Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Pygmalion and Tighsolas

Page of Pygmalion, Everybody's Magazine, 1914.. (I got it off Wikipedia, where it says it is in the public domain.)

Well, I downloaded the first 39 installments of my first draft of Flo in the City and it's 84 pages long in 11 font. Long. It's hard to edit your own work and if I spend too long on the computer my eyes get tired, so I know I have to stop using the computer for a few days before I get down to a real good edit of what I have.

So, eyes tired out, I watched Pygmalion last night on Turner Classic Movies, possibly for the first time. I don't generally like Leslie Howard as an actor, but he's terrific here and Wendy Hiller even better. (I know of Wendy Hiller, but likely have only seen her as an older actress.) This play is all about acting, isn't it, on one level?

How can I tie Pygmalion into a blog about Flo in the City, my novel in progress about a girl coming of age in the tumultuous 1910 era, based on the letters of http://www.tighsolas.ca/. Well, in many many ways.

First, it was first produced in 1913, although the movie looks thirties-ish. And it's all about social classes. "Middle class morality." The way that Henry Higgins treats Eliza's hat, says it all. (And hats meant more in 1913 than in the 30's, so the movie lost something by taking the time period forward a bit.)

I know the Nicholsons liked George Bernard Shaw. I have a playbill from 1931, for the Apple Cart. According to the Montreal Gazette, when the play came to Montreal on February 16, The Apple Cart was considered Shaw's most discussed play.

Funny, today that play doesn't make the list of Shaw's most popular. Pygmalion, in large part thanks to My Fair Lady, is unquestionably his most popular play. Man and Superman, Saint Joan, Major Barbara are the Shaw plays people like and respect today.

Anyway, as I said, I'm going off the computer and picking up my hard copy of Flo in the City: rough draft 1, that is on this blog. When I fix it up, I will make the changes directly on the page, so First Draft One will disappear into the ether.

I have a pretty strong sense of where I am going now: 3 books that cover the 1908-1913 period, with Flo considering a different career path in each book, while the Nicholson's saga (real life, as it happened) unfolds.

In Canada, accents weren't the issue in 1910, or as much the issue. I have a tape of Edith and Flora and they sound like me. So if accents weren't such a giveaway, the way a woman dressed became more important, with respect to a first impression.

Well-defined class distinctions existed of course. That's what Flo in the City is all about. They do today, although we don't like to think about it.

Studies reveal that there is LESS mobility between the classes, today, in America and the U.K. than there was a few decades ago.

The Pendulum swings.