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Old 11-03-2018, 08:41 PM   #91
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Ah, I interpreted that paragraph quite differently. I think Dick is thinking of Roger doing things for Vita, so he would be getting the juice of henbane for her when she required it, not drugging her unknowingly.

And for the last bit, my interpretation was that if she didn't sleep, she would require Roger to provide satisfaction in another manner.

You are right, astrangerhere, there did seem to be a lot of drinking to excess and I suppose that could well have led to a bit of physical abuse in the heat of the moment. Though I hadn't thought of either of them as going in for it as a matter of course, especially Dick. I thought he was too much under her thumb for that.

However, I continue to remind myself that this is Dick's version of events.
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Old 11-03-2018, 09:52 PM   #92
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It was the "and if that failed … I smiled." that struck me as sinister. I guess he might have been thinking of more romantic solutions (astrangerhere brought up the idea that Dick and Vita might be swingers - I don't really see that), but as a thought immediately following the talk of henbane, and preceding talk of digitalis, it didn't seem like a pleasant one. There was nothing else that made me think Dick would see Vita harmed (he might want her to leave, but that's something else), so this stuck out and made me wonder what might be coming. I can see it is possible I may have misinterpreted it - but not certain that I did.

They were on holidays, they had someone cook and clean for them, so drinking to excess seemed not that unexpected to me.
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Old 11-04-2018, 02:40 AM   #93
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You have been reading too many sinister thrillers, gmw! Of course, Dick could have started thinking like that under the influence of the drug. Du Maurier could well have left the possibilities wide open for people to interpret as they wished.
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Old 11-04-2018, 07:56 AM   #94
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Therefore I could not lose him. Therefore I should not be alone.
This seemed to me to tie to the drug and visiting the past. A similar sort of relationship, particularly with the house and Roger.
It's also a very succinct comment on his marriage, if he thinks he'll be alone without Magnus' presence in his life.

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I guess he might have been thinking of more romantic solutions (astrangerhere brought up the idea that Dick and Vita might be swingers - I don't really see that)
I think astrangerhere is on to something. I think the heavy petting session with each other's spouses implied swinging; perhaps (given her typical readership) du Maurier didn't want to be more explicit. I also think it shores up the notion of Dick as a repressed gay man; sex with yet another woman could be much more of a burden than an enticing erotic extra.

Ultimately, all three main characters in the modern part are highly unlikable, whereas the fourteenth century was populated with good guys and bad guys. Perhaps a point of the scene with the young father and his disabled daughter at the end (I don't have the book any longer and I can't remember his name) was not only to serve as part of the general blight that had taken over the "romantic" past, but as an example of pure, disinterested love. None of the moderns demonstrated that.
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Old 11-04-2018, 10:31 AM   #95
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It's also a very succinct comment on his marriage, if he thinks he'll be alone without Magnus' presence in his life.
A very good point.

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[...]Ultimately, all three main characters in the modern part are highly unlikable, whereas the fourteenth century was populated with good guys and bad guys. Perhaps a point of the scene with the young father and his disabled daughter at the end (I don't have the book any longer and I can't remember his name) was not only to serve as part of the general blight that had taken over the "romantic" past, but as an example of pure, disinterested love. None of the moderns demonstrated that.
I was trying to work out who in the past you thought were good guys until you mention William (Henry's son) and reminded me of Robbie, Roger's younger brother. Not too many of the others I'd care to know, adulterers and schemers the lot of them!

Last edited by gmw; 11-04-2018 at 10:36 AM. Reason: Correcting myself - yet again.
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Old 11-06-2018, 11:59 AM   #96
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I found part of the novel a moderately interesting historical romance. I really didn’t care very much for any of the characters in the modern setting—particularly the narrator. Magnus left quite a bit to be desired as well on the ethical level. What kind of a person would test a possibly dangerous drug on a friend?

The characters in the past were not exceptionally well developed but they had agency. I would agree with the fact that they had vividly definite moral attitudes whether good or bad and there was considerably more energy in their attempts to achieve their goals.

The approach to time travel seems to me to be a fudge between the use of a “scientific” drug mechanism and the fantasy method of time-slip such as we see in Alison Uttley. This particular brain drug would seem to have lots of improbabilities. For instance, why should two such different brains as those of Dick and Magnus wind up visiting the same period in time? Why this particular guide? Personally, I felt like jettisoning the entire story set in the 20th century. The links between past and present events didn’t really work for me.

Last edited by fantasyfan; 11-06-2018 at 12:01 PM.
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Old 11-06-2018, 04:27 PM   #97
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The approach to time travel seems to me to be a fudge between the use of a “scientific” drug mechanism and the fantasy method of time-slip such as we see in Alison Uttley. This particular brain drug would seem to have lots of improbabilities. For instance, why should two such different brains as those of Dick and Magnus wind up visiting the same period in time? Why this particular guide? Personally, I felt like jettisoning the entire story set in the 20th century. The links between past and present events didn’t really work for me.
I said upthread how extremely lame I found the DNA explanation to be. I have no problem with a time-slip and prefer it to torturous explanations, especially if there's nothing inherent in the explanation that will affect the story. A drug that opens the mind to perception of a simultaneous world? That's all I need to know.

I think the consensus, such as we had one, was that it was something particular about that unsettled time that made it perceptible to the drug-affected mind. Similarly, that Roger was the guide because he was seeking the absolution he hadn't gotten so his spirit could rest.

But really, you could argue anything you wanted about that particular drug and variations, which sends you back to the, "it just happened that way."
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Old 11-06-2018, 05:13 PM   #98
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Also I think it was the location. Both Magnus and Dick took the drug in or around Kilmarth, where Roger died. If they had travelled to Tintagel for example, Roger wouldn’t have been there to draw them to his time.
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Old 11-06-2018, 06:01 PM   #99
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I'm going back to my initial theory that it was all a hallucination, that Magnus wasn't necessarily seeing the same visions but pretending he was--the experiment was to see how he could influence Dick's thought processes by spoon-feeding him historical details. I don't care that it has a ton of holes in it; if I were a student writing a paper on the book, I'd find a way to sew them up.

Bottom line, I choose to believe in drug-induced hallucinations and not drug-induced time travel.
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Old 11-06-2018, 06:15 PM   #100
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I said upthread how extremely lame I found the DNA explanation to be. I have no problem with a time-slip and prefer it to torturous explanations, especially if there's nothing inherent in the explanation that will affect the story. A drug that opens the mind to perception of a simultaneous world? That's all I need to know.

But really, you could argue anything you wanted about that particular drug and variations, which sends you back to the, "it just happened that way."
I suppose that any type of Time travel is bound to be very speculative and the drug method does have some narrative advantages. Many time travel stories emphasise the problems of temporal paradox and the time loop. These are neatly eliminated by the drug and allows the plot to a focus on more naturalistic actions in both time areas. It even makes the death of Magnus a logical consequence which perhaps might have been more difficult to arrange with a simple time slip (which I still think would have been a better method).
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Old 11-06-2018, 06:23 PM   #101
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Also I think it was the location. Both Magnus and Dick took the drug in or around Kilmarth, where Roger died. If they had travelled to Tintagel for example, Roger wouldn’t have been there to draw them to his time.
Jack Finney makes excellent use of this in Time and Again and in a different way in his moving short story “Love Letter”.
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Old 11-06-2018, 06:35 PM   #102
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I'm going back to my initial theory that it was all a hallucination, that Magnus wasn't necessarily seeing the same visions but pretending he was--the experiment was to see how he could influence Dick's thought processes by spoon-feeding him historical details. I don't care that it has a ton of holes in it; if I were a student writing a paper on the book, I'd find a way to sew them up.

Bottom line, I choose to believe in drug-induced hallucinations and not drug-induced time travel.
Good point. Magnus seems to be that type of person. Perhaps his accident was really just that and not linked to the drug.

Alison Uttley’s heroine experiences dreams/hallucinations linked to the location of the historical events in the novel. Uttley, herself, lived near these historical events and evidently had dreams similar to the sequences in A Traveller In Time.

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Old 11-06-2018, 08:37 PM   #103
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To me the mental time travel hypothesis works only with the existence of some overall purpose and outside agency beyond the drug itself. Perhaps as simple as God intervening to save Roger's soul from the consequences of his mortal sin. This in turn, of course, raises other issues. Should compassionate euthanasia such as this be a mortal sin? Should suicide, for that matter? And if the punishment for Roger here was unjust, why did God require human intervention rather than intervening directly to correct the injustice? Was Du Maurier having a subtle dig at Catholic dogma? Or perhaps at Christian dogma more generally. This type of question goes to the heart of Christian theology. Like many of these types of discussion, I often think of the author quietly lurking and chuckling, amazed at what others are seeing in her book. But we are of course having a bit of fun doing it. I won't take this religious aspect much further since once we branch into religious discussion (or politics) things can cease to be fun very quickly.
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Old 12-08-2018, 06:58 PM   #104
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I just discovered that Tatiana de Rosnay wrote a biography of Daphne du Maurier, Manderley Forever, which was a nominee for the 2018 Edgar Award for best critical/biographical work.

From Goodreads:
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The nonfiction debut from beloved international sensation and #1 New York Times bestselling author Tatiana de Rosnay: her bestselling biography of novelist Daphne du Maurier.

“It's impressive how Tatiana was able to recreate the personality of my mother, including her sense of humor. It is very well written and very moving. I’m sure my mother would have loved this book.” ― Tessa Montgomery d’Alamein, daughter of Daphné du Maurier, as told to Pauline Sommelet in Point de Vue

As a bilingual bestselling novelist with a mixed Franco-British bloodline and a host of eminent forebears, Tatiana de Rosnay is the perfect candidate to write a biography of Daphne du Maurier. As an eleven-year-old de Rosnay read and reread Rebecca, becoming a lifelong devotee of Du Maurier’s fiction. Now de Rosnay pays homage to the writer who influenced her so deeply, following Du Maurier from a shy seven-year-old, a rebellious sixteen-year-old, a twenty-something newlywed, and finally a cantankerous old lady. With a rhythm and intimacy to its prose characteristic of all de Rosnay’s works, Manderley Forever is a vividly compelling portrait and celebration of an intriguing, hugely popular and (at the time) critically underrated writer.
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