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Vellichor Afternoons

I like trip-hop, anachronism, cats, both coffee and tea, the sound of rain on a tin roof, antique keys, pop culture as a substitute for religion, theatre, photography, Oxford commas, and, of course, reading.

Currently reading

John Dies at the End
David Wong
Geek Love
Katherine Dunn
I, Lucifer
Glen Duncan
The Anglo Files: A Field Guide to the British
Sarah Lyall
An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace
Tamar Adler, Alice Waters
Craven Place
Richard Wright
Amy Greene
Unfamiliar Fishes
Sarah Vowell
Academics Handbook 2nd Ed-P

Beware the Cat: The First English Novel

Beware the Cat: The First English Novel - William Baldwin, Michael Flachmann This work, probably written in 1552-53 but not published until 1570 after the Protestant Elizabeth I had taken the throne in England, is considered to the be first novel written in English during the Early Modern period. It features reportage as the method of storytelling, and the plot arises out of a discussion about whether animals have reason, leading Master Streamer to orate at great length about his experiences with the language of cats. After compounding an alchemical brew that he drinks, he can understand the language of cats and listens to Mouse-Slayer give her testimony to a feline court.

The framework of storytelling is complex and masterful--Baldwin tells the story, relating Streamer's oration. Streamer also includes stories others have told him in his tale, so it's a thrice-removed narration where the question of reliability comes up. It is also a satirical skewering of the Catholic Church, wherein the Pope is considered a gluttonous devil and the Church is portrayed as superstitious and in a way is aligned with paganism, a common argument of the time since Protestants had issues with the idea of transubstantiation and with the Catholic worship of the holy trinity while still calling themselves monotheistic.

Overall, it's a fine tale, really--clever and funny and very enjoyable. I would recommend it not only as a cultural artifact, but as a good read.