I’ve often heard people talk about the novel Wuthering Heights, usually when mentioning love stories. Personally, I don’t particularly enjoy the average love story, despite having a bit of a romantic nature, so I was sort-of avoiding the story. Recently, when I was doing a bit of research in terms of Victorian Gothic fiction, I realized that my impression of the story had been entirely wrong! In fact, it seemed to be exactly the sort of thing I’d love to read.
So I loaded up a version of it on Google Books (which I have become rather addicted to), and started reading. It’s been a perfect task to keep me occupied these past few days, since I’ve been working at a temporary job with a lot of down-time. I really enjoy the format of Google Books as opposed to Project Gutenberg, just because personally I find it less straining to read a scan of a book’s page than a text document of the volume. (It’s also easier to hold my place–I just jot down the page number I read last.)
I tend to strongly associate Gothic fiction with lolita fashion because I like to think that the “gothic” in relation to “gothic lolita” draws a lot of impact from Gothic fiction and architecture, as opposed to from the Western goth subculture. Gothic architecture focuses on opulence and ornamentation, which is a mainstay of any branch of lolita fashion. Gothic fiction combines elements of horror with elements of romance–something I also observe in gothic lolita styles. Gothic lolita designs aren’t merely attempting to be ghostly and dark, but also alluring. A stereotypical gothic lolita would probably be right at home in a Gothic novel, enjoying her haunted mansion and family curse. (I’ll keep my bakery and cakes, thank you~ ♥)
I greatly enjoyed Wuthering Heights due to the dark elements and twisted story that descended further and further. It took a few chapters for the actual plot to really come to light, but after that I could barely put it down! It makes me wonder what other detailed tales Emily Brontë might have woven had she written another novel.
And, to me, the best part is that it has a happy (and rather unexpected) ending~ ♥
When I was little, one of my most prized possessions was a collection of six thick novels with matching red covers. A present from my grandmother, they had been hers when she was a girl. The six novels did not match merely by chance, but because they were a set of stories that continued together: Little Women, Little Men, Jo’s Boys, An Old-Fashioned Girl, Eight Cousins, and Rose in Bloom.
As I child, I never read them. I kept them neatly on the top shelf of my bookcase, organized neatly into a row. I liked to stare up at their maroon spines, all exactly the same height and nearly the same width. It seemed so orderly and mature to have those matching books on my shelf. Then we moved, and I packed them away never to unpack those tomes again.
Although the setting for Little Women is the Civil War, I settled on it for my second “lolita” book because of a regret for not having read those treasured gifts. I knew vaguely of the tale enough to think it could be tied together at least somewhat. After all, through lolita fashion I had found friends dear enough to me to think of sisters and relatives, and together we have been through trials of all kinds.
I was not disappointed. I found the text engaging, and enjoyed following the story of the four girls who each had their own hardships, disappointments, and joys. None of the characters are flat–each has her good and bad sides, just as all people do. Even though they develop through the story as they try their hardest to live good lives, each retains a humanity that makes them seem real. It seems obvious that experiences inspired the best of the work.
I believe that lolita fashion is strongly about being a young lady. The appearance is childish, but the clothing does not directly resemble children’s fashion. There are certainly elements that conjure up images of rosy-cheeked little girls, but the wearer is decidedly intended to be older as the clothing is made to an adult size. Little Women offers advice that any romantic, old-fashioned young lady can take to heart. It does not chide one for longing to hold onto youth but provides guidance looking towards the future.
During elementary school, I remember fondly that all of my classrooms had a reading corner–a little nook with comfy cushions and a bookshelf that was always full of a rotating selection of age-appropriate titles. I have always loved books, so I thought it was heavenly whenever there was a moment that I could tuck myself away and drift off into another world. I was so taken with this kind of thing that I moved all of my furniture around (despite being even tinier as a child) to make my own bedroom book-nook.
My interest in lolita fashion reawakened my love of Victorian literature, which in turn spurred me on to seek out books that I could somewhat identify with the fashion I adore. Due to my association of the style (particularly because I am a sweet lolita) with old-fashioned-ness and the dreams of young girls, certain books make me reminscent in that respect. I don’t limit my “lolita-ish” reading to only Victorian literature, because the fashion does not take its inspirations solely from that era.
The most obvious choice for “lolita reading” is Kamikaze Girls (originally Shimotsuma Monogatari, which translates as Shimotsuma Story), which I suppose I will reflect on some other time. (I had lent it to my best friend, and I cannot recall if she ever returned it to me. Whether she did or not, I certainly can’t find it!) After that, however, there aren’t any novels in English written about the style, and my Japanese ability is far too poor to read any other works from Novala Takemoto.
The other day I decided to reread Jean Webster’s Daddy Long-Legs. Oddly enough, this is a book I have never read in paper form–the first time I ever read it was a endlessly long text file downloaded years ago, and I reread it thanks to the wonder of Google Books.
Although there isn’t the slightest hint of lolita fashion in Daddy Long-Legs, I feel that it is worthwhile reading for any dreamy-hearted lolita. After all, it is the tale of an orphan girl who is sent to college by a mysterious benefactor and suddenly finds herself enjoying life as a young lady, all neatly wrapped into a sweet love story. ♥ When the spirited Judy (neé Jerusha) talks of drinking tea while studying, running off on little adventures with her friends, or buying clothing and trinkets, I can’t help but think similar times with my own dearest friends. Sometimes I image that the gowns she orders for each school term are fanciful creations such as BABY, the Stars Shine Bright might design!
I nearly flew through the pages once I started on it, and I enjoyed reading her letters so very much that now I’m wishing I had a pen-pal again!