[SOLO] A Superfluous Woman by Emma Brooke - jo

Upcoming books being recorded by a solo reader
beeber
Posts: 1441
Joined: March 9th, 2009, 7:46 am
Location: Mississauga, Ontario

Post by beeber » June 20th, 2021, 8:05 am

A Superfluous Woman, by Emma Francis Brooke (1844 - 1926)
Published anonymously in 1894, “A Superfluous Woman” quickly became one of the most widely read of the “New Woman” novels that appeared at the end of the 19th century. At the opening of the story, we find Jessamine Halliday, a pampered young aristocrat, languishing and apparently close to death. Her desperate family has called in a maverick doctor, who recognizes that she suffers from the idleness and listlessness too often experienced by upper-class English women. The only “medicine” she needs is a change of thinking and new self-awareness. Accordingly, the doctor coaches her to think more critically about her role as a woman and about the uses of meaningful labor. (Partly, this doctor is a spokesperson for the author: Emma Brooke was prominently engaged in feminist and socialist thought.)

Jessamine tries to radically re-invent herself by fleeing London (and a looming high-society marriage), to seek humble work as a farm helper in Scotland. It turns out, however, that it is not so easy to cast off the assumptions and controls of a lifetime. (Summary by Bruce Pirie)
Source text (please read only from this text!): https://archive.org/details/superfluouswoman00brooiala/page/n9/mode/2up

Target completion date: 2021-12-31

Prooflistening level: Standard
Prospective PLs, please see the Guide for Proof-listeners.

IMPORTANT - soloist, please note: in order to limit the number of languishing projects on our server, we ask that you post an update at least once a month in your project thread, even if you haven't recorded anything. If we don't hear from you for three months, your project may be opened up to a group project if a Book Coordinator is found. Files you have completed will be used in this project. If you haven't recorded anything yet, your project will be removed from the forum (contact any admin to see if it can be re-instated).

Please don't download or listen to files belonging to projects in process unless you are the BC or PL. Our servers are not set up to handle the greater volume of traffic. Please wait until the project has been completed. Thanks!

Magic Window:



BC Admin

Genres for the project: General Fiction/Published 1800 -1900

Keywords that describe the book: socialism, feminism, the New Woman, bildungsroman, syphilis, 1890s, condition of women, sexually transmitted disease

========================================

LibriVox recording settings: mono (1 channel), 44100 Hz sample rate, 128 kbps constant bit rate MP3. See the Tech Specs

Intro to recording:
Leave 0.5 to 1 second of silence at the beginning.

For the first section, say:
"Chapter # of A Superfluous Woman. This is a LibriVox recording. All LibriVox recordings are in the public domain. For more information or to volunteer, please visit librivox.org. Read by Bruce Pirie. A Superfluous Woman, by Emma Francis Brooke."
For the second and subsequent sections, you may use the shortened intro if you wish:
"Chapter # of A Superfluous Woman, by Emma Francis Brooke. This LibriVox recording is in the public domain. Read by Bruce Pirie."
End of recording:
Say:
"End of chapter #."
If you are recording the final section of the book, add:
"End of A Superfluous Woman, by Emma Francis Brooke."
Leave 5 seconds of silence at the end.

Filename: superfluouswoman_##_brooke_128kb.mp3 where ## is the section number. (e.g. superfluouswoman_01_brooke_128kb.mp3)

Upload to the LibriVox Uploader: https://librivox.org/login/uploader

MC to select: knotyouraveragejo

Copy and paste the file link generated by the uploader into the relevant Listen URL field in the Section Compiler, enter the duration in the Notes field, and post in this thread to let your PL and MC know that you have uploaded a file. You may also post the file link in the thread.

beeber
Posts: 1441
Joined: March 9th, 2009, 7:46 am
Location: Mississauga, Ontario

Post by beeber » June 20th, 2021, 8:06 am

Note that sunrise2020 has already agreed to be DPL for this project.

knotyouraveragejo
LibriVox Admin Team
Posts: 18262
Joined: November 18th, 2006, 4:37 pm

Post by knotyouraveragejo » June 20th, 2021, 11:51 am

Sounds interesting, Bruce. I'll MC. MW will be along shortly.
Jo
My Librivox Solos
Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill. - Barbara Tuchman

beeber
Posts: 1441
Joined: March 9th, 2009, 7:46 am
Location: Mississauga, Ontario

Post by beeber » June 20th, 2021, 11:52 am

Thanks, Jo!

Bruce

knotyouraveragejo
LibriVox Admin Team
Posts: 18262
Joined: November 18th, 2006, 4:37 pm

Post by knotyouraveragejo » June 20th, 2021, 1:24 pm

Got slightly sidetracked, but this is all set up now. :)
Jo
My Librivox Solos
Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill. - Barbara Tuchman

beeber
Posts: 1441
Joined: March 9th, 2009, 7:46 am
Location: Mississauga, Ontario

Post by beeber » June 22nd, 2021, 2:47 pm

Chapter 1 is ready for PL.

Here's something that you might like to watch for as we work through the book. I'm struck by how much this novel uses the motifs of old folk tales, legends, myths, even fairy tales. Reading the book is like looking into a pool of water and realizing that just under the shimmering surface are a bunch of submerged but familiar faces and shapes.

For example, this opening chapter is striking in the way the main character speaks only four words, at the very end. For the rest of the time, she's present, of course, but actually she's oddly "absent," lying there in a stupor until the Doctor's story rouses her. But isn't this the familiar story device of the sick/sleeping person who is about to step into a dream-world? She is about to cross over, to waken into a new life that will seem the opposite of everything she knew before. It's the dream-vision pattern, like Alice waking up and finding herself in Wonderland. Or, at the very least, it's as if Jessamine is the beautiful sleeping princess and the Doctor who holds her hand is like the Prince who comes to wake the princess from the spell that has been cast on her by an evil witch. And the doctor suspects that this "spell" has been cast by the older woman who has supposedly guarded and educated Jessamine, and brought her to her present condition.

Bruce

beeber
Posts: 1441
Joined: March 9th, 2009, 7:46 am
Location: Mississauga, Ontario

Post by beeber » June 24th, 2021, 6:16 am

Chapter 2 is ready for PL.

I confess that this is my least favourite chapter in the book. By this point, I'm tired of listening to Doctor Cornerstone. His ideas are of course important: he argues that education (including upbringing in the home) in his time was doing a disservice to women. Society was merely clamping onto women old "rules" for ladylike behaviour, rather than building a capacity for critical and original thought. An important idea, yes, but presented in a pretty dry and abstract way in his conversation. When we do finally get to hear Jessamine in her own voice (in Chapter 3), it will come as a welcome breath of fresh air. (I guess this is a deliberate effect by the author, like the way Shakespeare delays the first appearance of his tragic heroes, so that we have to listen to other characters talking about them before we actually meet them.)

Notice that the doctor sees things in terms of old stories. When he goes to the park, he feels that he's in Dante's Inferno, observing one of the rings of the damned. In his first glimpse of Jessamine, he thinks he sees a "princess", and a few moments later believes that this princess is pleading to be "rescued" — rescued presumably from the monster companion (the older woman with the dead heart, "no longer human"). Later, she becomes "Eve" threatened by the serpent in the Garden.

When Lord Heriot speaks, the Doctor shudders because he hears "vice" and "disease" in that voice. Modern readers might think the Doctor is over-reacting melodramatically to the mere sound of a voice. We need to remember that when the Victorians mention a "disease" but avoid naming it, it always means syphilis. Cornerstone sees that his fairy-tale princess is being set up for marriage with Heriot, and he is horrified: as a Doctor, he knows only too well what happens when women join the marriage bed with these syphilitic husbands.

Sunrise2020
Posts: 527
Joined: August 28th, 2020, 5:41 am
Location: Sylt, Germany

Post by Sunrise2020 » June 24th, 2021, 11:38 am

Hello, I'm happy to be part of the team and look forward to PL'ing the first two sections tomorrow. Thanks for the great primers :D
==========
Susanne

Sunrise2020
Posts: 527
Joined: August 28th, 2020, 5:41 am
Location: Sylt, Germany

Post by Sunrise2020 » June 25th, 2021, 11:51 am

PL of sections 1 and 2 is okay and what a fine set of characters we’re being introduced to! I rather liked how Dr Cornerstone presented himself as a “quack” and how social convention could therefore be dispensed with.
Speaking of folk tales and witches, June 24 is a public holiday in Santiago de Compostela, where I’m currently to celebrate the name day of St. James. But more importantly, it’s the night to honor the resident witches :D
==========
Susanne

beeber
Posts: 1441
Joined: March 9th, 2009, 7:46 am
Location: Mississauga, Ontario

Post by beeber » June 25th, 2021, 12:04 pm

Mis mejores deseos para las brujas. :wink:

beeber
Posts: 1441
Joined: March 9th, 2009, 7:46 am
Location: Mississauga, Ontario

Post by beeber » June 26th, 2021, 1:40 pm

Chapter 3 is ready for PL.

Refreshingly, the chapter is dominated by Jessamine's voice — the first we have really had a chance to hear her.

And it's worth listening closely to the self-revelations in her letter. We hear, of course, confirmation of Lord Heriot's symbolic association as the "snake" in this young woman's life. Notice also how often she insists that she's not sure she really knows what she's doing as she heads out on this new path. And notice the persistent signs of vanity: she likes people to pay attention to her. She knows she's charming and is prepared to use that charm, and fantasizes about becoming a leader that other women will follow. She's trying to be simple and good, but she knows that a lifetime in Aunt Arabella's society won't be easily washed away.

(The "Pool of Siloam" is a biblical reference: a pool just outside Jerusalem, used for ritual cleansing.)

Sunrise2020
Posts: 527
Joined: August 28th, 2020, 5:41 am
Location: Sylt, Germany

Post by Sunrise2020 » June 28th, 2021, 8:58 am

What a wonderful scene it was! And Aunt Arabella clearly left a very deep impression and instilled a fear of being stuck in that society life forever.
==========
Susanne

beeber
Posts: 1441
Joined: March 9th, 2009, 7:46 am
Location: Mississauga, Ontario

Post by beeber » June 30th, 2021, 4:49 pm

Chapter 4 is ready for PL.

And now we're firmly into the traditional, mythic structure of this book. We see that we are in the classic "perilous journey" pattern.

The main character — usually a man, but here a young woman — has left behind a world which is supposedly safe, but may have actually become a kind of prison — and journeyed out to a rustic world, perhaps a kind of wilderness. Everything familiar has disappeared or reversed, as if she has stepped into a dream. (Hence the bedside "waking" scene in Chapter 1.) She takes on a new identity, with new clothes and a new role. There will be challenges and ordeals and lots to learn. Above all, she must learn things about herself before returning, changed forever, wiser but perhaps sadder, to her old world.

Sunrise2020
Posts: 527
Joined: August 28th, 2020, 5:41 am
Location: Sylt, Germany

Post by Sunrise2020 » July 1st, 2021, 8:54 am

PL of Chapter 4 is okay. And our young woman is indeed treading carefully in this new world.
==========
Susanne

beeber
Posts: 1441
Joined: March 9th, 2009, 7:46 am
Location: Mississauga, Ontario

Post by beeber » July 1st, 2021, 12:38 pm

Chapter 5 is ready for PL.

This has one of my favourite moments. The narrator tells us what Jessamine is thinking, but then clarifies that "the girl had no idea that these were her thoughts." It's a nice way of demonstrating that the reader and the narrator may understand the character better than she understands herself.

Post Reply