bracketyjack (bracketyjack) wrote,

The Reader's Companion Post

During the Book Discussion on the Official LMB mailing-list last year, the idea was mooted of compiling, from the discussions, a Reader's Companion to A Civil Campaign. Much labour later, the result is available at the Bujold Nexus.

The volume has three parts : mini-essays on the four dedicatees who provide the major intertexts (Austen, Bronte, Heyer, Sayers), and on Shakespeare ; an essay on genre-engineering a "comedy of biology and manners" ; and chapter-by-chapter annotations. Rightly, the person most quoted is Lois herself, drawing on her various forewords and afterwords, essays, blog, posts to the Miles to Go forum at Baen's Bar, and above all posts to the List itself, which over the years has received many pearls thrown before swine ; but posts by many List members are also drawn on, and the intertexts (including other Vorkosiverse novels) are quite liberally quoted.

The whole thing would not have been possible without the assistance and kind permission to quote of Toni Weisskopf at Baen Books. The Dorothy L. Sayers estate, Tor Books, Blackstone Audio, and many individuals also gave permission for works in which they hold copyright or have moral ownership to be quoted. Big thanks to them all.

Lois was also kind enough to read over the text and make assorted corrections and enrichments -- which as the volume is a present to her, marking the Silver Centenary of the Vorkosiverse, was big-hearted ; not that she's ever less, in word or deed.

The one really odd thing for me about it is that when I started on the project I had a co-editor, known to me only through her List-handle, 'Nikohl K.' -- and she did a lot in the early stages, especially in the time-consuming work of combing the older (and unsearchable) mailing-list archives. But in mid-December 2010 she vanished into thin air, and since then there have been neither replies to anyone's e-mails, nor any posts to the List. I've no idea what happened, and remain quite distressed and worried by this long silence -- so if anyone out there knows Nikohl K. (whom I believe sometimes also went by 'Nikohl Nikohl'), do please ask her to be in touch again if she's able and willing to be so. She's missed, and I'd be very glad to know she was aware of the project she started having come to fruition.

And one more thing. I know, oh yes I do know (whatever I feel myself), that many people really don't care much for lit-crittish work on their favourite fiction. Tant pis and their loss, frankly -- but if there's any work of Lois's that really benefits from a better understanding of its art and craft, it's A Civil Campaign. It's the only novel in her canon to be dedicated to people Lois doesn't know personally, and the only one with a generically directive subtitle ; it's also the most explicitly and complicatedly intertextual, in its dealings with, especially, Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, A Civil Contract, and Gaudy Night. If you ain't interested, you ain't interested : but please don't rest in your chosen ignorance and suggest, ever, that Lois is other than a novelist, or her books anything but literature.
Tags: essays, lois mcmaster bujold, miles vorkosigan
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