Sunday, November 21, 2010

Plan of a Novel

Jane Austen wrote her Plan of a Novel According from Hints from Various Quarters in 1816. I believe she was inspired by Mr Clarke (the Prince Regent's librarian and personal chaplain) who had given her suggestions on what her next novel should consist of. He took a bit of umbrage at the portrayal of Mr Collins no doubt. He wrote,
I also, dear Madam, wished to be allowed to ask you to delineate in some future Work the Habits of Life and Character and enthusiasm of a Clergyman -- who should pass his time between the metropolis& the Country... -- Fond of and entirely engaged in Literature...
JA answered his letter and suggestion not quite truthfully. For she was far from ignorant, was versed in French, and was well-read.
I am quite honoured by your thinking me capable of drawing such a clergyman as you gave the sketch of... But I assure you I am not. The comic part of the character I might be equal to, but not the good, the enthusiastic, the literary. Such a man's conversation must be on subjects of science and philosophy, of which I know nothing; or must occasionally be abundant in allusions and quotations which a woman who, like me,knows only her mother tongue, and has read very little in that, would be totally without the power of giving. A classical education, or at any rate a very extensive acquaintance with English literature, ancient and modern, appears to me quite indispensable for the person who would do justice to your clergyman; and I think I may boast myself to be, with all possible vanity, the most unlearned and ill-informed female who ever dared to be an authoress.
In his biography of his aunt, James Edward Austen-Leigh confided,
Mr. Clarke, however, was not to be discouraged from proposing another subject. He had recently been appointed chaplain and private English secretary to Prince Leopold, who was then about to be united to the Princess Charlotte; and when he again wrote to express the gracious thanks of the Prince Regent for the copy of Emma which had been presented, he suggests that 'an historical romance illustrative of the august House of Cobourg would just now be very interesting,' and might very properly be dedicated to Prince Leopold. This was much as if Sir William Ross had been set to paint a great battle-piece; and it is amusing to see with what grave civility she declined a proposal which must have struck her as ludicrous.
In a letter dated 4 months from the last, she wrote,
You are very kind in your hints as to the sort of composition which might recommend me at present, and I am fully sensible that an historical romance, founded on the House of Saxe Cobourg, might be much more to the purpose of profit or popularity than such pictures of domestic life in country villages as I deal in. But I could no more write a romance than an epic poem. I could not sit seriously down to write a serious romance under any other motive than to save my life; and if it were indispensable for me to keep it up and never relax into laughing at myself or other people, I am sure I should be hung before I had finished the first chapter. No, I must keep to my own style and go on in my own way; and though I may never succeed again in that, I am convinced that I should totally fail in any other.

She confessed that "pictures of perfection make me sick and wicked" and had a bit of fun when composing her Plan of a Novel According from Hints from Various Quarters. Hope you enjoy it!
SCENE to be in the Country, Heroine the Daughter of a Clergyman, one who after having lived much in the World had retired from it and settled in a Curacy, with a very small fortune of his own. -- He, the most excellent Man that can be imagined, perfect in Character, Temper, and Manners -- without the smallest drawback or peculiarity to prevent his being the most delightful companion to his Daughter from one year's end to the other. -- Heroine a faultless Character herself, -- perfectly good, with much tenderness and sentiment, and not the least Wit -- very highly accomplished, understanding modern Languages and (generally speaking) everything that the most accomplished young Women learn, but particularly excelling in Music -- her favourite pursuit -- and playing equally well on the PianoForte and Harp -- and singing in the first stile. Her Person quite beautiful -- dark eyes and plump cheeks. -- Book to open with the description of Father and Daughter -- who are to converse in long speeches, elegant Language -- and a tone of high serious sentiment. -- The Father to be induced, at his Daughter's earnest request, to relate to her the past events of his Life. This Narrative will reach through the greatest part of the first volume -- as besides all the circumstances of his attachment to her Mother and their Marriage, it will comprehend his going to sea as Chaplain to a distinguished naval character about the Court, his going afterwards to Court himself, which introduced him to a great variety of Characters and involved him in many interesting situations, concluding with his opinions on the Benefits to result from Tithes being done away, and his having buried his own Mother (Heroine's lamented Grandmother) in consequence of the High Priest of the Parish in which she died refusing to pay her Remains the respect due to them. The Father to be of a very literary turn, an Enthusiast in Literature, nobody's Enemy but his own -- at the same time most zealous in discharge of his Pastoral Duties, the model of an exemplary Parish Priest. -- The heroine's friendship to be sought after by a young woman in the same Neighbourhood, of Talents and Shrewdness, with light eyes and a fair skin, but having a considerable degree of Wit, Heroine shall shrink from the acquaintance. From this outset, the Story will proceed, and contain a striking variety of adventures. Heroine and her Father never above a fortnight together in one place, he being driven from his Curacy by the vile arts of some totally unprincipled and heart-less young Man, desperately in love with the Heroine, and pursuing her with unrelenting passion. -- No sooner settled in one Country of Europe than they are necessitated to quit it and retire to another -- always making new acquaintance, and always obliged to leave them. -- This will of course exhibit a wide variety of Characters -- but there will be no mixture; the scene will be for ever shifting from one Set of People to another -- but All the Good will be unexceptionable in every respect -- and there will be no foibles or weaknesses but with the Wicked, who will be completely depraved and infamous, hardly a resemblance of humanity left in them. -- Early in her career, in the progress of her first removals, Heroine must meet with the Hero -- all perfection of course -- and only prevented from paying his addresses to her by some excess of refinement. -- Wherever she goes, somebody falls in love with her, and she receives repeated offers of Marriage -- which she refers wholly to her Father, exceedingly angry that he should not be first applied to. -- Often carried away by the anti-hero, but rescued either by her Father or by the Hero -- often reduced to support herself and her Father by her Talents and work for her Bread; continually cheated and defrauded of her hire, worn down to a Skeleton, and now and then starved to death. -- At last, hunted out of civilized Society, denied the poor Shelter of the humblest Cottage, they are compelled to retreat into Kamschatka where the poor Father, quite worn down, finding his end approaching, throws himself on the Ground, and after 4 or 5 hours of tender advice and parental Admonition to his miserable Child, expires in a fine burst of Literary Enthusiasm, intermingled with Invectives against holders of Tithes. -- Heroine inconsolable for some time -- but afterwards crawls back towards her former Country -- having at least 20 narrow escapes from falling into the hands of the Anti-hero -- and at last in the very nick of time, turning a corner to avoid him, runs into the arms of the Hero himself, who having just shaken off the scruples which fetter'd him before, was at the very moment setting off in pursuit of her. -- The Tenderest and completest Eclaircissement takes place, and they are happily united. -- Throughout the whole work, Heroine to be in the most elegant Society and living in high style. The name of the work not to be Emma, but of the same sort as S. & S. and P. & P.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

From Groucho

Groucho Marx:

"Either this man is dead or my watch has stopped."

"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read."

"From the moment I picked up your book until I laid it down, I was convulsed with laughter. Some day I intend to read it."

"Go, and never darken my towels again."

"I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book."

"I never forget a face, but in your case I'll be glad to make an exception."


"I've had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn't it."

"Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others."

"Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana."

Margaret Dumont: "Why, that reminds me of my youth!!"
Groucho: "He must be a pretty big boy by now."

A Day at the Races:

Man: "Are you a man or a mouse?"
Groucho: "Put a piece of cheese on the floor and you'll find out."

"And stop pointing that beard at me, it might go off!"

A Night at the Opera:

Lassparri: "They threw an apple at me!"
Groucho: "Well, watermelons are out of season."

A Night in Casablanca:

"We've got to speed things up in this hotel. Chef, if a guest orders a three-minute egg, give it to him in two minutes. If he orders a two-minute egg, give it to him in one minute. If he orders a one-minute egg, give him a chicken and let him work it out for himself."

Groucho: "You know I think you're the most beautiful woman in the world?"
Woman: "Really?"
Groucho: "No, but I don't mind lying if it gets me somewhere."

Animal Crackers:

"We must remember that art is art. Well, on the other hand water is water isn't it? And east is east and west is west. And if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce they taste much more like prunes than rubarb does."

"Do you mind if I don't smoke?"

"I'm Captain Scotland of the Spalding Yard...Captain Yard of the Scotland Spalding"

Horse Feathers:

"Members of the faculty, faculty members. Students of Huxley and Huxley's students. Well I guess that covers everything"

"Why don't you bore a hole in yourself and let the sap run out?"

"Have we got a college? Have we got a football team?....Well we can't afford both. Tomorrow we start tearing down the college."

Pogo with Albert the Alligator

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Harry Potter, friend or foe?

Sir Francis Bacon in his essay, Of Studies, wrote, "Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested."
I'm one of those who has a tendency to assume that if a book cannot be chewed and digested then it ought not to be even tasted. But this is simply not so! It is easy, I know, to dismiss Harry Potter as “slop” because, as HP admirer James Thomas of Pepperdine University has noted, they strike most academics as “too current, too juvenile and too popular.” However, Narnia was dismissed by Lewis' colleagues for those same reasons. We need to remember what Milton asserted, that we should long for "the benefit which may be had of books promiscuously read" ~ widely and broadly, in many fields, with many genres, and on many topics.
Is Harry Potter really worth tasting? worth swallowing? With all of those Great Books waiting to be devoured, is Harry Potter just a waste of time? Sir Philip Sydney (a Christian literary theorist) said that good books both instruct and delight, and thanks to Rowling's years of planning, HP certainly does this, as well as what Neil Postman assumes our reading should do. That is, "teaching us to think in a logically connected way...conditioning us to think in terms of abstract ideas, objective truth, and sustained reflection."

In The Deathly Hallows Lectures, John Granger argues that HP uses,
1. Narrative Misdirection from Miss Jane Austen
2. Literary Alchemy via Shakespeare and Charles Dickens
3. The Hero's Journey, let's say from Homer, Virgil, and Dante
4. Traditional Symbolism a la Messrs. Tolkien and Lewis
5. Postmodern Themes

Looking at number one, Narrative Misdirection, I recall Rowling saying, “The best twist ever in literature is in Jane Austen's Emma. To me she is the target of perfection at which we shoot in vain.” Rowling certainly took some good cues and put JA's genius to work. Just as I was utterly surprised when I learned the truth about Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax, I would never have guessed the truth about Snape or even Dumbledore.
Rowling has a talent for descriptions. True, she does employ "novel slang" as JA addresses in a letter to her niece, "Devereux Forrester being ruined by his vanity is very good: but I wish you would not let him plunge into a 'vortex of dissipation.' I do not object to the thing, but I cannot bear the expression: it is such thorough novel slang; and so old that I dare say Adam met with it in the first novel he opened."
However, many of Rowling's descriptions hit the nail on the head.

Mr. Weasley gave a maniacal laugh; Mrs. Weasley threw him a look, upon which he became immediately silent and assumed an expression appropriate to the sickbed of a close friend.

"Yes," said Heromine, now turning the fragile pages as if examining rotting entrails...

Ron stared around the room as if he had been bidden to memorize it.
It puts me in mind of Wodehouse. (God bless him!) For example, “Even in this bitter mood of his, when he was feeling like some prophet of Israel judging the sins of the people." And, “He chuckled like the last bit of water going down the waste-pipe in a bath.” Perhaps it's a British talent? For understatement?

Number 2 brings us to Literary Alchemy, which Granger describes as
the science for the perfection or sanctification of the alchemist's soul. This heroic venture is all but impossible today because the way we look at reality, at "things," per se, makes the Great Work itself almost an absurdity. Unlike the medieval alchemists, we moderns and postmoderns see things with a clear subject/object distinction; that is, we believe you and I and the table are entirely different things and between them is there is no connection or relation. The knowing subject is one thing and the observed object is completely 'other.
Granger points out that Rowling shows the achemical transformation in every book.
The resurrection at story’s end each year is the culmination of that year’s cycle and transformation. The cycle then closes with congratulations and explanations from the master alchemist and a return to the Dursleys for another trip through the cycle.” And in the end, “Death is a necessary part of the alchemical work; only in the death of one thing, from the alchemical perspective, is the greater thing born. (Alchemists frequently cited John 12:24 and Christ’s Crucifixion and Resurrection.25) But Love, the action of contraries and their resolution, transcends death. Love brings life out of death, even eternal life and spiritual perfection. This is a direct match with Rowling’s message about how to understand death and love.

It is not only Harry who must learn self-sacrifice- even to the point of death- but also James Potter (“Lily, take Harry and go!It's him! Go! Run! I'll hold him off!”), Lily Potter ("Not Harry, please no, take me, kill me instead ---"), Snape ( Don't really need a quote here because it's pretty much his whole adult life.), Dumbledore (“Don't hurt them, please...hurt me instead.”), Ron ("No!" shouted Ron. "You can have me, keep me!"), the list goes on. The theme of sacrifice, of dying to self bobs up over and over and over. It is Voldemort who does not understand this. If he did, as Dumbledore might say, he would not be Voldemort. When Harry tells Voldemort that he (Harry) was saved through love and sacrifice, Voldemort screams, “Accidents!”
Dumbledore tells Harry, "And his knowledge remains woefully incomplete, Harry! That which Voldemort does not value, he takes no trouble to comprehend. Of house-elves and children's tales, of love, loyalty, and innocence, Voldemort knows and understands nothing. Nothing. That they all have a power beyond his own, a power beyond the reach of any magic, is a truth that he has never grasped." (709)
When Harry challenges Voldemort declaring he knows of things that Voldemort doesn't even understand, "Is it love again?" said Voldemort, his snake's face jeering. "Dumbledore's favorite solution, love, which he claimed conquered death, though love did not stop him falling from the tower and breaking like an old waxwork?”
Because Voldemort views the world as his own. Much the same way Satan did when he offered Jesus “all the kingdoms of the world.” DH: "And he walked on, around the edge of the lake, taking in the outlines of the beloved castle, his first kingdom, his birthright..."

Titus Burckhardt noted,
This science (of alchemy) went into precipitous decline and corruption at the end of the Renaissance and especially at the Enlightenment, when it was eclipsed by the materialist view and priorities of modern chemistry. But it was kept alive by writers who found in its imagery and symbolism a powerful way of communicating Christian truth...Shakespeare and Jonson, among others, used alchemical imagery and themes because they understood that the work of the theater in human transformation was parallel if not identical to the work of alchemy in that same transformation. The alchemical work was claimed to be greater than an imaginative experience in the theater, but the idea of purification by identification or correspondence with an object and its transformations was the same in both.

The Hero's Journey, number 3, is a lot of fun for all of us who love the classics. Harry, like all of those great heroes of old is broken down, disillusioned, and bled until everything that he thinks he is is taken away or revealed as a falsehood.
Granger states,
The boundaries of his world collapse; magical enemies come to his home with the Dursleys, and Aunt Petunia knows about them. The Dursleys’ house is no longer a sanctuary, however miserable, and Hogwarts is no longer edifying or any joy to him...But the old and the new man cannot live together in the same person or world—and this is Harry’s war with his doppelganger or twin-in-spirit, Lord Voldemort... Love has overcome death in each of the books...Having completed the circle and achieved the center the seventh time, this last time by sacrificing himself without hope of gain, Harry, in effect, has executed his ego or died to himself, thereby returning to the center or transpersonal self before Voldemort kills him.
Rowling says she was influenced by Charles Dicken's Tale of Two Cities. Especially Carton's “It is a far, far better thing that I do than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.”
Just as Sydney Carton is no saint, neither is Harry a saint. He struggles to believe, just as Rowling struggles, but in the end he chooses the path of obedience and sacrifice. Harry does not die as a savior to the whole world, but he does die to himself. Harry isn't an allegorical Christ, but his choice is the same as Carton's just as it is the same as Christ's.
Mark Shea, in his article, Harry Potter and the Christian Critics, in the magazine First Things answers the critics who object to "Harry lying and bending the rules and gets away with it." He says Harry was granted
Most Favored Damnation status—as though books like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn did not exist and were not classics of the English language. Proponents of such arguments seem to really think that a book in which the whole point was the purification of the hero ought to have a hero who did not need purification.

These same people are horrified that Dumbledore is found to have faults- great faults. Though Rowling purposefully shows him as being a deeply flawed hero. In DH all of Dumbledore's mistakes are brought to us in sharp relief. Not only by his brother (who Harry tells, "The night that your brother died, he drank a potion that drove him out of his mind. He started screaming, pleading with someone who wasn't there. 'Don't hurt them, please...hurt me instead.'"), but also by Dumbledore himself at King's Cross station.
Mark Shea says,
Dumbledore's great downfall was doing evil "for the Greater Good"—and that, I think, is the key. Deathly Hallows is the book in which, above all, Dumbledore gives way to Harry as the doubtful and imperfect Baptist gives way to Jesus, as the great but pagan Vergil gives way to Beatrice, as the greatest prophet gives way to the least in the kingdom of heaven.

Dumbledore admits his failings (even to the point of comparing himself with Voldemort) to Harry at King's Cross station, what he does with power, his longing for the Resurrection Stone, and his neglect of his sister. All of which Rowling shows us- and Harry- so that he may make the proper adjustments to his pride and assumptions before dueling Voldemort.
Dumbledore is, like Vergil, a "great man" (in the words of Hagrid). But he himself acknowledges that Harry is the "better man." Harry can do what Dumbledore could not. That's not because Harry has mastered secret knowledge. It's because Harry is the recipient of grace. Dumbledore's death is marked by the sin that marred Dumbledore's life: He does evil "for the greater good." And the plan he hatches "for the greater good" is fruitless. The Elder Wand he aimed to give to Snape goes to Draco. But, in the mystery of grace, his failure is redeemed by Harry's response to grace.
Dumbledore tells Harry, "You are the true master of death, because the true master does not seek to run away from Death." (720)

Number 4, Traditional Symbolism, is great! Although Rowling falls short of Lewis and Tolkien, she is excellent at the “magic of story and myth” using imagery and symbols from the Christian tradition. I would also argue that HP fits into the category of mythopoeia ("myth-making"). This meaning of the word mythopoeia follows its use by J. R. R. Tolkien in the 1930s. The authors in this genre integrate traditional mythological themes and archetypes into fiction.
In Deathly Hallows, where the mysteries are made clear, we learn that the whole of the myth turns on the interpretation of the symbols. We get a glimpse of this when Dumbledore is telling Snape about the connection between Voldemort and Harry. Snape responds, "Souls? We are talking of minds!" (685)
Granger writes,
Understanding their superficial, moral, allegorical, and mythic or anagogical meanings requires some appreciation of English literature and symbolism...An authentic symbol is a means of passage and of grace between the shadow-world of time and space in which we live and what is real.
This is demonstrated most effectively when Harry asks Dumbledore at King's Cross if their conversation was real or just inside his head. To which Dumbledore responds, "Of course it is all happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?" (723)
Rowling uses symbolism to demonstrate Harry's change after burying Dobby through alchemical colors, "Dawn was breaking over the horizon, shell pink and faintly gold."

In DH Harry's transformation, I believe, happens acutely when he is digging the grave for hobbit-like Dobby. "I want to do it properly," were the first words of which Harry was fully conscious of speaking. "Not by magic. Have you got a spade?" (478)

“He dug with a kind of fury, relishing the manual work, glorying in the non-magic of it, for every drop of his sweat and every blister felt like a gift to the elf who had saved their lives.”

"Just as Voldemort had not been able to possess Harry while Harry was consumed with grief for Sirius, so his thoughts could not penetrate Harry now, while he mourned Dobby. Grief, it seemed, drove Voldemort out... though Dumbledore, of course, would've said it was love..."
Finally, he has chosen to trust Dumbledore and gained control of his connection with Voldemort. "...the lightning scar on Harry's forehead prickled, but he ignored it, refusing to acknowledge its pain or invitation." (488)

Number 5, Postmodern Themes, is concerned with the ideas prevalent to everyone living in this historical time period. One of those ideas being, we may even call it a 'postmodern religion', fundamentalism=bad. When Rowling speaks of fundamentalism she is meaning ignorant, prejudiced people, but misses that this definition is the same one which the Death Eaters hold in regards to Muggles.
If you want legalism, go for a Progressive society. Justice alone matters. Equality. Tolerance. Etc. But you will find no sacrifice. The sins of traditional societies are forgiven for one reason- the blood. Blood is a scandal to enlightened man. Only Christians can dare recognize the bestial element, without either shame, despair, or contradiction.
Although Rowling is postmodern, she does recognize this. As Granger points out,
She has succeeded in smuggling in a great deal of traditional, even transcendent, material and themes into these stories—including her Christian beliefs—in answer to these questions and concerns. The “religious undertones,” as she has said, are “obvious” to anyone who hasn’t been immunized to this possibility... If there is one message that postmodern readers do not, perhaps cannot hear, it is that they will be judged in the afterlife for their thoughts, words, and deeds. Ms. Rowling in King's Cross presents this 'judgment' in such a way that it seems anything but the work of an angry God. Rather our condition in eternity will be the consequences of our choices and our capacity for love - and there will be no helping those who enter God's Glory with atrophied spirits and darkened hearts.

Harry tells Voldemort (after seeing his soul at King's Cross), "It's your one last chance," said Harry, "it's all you've got left...I've seen what you'll be otherwise...Be a man...try...Try for some remorse...."
Rowling has compared her faith in God to that of Graham Greene, the Catholic writer. The struggle to believe. “I believe, Lord help my unbelief.” We see Harry struggle with this, especially in DH.
HP is certainly not Evangelical, but is a parable or symbol. Those that reject it on the basis that it's not Christian enough, seem to do so because they fear and/or misunderstand (not because it is, say, too steamy). The idea being: If we are going to read something in the category of not being Christian enough we only read it to censure or scorn (e.g. Darwin).
For those of you watching the movie but not reading the book, don't expect to see overtly Christian themes. Even those making Lewis' Narnia movies have steamrollered over some of his most cherished beliefs. (Don't even get me going on JA movies!) To expect otherwise from Hollywood is mental negligence.
Philippians 4 does not say to read only Christian works. If we are honest, we must admit that some Christian works are not "excellent" or "worthy of praise" or "lovely" or "of good report." Many non-Christian writers are good to read because they unwittingly follow God's aesthetic laws of craftsmanship and because they are honest. Hemingway was no Christian, but when in "Hills Like White Elephants" he imagines a man and woman discussing whether she should get an abortion, he nails the issues—the man's attempt to manipulate and use the woman; her reluctance, her yielding to the pressure, and her guilt—in a way that corresponds to God's moral truth.

Rowling states,"The two groups of people who are constantly thanking me are wiccans (white witches) and boarding schools. And really, don't thank me. I'm not with either of them."
C.S. Lewis writes in his essay, Studies in medieval and Renaissance literature,
Magic sought power over nature; astrology proclaimed nature's power over man. Hence the magician is the ancestor of the modern practicing or 'applied' scientist, the inventor; the astrologer, of the nineteenth-century philosophical materialist. Neither figure, by the way, is specially typical of the Middle Ages. Both flourished as much, if not more, in the ancient and in the renaissance world.

Mark Shea of First Things, says,
The magic of Harry is, as John Granger points out, "incantational," not "invocational," exactly like the magic of Gandalf. Born with the talent for magic, Gandalf says the magic words and fire leaps forth from his staff, just as from Harry's wand. No principalities or powers are invoked in HP. Indeed, if any words are "invocational" they are the prayer to Elbereth and Gilthoniel uttered in Middle Earth. Yet nobody accuses Tolkien of promoting the worship of false gods. That's because we understand Tolkien's fictional subcreation and its rootedness in Christian thought. I suggest Christian critics try to extend Rowling the same charity.

As Lupin said,"...everything for which we are fighting: the triumph of good, the power of innocence, the need to keep resisting." (441)
Gandalf stands before the Balrog and his doom as Gandalf the Grey, forbidding evil ~ “I am a servant of the secret fire. You cannot pass.” Yet upon return from the abyss, he is Gandalf the White.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Mingle or I'll mangle. ~Moe to Larry and Curly

Jane Austen's Fight Club

You know I cannot possibly condone this video, but I laughed SO hard when I watched it I just had to pass it on. (You do need to be in the right mood, which I apparently was.)

Brontë Sisters Power Dolls

Thursday, November 4, 2010

créme fraîche

Créme Fraîche

1 cup heavy cream
2 Tablespoons buttermilk
Combine ingredients in a glass jar or bowl. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 24 hours (Eight hours may be sufficient.), or until thick and creamy. Stir and use or refrigerate.

One of the simplest and most delicious things in life is créme fraîche. It can be used as a substitution for yogurt, sour cream, or whipped cream. It is divine as a garnish for soups, fresh berries, pie, or combined with heat or seasonings and herbs to create a dipping sauce. I recently made a lemon-raspberry pie that called for sweetened condensed milk. By using créme fraîche in place of some of the sweetened condensed milk, I made the pie really worth something! I'm still discovering uses for this (besides just eating it off the spoon), so if you have any to add please do so!

Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn said that her father leaving "left me insecure for life perhaps. I do think there are things, experiences in childhood, that form you for the rest of your life." Her father was a nazi-sympathizer and her mother took her to the Netherlands to wait out World War II. Shortly after their move, the nazis came to the Netherlands. Audrey said, "Had we known we were going to be occupied for five years, we might have all shot ourselves. We thought it would be over next week...six year...That's how we got through."

In 1991, Audrey said "I have memories. More than once I was at the station seeing trainloads of Jews being transported, seeing all these faces over the top of the wagon. I remember, very sharply, one little boy standing with his parents on the platform, very pale, very blond, wearing a coat that was much too big for him, and he stepped on to the train. I was a child observing a child".

Audrey's slight figure can be attributed to not getting near enough to eat during the years of German occupation. She said that the War "made me resilient and terribly appreciative for everything good that came afterward. I felt enormous respect for food, freedom, for good health, and family- for human life." She recalls, "We talked about food endlessly- what meal we would eat when the war was over. I think mine was chocolate cake...Let's face it, a nice creamy chocolate cake does a lot for a lot of people; it does for me."

She felt that she was fortunate, "How shall I sum up my life? I think I've been particularly lucky. Does that have something to do with faith also? I know my mother always used to say, 'Good things aren't supposed to just fall in your lap. God is very generous, but he expects you to do your part first.' So you have to make that effort. But at the end of a bad time or a huge effort, I've always had - how shall I say it? - the prize at the end. My whole life shows that."

Her mother taught her to put others before herself. "It's that wonderful old-fashioned idea that others come first and you come second. This was the whole ethic by which I was brought up. Others matter more than you do, so don't fuss, dear; get on with it." Audrey says her mother was "a fabulous mother but not an affectionate person... There were times when I though she was cold- but she loved me in her heart, and I knew that all along." Audry remembers, "As a child, I was taught that it was bad manners to bring attention to yourself, and to never, ever make a spectacle of yourself... All of which I've earned a living doing."

Audrey said becoming an actress "just happened; I had no intention of it." She said, "I needed the money; it paid ₤3 more than ballet jobs". Audrey recalls, "I never expected to be a star, never counted on it, never even wanted it. Not that I didn't enjoy it all when it happened. (But) it's not as if I were a great actress. I'm not Bergman. I don't regret for minute making the decision to quit movies for my children."

She seemed to have a balanced view of life, "There is a Dutch saying, 'Don't fret; it will happen differently anyway.' I believe that." In her life she says, "I didn't expect anything much and because of that I'm the least bitter woman I know." She believed, "It would be terribly sad, wouldn't it, to look back on your life in films and not know your children? For me there's nothing more pleasant or exciting or lovely or rewarding than seeing my children grow up...and they only grow up once, remember.

Here are a few more quotes from this lovely woman.

"I love people who make me laugh. I honestly think it's the thing I like most, to laugh. It cures a multitude of ills. It's probably the most important thing in a person."

"People seem to have this fixed image of me. In a way I think it's very sweet, but it's also a little sad. After all, I'm a human being. When I get angry, I sometimes swear."

"I'm not a city person...I'm very board by cement."

"I adore cooking and love to garden. Dull, isn't it?"

"I think any woman dresses mostly for the man in her life."

"You have to be relaxed as possible about food and fitness and the rest of it, or you'll be a slave to your beauty habits...You may have great skin, but you become a robot."
"My look is attainable. Women can look like Audrey Hepburn by flipping out their hair, buying the large sunglasses, and the little sleeveless dresses."

"I don't want to be a perennial teenager."

"There's never any need for any woman to ogle any man. Ogling only puts the men off...In fact, the faintest flutter of an eyelash should be enough."

"Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, it's at the end of your arm, as you get older, remember you have another hand: The first is to help yourself, the second is to help others."

"When you have nobody you can make a cup of tea for, when nobody needs you, that's when I think life is over."

"Living is like tearing through a museum. Not until later do you really start absorbing what you saw, thinking about it, looking it up in a book, and remembering - because you can't take it in all at once."