The rather odd mix of the title rather sums up the current topics of literary/historical discussion at my house right now. Not only have I just completed a rather large biography of Mary Queen of Scots by Antonia Fraser; I am also reading James Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and my mother is reading God's Secret Agents, a very interesting-sounding chronicle of the activities of Catholic priests in Elizabethan England.
Perhaps one of the features of the Elizabethan period which has struck us the most is the general hypocrisy of the English government when it came to the treatment of Catholics. Obsessed with appearance of legality, Parliment, manipulated by men like Cecil, Walsingham, and other ministers would pass laws designed so that their ostensible aim was the laudible one of preventing treachery against the English government, but which were worded in a manner such that they would apply to specific people or groups of people. Rather aggravating looking back on it all.
I don't really have all that much to say about "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" yet because I've only just started it. Right now Joyce is writing in a very disjoined and stream-of-conciousness-y fashion. I wouldn't be surprised if he's doing this to reflect the way a child reasons. It should be interesting to see how it pans out.
Anyway, I can't really call this post anything more than a simple update, since I've said basically nothing of substance for three full paragraphs. Jolly good!