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Nineteenth Century Fangirl

July 9, 2010

My fan

In NYC’s recent very nasty heat wave (which I think is over now? Hopefully?) I carried around a fan. It was especially useful on subway platforms. I have this great fan, collapsible, with lovely spines. It looks very 19th century. I’m pretty sure I got it as a wedding favor.

I’ve been on a 19th century-ish kick. Regency, or thereabouts. I zoomed through Lauren Willig and Marissa Doyle, and eagerly await the next installment from both excellent authors.

In the meantime, I’ve been having fun reading NineteenTeen, a blog by Marissa Doyle and Regina Scott. It’s a look at what it might be like to be a teenager in the 19th century. Dresses, dances, manners, customs. It’s like… anthropology of pelisses. So yes, it hits my sweet spot.

Fan, tucked into my bag, for easy grabbing.

I’ve also been reading Georgette Heyer, after lots of prodding to do so from Keri, and mentions by Marissa Doyle and Lauren Willig. I hate myself a little bit for noticing that I prefer Lauren Willig and Marissa Doyle, for the updated pacing and spunky heroines of the 21st century historical fiction. (It feels like I’m justifying the New York Times article about brains and technology from a while ago.) But the differences between attention spans and education are another story… back to the fans.

Standing on the subway platform, fanning myself, got me to thinking about a post I’d read in the NineteenTeen archives, about flirting with fans. And here’s more. The specificity of gesture and what it indicates fascinates me.

Letting it rest on right cheek: Yes
Letting it rest on left cheek: No
Open and shut: You are cruel
Open wide: Wait for me

Wow- that’s a lot to remember. (More on the 21st century technological cost to memory– I’m amazed by the number of things people in earlier times memorized just as a matter of course.) And that’s not even taking into account the whole right-left thing, which is often a little murky for me, I’ll admit.

What my fan is saying is always much, much simpler:

Fanning self with fan fully open: I am too hot. The subway platform smells weird. And I hope the train comes very, very soon.

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