Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Some titles

stick in the mind like lines of poetry, even if you don't like the entire poem. Fortunately, in the main, I do.

I love what follows on from three of my four favourite titles: Samuel Delany's Time considered as a helix of semi-precious stones, William Eastlake's Portrait of the artist with twenty-six horses & Henry Miller's The alcoholic veteran with the washboard cranium. The fourth is the title of a Janet Frame novel, Scented gardens for the blind, even though I am not a fan of her writing - but then, I don't think there is even one New Zealand writer of fiction (& I'm deliberately classing Martin Edmond as faction here) that I can truly say I like - & it took me twenty years, & a night-walk in an Australian garden, to realise the obvious meaning of the phrase.

But I have come across a title I am both intrigued & half-appalled by. Part of it was appropriated by Laurie R. King for the second novel in her wonderful series featuring Mary Russell, companion & later wife to Sherlock Holmes, but I seem to have skipped King's introductory quote for it was only today that I was consciously aware of the full title of the book she referred to.

It's by John Knox, founder of the protestant Church of Scotland, later to become - or be merged with - the Presbyterian Church. & it's about two specific women. When first published in 1588 it was directed against the Catholic Mary Tudor, but a little later to be also against Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots.

The full title: First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women.

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