Tuesday, March 22, 2011

History Is Not the Only Thing That Repeats Itself

"Is this plagiarism or is it not?--I merely ask for information."
-Edgar Allan Poe, "Marginalia"

Sorry for the lack of activity this week. My computer had some sort of wardrobe malfunction that stripped off what I had planned to post yesterday, and "real life" events are delaying me from rewriting it all. While I put Humpty Dumpty back together again, I couldn't resist presenting you, just for fun, with a brief encore from my last post. Here are a few more "Raven's Bride"/"Very Young Mrs. Poe" comparisons:

The scene: The newly-married Edgar and Virginia are on the train to Petersburg...
O'Neal: "As the train pulled out of the depot and onto the bridge across the James River, Eddy pointed out Gamble's Hill rising to the right above the State Armory and the ironworks situated on the banks of the canal. He shouted the names into her ear. But when the train stopped for a few minutes outside Manchester, just across the river, they were both mute again."

Hart: "As we chugged away from the confines of Richmond, Eddy leaned over and shouted the names of landmarks into my ear: 'Gamble's Hill. The State Armory, there. Oh--and the Tredegar Iron Works.' By the time we stopped briefly at Manchester, on the opposite side of the James River, he'd fallen silent again, either out of names or out of breath."

O'Neal: "Sissy was sure that she could smell the blossoms in spite of the wood smoke which funneled out of the locomotive stack and sometimes swirled around the ladies' coach, stinging her eyes and bringing on fits of coughing. Whenever anything seemed to mar her comfort Eddy's eyes would become filled with anxiety, but she would smile, and, if the ladies were not looking, reach for his hand and give it a reassuring squeeze."

Hart: "Sometimes smoke swirled around inside the car like an evil genie, stinging our eyes and making us cough. Whenever that happened Eddy bent to me with concern, until I smiled and shook my head to let him know I was fine." "During the rare moments the ladies weren't looking our way, I'd slide a hand along the seat behind the swell of my skirts, capture Eddy's fingers, and give a quick squeeze."

The newlyweds arrive in Petersburg for their honeymoon, where they are greeted by their hosts, Mr. and Mrs. Hiram Haines:
O'Neal: "'Welcome to Petersburg,' Mr. Haines said jovially."
Hart: "'Welcome to Petersburg, Mrs. Poe,' he [Haines] boomed."

O'Neal: "'Did the trip tire you, Mrs. Poe?' Mrs. Haines asked as her husband clucked the horses into motion. 'No. I enjoyed it very much.' 'Of course. Imagine my asking a bride if a train trip tired her on her wedding day. They didn't have trains when I was married. We rode all day in a stagecoach. But I don't think I was tired either.'"

Hart: "Hiram Haines asked whether the trip had tired me out. 'No, not a bit,' I assured him." "Mrs. Haines laughed. 'Pshaw. She can't possibly be tired, Mr. Haines. Remember back when we wed? There were no trains then so we rode all day long on a stagecoach to our honeymoon cottage. And yet I was not fatigued, not one little bit!"

Enough. I'm starting to feel like Bill Murray in "Groundhog Day." See you next week, when, I swear it, things will get back to what passes for normal around here. In the meantime, let me leave everyone with a question that has been nagging at me ever since I did this little experiment of reading both these novels simultaneously. I have yet to find a solution to the mystery; perhaps one of you will have better luck. What I would like answered is this:

What in hell was Lenore Hart thinking??!!