I was in the newly opened Rockstar store in Cineleisure yesterday (fantastic store really, with lots of knick knacks and maps and whatnot) and came across a whole series of F. Scott Fitzgerald books in Christmas edition embossed covers. Stunningly beautiful. I was mesmerized instantly – indeed the namesake of this blog – magpie in many meanings.
The published photographs don’t do the actual covers justice but I had to show a bit of what I mean:
So stunningly beautiful that I could actually splurge on the entire collection. But I was a good girl and bought only one – Flappers and Philosophers, cause its one of the longest texts and I have been reading it for some time. Also eyeing The Beautiful and the Damned, it wasn’t selling in the shop yet.
Its literally black gold – two of my absolute carrying wintery colours. And Fitzgerald is the perfect choice – straying a little almost into decadent indulgence. It wouldn’t have worked with my other favourite authors – and try as I might I can’t for the moment list a single author whom I can think of being suitable for this type of cover. Any suggestions? I am all for decadent writing this Christmas. Mostly I can think of dirty green covers for Albert Camus and Aldous Huxley.
I am currently reading Goethe’s Elective Affinities, inspired by JRV:
“German affinity chemistry historian Jeremy Adler, did his 1977 PhD dissertation on the chemistry used by Goethe along with follow-up articles and chapters, such as 1987 book Goethe’s Elective Affinity and the Chemistry of its Time, wherein he thoroughly studied Goethe’s use of chemical theory in Elective Affinities. By extending the reference of an established chemical theory to encompass social interactions, according to Adler, the novel provides the basis for a universal theory of affinity.
The term “elective affinities” is based on the older notion of chemical affinities. In the late 19th century, German sociologist Max Weber, who had read the works of Goethe at the age of 14, used Goethe’s conception of human “elective affinities” to formulate a large part of sociology. In early nineteenth century chemistry, the phrase “elective affinities” or chemical affinities was used to describe compounds that only interacted with each other under select circumstances. Goethe used this as an organizing metaphor for marriage, and for the conflict between responsibility and passion.
In the book, people are described as chemical species whose amorous affairs and relationships were pre-determined via chemical affinities similar to the pairings of alchemical species. Goethe outlined the view that passion, marriage, conflict, and free-will are all subject to the laws of chemistry and in which the lives of human species are regulated no differently than the lives of chemical species.   Opinions over the years have been split as to whether Goethe’s theory was used in metaphor.  
1809 title page of German polymath Johann Goethe’s Elective Affinities or “Die Wahlverwandtschaften” (German), the first book, since Greek philosopher Empedocles’s 450BC chemistry aphorisms of how “people who love each other mix like water and wine; people who hate each other segregate like water and oil”, to model human relationships as chemical reactions or chemical processes.In the novella, the central chemical reaction that takes place is a double displacement reaction (double elective affinity), between a married couple Eduard and Charlotte (BA), at the end of their first year of marriage (for each their second marriage), and their two good friends the Captain and Ottilie (CD), respectively. The first marriages, for both Eduard and Charlotte, are described as having been marriages of financial convenience, essentially arranged marriages. Specifically, when they were younger, Eduard was married off to a rich older woman through the workings and insatiable greed of his father; Charlotte, likewise, when her prospects were none the best, was compelled or obliged to marry a wealthy man, whom she did not love.” – Wiki
Admitably, I have committed a literary faux pa and have never really read Goethe, despite owning and having read quite a bit of analysis on that same text! I also loved Turgenev’s Faust, though it was meant to be in the spirit of the text than criticism of the text itself. I suppose I was always intimidated. So Elective Affinitives is really sort of my first foray into Goethe territory, which is altogether quite exciting because I suddenly understand the chemical reactions that Turgenev was speaking about, though of course Turgenev was more of a romantic (which Chekhov frowned upon and ridiculed in Seagull). I feel suddenly that these several other texts have been preparing me for the moment till I finally read Faust, and perhaps it is a sort of literary timeline towards a glistening finish.
Doesn’t the plot read a bit like another take of a Wildean type comedy? Or perhaps it was just the general structure of that time. I just haven’t read enough comedies.
And I haven’t gotten round to watching any of the movies I borrowed yet. Have been so busy! And I want to see the Wooster & Jeeves british comedy version that Xiaodi so raves about. Dr. House in smiling session!
I love all the Christmas carols. I also visited Raffles Hotel yesterday for dinner and everywhere the traditional red/mistletoe theme brought warmth to my heart.
I wish you were here too Irving, to build up a little Christmas tree with me. I’ll be nice and even let you put incongruent things on the tree.
I saw a pink Snoopy scarf yesterday and thought of you! And it was a very big Snoopy. I think I would like to get a Schroeder scarf for you, and a Lucy scarf for myself, but I am not very sure where to find that.
Merry Christmas all you blog readers!~~