What better way to be eased back into blogging than to be tagged by JCD at Fragments for one of these memes?

1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people.

Here goes:

Between the two Queens the favourite waiting-woman stood like the figure-head on a fire-dog; an approving smile might cost her her life.

“How can I be as gay as you after losing the late King, and when I see my son’s kingdom on the eve of a conflagration?”

“Politics do not much concern women,” replied Mary Stuart.

This is from Balzac’s About Catherine de Medici, translated by Clara Bell (1901). The first half of the dialogue is the lady herself, and it’s from a great moment of confrontation between the Queen Mother and the teenage Queen Mary. Irony of course; these two don’t do much besides politics.

It’s a strange book, collecting a novella and two short stories written years apart and set 250 years before most of the Human Comedy. Balzac’s politics shine through: the main point is to vindicate Catherine for the St Bartholemew’s Day Massacre. Not that she wasn’t behind it, but that she should have made it bigger and totally wiped out the Huguenots. In the last story (chronologically, but actually written first) she appears in a dream to Robespierre in the late 1780s and explains that if she had been successful none of this questioning-the-throne business would be taking off. Still, the story works works against Balzac and she seems like quite the bitch.

Alright, I’m supposed to tag five people: How about Maps or Skyler at Reading the Maps; Nate at What in the Hell; Mr iBreed at iBreed; Eric at Recording Surface; and… that may well exhaust the readership of this blog. So, uh, whoever runs that LOLCats site.

Published in: on 18 February, 2008 at 9:12 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. […] been tagged. Here’s the […]

  2. […] Mike has forced me to participate in the page-123 meme that’s been going around. So here it is, some lines from the book nearest me, Henry James’s The Golden Bowl, which Matt sent me over a year ago in a nice, smelly old edition, though I still haven’t read it. I’ve wanted to start several times, and the first few pages are intriguing, but it’s just so damned big. Anyway, here goes. “Why, it has a crack.” […]

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