Strip the Willow and Rip the Bodice

Because everyone needs a hobby …

“Lout sex, oh, yeah! …” – A Viking Porno May 27, 2010

The most awesome tea mug in the universe - Sarah and I are wearing Viking hats her Grandparents sent. Awesome - I know.

But to the title of this post. That is an actual (italicized) quote from the book:

“Lout sex, oh, yeah! …” p.187

Most of the stuff I read in this novel you really can’t make up. I need a helpful cup of tea. I know in the first text I talked a lot about it reading like fanfiction and what contributed to that. So – an analogy: the previous text is to fanfiction what Viking in Love is to porn.

Yep it’s the sex post – but also a dialect post in disguise. Sure, we’ve got the random use of different period phrases – and I’d say used better, in fact, in this novel. At the end, the author gives a note to the reader explaining why she chose the period and her ties to it (her family was descending from Vikings). Yesterday, I talk a lot about period in the post with my mom and how it’s not so much period-correctness that these novels use – it’s the period itself that makes the books … sexy, I guess.

Oh – and more on that author’s note – my favorite quote is her opening line:

“I hope you liked what I call my medieval version of the Dixie Chicks song video, ‘Good-Earl.'” p.360

You can find that video and song here. Sure enough, the actual ‘plot’ of the novel is summed up in that video. Viking princesses kill the husband of one of their sisters because he’s abusive. It all gets sort of brushed over in the end, though – again convenience. But I applaud Hill for making this note to the reader. It was interesting for me to read why she chose the period, how versed she may be in it and what not.

But then – we’re not looking for period accuracy anymore. That’s probably why I found the note so intriguing – it was a period piece with a period she felt connected to – maybe that’s why the dialect wasn’t totally butchered and why there was a handy-dandy though I never used it glossary in the back of terms relevant to the novel.

So – for period correctness in a romantic novel – I’m applauding Hill. Sure, there’s no bibliography and not the usual things i look for, but we’re given more than what’s to be expected. And I think that’s pretty cool for a Viking Porno.

Clap, damn you! Clap!

You know, I think I could live off of tea. The cup I just made is positively divine and makes me question coffee drinkers – is it worth it without whiskey and Baileys or one or the other?

But moving on. The dialect post in disguise. I don’t know if I can do this but I’m going to change the word dialect to dialogue. There’s a difference obviously – dialect is – just quickly – accent, inflections, what I’ve been talking a lot about. Dialogue is a conversation.

This past school year I was introduced to Bakhtinian literary theory (and I just remembered why I woke up in a panic – I dreamt my computer had burned in a fire and I lost all of my papers from college on theory – no joke). My first exposure to it was during my independent study on Victorian Children’s literature. I had taken a very strong liking to the effects of dialogue – not just between characters (and my favorite part of writing is dialogue) but also between the text and the reader. My wonderful fantastic etc. professor gave me a copy – what I now call ‘The Purple Book’ – of Bakhtinian theory – The Dialogic Imagination.

I sometimes coddle a bottle of Jameson. I also sometimes coddle a book on Lit Theory. I also like to sleep with 'Bleak House' under my pillow. Shut up.

Before I dive into Bakhtin’s actual essay’s – I was given a great summary of his theory in my ‘Lit Theory’ class (haha, go figure). I’m stealing this quote from a recent paper – I don’t have the book as it was a print out, but I will link to it nonetheless as I do have it’s information.

“A speaker and a listener form a relationship. Language is always the product of at least two people in a dialogue, not a monologue.” – Bressler p. 45

The speaker in this case, is the text. The listener, the reader. Easy enough. So, with a text you have a dialogue between the reader and the text. Let’s follow this up with something actually from The Purple Bakhtin Book (form his essay Discourse in the Novel):

“The novel as a whole is a phenomenon multiform in style and variform in speech and voice. In it the investigator is confronted with several heterogeneous stylistic unities, often located on different linguistic levels and subject to different stylistic controls.” Bakhtin p.261

I’ll break it down into what I’m applying this theory to with Viking in Love. I set a reminder though that I’m very new to literary theory and this blog is partially a way for me to continue to explore it. If you have another application of this theory or if you think I misinterpreted it, please comment – I’m not here to be the ultimate source of knowledge – I’m still very much learning.

Okay – back to breaking it down. First – make sure you get the idea of the text and reader as a dialogue (I swear, this is going to pay off once I start addressing the novel). Now, I am going to go make myself another cup of tea, get my computer charger, and explain myself – I’m like the Doctor, sometimes. I need tea to fully regenerate.

Okay – tea fixed, cord found, and now to explain myself. We’ve seen how the novel is a multiform phenomenon in style (the mix of the contemporary with the past) and of course the varying ‘speech and voice’, which I’ve also addressed to an extent that I think is enough to dive a little into Bakhtin here. Keep all that in mind as well, of course. This leaves us with the ‘heterogeneous stylistic unities’ and within these different ‘stylistic controls.’

What I’m going to argue or … I don’t know make a claim for is this: the stylistic controls of Viking in Love are found in the language of the novel, the crude sexuality of the text that interacts with the ‘investigator’ (ie: in this case, the reader). The interaction forms a dialogue of pornography. Rather than watching it on the television, through this dialogue we are having a similar experience through the dialogue of the text to reader.

I would stop myself from touching on Mayhue in this case because her text was practically bowdlerized compared to Hill. Sure, there’s the longing and the romantic descriptions but Hill is to the blunt point. Her text’s contribution to the dialogue of reader and text is raunchy – it’s half of the porno.

The other half is supplied by the reader. While reading the text, the reader is giving the other half of the dialogue, obviously and, thus, adding to the full picture of this viking porno.

Sex scene time!

“She succumbed to the forceful domination of his kisses then and only close her eyes when he moved down her body and began to suckle at her breasts. Turns out that big breasts were not a necessity for love making. Turns out big nipples were good for something.

Ribbons of heat unfurled in her as he brought her to another of those peaking things, just by fondling her breasts and dipping his talented fingers into her woman folds. She had scarce caught her breath when he whispered: ‘Now you can look.’

With arms levered on either side of her head, he was positioned betweist her thighs, his phallus at her woman’s portal. ‘Are you ready?'” p.183

Yeah, I just cock-blocked you all, as they say – but I did it intentionally. And before I forget, there’s this great contest for worst sex scene in a novel that’s held I think every year. You can read and find information about them here.

So – the dialogue of porn. ‘His phallus at her woman’s portal’ – how is the text interacting with the reader? The text is giving a vivid play-by-play of this sex scene – the reader gets pretty much every detail – as if they were watching it on a television screen or computer monitor. It’s lit porn.

Un-cock-bocked:

“‘How would I know?’ she snapped.

Slowly he pushed himself inside her, only a little, then pulled out. Then, in a little more, then out again.

‘You are so tight,’ he grunted out. ‘So wonderfully tight.’

She could tell when he hit her maidenhead, but it only pinched a bit, and the pain was soon gone, replaced by the most amazing fullness. Sweat beading his forehead, he rocked in and out of her until he was buried to the hilt. He rested then, forehead to forehead, and asked, ‘Have I hurt you?’

‘Just a little. Do not stop.'” p.183

You’re welcome for typing all of that.

But again, look how incredibly detailed the scene is. Every moment is charted – we actually get more movement over feeling. The text wants you to picture it – sure, there’s a pinch of pain and ‘the most amazing fullness’ but the dialogue leaves a lot of that up to the reader.

The text is staging a porno on the television in your head created by the dialogue between reader and novel.

This may seem obvious and you’re probably thinking why the hell have I already written about 1500 words talking about what you already know. But i wanted to look at this through lit theory. How the text and reader create this pornographic dialogue – even if it seems obvious. Why not put it in theory terms for fun?

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References

Bakhtin, M.M. “Discourse in the Novel.”The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays by M.M. Bakhtin. Trans. Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist. Ed. Michael Holquist. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1981, 259-422.

Bressler, Charles E. Literary Criticism: An Introduction to Theory and Practice. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 1994.

Hill, Sandra. Viking in Love. New York: Avon Books, 2010.

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