Summer Class 2010, Day 7: Cold Comfort Farm Intro

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Can I just say right off the bat that I LOVED Cold Comfort Farm? The beginning is a little rough but soon enough it becomes WONDERFUL and I can’t wait to actually write my review instead of just thinking about it and wishing I had enough energy to write more than one post a day. I saw something nasty in the woodshed! Ahem.

In today’s class we did a somewhat roundabout introduction to Stella Gibbons and Cold Comfort Farm. Roundabout as in we went off on several tangents about other authors and there was decidedly less of actual Stella Gibbons content than I had hoped for. But I’ll try to put something together for you all–

Stella Gibbons

Stella Gibbons came from a dysfunctional family (my prof called them “weird”); he father was an alcoholic, opium addicted drama queen who spent all the family’s money and didn’t make Stella or her mother’s life easy. Luckily, I suppose, he dies pretty early on in Stella’s life, soon after her mother died. Stella was left an orphan, something that shows up in CCF.

Her first job was as a journalist, and though she was fired for causing a minor financial crisis by way of placing a decimal in the wrong place in an article, she got another job and carried on. It was during the commute to this second job that she started reading the books that would later influence her in writing CCF (she also wrote CCF on the commute, on the backs of napkins and things).

The sort of literature that was popular at the time vacillated from dreary to ridiculous to wonderful. Gothic literature, romantic literature, literature that featured long-winded sentences and really awful analogies (like Golden Arrow, which you should read if you like a good laugh while recoiling in horror. I suppose it was like The DaVinci Code of it’s day.): basically all the sorts of things she incorporated into CCF. The character Elfine, for instance, who’s a sort of woody nymph flower child, was based off of Tess from Tess of the D’Urbervilles. Mr. Mybug, the licentious author chasing after Flora, was based off of DH Lawrence’s personality. And of course the whole “oh this farm is cursed and doomed” and so on was taken from the gothic romances of the time.

We were supposed to watch part of the 1995 movie (with Stephen Fry as Mybug and Kate Beckinsale as Flora, btw) but we didn’t get to it. So I’ll put the slightly ridiculous trailer down below and you’ll just have to deal:

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0 thoughts on “Summer Class 2010, Day 7: Cold Comfort Farm Intro”

  1. Cold Comfort Farm is one of my all time favorite films and you really should watch it. However, now I need to read the book! I still say “I saw something nasty in the woodshed” whenever anyone asks me to do anything I don’t want to do 😉

    1. We watched it in class today! I actually like the book a bit better, though the way the actors say the lines and their movements and everything made some things even funnier in the movie than they were in the book. 😀

      Plus, y’know, Stephen Fry is in it.

  2. I had read a couple of reviews for CCF this spring, so when I saw it on clearance I purchased it!

    I am glad to know this background information on the author – and after reading this post I am even more anxious to read the book!

    1. I do think with a book like CCF having a bit of background info helps one’s enjoyment of the book. For instance, if you didn’t know she was making fun of gothic romances (among other genres), the bits about the farm would seem completely out of wack with the rest of the book, because it’s so different in tone.

  3. The line “Hullo, Flora Poste. Do you believe that women have souls” never fails to crack me up.

    Random comment is random…

    1. I’m glad it amuses you, because almost everything Mybug said annoyed the crap outta me! Though Stephen Fry saying it in the movie was slightly less irritating. Okay– a lot less irritating.

      Fry fangirl, right here!

    1. After CCF is The Loved One by Evelyn Waugh, which is very dark for a humorous book. Then Changing Places– which I’m hating so far, btw– Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, Good Omens and Wise Children. 😀

  4. I adore Stephen Fry as Mybug. When he says, “Oh, I DO so agree: BODIES are so much more important,” I laugh til the tears roll down.
    (Laughing now, in fact.)

  5. Stephen Fry and Ian McKellan are absolutely the funniest they have ever been in that film. Oh mercy. Though my favorite bit might be when Seth’s about to leave with the film producer, and the “Gone with the Wind” music is playing–I need to rewatch it. Stephen Fry cracks me up.

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