Sunday, April 1, 2012

Some Fiction in Progress on Anne Boleyn; Another Wronged Woman- Very Rough

"Anne Boleyn"

Girl, mid-twenties, begins to have flashbacks, or weird dreams. She is a professor of history, small midwest school. She teaches Tudor history. Has always identified with Anne Boleyn, and other executed, martyred women. Laughs about a dream she had where Anne, who looked like Dorothy Tutin, sat across from her in the Tower, and told her to go back to grad school. When the girl asked Anne why she was wearing her head, the ghost replied, she only took it off for tourists. She hated for them to come all that way and be disappointed. For the girl, an expert, she would behave as an equal. But, the girl has these dreams, and Anne and she are the same person. She experiences moments in Anne's Life. (i.e., take it to her execution). See Mollie Hardwick, my Anne paper, Anne's writings, etc. Books on Tudor customs and home life. Give Henry a personality. Make him mad. He thinks he is arthur, She is Guinevere. Anne's books, clothes, Hever house, Hampton court, etc.

The girl may be involved in time travel, or in seeing ghosts. She will probably have a love affair, but I don't know if it will be with a Tudor gentleman, which might besmirch poor Anne even more, or a 20th Century Lit. professor. I know some great types for the latter! Also, I think I'll make the heroine Pym-like, an Excellent woman, and give the story a happy ending.

Defiled is my Name, Full Sore

It was midsummer, and there was a steady, droning complaint of Cicadas outside the window. A young woman in a light gray skirt and white blouse sat at a desk. She wore pearls round her neck - not real pearls, mind you - but good pearls, hand knotted of a famous, but tasteful costume jewel manufacturer. Her blouse had a round collar, and short sleeves, and the skirt was good, senisble summer material, a sturdy drindl that had seen many summers before.

She was slender, of a melancholoy countenance, but had to count every calorie, because the women in her family had a tendancy to plump-up. She had long hair, black and rich, and and olive complexion. These, and a searching, piercing gaze that featured coal-black eyes were her best features. For she was unmarried, and knew she was on the “wrong side of thirty,” and she worked in a place where it was more likely lightening would strike her than she would met a suitable man. Funny how she remembered the first time she had heard that dire predicion. It had been some years before, when society still allowed her to call herself a young girl, and she had been sitting in graduate school, in a class taught by a handsome, middle-aged professor who wore a full beard and was very tall, thin, and serious-looking. Even when he was getting a cup of coffee in the teachers lounge at the small, midwestern college she attended, he looked as if he were congemplating some newly-discovered scholary work that would be the key to all wisdom of the universe. He was even more formidable, and even more schorlary in coutnenance, because he could not hear out of one ear at all. Many’s the time in lecture class she sat on the wrong side of the prof, and had to shout, or use hand gestures, tomake her point about women who wrote in the Renaissance, or draw an analogy between marxist criticism and Tudor literature.

One day, in a rare and strange mood of verbosity, Dr. Heckles, the venerable, hoary, but deaf professor, turned to the women in the class and pronounced that they had a better chance of being struck by lightening than of being married when they were over thirty. It was his concession to Feminist criticism, a discipline he was manfully trying to master in order to keep up with what he saw as departmental fads, and what he saw as a gainful, brave attempt to attain the chairmanship of the Dept. Of course, she and the other women had laughed; they were young, attractive, and all had significant others, tall, pale, young men, with the poignant looks of the eager young student just barely on the brink of either despair or survival. Young Werther’s all of them, eager in their quest for love, beer, and good article topics for the next MLA convention. The young girl, whose name was Emilia, laughed, too.

Now, twelve years later, she sat in her dusty little office, on Midsummer’s Eve, and thought about Dr. Heckles. She contemplated her thin, pale hands, with their sensible nails and pink polish, and looked down at her well-shod, feet in their carefully polished Talbot shoes with court heels. Though it was warming more and more with the onset of summer, she wore nylons, even on afternoons like this when she didn’t have to teach Renaissance Women writers to the undergraduates in the small University where she taught.

The wrong side of thirty, orphaned, alone, that’s where she was. She took stock of herself as she flicked a black-hair from her morrocco leather-bound grade book. There was no gray marring her hair yet, and it became for her, a philosophical question whether or not to color it. Her clothes, she knew, were good, but she was more stylish than the possessor of style. Lately, she’d been obsessed with clothing, and with physical appearance, both hers and others. She scrutinized covertly, every mole, every freckle, every asset and deformity she had, or any she noticed on her colleagues and students. Was Dr. Whtiaker’s haircolor naturally the color of daffodils, or was it bottled? Where did Dr. Whitney find blue mascara in this day and age. Was old Dr. Morris wearing a toupe? Were the girls in her class chestier than those she knew as a student, or were sweaters and blouses just being made smaller? Most, she noticed defomities. How did that otherwise handsome young boy come to have a scar from the left corner of his eye to the left side of his chin? Why was Mrs. Twigg, the fussy department secretary, always limping? Why did Mr. Barrow, the janitor, have only four fingers one each hand?

These, and other questions regarding physical attributes filled her off hours, and often the hourse she spent grading papers and devising exams. “I must be doing too much research,” she thught. Her specialty was Tudor women writers and history, with Anne Boleyn, the tragic second queen of Henry VIII being the topic of her dissertation. Other scholars in the area told her she looked like Anne, who also had coal black hair and ebony eyes. People often alughed at faculty parties when Emilia told them doomed, martyred women were her specialties, “Femme Fatalities,” she called them, and they were a good starting point for defensive jokes when inquisitive folk asked her why she wasn’t married.

But, how to explain to them that she didnt’ want what she was supposed to want. Secretly, Emilia wanted to be a Bohemian, an artist who lived by her own rules. Her good clothes, conservative manner, and demure countenance were at odds with the waist-length hair, and the impassioend lectures about Anne’s courage and pioneer, excelelnt education. Above all, otherwise Shy Emilia championed Anne’s outspokenness and her innocence witht he fierceness of a United States prosecutor. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, George Wyatt’s defense of Anne, the poem’s attributed to her, including, “Defiled is my Name, Full Sore,” were required reading in her classes. She hated wax museums who were fond of protraying Anne as some sort of monstrous whore, in scarlet, garish dressees, with wax hands that sported a full sixth finger, as attributed to Anne by legend. “But no none who knew her actually stated she had a sixth finger, or a third breast, for that matter!” It was part of the calumny used to malign her, to brand her as a witch int he eyes of the common people. Nicholas Sander started that rumor; he was a sympathizeer of the King, but was only 9 when Anne was executed; he had never even seen her!” But, it was in vein. The woman who owned the museum didn’t want to take down the exhibit, it drew the curious by the carloads, and historical acccuracy was not her stock in trade. The editor of Empire magazine was no more sympathetic. Emilia had responded to a campy article publsihed in the gossip column abut Anne’s sexual exploits, and claimed that her repuation was still so bad, that Queen Elizabeth II had refused toname a street in Anne’s honor, lest young girls ask who she was an follow her scandalous example. “We know what our readers like,” The editor condescendingly expolained. “They can read a textbook, or theyc an read our juicy little pieces. They can relate more easily to an Anne who sleeps around and gets caught int his day of toe-sucking princesses, and adulterous heirs to the throne. “ If you make Anne a saint, no one will want ot read about her, or visit Hever Castle, or the Tower of London, or any of the sites conencted with her.” So, the Editor had not anted to publsihg the article Emila wrote which corrected all the misinformation. Instead, she had wanted Emilia to write a sequel, and to do research to uncover even racier stories about Anne, especially about Anne and her alleged affiar with Mark Smeaton, the handsome musician who also died for “loving her.” “You know, see what you can find out about kinky sex in the Renaissance.” Emilia suspected the Empire’s readers, many part of a British system that still recognized the importance of marrying within one’s class, were more interested and titillated by the fact that Anne, a queen, would be accused of sleeping with a commoner, than they were disgusted by the fact that an innocent woman had been betrayed, accused of incest, and murdered.

Emilia was tired of “consumer” scholarship. After summer session, she would begin a sabatical to write a book based on her own research of Anne. She had consulted other Renaissance scholars, and lawyers, and historians, to support her thesis that, once and for all, Anne was an innocent woman, and one to be admired as a role model for the centuries. She would begin where the film Anne of the Thousand Days had left off, and give back Anne her name, undefiled and shining clean. It was after she began gathering her notes and contacting people that the dreams had begun.

The first had been in January, she had been reading about Anne’s final miscarriage, the one that had sealed her fate. [Insert paper here] Emilia was touring the Tower of London, but she was alone, and it was night. Outside the Chapel, where Anne was reputedly buried, she heard music. The rich, lilitng, melancholy lute and music of the recorder, playing a minor tune. The door of the chapel was cracked open, and it was the only late in the othewise gloomy passage. Emilia looked in, thinking this was a rehearsal for some mumemr’s play, conducted after the other toruists had gone. The players were adult mena nd women,d ressed in rich velvet, dark, some with yellow, some with white, the women’s overskirtst hidign petticoats of cloth of cold. They wore the French headress, oval, which framed the face, and caught the hair in a veil in the back. This was headdress Anne had introduced to court, and which she had made famous. Emilia saw a beautiful woman sitting in a large, carved oak chari. It almsot looked like a throne. Behnd her, on a crest, was a large whit bird wearing a crown. There were letters below, but she couldn’t read the elaborate script from wher she stood.

After awhile, Emilia realized that she was witnessing a funeral for a wll-born lady, perhaps. A man wearing the robes of an archbishop stood before a bier, and he, and all the company, turned to face the woman sitting on the chair. She stood, and eMilia realized that what she first took for a long, dark veil, was the woman’ long, black tresses, so dark, they looked blue-back, and picked up the light form the candles and torches that lit the room. She wore a black gown over a grey overskirt, and pearls around ehr neck. Some ornament that resemled a letter hung around her neck, too. The woman looked in Emilia’s direction and descende the small steps that lead up to her chair. The company parted for her, and emilia ntoed that men bowed in courtly fashion, and the owmen courtsied. The owman came near and nearer to Emilia, a half-smile palyed her lips. Soon, the woman, who was tiny and slender, stood before Emilia, and looked upt into her eyes. The ornament around ehr neck, surrounded by the pearls, was a gold B. Emilia realized she was face to face with Anne. Church bells began to ring.

Emilia woke with a start, her alarm was ringing, and she had tob e inclass in less than two hours, and she hadn’t graded as single paper. What was wrong with her lately? She felt listless, and caught herself staring into space. Her limbs were leaden,as if to lift them would have taken the strenght of Atlas. Often, she sat at her desk, staring at the maple tree that grew outside her window, the sunlight dancing off its leaves and playing shadow seeming to hypntozie her. She only woke form her transe when the buzzer sounded, anouncing the end of one class period, and the beginning of another.

Lately, emiilia had beenr eading books and articles about derpession. She would go to the Wilson Disk, and punch in “d-e-p-r-e-s-s-i-o-n” into the llittle box, then hit enter. She searched the psych index, read about Woolf and Plath, checked for articles inMLA, anything, but came up with nothing that exactly matched how she was feeling. A therapist might say Emilia was dissatisified with her life, that she was ins ome extended transitionary period, but Emilia was no unhappy. Only listless, and lethargic. And, her “trances” or states, weren’t at all unpleasant. Had she indeed, “left her body,” to wander as someone else in another realm? How she’d laughed at paranormal stuides, and television shows that tried to document ghost sightings and other paranormal events as if they were history and cold, hard fact. And, she laughted to herself at the old joke of, ‘I teach at Catatonic State!” But, lately, the lethargy came on her more and more often, and at inopportune moments.

(Sitwell, and the shadow on ?Anne’s face as she descended the chair. Handwriting analysis and anne’s signature.”\)

Before these bouts of reverie had taken hold of her, Emilia had been a dynamo. She was always up early, early enough to sit out on her old fashioned porch and drink dark roast coffee, that she ground herself each day, and listen tot he birds chirp. Organiztion was her joy and storng point, and she could get ten papers graded, 20 tests, if need be, before she even had to bein her office for fofice hours. Byt he time she had arrived ather favorite campus stirp coffee hosue, her day was planned,a nd a substantial part of her work had been done. By the time the proprietor handed her her favoriteFrench Roast, rich, dark, and fragrant, heavily laced with cream, she felt energy coursing through her, and was at peace with her lot and the world , but lately . . . . .

“ Enough!” Emilia groaned, and heaved herself up from her chair. Warnicke’s Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn was next to fraser’s Six wive on her desk. Seh smiled at the two volumes,which were the topic of her discussion int wo hours. She remembered her own Renaissance lit prof, a slight, beautiful strawberry blonde, with a quick wit, but the suprior attitude of beautiful, smart women who succeed in academia. Hre prof had stood out among the aging, dowdy, often close-minded faculty, but fame and success, albeit in small doses, sometimes went to her head. “Let me see your bibliograpny, emilia, you know that beginningg Renasiiance students never have the right books.” And why did Lady Clifford behave as she did? Well, she was being blonde!” But, Emilia had learned. She had learned what it meant to be in a woman and a writer in the Renaisance and Elizabethan eras; she had devoured Woolf’s tragic parable of the fictious Judith Shakespeare, as Woolf detailed the fate of what a woman author might have usffered. “Whores of the tongue,” a good woman was a silent woman. Occaisonal scholars, like More’s dduahtgers, who spoke latin, and Bloody Mary I herself, were freaks, and perhaps, grew up beliving they were to behave as trained monkeys more than as human beins.

Anne, her Anne, had had a classic education, and ane xpensive education for ehr time. But her flawless French, and musical skills, didn’t serve her that well at ther trial. By then, they were godless tools to enslave men to do her diabolical bidding. She hadn’t heeded Margaret of Anjou, her mentor, well, when Margaret had warned her not to voiceher thougths, and to keep a civil tongue. Anne cound’t coutnenacne outrage, she coudlb e submissive to her husband, but also spoke out when she thoguth he behaved unfairly. Her own tongue, perhaps, lead to her behading, for that was otne only way to silence her. (Cixous).

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