Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Letters of Lady Mary Wortley Montague

I'm re-reading them, for the pure pleasure of locating the funny bits. Here is one (dated 1712):

Mr. Sterne, the titular bishop, was last week married to a very pretty woman, Mrs. Bateman, whom he fell in love with for falling backward from her horse leaping a ditch, where she displayed all her charms, which he found irresistible.

And here is something about the fate of a writer who wrote something scandalous (1709):

But do you know what has happened to the unfortunate authoress? People are offended at the liberty she uses in her memoirs, and she is taken into custody. Miserable is the fate of writers: if they are agreeable, they are offensive; if they are dull, they starve.

And these from only the first ten pages or so. It's also interesting how often she has to defend some woman's behavior, because it is seen as the way "all women behave", not as something one individual did, or how often she is trying to assure someone that she is not like those other women. I may pick more quotes about that later on. - Of course the major interest in her letters has to do with her descriptions of Turkey where she lived for a while with her husband who was the British Ambassador to Turkey.