Why Do We Talk about Books?

I just had an Aha! moment. You know when you read a book that you really like and you call your best friend to say, "I just have to tell you about this book"? And how when you do tell them about the book, you're usually not satisfied with the result? It doesn't feel like you covered everything. You might have recounted it to them in excruciating detail, you might have described your reaction to every single paragraph, but something's still missing and you end up just saying, "It's so good. You just have to read it to see what I'm talking about." I do this all the time and never really questioned it. But now I stumbled across a passage that explains wonderfully why we feel the need to do this, but also why we always fail and have to send our friends to experience the book on their own:
This entanglement of the reader is, of course, vital to any kind of text, but in the literary text we have the strange situation that the reader cannot know what his participation actually entails. We know that we share in certain experiences, but we do not know what happens to us in the course of this process. This is why, when we have been particularly impressed by a book, we feel the need to talk about it; we do not want to get away from it by talking about it - we simply want to understand more clearly what it is in which we have been entangled. We have undergone an experience, and now we want to know consciously what we have experienced.
You will need a little background here. This is from Wolfgang Iser, whose stuff I'm slowly read at the moment (and it's a much pleasanter activity than I thought it would be). He's trying to describe what happens when you read a piece of good literature and he arrives at the conclusion that you get entangled with it. What does this mean? Well, a successful literary text will first draw you in under the guise of the familiar. You think you have an idea of what's going on in it, of where things are going. (If you don't have any idea at all, engagement with the text might be too difficult for you to even bother. See most readers and Finnegans Wake.) You inevitably form some expectations, some preconceptions based on your background, culture, previous experience etc. And then a good text challenges those expectations. In one way or another, things just don't go exactly as you anticipated. And this happens again and again in the course of your reading, as you form new expectations based on the new stuff the text throws at you. (Which is very good, because if this didn't happen, you'd have a yawn-fest on your hands.)

So what happens when you read a good book is that your preconceptions are continually overtaken, and, as you let go of them, you start to experience the text itself. The book becomes your present. You don't just read it, you become entangled with it and changed by it. That is the magic of good literature and it does make sense that you would want to understand it by capturing it in words. It makes sense you would want to share it. But it also makes sense that you'd fail at this task. You can't really capture the sense of living in the present of a book. If you're very good, you can give someone a wonderful representation of what it was like to experience a book, you can explain what elements in the book allowed for this experience, but you can't give them the experience itself. That's why you end up sending them to the book instead.

But another interesting corollary of this is that you can't really have access to that experience either. You can remember what it was like to read a text, but you can't read it again and have the same experience. Just the fact that you now know how it ends will change the way you read it, will change your preconceptions and expectations. (The text can still surprise you, though.) So I guess that, if we accept all this, no man (or woman) ever reads the same book twice.

Review: The Story of a Year by Henry James

Genre: short story
Published: 1865 (March)
Available online: here

I've been really unfocused lately. I am moving along in my Know Your James project faster than I feel like reviewing. And I do want to review because I fear I will just forget everything if I don't. I am half-assedly reading some literary theory. I struggle with my post on Villette, because it's just one of those books that give me feelings. More feelings than I know how to express. And on top of this, I will soon need to write boring papers on boring topics for school. But one thing at a time: let's focus on James' second published story. 

I think I would have happier with this being James' first effort. It's not that I didn't appreciate some of the elements of A Tragedy of Error, because I did, but I just couldn't understand what made James publish it, what made him look at that material that could have been improved in so many ways and decide it was something he wanted the whole world to see. It just wasn't a piece to write home about. I do understand why he'd choose to publish this second story, though. The writing is more polished; the plotline more developed; the meaning, I think, subtler. 

John and Elizabeth and two young people that get engaged during John's leave from the Union Army. From the beginning, it is clear what the pattern of their relationship is. John is the reasonable one, the adult, and Elizabeth looks up to him. When John tells her he might die in the war, she replies with "Oh, my dear friend! [...] I wish you could advise me all my life." It's really a telling statement. She's saying she wants him to live, but the phrasing also hints at a need for guidance. Elizabeth's found in her fiancé an incentive to be good:

Confessions of a Recovering Grammar Nazi

This is the story of how I realized I was a Grammar Nazi. It was a very distressing realization, although in retrospect some of the signs were there. I did not think I was a Grammar Nazi, but… Had I ever told people that their “loose” should lose a vowel? Yes. Had I ever passive-aggressively shared witty posters about the pitfalls of misusing “their,” “they’re” and “there”? Yes. ‘It’s” and “its”? Yes? “You’re” and “your”? …yes? “Affect” and “effect”? No! (I just roll my eyes dramatically at that one.)  But – my poor heroic self revolted - I wasn’t doing all this to be a Grammar Nazi! I was doing it to save people from the Grammar Nazis.

You see, I don’t mind someone slipping up and writing “too” instead of “to.” It doesn’t change my opinion of them. It doesn’t take away from the content of their writing. It doesn’t make me feel superior, since this and much worse happens to me all the time. (And, Murphy willing, will probably happen in this very post.) What I feel is basically that mixture of sympathy and social awkwardness you get when you notice someone has something in their teeth. You know they didn’t do that on purpose. You know they are not aware of it. You know they would like to become aware of it and fix it before all those pesky Others laugh at them. But would they appreciate you bringing it to their attention? Especially if “you” means “complete stranger on the subway”?

And therein lies the problem. I used to correct people. Not on a regular basis, but I would sometimes send them private messages, if it was possible, or even comment publicly if PM was not an option and the situation was desperate. (Take “desperate” to typically stand for “typo-induced hilariously dirty meaning.”) And I did it to save them from the embarrassment of being laughed at by the Grammar Nazis. We all know them, those persons that seem to have not a love, but a fetish for spelling and grammar. Or perhaps they just have a fetish for always correcting people, circumstances be damned, and grammar is their weapon of choice. In any case, what I realized was that I was indistinguishable from them.

To those people that I wanted to save from the embarrassment of being called out by a stranger, I was the stranger embarrassing them. Nothing worse was going to happen to them. There is no Sacred Body of Grammar that we have to defend at every opportunity. (And if there is, there are better venues and better ways to wage that battle.) And if protecting people’s feelings was the point, then the best way to do that was by shutting up. My well-intentioned behavior amounted to a good cop, bad cop routine. “I'm your friend, but do fix your typos before the bad Grammar Nazis get their hands on you!”

It’s difficult to get over the urge to fix texts, especially if you convinced yourself that you’re only doing it for the right reasons, but I stopped. These days before firing off a benevolent grammar comment, I ask myself, “Are you doing this only to make sure no one else is petty enough to do it?” If the answer is yes, I sit on my hands. 

Review: Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination by Toni Morrison

For both black and white American writers, in a wholly racialized society, there is no escape from racially inflected language, and the work writers do to unhobble the imagination from the demands of that language is complicated, interesting, and definitive.
The idea that there is nothing default about our default values is not a new one. It's been a theme in some philosophical circles for more than a century and a half now. We build ourselves by excluding others. (I guess I should write "Self" and "Other," but the meaning comes across quite nicely without that convention.) We define ourselves by opposition, by contrast. We are not like [insert your group of choice here]. Our values reflect how unlike them we are. We like to tell ourselves that we oppose a group because of our diverging values, but very often opposition came first: we arrived at our values with it in mind. We arrived at our values through it, because of it. But although this division was at the very basis of our identity, it can be pretty difficult to become aware of it. Especially because, if the identity-building exercise was successful, the others were probably excluded or silenced as a result. We cannot rely on their testimony to help us trace our identity.

This is pretty much the basis of Toni Morrison's project in this book. The American literature (and the American national identity) developed around a series of themes. Everyone knows them, but let Morrison sum them up again: "individualism, masculinity, social engagement versus historical isolation; acute and ambiguous moral problematics; the thematics of innocence coupled with an obsession with figurations of death and hell." Since other groups were disenfranchised for much of this process, it is assumed that these themes were created by white writers for a white audience, with little or no input from the Others, in this case the black population. But is it that simple? You can tell by my capitalization of the word "others" that it's not. Morrison argues that the American literature defined itself as a coherent entity precisely as a reaction to an abiding and unsettling black presence. Behind its famous themes, one can discern the background of racial tension that made them possible.

Our Favorite Classic Book

The Classics Club asked a question and we were not sure we'd be able to answer. The question should have been an easy one - What is your favorite classic book and why? - but then there's two of us and we both have a pile of favorite classic books (that you can admire in the sidebar of our pages). Narrowing down our lists of favorites looked close to impossible, so we figured we'd skip this meme. But then we remembered that there is one classic that we both love and that is a fairly good representation of what unites us at this point. That book is The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton.

As readers we are not very similar. Not only that we have very different reading styles (Alexis - slow and thorough, Claudia - fast and... less than thorough), but, beyond the loose label of "classics," we tend to appreciate different books. And yet we rank The House of Mirth the same. We love it for its elegant writing. We love it for its heroine, poor tragic Lily Bart. We love it for its depiction of 19th century society. And we love it for the memory of that time when Claudia unwittingly spoiled it for Alexis by saying, "Oh, you're reading The House of Mirth? I cried at the end."

Review: A Tragedy of Error by Henry James

Genre: short story
Published: 1864 (February)
Available online: here

Discovering a hitherto unknown work by your favorite author has to be one of the most amazing things that can happen to a person. It is what happened to Leon Edel, Henry James' biographer and the guy who unearthed this short story, James' first published work of fiction. A Tragedy of Error was published anonymously in 1864, in the Continental Monthly, a publication that gave up the ghost shortly after that. Given these circumstances, and the fact that James was not proud of this piece and only referenced it obliquely in his memoirs, it is not very surprising that it remained unknown till 1953. And it sort of makes one wonder what other treasures are out there waiting to be found. (Byatt Quote of the Day? "Literary critics make natural detectives," natch.)

In any case, I am here to bring you good news and bad news about this story. The bad news is that 21-year-old Henry James was not the best of writers. The good news is that 21-year-old Henry James was not the best of writers. I don't know about you, but I find the idea of my literary hero having to work for his greatness very... reassuring. I might have felt differently if A Tragedy of Error was laughably bad. It is not. It is a story with a lurid plot: an unfaithful wife learns that her husband is soon to return to town. She hires a boatman to wait on him when he disembarks and kill him, but the boatman gets the wrong man and ends up killing her lover instead. But before you sneer at  it, this plot is somewhat redeemed by a series of elements that anticipate the later James:
  1. The dialogue: The center of this story and its longest episode is not what you'd expect. It's not the murder, it's not the series of errors that lead to the tragedy--it's the conversation between the lady and the boatman she hires. This is the scene we get to see in detail, the scene where a woman of high social status decides to hire a murderer and the way she brings it about. It is like James is saying: this, this conversation here, is what's interesting and illuminating. Not the murder, not the adultery, but the moral transaction that leads to them or results from them. And the conversation itself does have a certain flow and subtlety that the rest of the story lacks.
  2. The narrator's perspective: One of the most striking scenes in this short story is one where Hortense, the unfaithful wife, returns home in a shock, having received the telegram that announces her husband's arrival. She goes into her room but we don't get to follow her there. Instead we stay with a servant that watches her through the keyhole, sees her drinking and concludes she must be very upset. Why this artifice? It is because James' narrator is always tied up to a character's point of view, always limited. If there's no one watching, narration is impossible. And it's important who is watching too. James might have used Hortense here as his reflector, but then that would have compromised the whole effect of the moral conversation with the boatman. We needed to see Hortense's actions but be screened from some of her thoughts. That's why James needs the servants in this story.
  3. Beauty and morality: This will be one of the major Jamesian themes later: how the unity of goodness and beauty is broken, how sometimes beauty serves to disguise immorality. It appears here as well: "It was perhaps fortunate for Hortense's purpose at that moment—it had often aided her purposes before—that she was a pretty woman. A plain face might have emphasized the utterly repulsive nature of the negotiation."
Is this what I expected when I signed up to read the complete Henry James? Yes and no. No, in that I was expecting everything he wrote to be perfect and this is not even close to it. Yes, because I wanted to trace his evolution as a writer and I expected to find some elements of his later work in an embryonic phase from the first story, and that did happen. So, overall I am pleased with this beginning. 

Know Your James

At the end of this month I'll have to decide what I want to study for the next 2 years, possibly 5, possibly my whole life. I don't want to do it. I can't properly explain how much I don't want to do it. So instead of agonizing over choices and all the ways in which they could go wrong, I have decided to do something fun, something to take my mind off things and give me the illusion of a purpose. I am reading Henry James from beginning to end.

Below is a list of his works that I put together from the Blackwell Companion. I will check it against this list as well. There are some differences, most of them coming from the fact that my list has the works in the order they came out, regardless of whether they were published in a newspaper or in book form, but if there are stories I missed I will add them. I will be reading through this list and updating as I go. I already read most of the novels, but rereading is always a joy. It might take me a long time to reach the end, but I hope to stick to it. 

I guess there's more to this than sheer escapism too. I love the internet, but sometimes I feel that it's pulling me in a hundred directions at once and throwing bits of knowledge at me faster than I can digest them. (It is also the only thing that makes this project possible, so don't think I'm bashing it.) I want to read something methodically and really get to know it. So James it is.

The List

1864 - A Tragedy of Error
1865 - The Story of a Year
1866 - A Landscape Painter, A Day of Days
1867 - Poor Richard
1868 - The Story of a Masterpiece, The Romance of Certain Old Clothes
1869 - Gabrielle de Bergerac
1870 - Travelling Companions
1871 - Watch and Ward, A Passionate Pilgrim, Master Eustace
1873 - The Madonna of the Future, The Sweetheart of M. Briseux
1874 - The Last of the Valerii, Mme de Mauves, Eugene Pickering
1875 - Roderick Hudson, A Passionate Pilgrim and Other Tales, Transatlantic Sketches
1876 - The American
1877 - Four Meetings
1878 - French Poets and Novelists, Daisy Miller, An International Episode, The Europeans, Longstaff's Marriage
1879 - The Pension Beaurepas, Confidence, A Bundle of Letters, Hawthorne
1880 - Washington Square, The Portrait of a Lady
1882 - The Point of View
1883 - The Siege of London; Daisy Miller: A Comedy, Portraits of Places
1884 - A Little Tour in France, Lady Barbarina, Pandora, The Author of 'Beltraffio', Georgina's Reasons, A New England Winter, The Art of Fiction
1885 - The Bostonians, Princess Casamassima
1888 - The Aspern Papers, Louisa Pallant, The Reverbator, The Liar, The Modern Warning, A London Life, The Lesson of the Master, The Patagonia, Partial Portraits
1889 - The Tragic Muse
1891 - The Pupil, Brooksmith, The Marriages, The Chaperon, Sir Edmund Orme, The American: A Comedy in Four Acts
1892 - The Real Thing, The Private Life, Lord Beaupre, Greville Fane, Owen Wingrave
1893 - The Middle Years, Pictures and Text, Essays in London and Elsewhere
1894 - The Death of the Lion, Cotton Fund, Theatricals: Two Comedies, Theatricals: Second Series
1895 - The Next Time, The Altar of the Dead, Guy Domville
1896 - The Figure in the Carpet, Glasses, The Old Things (The Spoils of Poynton), The Way It Came, The Other House
1897 - What Maisie Knew
1898 - The Turn of the Screw, The Awkward Age, In the Cage, The Covering End
1899 - Europe, The Real Right Thing, Paste
1900 - The Great Good Place, Miss Gunton of Poughkeepsie, The Tree of Knowledge, The Abasement of the Northmores, Maud-Evelyn, The Faces, Broken Wings
1901 - The Beldonald Holbein, Mrs. Medwin, The Sacred Fount,
1902 - The Wings of the Dove, Flickerbridge, The Story in It
1903 - The Ambassadors, The Beast in the Jungle, The Birthplace, William Wetmore Story and His Friends
1904 - The Golden Bowl, Fordham Castle,
1905 - The Question of Our Speech, The Lesson of Balzac, English Hours
1906 - The Speech of American Women
1907 - The American Scene
1908 - Julia Bride, The Jolly Corner
1909 - Italian Hours, The Velvet Glove, Mora Montravers, Crapy Cornelia, The Bench of Desolation
1910 - Is There a Life after Death, A Round of Visits
1911 - The Outcry
1912 - The Novel in ‘The Ring and the Book’
1913 - A Small Boy and Others
1914 - Notes of a Son and Brother, Notes on Novelists
1915 - The Mind of England at War
1916 - Ivory Tower, The Sense of the Past
1919 - Within the Rim and Other Essays

Start Here: A Reading Pathway to William Faulkner

As many of you know by now, I love William Faulkner. As only some of you know, I would love to organize a small Faulkner celebration in September/October. (Would you join us? Say yes!) So, in order to give you some idea of what to read for this event and because I've always wanted to write such a post about Faulkner, I’m entering Book Riot’s START HERE Write-In Giveaway. This means I will highlight a "reading pathway" for you: a sequence of 3-4 books that could get you started on Faulkner. ETA: I have added a link at the end of this to another entry from the same contest - a So You Wanna Read William Faulkner flowchart; it is made of awesome so make sure to check it out.

There is no easy answer to the question “Where should I start with William Faulkner?” That’s not because there is no good place to start, as some Faulknophobes would have you believe, but because there are as many answers as there are readers. Finding the right book to start you off would ideally involve figuring out your profile as a reader first. Do names like Woolf and Joyce bring a smile to your face? Then As I Lay Dying or The Sound and the Fury are the titles most likely to hook you. Southern Gothic is your genre of choice? A Rose for Emily or the frequently (and unjustly) sneered at Sanctuary could be your gateway drug to Faulkner. If you’d rather go for a strong narrative with a dash of good old Southwestern humor, try The Hamlet or Faulkner's last and utterly charming novel, The Reivers. If you’re a fan of Harper Lee, you’ll love Intruder in the Dust. But perhaps you’re after a grittier picture of the segregated South? Then give Light in August a try. (And if you want all this and more, you are a. wonderful, b. crazy and c. looking for Absalom, Absalom.)

But if none of these labels describes you, or if you just want to discover Faulkner as he is, not Faulkner as he’s most likely to appeal to you, what should you read? Well, gentle generic reader, here’s the reading pathway I’d suggest for you.

Start with Light in August

Among Faulkner’s novels, Light in August has a special place in that it is an undisputed masterpiece, but also quite readable. The narrative is not completely linear and there is some stream of consciousness sprinkled in there, but you should be able to follow the story with minimal effort. Think of it as training for the puzzle-solving activity Faulkner will demand of you later. In the meantime, get acquainted with Yoknapatawpha, the fictional Mississippi county in which Faulkner set most of his novels, and get a sense of his favorite themes. Almost everything Faulkner has to offer stylistically and thematically is present in this book: humor, gore, suspense, wonderful descriptions. Make a note of the parts you liked best. They're a pretty good indicator of which Faulkner novels you're likely to enjoy. For example, I loved Reverend Hightower’s reminiscences—long, yearning sentences that you read holding your breath. This is by far my favorite of Faulkner’s techniques, so I usually gravitate towards novels where it’s heavily used (like Absalom, Absalom).

Take a detour through The Unvanquished

Though not one of Faulkner’s masterpieces, The Unvanquished is an accessible book that can further familiarize you with his style, and, more importantly, it gives you a very powerful key to understanding Yoknapatawpha and its inhabitants: the Civil War mythology. Most of Faulkner’s characters are in some way shaped by this legacy. Quentin Compson is even described at one point as not a being, but a "barracks filled with stubborn back-looking ghosts.” Start by meeting the ghosts before you meet Quentin; you’ll understand him better. (That's also why I chose this book as your second stop over the superior As I Lay Dying.) The Unvanquished also introduces several Yoknapatawpha families. If any of them catches your eye, look up their books next. The Sartoris take center stage again in Flags in the Dust; the Snopes in The Hamlet trilogy; the McCaslins in Go Down, Moses. Faulkner’s world is deeply interconnected and half of the fun is getting to explore these ties.

Get thyself a character list and/or tackle The Sound and the Fury

We’ve finally reached it: one of the best novels ever written and the book Faulkner felt “tenderest toward.” My advice is to read this one twice. Don’t obsess over piecing it together the first time. Let the language flow over you; let the story come to you on its own terms. It most likely will, at least in its general lines. You can read Faulkner’s Appendix or the wikipedia entry afterwards and it will all fall into place. Revisit it then and savor it fully. Would it help if you were already used with this style, say from making an additional detour through the shorter As I Lay Dying? It might, but in all honesty the thing that can best prepare you for reading The Sound and the Fury is...reading The Sound and the Fury. But if investing enough in a book to read it twice is just not your style, get a character list from the start. It's not very difficult to figure out what happens, once you understand that multiple characters have the same name.

Absalom, Absalom!

For a long time, I’d tell people to start Faulkner with this book: sink or swim. It has a reputation for being dense, dark and challenging. It can be all of these things. It is also deeply rewarding and quintessentially Faulkner. If something in Faulkner touched you, if you were intrigued by Quentin Compson’s fate or fascinated by Faulkner’s troubled and contradictory South, if you liked the rhythm of his sentences even when you had trouble keeping up, read Absalom, Absalom. Or just read it anyway--it would be a shame to miss it. It's the high point on which to end our William Faulkner reading pathway and it will hopefully inspire you to read more. And if you want more reading suggestions, check out this amazing flowchart. Trust me, it will answer all your Faulkner needs.

Mrs. Faulkner Tells It Like It Is

So we're working on something that has us very excited and so far it required me digging through my collection of scanned Faulkner interviews. (Yes, I have something that might be called a "collection of scanned Faulkner interviews." In my defense, I never claimed sanity.) There are a lot of awesome things in there (and a bunch of not-so-awesome stuff as well), but I just had to share this passage with you. It's from an interview Faulkner's wife, Estelle, gave in 1931. At the time Faulkner had recently published These 13, a collection of short stories including A Rose for Emily. Here's what Mrs. Faulkner had to say about that:
I don't think Billy writes such good short stories, Mrs. Faulkner said. I don't think he understands them. Novels? Now that is different. I think his best work is As I Lay Dying--that is his best work so far. I believe his greatest novel is yet to come.

Did I understand Sanctuary the first time I read it? Well, that's hardly fair. No, I didn't. When we were married in 1928, he began what he termed my education. He gave me James Joyce's Ulysses to read. I didn't understand it. He told me to read it again. I did and understood what Mr. Joyce was writing about. 

Then I tried to read Sanctuary in manuscript form. I couldn't get the meaning. But the second time, with Ulysses for a background, it wasn't difficult. I've read it a third time but I don't think it is his best at all.
The relationship between William and Estelle was a complicated one, and some of that comes through in this interview as well, but... Reading Ulysses twice to understand it? Faulkner being better suited for novels than for short stories? Sanctuary not being his best book? And this sentence, "with Ulysses for a background, it wasn't difficult," that just kills me and that I might have to add to every review of a difficult book I try to read? I think I love this woman.

ETA: Adding to the humor of this, in a 1932 interview Faulkner is quoted saying "I have never read Ulysses. Until recently I had never seen a copy." Then again, he was being asked if he'd been imitating Joyce's style in The Sound and the Fury and he did have a healthy dislike for telling the truth to probing interviewers.

Ode to Books Discovered by Chance

The books I love the most are the ones I discovered by chance. It is a realization I had revisiting Possession, where every page reminds me of the first time I read it, of my wonder and admiration then. It was a book I bought on impulse. I was somewhat familiar with Byatt: I had read two of her shorter novels and had conflicted feelings about them. Surprisingly enough, I hadn't heard anything about Possession. I bought it because it was on sale and it had a cute cover. It sat on my shelf for two years. And then one day I read it and was touched beyond expectation.

This is a story that repeats itself over and over again in my list of favorite books. I picked up The Ambassadors because it was dirt cheap. I had never heard of it and I was not in love with Henry James. I received Absalom, Absalom from my mother, who uh, bought it because it was on sale. I hadn't read anything by Faulkner and my mother doesn't have the greatest taste in books, so it's a wonder I even opened it. I found T.S. Eliot by buying a book for someone and reading the first poem in it because I was bored. I bought The House of Mirth in Germany because a. visiting foreign countries makes me buy books and b. it had a beautiful cover. I bought The Handmaid's Tale in Scotland in a '3 for the price of 2' deal together with Never Let Me Go and Beloved. (Without a doubt, the best spent £20 in my life.)  I picked up Middlemarch at the library because it was there. The name George Eliot didn't tell me much beyond "classic author," "woman with male pseudonym" and "not George Sand."

Henry James' Portrait Slashed by Suffragettes

It started in May, 1914. A small woman, dressed in stereotypical grey, entered the National Gallery and slashed Velásquez' 'Rokeby' Venus. She cut the picture in seven places with a meat chopper. Arrested, she explained she had destroyed the most beautiful woman in mythology to protest against the way the world was treating the most morally-beautiful woman in recent history, militant activist Emmeline Pankhurst. Would the art-loving public condemn her gesture while they allowed injustice towards real women to stand? Then they were hypocrites, for "justice is an element of beauty as much as colour and outline on canvas."

There is something very powerful about this image. 'Rokeby' Venus, slashed by Mary Richardson