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Sian Phillips was on Woman's Hour this morning, talking about her role as Miss Havisham in a new RSC production of Great Expectations*. Except as you can see, the WH website spelled it "Haversham". And they're not the only ones - I don't know how many times I've seen the name of this iconic character spelled in that same incorrect way. Did someone, once make a mistake in the spelling (trying to badly transcribe a Cockney pronunciation phonetically, perhaps?) and it somehow stuck? How else can this bizarre habit be explained? It always annoys me, because (a) I am a horrible pedant and (b) it's so fucking stupid that people won't spell the name of one of the most famous characters in English literature correctly. So there.

In other news, the new Sarah Waters is fantastic, but I am a little peeved, because it's structured in three sections, the first set in 1947, the second in 1944, and the third in 1941. And when you finish the first section it dawns on you that that's how all the characters are going to end up, and while there's a thrill in going back to discover how they ended up there, the end of the 1947 section doesn't feel like a very powerful ending. At the beginning. If you know what I mean. I don't have a problem with this structure at all, but it could have been done better, I think, and there should have been a lot more mystery in the '47 bit. It's a shame, because as I read the 1944 bit I find myself thinking "this is all very well, but what about Viv and Reggie, and Helen and Julia, who have all been left hanging rather vaguely in 1947?" and then I realise that that's it, we know how their story ends, not with a bang but with a whimper. And yes, I checked to see is there a bit after the 1941 section that takes us back to 1947, and there isn't. It's still enormously readable and beautifully written, but I'm not sure she pulled off the narrative trick. Still, I haven't finished it, so we shall see.

Also, I am still sick, but I have had a lovely soothing bath and now smell of oranges, thanks to Lush's lovely Karma soap. So I am consumptive, but I smell nice.

*I studied Great Expectations for my Inter and loved it, particularly the spookiness of Miss H, and I remember the dorkish thrill my best friend and I felt when we were talking about the book and realised that the most important character in the entire book is Compeyson because he is the indirect cause of everything that happens to Pip.

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( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
kylegirl
Dec. 5th, 2005 11:00 pm (UTC)
It's a less egregious error, but in my reading for my essay on Rear Window that I finally turned in today, I noticed that about half the critics spell the villain's name "Thorvald," when it's actually "Thorwald." I think the misspelling probably arose during the many years when Rear Window was out of circulation for copyright reasons, but I found "Thorvald" citations right up to 2000, maybe later, and the film's been available for most of the last 20 years. It's weird how these little memes spread.
cangetmad
Dec. 6th, 2005 10:20 am (UTC)
Did you see, by the way, how totally I didn't steal you new Sarah Waters even though you left it on the table begging to be stolen? I have a conscience of steel.
stellanova
Dec. 6th, 2005 10:45 am (UTC)
Hee, congratulations! You have passed my freakish friendship test of honesty! I leave out tempting items and see if my friends will nick them. Which you didn't (well done).

Seriously, though, I can lend you the book via the post as soon as I've done my review (which will be after Christmas, alas, but still). It really is very good, despite my doubts over the structure - she's got the authentic '40s voice very well (say I, born in 1975. But I have read an awful lots of books of the time!).
cangetmad
Dec. 6th, 2005 12:02 pm (UTC)
See, despite what slemslempike said yesterday, I am a real Chalet School girl.

Ooh, yes please to the lending! How very glamorous and exciting.
alices
Dec. 6th, 2005 01:27 pm (UTC)
The Miss Haversham thing is absolutely baffling. It's years since I saw it spelt properly in any kind of printed matter. In fact, I just finished reading Sushi for Beginners by Marian Keyes, and not only does she refer to Miss Havisham as Miss Haversham, but she also calls Estella "Estelle". As someone who got completely involved with all the characters in the book (Great Expectations, not Sushi for Beginners!), it beats me how anyone who's read it could get either of their names wrong - "Estelle" sounds all wrong, like a completely different, much more ordinary character.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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