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It's time for a geeky poll! And I mean, really geeky. Now, we all know (especially if we're female) that really, we wouldn't have liked living in the past very much at all. But that doesn't stop (most of) us romanticising bits of it. So, what's your favourite century? I'm not talking about practical, political reasons why an era appeals to you - this is all about style over substance, people! Which century appeals to your imagination?

Poll #417171 What's your favourite century?

What century appeals to you most? Give those shallow reasons in comments!


Mine is the 18th - I studied 18th century art fairly intensively in college (the only time I got a first in my summer exams was for that 18th C course), and I wrote my BA dissertation partly on an 18th century play (John Gay's The Beggar's Opera - my thesis was a comparison of the satire in it and Brecht's Dreigroschenoper). There's something about the incredible prettiness (Gainsborough! Romney! Gorgeous fabrics! Fabulous, beautiful clothes for men and women ) matched with sheer fucked-up debauchery (that's a long, long, long list) and radical politics (pretty long list there too) that really appeals to me - in fact, there's a large framed poster from the wonderful Tate 2002 Gainsborough exhibition (featuring the detail of the Linley sisters portrait - see below) on my bedroom wall. And I'm currently reading an excellent book for work about the 18th century actress and writer Mary Robinson, which is what prompted this poll. So what about you? And if I didn't go back far enough in the poll (sorry, leedy!), put your century of choice in the comments - alas, I can't edit the poll (bah, stupid 21st century technology!).


( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 12th, 2005 04:26 pm (UTC)
19th for me, because of all that technology opening up the world and people going to far away places and having adventures and stuff. Oh, I know, the British Empire was a bad thing... but seeing as it happened, I'd do what most of the Scots did and try to benefit from it. I think I fancy being an explorer. In Africa perhaps - nowhere cold.
Jan. 12th, 2005 04:32 pm (UTC)
Wot, no 15th century? Admittedly, I wouldn't have liked to live then, but it can't be beaten for crazy apocalyptic popular culture.

In its absence, I'm going for the 19th century as well, for similar reasons to pinguin.
Jan. 12th, 2005 04:40 pm (UTC)
Sadly, what I know about the eighteenth century is all stuffed into the twenty years at the end, but I have heard rumours that the first fifty years were pretty good too. The Enlightenment! The French Revolution! The American Declaration of Independence! Mary Wollstonecraft and Godwin! Really low cut dresses! What's not to love?
Jan. 12th, 2005 05:19 pm (UTC)
Just so I'm completely clear on the low-cut dresses... are we talking 1740s bosomy corsetted sacque-back dresses, or Revolutionary flimsy muslin numbers that show that you're wearing no knickers, being a Lady of Quality?

These things are important for Historical Accuracy.
Jan. 12th, 2005 05:27 pm (UTC)
Um, iggerant person here, but...deliberately showing no knickers? And which revolution?
Jan. 12th, 2005 05:29 pm (UTC)
1. Until the mid-nineteenth century, no woman of quality wore knickers, only prostitutes. This caused great hilarity among Rakes and Cartoonists when see-through muslin frocks came in in the late eighteenth century.

2. The French revolution, which caused a fashion across Europe for pseudo-Roman gear such as muslin dresses, sandals and Elaborately Touseled Napoleonic Male Hair.
Jan. 12th, 2005 05:28 pm (UTC)
That's the best bit! As long as you stay away from the Puritan types, low cut dresses were pretty much the one constant while waists were nipping in and out and up and down!

And ooh, look at this</i> picture. I never understand people who are into all the leather and rubber fetish stuff. For me, it'd be all about silk stockings, linen shifts, silk underskirts and calico corsets. Now that's fetishy.

Obviously, though, I voted for the 18th century because of the philosophy and politics. And Bach. Obviously.
Jan. 12th, 2005 05:30 pm (UTC)
Sorry. That cat between the lady's legs... defeated me. I hope you'll understand.
Jan. 12th, 2005 08:07 pm (UTC)
Tut! You are so coarse!
Jan. 12th, 2005 05:37 pm (UTC)
I've always loved these stockings, from one of Hogarth's slightly saucy paintings - there's something about those coloured 18th century stockings that's really sexy...

Jan. 12th, 2005 05:44 pm (UTC)
Ooh, they are saucy. There's something about people's thighs above those kind of stockings, isn't there? I bet none of them were worrying about their thighs being too fat.
Jan. 12th, 2005 09:40 pm (UTC)
Thighs like that have to be a little bit fat for it to work anyway, don't they? Not too fat... but a little bulge above the stocking is *perfect*.

Oh I feel quite warm. I must go and read some more chemistry papers.
Jan. 12th, 2005 04:44 pm (UTC)
What a beautiful pciture - their expressions are great. While I love reading about the 18th century (Claire Tomalin is so wonderful and, of course, there's Aristocrats) I think I'd prefer the 19th cenutry. More knowledge and social mobility.
Jan. 12th, 2005 04:48 pm (UTC)
Aren't they lovely? I really, really like their faces. The quality of that reproduction isn't brilliant, obviously, but the Tate exhibition poster is perfect, and I love it. Half of it is basically the detail I posted, and the lower half is white with "the it girls" printed in the same blue as her dress, followed by all the exhibition details.
Jan. 12th, 2005 04:49 pm (UTC)
I'm with biascut on the 18th, because of all the political stuff and indeed the culture (Bach, Mozart, Sheridan).

But I'm also with leedy in that like her I am a thwarted medievalist. Gimme the 12th century, any time.
Jan. 12th, 2005 05:11 pm (UTC)
17th, because I would of course be one of those witty upper-class ladies having an affair with a similarly witty rakish gentleman like in a Restoration comedy. Because of course I would live in London, that's where The Past happened.
Jan. 12th, 2005 10:12 pm (UTC)
Because of course I would live in London, that's where The Past happened.

Hee! How true.
Jan. 12th, 2005 05:18 pm (UTC)
Sixteenth or eighteenth, so that I could be one of those (of course impossibly rich, leisured and bosomly clad) bluestocking ladies who wrote radical pamphlets on Anglicanism/Kant/women's rights/Aristotle, while hosting a salon (C18) or attending at court (C16). Of course, the C16 court would be that of a Fitzgerald or Butler, and I would be trilingual in Latin, Irish and (with scorn) English, if I had to.
Jan. 12th, 2005 05:41 pm (UTC)
Oooh, must have that book!!!
Jan. 12th, 2005 07:36 pm (UTC)
I'm all about the later 18th century, possibly into the very early 19th (for the dress style made famous in Austenian film adaptations).

Plus, you know, the politics. Revolution yay!
Jan. 13th, 2005 11:14 am (UTC)
specifically, the restoration
though I'd rather live in the future any day.
( 21 comments — Leave a comment )


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