Book Review: The Mysteries of Udolpho

I’ve been finishing up some writing projects, so I’ve been a little quiet on here. However, in the midst of all of the writing, I did take some time to read a book that I’ve been meaning to read for years: The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe.

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It’s an old book, published in 1794. It’s a long pieces of work (over 600 pages) and is the book that is considered the start of the genre of Gothic literature. It’s been a long time since I read a book from the 18th century, so I was preparing myself to slowly read through the pages, digesting each sentence to make sense of the stilted, archaic language. However, I was wrong. Okay, the words “countenance,” “honor,” and “esteem” are heavily used in this book, but the book is way ahead of its time in sense of sentence and story structure. There are also numerous tears that fall and fainting spells that happen (I mean a lot), but there’s mystery, horror, psychological thrills, and romance all neatly packaged within its pages. These pages follow the story of Emily, an orphan cast into the hands of her evil guardian, Count Montoni. Hidden away in the mountains of Italy in the Castle of Udolopho, Emily is not only at the mercy of Montoni’s wrath as he sets out to claim ownership of her estates, but placed within psychological duress as she uncovers the many haunting secrets of the castle and tries in vain to reconnect with her lover, Valancourt.

It took awhile for this book to grow on me but now that I’ve finished the book, I feel lonely without it (and that’s a good sign). I haven’t read a good, old-fashioned thriller (and romance!) in awhile and this has all the twists, turns, and surprises that I would hope for in such a novel.

I also think this book grew on me because of the many references to nature found within it. Though a pioneering piece for Gothic literature, the book is technically part of the Romantic Era and Radcliffe wastes no time in detailing the awe inspiring Pyrenees, the turquoise Mediterranean, and bountiful forests that make up many of her descriptive paragraphs. Emily also has an appreciation of nature that offers her comfort and solace when in duress; nature is also something that she and her lover connect upon. In short, I find it beautiful and terribly romantic.

Radcliffe was one of the highest paid authors of her day for her books and there’s not a doubt as to why. If you’re looking for something different and something somewhat challenging to for your summer reading, check out The Mysteries of Udolopho.

Writing through Anger

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This evening, I read a rather interesting article about writing and anger. We’re often told that writing when we’re angry will result in regret (after all, our emotions are getting the better of us and we spill our thoughts and feelings in a moment of passion to another individual). However, writing when we’re angry for only the audience of ourselves is a completely different story.

Writing is perhaps on of the most therapeutic endeavors that you can participate in. If you’re angry, hurt, and dejected, it’s a way to get your feelings out of you in a constructive manner. It’s also a way to get your emotions out of you in a mindful manner. According to the article Five Steps on Mindfully Releasing Anger by Andrea Brandt, PhD, MFT, “writing down your emotions—without judging them—is one of the quickest ways to become aware of what’s going on inside you.” I can tell you that each journal that I’ve ever written in throughout my lifetime has taken all sorts of anger from me – and has left me feeling better for purging in its pages .

This post perhaps seems a little out of character for Scribbles and Scripts, but I’ve suffered a number of frustrations over the past couple of months and I’ve noticed that writing has always allowed me to release these frustrations without ruining the relationships in my life. I’ve also been enjoying practicing yoga to release some of these frustrations as well, so perhaps that’s another reason why topics on mindfulness are so interesting to me at the moment.

So I’ll sign off on this post with a homework assignment for anyone who’s reading this – next time your angry, write out your feelings. No editing allowed. Just write. You’ll feel better afterwards.

 

Works Cited

The Five Steps to Mindfully Releasing Anger

Andrea Brandt – https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/mindful-anger/201405/the-five-steps-mindfully-releasing-anger

Saving the Planet, One Word at a Time

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April is National Poetry Month and April 22nd is also Earth Day. Reflecting on the day today, I can’t help but think about all of the writers that have been inspired by nature: Robert Frost, William Wordsworth, Alfred Lord Tennyson, John Keats, Robert Burns, Emily Dickinson, William Shakespeare – the list can go on and on.

I myself am a writer who is continuously inspired by nature and truly, without the beauty of the forests, meadows, oceans, and animals to reflect upon, my inspiration would be taken away. Though not everyone desires to write about the natural world, I have yet to find a writer who has not at one point been inspired by nature in some way or another throughout their writing journey.

As writers, I believe it’s important for us to continue to delve into nature; to praise it poetically, to describe it’s beauty, awesomeness, and inspiration. Our planet needs us more than ever, and we as artists have the gift to inspire and move others into action. Here’s some ways that you can help save the planet, one word at a time:

Read nature-focused fiction and non-fiction pieces. Delve into those poems on the awesomeness of nature that were written during the Romantic Era. Read Silent Spring, A Walk in the Woods, H is for Hawk, Gorillas in the Mist, etc. No better place to start then reading the same types of work that you are interested in writing.

Observe. Go to the park or your backyard. Notice the small things, the details of nature so often overlooked in the rush of life such as the intricacies of the feathers of a bird, the veins in a leaf, the spider’s web – each is a potential for inspiration and new discovery.

Take action. Plant a community garden, fight for environmental rights and legislation, fundraise, participate in clean ups, etc. It’s hard to only write about the beauty of the earth without caring for it first. Take the time to care for your living and breathing home.

Message. What’s the message of your piece? Keep the answer in mind as you craft your work.

Get your work out there! Below are a list of publications that accept nature works of various styles. Check them out!

Canary: http://canarylitmag.org/

Center for Humans and Nature: http://www.humansandnature.org/

The Goose: http://scholars.wlu.ca/thegoose/

Orion Magazine: https://orionmagazine.org/

The Fourth Rive: http://www.thefourthriver.com/

Happy Easter!

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Easter by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Break the box and shed the nard;
Stop not now to count the cost;
Hither bring pearl, opal, sard;
Reck not what the poor have lost;
Upon Christ throw all away:
Know ye, this is Easter Day.

Build His church and deck His shrine,
Empty though it be on earth;
Ye have kept your choicest wine—
Let it flow for heavenly mirth;
Pluck the harp and breathe the horn:
Know ye not ’tis Easter morn?

Gather gladness from the skies;
Take a lesson from the ground;
Flowers do ope their heavenward eyes
And a Spring-time joy have found;
Earth throws Winter’s robes away,
Decks herself for Easter Day.

Beauty now for ashes wear,
Perfumes for the garb of woe,
Chaplets for dishevelled hair,
Dances for sad footsteps slow;
Open wide your hearts that they
Let in joy this Easter Day.

Seek God’s house in happy throng;
Crowded let His table be;
Mingle praises, prayer, and song,
Singing to the Trinity.
Henceforth let your souls always
Make each morn an Easter Day.

Book Review: H is for Hawk

A couple a Saturdays ago, I was geeking out at a falconry demonstration that came to town (it actually was part of a Harry Potter conference, where I learned how to write with a quill, peruse ancient texts, and live for a day at Hogwarts – I was in heaven!).

Anyway, back to falconry.

I always thought falconry was a dead art; something that only existed in medieval times. I also thought that whatever birds of prey used in falconry (if it was indeed still practiced) were birds that were bred in captivity and trained at birth by human hands to be the hunting companions that they would grow up to be. Well, my first thought was wrong. Falconry is alive and well today and is one of the most respected and ancient forms of hunting out there. My second thought was partly incorrect. There are birds used in falconry that are born in captivity,  but for the most part, you catch the birds in the  wild while they are young, train them to be your hunting companion for a year or so, and then release them back into the wild.

Throughout the presentation, we learned about the history of falconry and then eventually met some stars of the show: Kylo, the Harris’ Hawk and Chase, the Red-Tailed Hawk.

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After that day, I just wanted to read as much as I could about falconry and in my quest, I came across H is for Hawk, by Helen MacDonald.

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One part memoir, one part naturalist’s text, one part literary muse, this book follows the story of Helen (the author) as she trains a goshawk in lieu of her father’ passing.

Granted, I still knew rather nothing about falconry at the time that I read this book (sans the basic knowledge that I gained from the presentation) and as I closed the pages, I was astounded by the knowledge that I had gained about this ancient skill just by reading Helen’s story. She is a remarkable writer and her connection to nature is inspiring. She goes beyond mere observation of her goshawk (Mabel) and treats her as an equal. It’s a great thing, when that barrier is crossed between man and animal, and it’s amazing that this can occur between humans and wild birds of prey. I think that’s what really astounded me about Helen and her relationship with Mabel, because Mabel isn’t a domesticated pet; her lineage doesn’t consist of thousands of years of human interaction and conditioning. Yet, Helen shows that with respect and regard for another species, everlasting relationships can be formed – and that, sometimes, these cross-species friendships and relationships, can have the most profound affect on our lives.

 

 

Celebrating Female Authors: Voices that Inspire

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Today is International Women’s Day and I can’t help but think of all of my favorite books written by female authors. So today, in honor of the day, I would just like to highlight these wonderful ladies who have brought such joy to my life through their amazing stories that they penned through the written word.

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Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander series.

 

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Leslie Marmon Silko, author of the critically acclaimed novel, Ceremony.

 

 

 

 

 

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Helen MacDonald, naturalist, writer, falconer. H is for Hawk.

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J.K. Rowling, changed my childhood forever with her wizardry. Author of the Harry Potter series.

 

 

 

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Charlotte Bronte, strong-willed and inspiring author of Jane Eyre.

 

 

 

 

 

Who are some of your favorite female authors? How have they inspired you? Leave your comments in the comment section at the bottom of this post.

Happy International Women’s Day!