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Everyday Life

Jun. 11th, 2009 | 11:09 pm
posted by: toastedcheese in spelled_asleep

As I promised on my personal journal, I'm posting mini-reviews of the books I've been using for general worldbuilding research. More will probably follow. Maybe I'll include fun anecdotes I've learned as well.

Everyday Life of the Pagan Celts by Anne Ross

This is actually a subject I know something about, and I found this a fantastic book, even though it was written in 1970. The date meant that the author bandied around words like "primitive" and "archaic" more than was strictly necessary, but it also meant she didn't shy away from painting a vivid portrait of the Celts - vain, proud, often drunken warriors who nevertheless highly valued intelligence and the power of language to order the world. It could be that I'm a bit out of date and there's more nuanced analyses of the literary and archaeological evidence that I don't know about - certainly it's a danger in writing fantasy to perpetuate old myths of how people work (not to mention it makes you feel gauche). But generally I found this a valuable resource, very clearly-written and full of data to back up its claims.

Everyday Life in Medieval Times by Marjorie Rowling

Another older book. This author wrote a helpful guide to Northern English folk legends that I read at one point, but while this was a detailed book, it was way too dense for my purposes. Example after example, with generalizations hidden among them; I never felt like she was getting to the point. Maybe it's just not a good book for skimming....

A Day in a Medieval City by Chiara Frugoni

This book was really fun! It's a glossy picture-filled book originally written in Italian, and it takes you through all of the aspects of urban Italian medieval life. It was really nice to get an Italian perspective, not only because I'm writing about a Mediterranean-climate city, but because everyone thinks of Britain/France/Germany/Netherlands when they talk about the Middle Ages. Contemporary art provides an incredibly helpful primary resource, and there are lots of really funny anecdotes.

Apparently Italian cities were occasionally taken over by the simulated battles of teenage boys; adults would get involved and casualties would result. They were only prohibited by city councils when mercenaries came into vogue and they weren't useful as combat experience any longer.

The Worlds of Medieval Europe by Clifford Backman

My favorite so far. He's a really engaging writer and has provided me with all sorts of lovely specific information about farming, housing, and why people conquer each other so much in medieval history books. He delves into the various sources of medieval culture - including Islamic and Byzantine - and just gives a really great textbook overview of a long and complex period. Only halfway through this one, but I think I'm going to skim as little as possible because it's so good!

My favorite tidbit from this one involves the Anglo-Saxons. Apparently of the Germanic tribes they'd had the least exposure to the Romans or Christianity, and really weren't into this whole civilization thing. They settled in isolating farming communities because they believed that cities were evil places inhabited by demons. Everyone on the Continent thought that A-S England was the most pathetic backwater you could imagine, although eventually it got its act together and formed the Heptarchy.

Also, early Germanic laws were completely obsessed with sex and making sure it didn't happen most of the time. Among the Alemannis it was illegal to loosen or fondle a woman's hair if you weren't married to her. (At least I'm assuming they had this "if.")

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Jun. 5th, 2009 | 11:42 pm
posted by: toastedcheese in spelled_asleep

Good God, it's been more than a year since I've used this community. Let's see if we can remedy that.

This is a song I wrote over the winter. It's meant to be sung by Joan Baez to acoustic guitar, but probably it will have to be demoted to poem status instead.


The taste of the communion wine's
Still on your tongue and teeth
You've never tasted anything
So bitter or so sweet

The sanctuary's emptying
The hush is closing in
You know where you are going to
But wonder where you've been.

You wake up each morning
The earth is clothed in white
The writers call it purity
But you know better

They've all written your story
A young girl passed through
The world - but a literary coming of age
Has never come to you.

The church is almost empty now
You aren't allowed to stay
Among the windows and the candles
Glimmering bright as day

They'll make you walk in darkness now
But darkness is where you're from
You'll fear nothing
And no one.

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Apr. 25th, 2008 | 02:53 pm
posted by: toastedcheese in spelled_asleep

We walked like people in someone else's poem.
Our shadows stretched before us, as if the moonlight
Mistook them for its own Atlantic bride.
There might have been roses, but there weren't.
It was not quite summer.
I wondered what old man, what Jupiter, watched us
And traced our forms as ciphers for his lost youth.

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Mar. 20th, 2008 | 01:35 pm
posted by: toastedcheese in spelled_asleep

I don't think this is particularly exciting, so I'm not friends-locking it. However, remember that you have to join this community to see the friends-locked stuff (i.e., most of it)!



We talk about Christ figures in poetry, and I wish
We could just leave you out of it.
But a voice says, I am in it,
I am in deep.
Every reference you make to me is redundant,
Every encyclopedia is complete
Without my Greek name.
All the world sings (and sometimes shrieks)
Christ! Christ! Christ!
No poem can write me better or write me out.
Choose your words carefully—
A whisper is better than a shout.



Yay for writing journals that allow you to unprofessionally go on about where things came from. This came from, unsurprisingly, this morning's poetry class, and how whenever the word "resurrection" is used in English literature, people jump up and down and shout, "It's Jeeesus!" Although people aren't as obsessed with that as they are with Eden. Every garden and every flower is Eden according to some people.

Okay, end rant.

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Mar. 14th, 2008 | 12:48 am
posted by: toastedcheese in spelled_asleep

Most of this community will be friend-locked. If you'd like to read along, join the community, and you should be able to see the rest of the posts. That is at least how I think it ought to work.

If you're only watching the community, I'm pretty sure you still won't be able to see anything.

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willkommen, bienvenue, welcome

Mar. 8th, 2008 | 11:19 pm
mood: creativecreative
posted by: toastedcheese in spelled_asleep

If you'd like to read and want to introduce yourself, post here!

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