Wednesday, February 10, 2016
she had a Desire to return to the Place
After the last post I thought of Haywood’s 1726 Double Marriage again, especially a section of one sentence, which came into my head, or some version of it, God knows I didn’t remember the words too well, but they were this: “ … she resolved to know the Truth; and as nothing but ocular Demonstration could convince her it was so, she procur’d herself a Suit of Men’s Clothes, and in all things equipt like a Youth of fashion, went in the Stage-Coach to Plymouth; having pretended to her Father that she had a Desire to return to the Place she came from in the Country …” – which deserves to be set next to this fragment from chapter one of the same book, “Alathia [the same ‘she’], had Beauty, such as, in Idea, enliven’d the Fancies of the celebrated Titian and Raphael, famous for their Representations of the Queen of Love” – so, wonder, how did she ... -- where did she find a wig? – did she look like one of Chardin’s young men who dream over their cards with epicene Elizabeth Peyton faces? -- and what if (this was actually my real first thought but I had to fill in the rest first) the aspect of Haywood that had worked in the theatre as actor and playwright had accepted that this line was a cue she could have used to show off her knowledge of costumes?
Extrapolatory swagger! At least a paragraph’s worth of tangent there. How did she coat over that extreme womanliness. But Haywood didn’t do it --
She has cued herself and not used the cue --
She is an author of restraint.
She has used the words “of fashion” after “Youth,” to explain the unusual shape of the boy teenager, the phrase “Queen of Love” being transformed here, by the words “of fashion,” into long-bodied, flexible, free-floating ambiguous grace, without the earlier implications of extreme unmistakable female shape, the womanly-coy “sweet disorder” of Alathia’s other self, page two, chapter one, and other phrases the author has used on her, all suggesting physicality, all capable of being replaced by a formation called “fashion.”