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I'm back!!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Wow, that "week off" went by super fast. Like, so fast that I apparently took two weeks off without even realizing it! I hope there's anyone still out there. I will say, it was a relatively productive two weeks, so while I know it was difficult for you guys to get through without me, in the end, it was a sacrifice worth making. (Not that I inflate my own importance or anything!)

So, without any further ado:


The advertiser, being a romantic miss of nineteen summers, is desirous of corresponding with a gentleman (military preferred) with a view to matrimony; must be of lively turn of mind, intelligent, prepossessing, generally fascinating and possessing some wealth. Address in sincerity Miss Annie Clayton, box 19 Lesser Cross Roads, N.J. Enclose carte de visite.

This ad reminds me of the third one down here, because both women say they want their husbands to be "fascinating." Don't we all, my dear? Ah well, who wasn't hoping to meet some "fascinating" man or woman at the age of nineteen?

But in a way this matrimonial makes me very sad. Why? Well, it was published right before - and I mean right before the Civil War really got going. When the war started, everyone thought, oh this is going to be over in a few months. I'm too lazy to go find the exact quote, but Jefferson Davis supposedly offered to drink all the blood spilled in the South if war broke out - that's how unconcerned people were about what was about to happen. So when this silly little girl wrote this ad, she's seeing all these officers strutting about in their stylish uniforms and imagining herself on the arm of a War Hero. She doesn't know that in just a few short months, all hell's gonna break loose.

So I wonder, if she really did meet and marry - or at least become engaged to - a handsome Union officer, did he survive? This poor creature - seeing herself as a romantic war bride - and instead she's about to face four years of daily horrors and wondering each and every day if her husband/fiance is going to survive. It breaks my heart to imagine how all her illusions must have been shattered.

You know, post-dissertation defense one of my advisers told me I should add a chapter about the Civil War - something that I agree is an excellent idea, but would make it impossible for me to graduate in October as planned. Yet, when I go back and see just how many entries in this blog have been about the Civil War, I wonder if maybe I should make the sacrifice. Put off graduating a few more months and write a chapter that will encompass this era that is clearly so, so fascinating? I hate to stay in school another semester and still not be done, despite having passed the defense, and yet...will my dissertation be all that it can be otherwise? Could I be satisfied knowing that something so, well, fascinating, has been left out?

What do you all think?

Having trouble reading the ads? Click one to enlarge!

©2010 Pam Epstein

4 comments:

Cari Hislop July 26, 2010 at 7:11 PM  

Welcome back! I like how your posts make me think about words. I had to look up prepossessing. I suppose it's cheaper if paying by the letter than 'handsome and charming', but perhaps all the fascinating men with some wealth thought of themselves as prepossessing. You're right though; the ad is sad with hindsight.

As for extending school by a semester for one extra chapter. (I suffer from a compulsive advice giving disorder) Would you have to pay extra money? If not, if you're one of those people who need to hit all the nails firmly into place, why not? Assuming you're single, you might even meet the love of your life in the stacks while searching for elusive reference material! Life is often weird that way.

Whatever you decide, Good luck!

Bianca July 26, 2010 at 9:19 PM  

Yay! Glad you are back - and what a great one to start back up with!!

Even if you decide to hold out the chapter from your final, can you put it in your actual book after graduation? (I am assuming this wonderful topic is going to culminate in a book) well...either way, its a tough choice. Great topic though!! :-)

Pam July 26, 2010 at 11:16 PM  

Thanks ladies! I'm torn about that last chapter. I'm not a perfectionist, but it's so clear that the Civil War really had an impact on these ads...it seems like leaving them out is almost irresponsible...

Liz July 27, 2010 at 6:09 PM  

Hmmm... can you work a civil war reference in passing into the intro or conclusion, and then leave the meaty extra chapter for The Book?

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