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talesofsnape, rivertempest, toblass and madeleone have given me pandas!!! How lovely to get all those big fluffy bears -- thank you, m'dears :)

lady_of_clunn has an interesting meme on her post today, full of questions about one's house. One can learn a lot about someone from their house -- much more than from "Coke or Pepsi?" and "Croutons or bacon bits?" (Surprisingly, however, there are no questions about books or bookshelves; whenever I go into someone's house the first thing I do is prowl their bookshelves.)

I was amused to discover how many of my answers would be either "the cat" or "the dog." For example:

8. What is on top of your refrigerator? => the cat
9. What colour is your sofa? => same as the cats
32. Is there anything under your bed? => the cats (it used to be the dog as well, but now she's far too massive)
37. Is there anything on your kitchen floor right now? => the dog
43. Do you keep any kind of protective weapons in your home? => just the dog
44. What does your home smell like right now? => the dog
45. Favourite candle scent? => Not Dog?
55. What style do you decorate in? => Early Dog and Late Cat

I'm reading a very interesting book at the moment called Lord of the World. It's post-apocalypse -- well, it starts pre- and right now we're in medias res, so I guess it's full-on apocalyptic, not just post-. At any rate, it's quite fascinating. The author was an Anglican (is that the right word for C of E?) priest who later converted to Catholicism, and the book is an exploration of a near-future world in which Humanism has spread throughout the world and religion is regarded as a mildly embarrassing joke. The two main characters are Julian Felsenburgh, a myteriously charismatic American who becomes President of Europe, and Father Percy Franklin, a Catholic priest who recognizes the profound attraction of the secular world's temptations, achievements and beliefs but whose faith remains strong. Although I'm quite certain that the author is on the side of religion, he does a wonderful job painting the positive aspects and deep appeal of both sides.

But one of the most lovely things about it is its beauty of language. The book was written in 1907 and has all the lush, elaborate detail that one used to find in novels in general, but which is all too sadly lacking these days. For example, here is his description of the Pope, when Father Franklin first meets him:

It was a very upright old man that [Father Franklin] saw in the chair before him, of medium height and girth, with hands clasping the bosses of his chair-arms, and an appearance of great and deliberate dignity. But it was at the face chiefly that he looked, dropping his gaze three or four times, as the Pope's blue eyes turned on him. They were extraordinary eyes, reminding him of what historians said of Pius X.; the lids drew straight lines across them, giving him the look of a hawk, but the rest of the face contradicted them. There was no sharpness in that. It was neither thin nor fat, but beautifully modelled in an oval outline: the lips were clean-cut, with a look of passion in their curves; the nose came down in an aquiline sweep, ending in chiselled nostrils; the chin was firm and cloven, and the poise of the whole head was strangely youthful. It was a face of great generosity and sweetness, set at an angle between defiance and humility, but ecclesiastical from ear to ear and brow to chin; the forehead was slightly compressed at the temples, and beneath the white cap lay white hair. It had been the subject of laughter at the music-halls nine years before, when the composite face of well-known priests had been thrown on a screen, side by side with the new Pope's, for the two were almost indistinguishable.

Isn't that gorgeous? Nobody writes like that these days, or at least very few.

In an odd coincidence, one of my current freelance jobs is a book on Masonry, which includes a section on the Catholic Church's historically extremely negative attitude towards it. That same attitude is all over this book. The priests regularly talk about how Masonry has been the force behind the rise of Humanism, and at big gatherings they play the "Masonic Hymn" instead of some antiquated thing like a national anthem. Intriguing.

It's a cracking good story so far, too. None of your Left Behind sensationalist crap, but a slowly creeping horror. I have no idea how it will end but I've very much enjoying the ride. It's available for free on Project Gutenberg, if anyone is interested.

Comments

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teddyradiator
Sep. 17th, 2012 11:51 pm (UTC)
the lips were clean-cut, with a look of passion in their curves; the nose came down in an aquiline sweep, ending in chiselled nostrils; the chin was firm and cloven, and the poise of the whole head was strangely youthful. It was a face of great generosity and sweetness...

Ooh, that is sublime! That is a lover's perspective, isn't it? You can tell when a person loves the character they are describing. Lips with passion in their curves - that is swoon-worthy!

Thank you for sharing.
delphipsmith
Sep. 18th, 2012 12:50 am (UTC)
Isn't it, though? His passages about Catholic ritual are just overflowing with this same sort of glowing, almost luxuriant description -- rich and vibrant without being melodramatic or overdone. Not being remotely Catholic myself I've had to look up a few things here and there, but even I can tell how deeply fulfilling his faith must have been to him. If he wrote his own sermons I bet he kept people riveted LOL!
teddyradiator
Sep. 18th, 2012 01:28 am (UTC)
I've just downloaded the story - I'm so enthralled by his writing, I want to read the rest. Thank you for such an engaging recommendation.
toblass
Sep. 18th, 2012 12:17 am (UTC)
I'm always suspicious when I go to someone's home and see absolutely no books and no bookshelves. I honestly don't understand that at all.

Your home decor sounds lovely! *gigglesnort*

Found the book on Amazon as a free download...the question remains as when I will be able to read it...
delphipsmith
Sep. 18th, 2012 12:43 am (UTC)
I forgot this one:

43. Do you keep any kind of protection weapons in your home? => the dog

Let me know what you think of the book when/if you get around to reading it!
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