to the Drive-Thru I'm going to say:
Salutations! sincere disembodied voice that hearkens from yon speaker grill. Prithee forgive my voluble pangs of hunger, but I beg of thy comrades, perhaps mingling thine own ministrations in said process, yea, in consort with thy various scullery-bound hair-netted culinary youthservants, thou wouldst together provide me victuals in the manner of two buns betwixt which lie fulsome layers of roasted bovine avec fromage!
Then I'm going to floor it to the pickup window where the kid will probably be checking his headset for interference from outer space!



Beth said...

You write THE best reviews! To the point and with humour.
Love your drive-thru “verbiage.”

Stefanie said...

I loved Woman in White! Have you met Count Fosco yet? He is a most awesome character. And if you should ever order your cheeseburger like that, please be sure to record it. I'd like to bothe hear you and see the look of complete bafflement on the poor order-taker's face :)

Amy said...

I loved The Moonstone and have The Woman in White on my Kindle, though lord knows when I'll get to it. I guess you could say the Victorians excelled at euphemisms. That was a really nice way to say buzz off.

Melwyk said...

Just wait until you get to "Armadale", my favourite Collins. Lots of fabulous villiany and verbiage there ;)

Erin in Boston said...

Your excellent ordering verbiage would probably be responded to with the ever intelligent "Huh?" :)

Alyce said...

Oh, that made me laugh so hard! If I had a nickel for every time my simple order for a double cheeseburger meal is met with a "Huh? We don't have that" I'd be a rich girl. Because I can never remember the official name of the meal and that makes the order person very angry at me as I explain that I want to order the meal that comes with a double cheeseburger, fries and a drink. And then they say, "Oh you mean the McDouble meal." And I say, "Yes, the double cheeseburger meal." And they say, "I'm sorry ma'am we don't have a double cheeseburger meal, just the McDouble." And I want to beat my head on the steering wheel in frustration.

Sorry for that digression. It would give me great satisfaction though in such a circumstance to reel off something such as you have written.