Tag Archive | literature

A Guide to Buying Pretty Books (Mostly Classics)

Hello, readers,

If you love beauty, reading, and old-fashioned charm/elegance, then you likely have dreamed of having your own beautiful library one day. I’ve wanted a collection of awesome, wonderful books that would stretch from floor to ceiling in a room of my house (preferably a tower room) since I first learned to read. It’s been a dream of mine throughout my life, even as my tastes have grown or changed.

However, I’ve also been horribly disappointed by the quality of books I’ve owned. Having taken many literature classes in college, I bought used copies of the books I would need for that semester. Functionally, this worked out fine, but it was aesthetically taxing to see all the crummy paperbacks on my bookshelves. After college, I wanted to keep some of the books for the contents, but having to look at their ugliness made me not want to read anything on the same shelf as them. Then there are the struggles of actually reading paperback books: the books resist being opened all the way and are also hard to hold open, so reading them is uncomfortable for me; the spines crack while you read them, so they start looking unappealing partway through the first reading; and worst of all is that they’re liable to have chunks of pages fall out when the glue gets dried out.

What I want for my personal library now is books that are decent quality and a delight to look at and feel. I also want to focus on keeping the costs reasonable, so I’m working on collecting what I’m going to call “semi-fine” editions: books that are a step or two above the standard hardback, trade paperback, or regular paperback versions.

This post is not a guide into the world of fine presses, like Easton Press or the Folio Society. Many internet threads have commentors who say to just buy used editions from those presses instead of buying these “semi-fine” editions. You can make that decision for yourself. I am not a serious book collector, so spending my time scouring for good deals on the limited books I’d want is not how I want to employ myself.

Conditions for inclusion on this list:

  • hardcover
  • price in the ballpark of $25 USD per book
  • currently available for sale

Before we get started, here are a few more of my biases.

  • A sewn binding is my standard. Glued binding are inferior.
  • I hate dust jackets.
  • I don’t like white paper; I prefer cream paper for reading.
  • I really like multiple-novels-in-one-book, collections, and omnibus editions. I think that they save space vs. having all the collected contents separately bound, and they makes things simpler. Some omnibus editions are terrible — print that’s too small to read normally, pages that are too thin — but on the whole I’m in favor of them.
  • I’m unqualified to say if paper is acid-free or not, so I’ve made no mention of that concern below. (Paper that isn’t acid-free yellows and turns brittle with age, sometimes as soon as after a year or two. Archival quality paper is acid-free.)

If you want to learn more about how to spot the differences between glued bindings and sewn bindings, you can watch the video below:

* * *

Barnes and Noble Collectible Editions (hardcovers only)

(Bonded) leather covers, ribbon bookmarks, gilding on all three page edges (sometimes silver, sometimes gold, very occasionally something different)

Pros

  • They have books beyond the traditional fairy tales, mythology, and 19th-and-early-20th century classics. (The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park/The Lost World, the first three novels of The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice, the US Constitution, etc.)
  • Some of the books have introductions.
  • Sewn bindings
  • They have lots of multi-novel/omnibus editions and a few genre collections.
  • Many of the books have internal illustrations (black and white or colored) and feature colored plates.
  • Amazing, stand-out editions include: Aesop’s Illustrated Fables, The Arabian Nights (Richard Burton translation, though…), The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (out of print), and Dante’s The Divine Comedy (Longfellow translation, 135 full-page reproductions of Doré’s engravings).
  • These books come in shrink wrap, so the price/sale stickers won’t damage the gilding on the covers, and they hopefully won’t get dirty in shipping. In the stores, there are often unwrapped copies with the others so you can see inside the books.
  • If you’re collecting Canterbury Classics (see below), then these will fit nicely together on your bookshelf, as the books from both lines have very similar exterior dimensions. (Barnes and Noble Collectible Editions are a smidgen taller.)
  • Over 50 books in the catalog. (It’s very hard to get an accurate count of these since the site includes the smaller, flexi-bound volumes in the collectible editions category and some of the hardback volumes go in and out of print.)

The Secret Garden at 1:59 is not part of the line I’m focusing on. I think that it’s part of the $10 children’s chapter books by Barnes and Noble, which are different sizes from the “adult bindings.”

Cons

  • Very few copies have annotations (the only one I’m aware of having any extra/scholarly content is H.P. Lovecraft: The Complete Fictions). This makes me feel that their older texts like the Complete Shakespeare or Dante’s Divine Comedy will be reference bricks instead of reading copies.
  • The books are pretty large, ~ 6.25 x 9.40 in (~15.8 x 23.9 cm). It’s not comfortable to read from these while snuggled in bed, unless you read on your stomach and can lay them flat.
  • Barnes and Noble change the covers on these fairly often, but the inner text block is apparently identical between versions. I would be worried to buy online in case I got a cover I hadn’t wanted.
  • Their editions of works that were not originally published in English use old, pre-1923 translations that are generally considered to be inferior to more modern translations. It is also very hard to find information about the translations used online. (I’ve done my best to fill in what I know here.)
  • They’re a Barnes and Noble exclusive line, so people outside the US can’t see the books in person before ordering online.
  • I’ve seen people online complain about these books having microprint issues. Honestly, it varies. The Complete Shakespeare is hard to read, and the print in Jane Austen: Seven Novels is unpleasantly small, but I don’t find any difficulty reading the Complete Sherlock Holmes. Aesop’s Illustrated Fables has very generous sized print and lots of pleasing white space. The Ultimate Hitchhiker ‘s Guide to the Galaxy has a great, readable font size.
  • The children’s picture books — The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh (Accurately named, as it only contains the first two Pooh books; it doesn’t include the two books of poetry A.A. Milne wrote that feature Pooh.), The Complete Adventures of Curious George (It’s not complete at all, even if they were just including the original stories by H.A. and Margaret Rey. Very confusing.), The Complete Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter (only complaint I have here is that I don’t like the name of the collection), and A Madeline Treasury by Ludwig Bemelmans (The description says it’s her complete adventures, but I haven’t checked up on that.)  — are all physically taller and wider than the “adult bindings” in the line, so they look like they’re from a separate collection.
  • Some reviewers have complained about OCR errors or typos. I haven’t run across any myself, though.
  • Some of the front covers include a sticker in the design. Sometimes the stickers are recessed, which is okay, but sometimes they are non-recessed.
  • Some editions to be careful about include: Jules Verne: Seven Novels (crummy translations, and the book block seems to like to separate from the covers during shipping), Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park/The Lost World (The red ink on the cover can smear into the white.), and The Iliad and the Odyssey (which uses the Samuel Butler prose translation).
  • The biggest con for me is that the line is inconsistent with itself. Some are fantastic, and some are just not good. If you want to actually read your pretty books instead of just using them as shelf candy, it makes buying something from this line complicated.
barnes and noble and canterbury classics

Barnes and Noble, Canterbury Classics, Barnes and Noble, Barnes and Noble, Canterbury Classics, Barnes and Noble, Canterbury Classics
Pay attention to the top 2/3 of the spines only. Many of these were borrowed from the public library.

Canterbury Classics (Leather-bound Classics)

(Bonded) leather covers, ribbon bookmarks, gold gilding on all three page edges

Pros

  • They publish some multi-novel editions, as well as genre collections (Horror, Westerns, and Science Fiction).
  • Their editions have introductions.
  • Sewn bindings
  • Hans Christian Andersen’s Complete Fairy Tales has the recently discovered story “The Tallow Candle.”
  • If you’re collecting Barnes and Noble Collectible Editions (see above), then these will fit nicely together on your bookshelf, as the books from both lines have very similar exterior dimensions. (Canterbury Classics are just a smidgen shorter.)

Most of the Canterbury Classics catalog is represented here.

Cons

  • Only 25 books in their catalog so far
  • They’re sticking pretty closely to “classics,” besides their genre collections, US Constitution, and Art of War.
  • The Iliad and the Odyssey uses the Samuel Butler prose translation.
  • The books are pretty large, ~ 6.25 x 9.3 in (~15.8 x 23.6 cm). It’s not comfortable to read from these while snuggled in bed, unless you read on your stomach and can lay them flat.
  • The font size varies between books. (I’ve noticed that Hans Christian Andersen’s Complete Fairy Tales and H.G. Wells: Six Novels have smaller-than-medium text, but it’s not yet microprint.)
  • The cover/spine designs of the books are a bit inconsistent. You can see from their catalog that some have lovely covers, and some are plain and look a bit clip-art-y. For me, the annoying thing is that their spine design isn’t always the best. The spines are the plainest part of the editions I’ve seen.
  • No interior illustrations

Knickerbocker Classics (slipcase editions)

Cloth covers, ribbon bookmarks, no special page edges

Pros

  • The books come in very sturdy slipcases.
  • Sewn bindings
  • They publish mostly omnibus editions in their hardcover, slipcase line.
  • The slipcase editions have introductions and other extras, like suggested reading, chronologies of the author’s life, etc.
  • The slipcases feature the author’s signature on the “front cover,” and there is a portrait of the author as the frontispiece of most of their books. I think those are nice details.
  • Some of the books are illustrated.
  • The cloth Knickerbocker Classics uses feels satiny and smooth, unlike any book-cloth I’ve felt before. It’s nice to touch. Also, the words/designs on the covers are integrated into the fabric, not printed on top as a separate layer.

Knickerbocker Classics in their slipcases. (These are a little worn and have weird stickers because they were borrowed from the public library.)

Cons

  • There are only 15 “slipcase books” in their catalog.
  • It is hard to determine on the website which books are one of their bigger, slipcase editions and which are part of the smaller, flexible classics line. I had to click on each book and scan for “paperback” or “hardback” to distinguish between them for sure.
  • These are very large, very heavy books, measuring ~ 6.75 x 9.5 in (~17.1 x 24.1 cm). It’s not comfortable to read from these while snuggled in bed, unless you read on your stomach and can lay them flat.
  • The Iliad and the Odyssey uses the Samuel Butler prose translation.
  • They’re sticking pretty faithfully to the classics/out-of-copyright texts.
  • MSRP of $30 or $35 USD. The books can be gotten for less on Amazon, but that isn’t the point.

Penguin Clothbound Classics

Cloth covers stamped with foil, ribbon bookmarks,  no special page edges

Pros

  • These books have introductions and annotations included.
  • For a line that focuses mostly on well-known 19th century American and British classics, there are some strange 20th century surprises lurking in the catalog like William S. Burroughs’s The Naked Lunch and Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea (and it is very cool to be able to have a matched pair of that book and Jane Eyre).
  • The typeface is different in each book, and they have a note about why they chose the particular typeface they did for each book. I think that’s a very cute detail.
  • The cover/spine designs of the books are all different, but they are consistently stunning and look like they’re from the same line/designer.
  • The Iliad and The Odyssey use the E. V. Rieu translations, which are also prose translations, but are at least different than the many Samuel Butler reprints published in these semi-fine collections.
  • Over 40 books in the catalog. More books are being added to the line consistently.

Cons

  • The foil stamping is rather delicate. Rough handling (carrying it around in a backpack or purse) or damp/clammy hands will remove the foil. There is also an unfortunately placed sticker on the back cover that will damage the foil when removed.
  • The bindings are glued, not sewn.
  • The annotations in The Hound of the Baskervilles contained spoilers for the mystery!!! I haven’t had that problem with the notes in the other books I’ve read from this line, but that’s something that would put me off the other Sherlock Holmes editions.
  • They do not do multi-novel editions. Each book is individually bound.
  • They’ve only published Dante’s Inferno, and not the rest of The Divine Comedy (so far).

Puffin in Bloom

Paper covers, no ribbon bookmark, no special page edges

Pros

  • MSRP of $16 per book
  • Some interior black and white illustrations
  • All the books come with themed extras at the end, geared towards child readers, but appreciated nonetheless.

Cons

  • There are only four books in the collection. An edition of Alice in Wonderland by the same designer does not match the rest of the set (too tall, but with interior colored illustrations).
  • Glued bindings
  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott seems to have too many pages for the compact size. The spine gets bent/deformed when read.
  • The ISBN information printed on the back cover is in a stark white box that doesn’t suit the rest of the design.
  • Only one of the Anne Shirley books is included, Anne of Green Gables, which makes sense thematically but will make a larger collection of Anne Shirley books mismatched if you start here.

Penguin Drop Caps

Paper covers with opaque foil designs, no ribbon bookmark, all three page edges are color-stained to match the covers

Pros

  • This collection contains books beyond the typical 19th century classics, like Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees and Kazuo Ishiguro’s An Artist of the Floating World.
  • The books come in shrink wrap, so hopefully they will be protected from dirt during the shipping process.
  • Collecting all the books will form a lovely rainbow gradient when stacked together.

Cons

  • There are only 26 books in the catalog (one for every letter of the English alphabet). It would be very cool if they did a second wave of these, but I don’t expect it.
  • Glued bindings
  • The spines/covers fade quickly in indirect sunlight.

Library of America

Cloth covers (with paper dust jacket), ribbon bookmark, no special page edges

Pros

  • Sewn bindings
  • They publish collections and complete editions of authors.
  • The books have annotations and chronologies.
  • The color of the cloth bindings vary, but the cloth colors stay consistent for each specific author. The cloth colors for the past ten-ish years have been chosen deliberately in order to avoid having huge swaths of one color if a large number of LoA books are organized on your shelf alphabetically by author’s last name.
  • They have several nonfiction books for offer, including compilations like Reporting Vietnam and American Sermons : The Pilgrims to Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as speeches, essays, etc. from their featured authors.
  • They do not limit their offerings to just out-of-copyright material, although their focus on cementing “great American writing” as canonical classics does skew towards things that have been around for a while. An original publication date of the late 1970s/early 1980s was the most recent thing I found in their catalog (scanning quickly).
  • Library of America is a non-profit organization, which I think is pretty cool.
  • They offer a subscription service that will send you slipcased versions of their books rather than the normal black dust jacket version.
  • If you are also collecting Everyman’s Library editions (see below), these will fit together very reasonably on a shelf, as the books from both lines have very similar exterior dimensions. (Library of America books are a smidgen shorter.)
  • Over 300 books in their catalog

Here’s a sneak peak at what the Library of America books look like without their dust jackets. (This is a public library book, so I did not want to unfasten the dust jacket that they’d taped on.)

Cons

  • I hate their dust jackets. Their graphic design makes it hard for me to read the jacket, and yet they are also simultaneously plain. They are a glossy paper, which shows fingerprints and reflects light in a distracting way.
  • Unjacketed, the books are the plainest on this list, with only a few details on the spine and nothing on the front or back covers. Again, you might think they look classy or unpretentious.
  • The boards used to make the front and back covers are flexible, and this weirds me out. Perhaps it’s something meant to increase reading comfort?
  • No internal illustrations, generally
  • They only publish books by American authors.
  • The price is around $32 USD per book, but certain books are more expensive.

Everyman’s Library, Library of America, Everyman’s Library (contemporary classic), Library of America, Everyman’s Library (unjacketed and beat up)
Please try to not let the state of the dust jackets distract you from the height comparisons. All but one of these books were borrowed from the public library.

Everyman’s Library (not including Children’s Classics)

Cloth covers (with paper dust jackets), ribbon bookmarks, no special page edges

Pros

  • They publish “contemporary classics,” which include a range of things like The Diary of Anne Frank, Phillup Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, and two Toni Morrison novels in addition to the expected Ernest Hemingways and James Joyces.
  • The typeface is different in each book, and the last page of each book gives a brief history of the typeface (in the triangle-shaped block of text). I think that’s a very cute detail.
  • The Iliad and The Odyssey use Robert Fitzgerald verse translations, although The Iliad does not have numbered lines for some bizarre reason.
  • If you are also collecting Library of America editions (see above), these will fit together very reasonably on a shelf, as the books from both lines have very similar exterior dimensions. (Everyman’s Library books are a smidgen taller.)
  • Huge catalog of books

Comparison between the Everyman’s Library dust jacket and the unjacketed book underneath.

Cons

  • In 2013 or so, the company experimented with using glued binding to cut costs. Their customers were very upset, and the experiment was a failure. They’ve gone back to sewn bindings, but you might (especially if buying online) buy some stock from 2013 with a glued binding, and there is no way to tell them apart (like via ISBN) without inspecting the book in person.
  • I dislike their dust jackets. The look alright in a big cluster on a shelf, but spread out look plain and unappealing.
  • Under their jackets, the books are not as pretty as some others on this list, but you may find them to be classier.
  • The color of the cloth for each book is determined by what genre/period the publisher puts it in. This is very annoying if you don’t agree with the choices (Jane Austen’s novels are dark green, so they’ll stick out from what I consider their 19th century fellows.) and also if you want a colorful, varied bookshelf but find yourself drawn to only one of those categories (burgundy for me, with a splash of scarlet).
    • Scarlet = Contemporary Classics
    • Navy = 20th Century
    • Burgundy = Victorian Literature/19th Century
    • Dark Green = Pre-Victorian/Romantic/18th Century
    • Light Blue = 17th Century and Earlier
    • Celadon Green = Non-Western Classics
    • Mauve = Ancient Classics
    • Sand = Poetry
  • The title, author, and publisher information is printed on the spine (and some specific books have the information printed on the front cover, too), but this is a bit delicate and liable to rub off. I would not carry one around in a backpack or purse without its dust jacket.

Everyman’s Library Children’s Classics

Cloth covers, ribbon bookmark, no special page edges

Pros

  • Sewn bindings
  • While a large portion of the collection consists of fairy tales, there are also some unexpected books included that I wouldn’t think of as being “for children,” like Edgar Allen Poe’s Tales of Mystery and Imagination, and Edward Lear’s A Book of Nonsense. Check out the catalog; it might surprise you, too.
  • The spines of these books are very pretty, and they have gold foil designs in a diamond pattern that mimics the end pages.
  • Internal illustrations
  • The prices for most of the books are between $15 and $20 USD.
  • The colors of the cloth used for the covers are much more varied than the “more grown up” Everyman’s Library editions. If it bothers you, however, know that the colors are not the same among multiple different books by the same author.
  • Over 50 books in the catalog

Cons

  • The front covers of the books use (non-recessed) rectangular stickers as their illustrations.
  • Their version of Don Quixote is abridged and has been adapted for children. Boo! I haven’t been able to find out if any of the other books have been abridged.
  • The details printed on the cloth (like the pretty spine) are a bit delicate and will get scratched off with rough handling.
  • The books are the same height as the Everyman’s Library books, but they’re wider (~6.3 x 8.25 in (~16.1 x 21 cm)). If you have a very shallow bookcase, then these might stick out a bit from the rest of the “standard book shape” books.
  • Only one of the Anne Shirley books is included, Anne of Green Gables, which will make a larger collection of Anne Shirley books mismatched if you start here.
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is the only Oz book in the catalog, again troublesome if you wanted a larger collection.

Macmillan Collector’s Library

Cloth covers, ribbon bookmark, gold gilding on all three page edges

Pros

  • Sewn bindings
  • Some books have internal illustrations.
  • These editions come with introductions or afterwords.
  • The front covers have a debossed design, which really makes the books look and feel lovely.
  • The books are very compact, measuring ~4 x 6.2 in (~10 x 15.7 cm). I find this a great size since I have smaller hands. If you have larger hands, this may be a very big detractor, though.
  • There are some cool nonfiction additions, like Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, to their mostly classics catalog. There are also a few books from the 20th century that I’ve never seen on any “classic literature” list, which is fantastic.
  • MSRP is around $15 USD or less.
  • Under the dust jacket, the author, title, and publisher information is printed on the spine in gold.
  • Over 200 books in their catalog… sort of (see the Con about the Collector’s Library).

Macmillan Collector’s Library (These were borrowed from the public library, hence the stickers and plastic-covered dust jackets. These dust jackets are generally matte, with a slight satin sheen to them.)

Cons

  • White paper
  • Dust jackets, although these ones don’t annoy me nearly as much as the other dust jackets I’ve mentioned.
  • Some books are abridged, some are not. You’ll have to research each book individually if having an unabridged text is important to you.
  • As might be expected with books this physically small, the font size varies in the line. For small books, like Shakespeare’s Sonnets, the font is medium or even a little larger than medium (although that could be an optical illusion brought on by all the white space on those pages). As the books get thicker/larger, the font size used decreased. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray uses a small font, but it’s still easy to read for me.
  • All the Macmillian Collector’s Library editions are bound in cloth that is a beautiful dusty, pastel blue, and come with a ribbon bookmark that matches the cover color. The gilding is gold, and the dust jackets reflect this color scheme, as well. This presentation works very well for books like Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden and Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Ernest, but feels totally incongruous some titles like Tales of Mystery and Imagination by Edgar Allen Poe and The Communist Manifesto.
  • The Collector’s Library was a small publisher focusing on classics before being scooped up by Pan Macmillan. The books originally published by the Collector’s Library look different from those published by the Macmillan Collector’s Library. Macmillan Collector’s Library has reissued some of the books in the original Collector’s Library catalog, but not all. (On the bright side, I’ve heard the new Macmillan Collector’s Library is of better quality than the old Collector’s Library.)
  • They do not publish omnibus editions, although they sometimes combine two novellas into one book.

* * *

I hope this guide helps you navigate the sometimes tricky waters of building a personal library. In any case, it certainly helped me organize my thoughts about all the collections I listed. Readers, do you know of any other publishers, imprints, or special lines that would fit the “semi-fine” category? Please share them in the comments below!

Stay readers,

Raven

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/cgl/ Roundup: “Lolita books, films and series”

Hello, readers,

In an effort to preserve some of the best content that appears on the wonderful (but unfortunately ephemeral) /cgl/ on 4chan, here’s a curated (and heavily edited) summary of the thread ” Lolita books, films and series” started by Anonymous on 06/07/17.

The recommendations are the left-most bullet point (bolded), and all the other bullet points are discussions from the contributors. It might be a bit hard to read this post, but there are so many good recommendations in here that it’s worth it to get through the information overload.

Disclaimer: While the thread was active, I made only one contribution. (If you think you know what that was, please let me know in the comments below!) The only claim I have on the words below is that I curated and edited them.

Original thread, with pictures (for as long as this link works)

OP, 6/07/17:

It doesn’t necessarily have to be about lolita fashion itself, it can be a gothic novel, art from a fairytale, a beautiful film, brand collab related etc…

Anon, 6/28/17:

I noticed the thread’s dying but I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who posted, this is a great thread! So many new things to look up!

Artists, Authors, Illustrators, Poets, People

  • Shigeru Mizuki [artist]
    • I’ve always wondered why Juliette et Justine did Shigeru Mizuki prints
    • because his work is absolutely gorgeous
  • Mihara Mitsukazu [illustrator, manga artist]
  • Any documentary with Lucy Worsley in it.
    • Fuck yeah. She’s always so chipper and into every subject she presents.
    • Lucy Worsley is the best.
  • Edgar Allen Poe [writer, poet]
  • Arthur Machen [author]
    • I’m a huge fan of the works of Arthur Machen, and I think a lot of lolitas would enjoy it as well. Weird fiction from the Edwardian era primarily, he was a big influence on HP Lovecraft
    • The White People is great, it follows a young Victorian girl encountering strange beings in the woods of Wales. Very atmospheric. Pretty much all of them are good with the exception of the one WW1 propaganda story of his.
  • Kaori Yuki [manga artist]
    • Almost anything by Kaori Yuki
      Gothic bliss
    • I absolutely love Godchild.
  • Edward Gorey [illustrator, writer]
    • I’ve been really digging Edward Gorey’s work lately. His silhouettes are definitely long and thin (mix of Edwardian and 1920s flappers?), but but I get massive gothic aesthetic feels from it. I finally got a copy of the Gashlycrumb Tinies (alphabet book) for my birthday, and it’s perfect.He was a nonsense writer, so if you like Lewis Carroll’s writing you might like his.
    • I am in love with his Amphigorey books!!
      the illustrations for Gashlycrumb had me in stitches. I was able to write a paper about his work for a children’s lit class I took at uni.
      I never thought of actually owning any copies until now. thanks anon!

Media

  • The Secret Garden [movie, 1993]
  • Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov [novel]
    • Everyone knows that Nabokov’s Lolita is the only book that matters
    • It’s good literature.
    • I know it’s bait, but I’ll address it since some newcomers might be interested: Good literature, yeah, but ironically Lolita is unrelated to the fashion and lifestyle as defined by the Japanese fashion and subculture Lolita.It lacks any of the key icons of the major styles in egl fashion: opulence, elegance, cuteness, whimsicality, beauty contrasted with horror, fantasy, gothic imagery, or escapism.
      Dolores is a regular girl her age, ironically enough nothing about Lolita (Dolores in the book) is Lolita (the Japanese style.) Dolores is a regular girl with regular clothes and a regular lifestyle, the book is not so much about her or anything particularly remarkable about her so much as it’s about what obsession looks like through the eyes of an already deranged and sick man who justifies acts of increasing mania by trying to build up his pedophilic obsession into some kind of transcendental love. We use the term monster to see deranged people as inhuman, Nabokov used Lolita to show how a deranged person is not inhuman, but far more terrifyingly, how a deranged person is a human who twists logic and reality in order to justify their acts, no matter how horrific those acts may be.
      Damn good reading, but not if you’re looking to get lost in the EGL aesthetic. One of the best books I don’t think I could ever read again.
    • It is pretty good, every lolita should read it, not because it’s related to the fashion but for general culture.
  • Brideshead Revisited [miniseries, 1981]
    • Not lolita but the original Brideshead Revisited miniseries gives me lolita feels < 3
  • Rose of Versailles [manga, anime, 1979]
    • Rose of Versailles, the only relevant manga
  • Farewell, My Queen [movie, 2012]
  • The Company of Wolves [movie, 1984]
  • Mirror, Mirror [television series, 1995]
  • La Belle et la Bête [movie, 2014]
    • YES. So much better than that recent Disney abortion.
    • Overall I liked the Disney version better but the French version had infinitely better aesthetics. The French plot felt more fairytale-ish in good and bad ways. The largest drawback for me was that I never cared about a single one of the characters, I didn’t care at all whether they had a happy ending or not. At least in the Disney movie I liked the characters even if the visuals were disappointing.
    • Belle in La Belle et La Bete was just unobjectionable to the point of blandness. I can’t say I disliked her or liked her because she was just kind of there.But I did prefer the Beast’s story in the French version. I loved the Greek mythological/old world (like Friedrich La Motte Fouque) tragic backstory, if only because I absolutely was not expecting it.
  • Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué’s Undine [fairy tale novella]
  • Goethe’s Faust [play, late 18th century]
  • Les Orientales by Victor Hugo [collection of poems, 1829]
  • Shimotsuma Story/Kamikaze Girls/Shimotsuma Monogatari [movie, 2004, novel]
  • A Little Princess [movie, novel]
    • I would go for the 1986 adaptation, as it follows the book more accurately. (And by that I mean follows it.. at all) It really nails all of the feels.
    • I hate the adaptations where the father lives. It completely undermines the point of the book.
  • Deka Wanko [manga, television series, 2011]
    • I saw deka wanko was posted once in a thread similar to this! The post convinced me watch it (plus it was pretty short already), and I liked it. The main character is pretty cute!
    • There’s a Japanese TV show that has a young girl detective that wears JFash that was posted here awhile back but I can’t at all remember what it is was called – hopefully someone does, because I definitely wanna watch it again.
  • Valmont/Dangerous Liasons [movie (1989 or 1988), novel]
    • Valmont for the movie but Dangerous Liasons for the book (Same story)
    • Dangerous Liasons – this one’s a given
  • The Way We Live Now [miniseries, 2001]
    • The Way We Live Now is one of my favorite period dramas…. it’s really long though. I usually only make it through the first half. Has Mathew Macfayden (Mr. Darcy in the newer P&P) and Cilian Murphy (played Scarecrow in Batman) in it, so for eye-candy alone it’s worth a watch.
  • American Girl [dolls, books, movies]

    • Any of the American Girl books or movies! The movies have great costuming and music, and the books are so nostalgic.These dolls and books are probably the reason why I love dressing up so much and why I wear lolita now.
    • Why am I so ooooold!?! I want to have a matching historically accurate doll with an overmarketed cross-media franchise that I can attend the posh dolly hair salon with!
      Maybe they won’t care I’m like 20+ years too old…?
    • I will make a Kirsten St. Lucia coord before I die…

 

 

  • Versailles [television series, 2015]
    • Versailles is fantastic.
    • I’m glad another anon likes it. I originally flicked through it for the outfits but now I’m hooked on the story.
    • Watched the whole series, and loved it. HATED the modern music score though. Totally took me out.
  • The Star of Cottonland [manga, movie, 1984]
    • The Star of Cottonland always gives me feels and the aesthetics are wonderful
  • Innocent [manga]
    • The manga Innocent is one of my favorites. Extremely gothic, outstanding artwork and of course the period it’s set in is gorgeous.
    • I hadn’t realized the series had completed and is on a spin-off now. Re-reading it and even with a poor quality scan I can’t help but want to share this with more people. I really hope there’s a few people ITT who check it out or have some similar manga to recommend!
    • anon, thanks for sharing this. i’ve just started reading–only on chapter 8–but already the exquisite art and the morbid theme have me hooked.
  • Mizterr Rokoko/Mister Rococo/Loliwrestler [short film, 2010]
    • Loliwrestler is best minimovie
  • Bleuette [dolls]
  • Perfume: The Story of a Murderer [movie, 2006]
    • the colors in Perfume are so vibrant. I love the wardrobe.
  • Tale of Tales [movie, 2015]
  • Casanova [miniseries, 2005, movie, 2005]
  • Quills [movie, 2000]
    • I actually think of Quills as really fun and kind of mischievous and it’s one of my favorites because of that. It’s a really playful take on Marquis de Sade’s erotic nature and the literature he wrote.
  • Jim Henson’s The Storyteller [television series, 1980s]
  • Pan’s Labyrinth [movie, 2006]
  • Jim Henson’s Labyrinth [movie, 1986]
  • Harlots [television series, 2017]
  • Fatal Frame/Gekijōban Zero [movie, 2014]
    • not nearly as scary as the games, but very spooky & also has a creepy lolita dame featured
  • Le Roi Danse [movie, 2000]
    • some good ol’ fashioned Louis XIV and his lavish fucking house
  • Livid/Livide [movie, 2011]
    • French horror film about a ballet school, also vampires.
  • Memories of Matsuko [movie, 2006]
    • musical directed by the same dude who made kamikaze girls, just as quirky but also terribly sad with musical numbers!! watch this if you need to rend your heart to shreds.
  • Gormenghast [novel series, miniseries, 2000]
    • BBC miniseries based on Mervyn Peake’s novels, a gothic ‘fantasy of manners’ type thing with a young and incredibly beautiful Jonathan Rhys Meyers in period costume. ’nuff said.
    • Can’t believe I forgot, but the Gormenghast series of novels is a must for gothic fiction. I haven’t seen the BBC television adaptation, but they are typically good about it.
  • Mala Morska Vila [movie, 1975]
    • beautiful russian adaptation of the little mermaid. the soundtrack is superb. spring to get a high-def version instead of watching it on youtube for the costume design.
  • Panna A Netvor [movie, 1978]
    • quintessential must-see for any gothic lolita, a czech adaptation of beauty and the beast. if you like gargoyles, crumbling castles, organ music and stockholm syndrome, this is the movie for you.
  • Return to Oz [movie, 1985]
    • if you liked ‘alice in wonderland’ but felt like it wasn’t creepy enough, try this!
  • The Affair of the Necklace [movie, 2001]
    • the real life drama for this was interesting enough, but now you get to watch it with extra fancy dresses.
  • Emma [manga, anime]
    • Emma starts off a bit basic, but Kaoru Mori really steps it up on textile details a few chapters in.
    • Emma is also highly historically accurate.
    • If only she spent half as much time on face and anatomy as she does on textile and backgrounds.
      I lover her backgrounds and clothes, but her stories aren’t interesting enough to carry her “How to Draw Manga Volume 1: Let’s Draw Expressions!” faces. I’ve tried to read Emma five times now but the character art is so bad so as to be distracting.
      It’s like she draws people like every stereotype and negative criticism of the manga art style. Tilt the eyes up or down or slap on a different hairstyle and boom, different character. Eyebrows up, ecstatic joy! Eyebrows down, soul crushing sadness.
      From someone who is so technically gifted I know she can do better, why she doesn’t is beyond me. Her stories simply aren’t good enough to say that she’s trying to have the characters be bland on purpose not detract from her backgrounds or clothes.
  • Secret of Moonacre [movie, 2008]
    • Secret of Moonacre was a terrible film but the costumes were really interestingly done.A nice mix of lolita, rococo, and victorian all over the place. I feel really bad for the costume designer’s lovely work was used in such a crap movie.
      Watch it for the dress porn only.
    • sets were pretty too.
  • The Knick [television series, 2014]
    • a medical drama set in the early 20th century
  • Penny Dreadful [television series, 2014]
    • just to look at Vanessa Ives
    • I think you mean Lily. Vanessa’s outfits are pleb-tier compared to Lily’s. She spent basically all of season 3 in a burlap sack too. Especially Lily’s end of season 2 outfit. Ooooohh those aesthetic feels.
  • Dracula [movie, 1992]
  • Anna Karenina [movie, 2012]
  • Musashino Sen no shimai [web manga, movie, 2012]
  • Bara no konrei [movie, 2002]
    • From Wikipedia: Bara no Konrei ~Mayonaka ni Kawashita Yakusoku~ is a movie released by Malice Mizer on March 22, 2002. It is a silent film with a storyline similar to Dracula and other vampire-based stories with Japanese and English captions for dialogue.
  • Crimson Peak [movie, 2015]
    • The dresses and hair were to die for.
  • Keeping up Appearances [television series, 1990s]
    • A really funny series, especially when watched from a Lolita point of view.
    • This thing is golden. I would also say Gossip Girl is fun when watched from a lolita point of view
  • Bizenghast [graphic novel series/manga]
    • I like the art and Diana’s clothing more than the story to be honest
  • Soulless [part of the Parasol Protectorate novel series]
    • cheesy but good cheesy.
  • The Young Victoria [movie, 2009]
  • The Supersizers Go… [television series]
    • ( Victorian, Edwardian, etc)
    • “A comedienne & a humor writer try their hand at living in different eras. They dress, eat, and live the past. Before and after, their vitals are tested to see how these lifestyles affect their health.”
  • Carmilla [novel, 1872]
  • The Phantom of the Opera [musical, 1886, novel, 1910]
  • Carmen [opera, 1875]
  • A Picture of Dorian Gray [novel, 1890]
  • The Turn of the Screw [novella, 1898]
  • The Night Circus [novel, 2011]
  • Interview with a Vampire [novel, movie, 1994]
  • What We Do in the Shadows [movie, 2014]
    • (very silly, but very gothic)
  • Sleepy Hollow [movie, 1999]
  • Fairytale collections
    • Andrew Lang’s “Coloured Fairytales” are great if you want a collection
    • Grimm’s fairy tales
    • The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter
      • On the gothic side of things, I highly recommend The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter. It’s a collection of fairy tales retold with a decidedly feminist bent. Pic is from one of the illustrated editions.
      • >It’s a collection of fairy tales retold with a decidedly feminist bent
        …With rape and necrophilia out the wazoo!
        Also, this thread convinced me to get a new copy of both the Bloody Chamber (the 75th anniversary edition) and the before mentioned DVD.
  • Anne of Green Gables [novel, 1908]
    • Road to Avonlea [television series, 1990s]
    • Anne with an E [television series, 2017]
      • Anyone started Anne with an E? It’s in my queue to start up this week.
      • I finished it all and Idk gull they made it kinda dramatic. I liked the aesthetic well enough if you look at it as something with a more goth veneer. And its woodsy and dreamy enough that I noticed girls in the Mori community like it. But for example, /spoilers that don’t work on this board/ the punishment for “losing” the brooch is not that she doesn’t get to go to the picnic and try her first ice cream but instead she gets sent back to the orphanage/
      • Anon, do not even get me started, I am so disappointed with that series. They even have her get her period in the third or fourth episode. I haven’t watched that episode, I’ve been avioding it, but if they’re not going to show her rolling rags or dealing with it historically accurately then I am so done.
      • some of that bit is fine and kinda funny, though imo the concept of a naive girl thinking she’s dying is a little tired. And it doesn’t really work since they tried to make her world weary… I mean she really must have learned from the older girls at the orphanage at least.
        Regardless you just have to get past one short but heavy handed speech from Anne about why you shouldn’t be ashamed of your body, and you can enjoy the girls gossiping about
        >becoming a woman
  • Jane Austen stuff
  • A Great and Terrible Beauty [part of the Gemma Doyle Trilogy novel series]
    • this leans slightly gothic, but its a more fantasy than gothic in my mind
  • Bright Young Things [movie, 2003]
    • slightly later time period than usually gets associated with lolita, but it really captures the infighting and bitchiness of all girl subcultures
  • Marie Antoinette [movie 2006]
  • Dolls by Yumiko Kawahara [manga short stories]
    • Dolls by Yumiko Kawahara has some great illustrations, I also love the corrupted kind of feeling the stories have. A bit like Pet Shop of Horrors.
      >Though the one-shots are strange.
  • Ikoku Meiro no Croisee [manga, anime, 2011]
    • Japanese girl comes to Paris in the 19th century. Really nice slice of life, too bad it’s not well known
    • Croisée in a Foreign Labyrinth
  • Candy Candy [manga, anime, 1975]
  • The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio [collection of novellas, 14th century]
  • The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks [book of essays, 1985]
  • The Loved Dead and Other Tales by C.M. Eddy Jr. [short story collection]
    • (Part of an H.P Lovecraft collection later, he did not get enough credit for his work in the story “The Loved Dead”)
  • Dellamorte Dellamore (AKA Cemetery Man) by Michele Soavi [movie, 1994]
  • Man Bites Dog by Benoît Poelvoorde, Rémy Belvaux and André Bonzel [movie, 1992]
  • The Man Who Laughs by Paul Leni [movie, 1928]
    • (My favorite movie of all time)
  • GeGeGe no Kitaro by Shigeru Mizuki [manga]
  • So Pretty/Very Rotten [book of essays, 2017]
    • “In a series of essays and comics that are at once academic and intimate, cartoonists Jane Mai and An Nguyen delve into Lolita subculture and their relationship with it. Empowering and beautiful, but also inescapably linked to consumerism, the Rococo-inspired fashion is indulgent and sublime, pretty and rotten.”
  • Stepping on Roses [manga]
    • Stepping on Roses is a good manga with a lot of outfits inspired by Lolita fashion.
  • The Pearl [erotic magazine, 1880]
    • If you’re interested in something a little more adult… The Pearl is an entertaining read.
      https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Pearl
    • Thank you for linking this. I blushed all through the first story, so it’s a good read. Any more adult recs?
  • The Undrowned Child by Michelle Lovric [novel series]
    • A good classic/gothic Lolita book with that kind of winsome macabre, very much a dark Victorian style fairytale. Beautiful, almost singsong prose, and fans of mangas like Cardcaptor Sakura and Gakuen Alice might enjoy the characters.
  • Wonderful World End [movie, 2015]
    • kind of hard to find, but really good.
  • Russian cartoon adaptations of Cinderella and The Nutcracker [animation]
  • Alice in the Country of Hearts [manga, otome game]
    • The manga is based on an otome game and it’s pretty enjoyable, really nicely illustrated too!
  • My Fair Lady [movie, 1964]

    • >tfw ctrl+f and no My Fair Lady
      Please tell me I’m not the only gull who sees the applicability of lolita to a story about a common flower girl who learns proper speech and etiquette and also gets to wear really big hats
    • the lack of audrey hepburn films in this thread in general astounds me
    • As for Audrey Hepburn movies, My Fair Lady is lolita esque in story, but if we’re talking clothes, I’m torn between Funny Face and Roman Holiday for Hepburn’s more EGL movie.
  • The Borgias [television series, 2011]
    • The costumes themselves may not be egl (though the first season palettes for Lucrezias are pure sweet, where the second season jewel tones are perfect for classic, and the third season metallics good for classic/aristo) but Lucrezias journey from gentle and pure to ruthless and cunning seem pretty tonally right.
    • Lucrezia and Giulia’s gowns were always A+. Renaissance inspired lolita needs to be a thing. Detachable sleeves, high waist, and chiffon blouses already exist. It’d only take a bit of tweaking to get there.
  • Elisabeth [musical, movies]
    • Has anyone mentioned the Austrian (and Takarazuka) musical Elisabeth? A story set around a royal woman driven to ennui by her pampered royal life and growing increasingly obsessed with the personification of death and her own fantasies of being Titania in a fairy world as well as the ‘Death and the Maiden’ storyline seems perf for EGL.
    • In general, I would recommend the 1950ies movies about Empress Elisabeth with Romy Schneider, they are called “Sissi” and feature amazing dresses, drama, romance and the struggles of a pampered country girl having to become the empress of an empire.

    • Innocent world also designed a dress after Empress Sissi’s hen’s night dress, so even more lolita relevance
    • Sissi is so good. I’d also suggest the movie Ludwig directed by Luchino Visconti. Romy Schneider of Sissi reprises her role as Elizabeth, but she’s a lot more worldy and jaded.
      • ooh yes! Tortured, dramatic prince with a love for the opera and a tragic death – ideal lolita material
    • I have to say I like the movie Ludwig better than I like Sissi the series. Sissi tried too hard to make the narcissistic and selfish, if indeed long suffering, Elisabeth into Cinderella.
      What I love about Ludwig and the musical is they both point out the absurd hipocrisy of Sissi’s deep infatuation with herself and her alleged suffering. While yes, rigors of court life sucked, and her mother in law was a pain, this was Europe leading up to World War One: you had wars, famines, brutal winters, people losing their families and children, and here was the Empress whining endlessly about how hard she had it.
      And her lack of empathy didn’t just cover her adopted homeland, either. She bitched and moaned about the unfairness of her mother in law raising Rudolph then when Franz Josef caved and gave Rudolph to Sissi, she couldn’t have cared less for him. Sissi never cared much for Rudolph until after he’d died, when suddenly she became the grieving mother calling for her son, further playing into the narrative she’d constructed for herself as being the victim of the world.
      Even her efforts with Hungary had more to do with her power struggle against Sofie than any kind of genuine empathy.
      I swear, between Sissi of Austria and Alexandra of Russia, World War One can be quickly summarized as: when your mother tells you not to marry that crazy bitch, don’t marry that crazy bitch.
      Sissi is for great EGL material. Momoko in SM really seemed to channel that a lot.
    • I too like the musical better, out of the same points you listed. The movies are visually beautiful and nice to watch, but they are glorifying Sissi to no end and don’t deal with her really problematic character traits and decisions.
      • I swear that Bavarian royal line was cursed. Was it Helene who had been sent to an asylum for health issues then died when the asylum had a faire to raise funds for the poor and caught fire? That whole family’s story is nothing but the mixture of the beautiful and the morbid.
      • I didn’t even know that about Helene! But I swear, the whole Habsburg family had the best drama. Modern tabloids are nothing on them.
  • Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell [miniseries, 2015]
    • Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is a really well done mini-series. The book is even better as far as story goes. If you like eerie faerie stuff, it’s up your alley 100%.
    • Love this series!
      Really dissatisfying ending though.
  • The Last Unicorn [movie, 1982]
    • Read the book too! Its a very sort of tongue in cheek modern fairy tale (sort of like the Princess Bride) by Peter S. Beagle.
    • It was one of my fav cartoons when I was a teen. The animation looks like both anime and a cartoon, pretty cool.
  • Fall of Eagles [television series, 1974]
    • Fall of Eagles is a good TV series from the 1970s about the three major European monarchies.
  • Wolf Hall [miniseries, 2015]
    • Wolf Hall is pre rococo but I found it visually beautiful at points.

Media with Lolita Characters:

  • Shiki [anime, manga, novel series]
    • Sunako from Shiki wears brand, too bad she doesn’t appear much
  • Nana [anime, manga]
  • Paradise Kiss
    • Paradise Kiss has Miwako. Damnit though, in Paradise Kiss everyone and anyone bangs. Show me the pretty fashion designs.
  • Death Note [manga, anime]
    • there’s some 2007-era Moitie/EGL in Death Note
  • Fruits Basket [manga]
    • Someone who wears cosplay and Lolita in Fruits Basket
  • X Cross [movie, 2007]
    • Horror movie, for the sake of hilarity.
  • Gothic Lolita Psycho [movie]
    • (actually kinda shit)
    • If we’re talking of those B-grade gorefests that are amusing and feature a lolita character, Gothic Lolita Psycho is one of those. Don’t go in expecting much, just enjoy the violence and imagine yourself in her place as a lolita who can deflect bullets with her parasol.
  • Livewires by Adam Warren [comic book series]
    • I cannot recommend the comic book series Livewires based on its own merit, fashion design or execution, but it is the only comic book series I know that features a gothic lolita in a main role.
  • 2good4me from Breakbot [music video]
    • I remember a couple of years ago there was this song made in a South American country where the music video followed the day of a teen lolita as she took her brother to school, went to a meet up, and got in trouble with some punks. What was that song called?
  • Girls x Battle [mobile game]
    • Girls x Battle has some characters wearing lolita-inspired outfits. There is also an item called “Lolita Dress”, which you can give to girls as a present to gain intimacy points.
      >buy her burando to secude her

Stay engaged,

Raven

A Special Nursery Rhyme

Hello, readers,

I love English nursery rhymes, particularly because I didn’t really grow up with them. (My parents read Aesop’s Fables to me as a child.) I heard of some nursery rhymes from my friends in elementary school, and I’ve noticed their presence in the world around me more as I’ve grown older. My love for nursery rhymes and fairy tales sometimes leads me to spend hours reading them, mostly online.

By chance, I recently found a nursery rhyme that really resonated with me.

Curly Locks (Nursery Songs and Rhymes of England (1895) – Winifred Smith)

Curly locks, curly locks,

Will you be mine?

You shall not wash dishes,

Nor feed the swine,

But sit on a cushion,

And sew a fine seam,

And feed upon strawberries,

Sugar,

And cream.

How many of you had heard this one before?

It’s just silly how closely this rhyme matches up with my life. Curly hair, an extreme aversion to doing dishes, a love of sewing, a fondness for fruit, sweets, and dairy products… If you replace “feeding swine” with “manual outdoor labor” and expand “sit on a cushion” to include general soft furnishings, then this rhyme is a perfect match. (My boyfriend suggested changing swine to feline, but I don’t think it’s as funny with the change because I have no qualms about feeding our cat.)

I would love to be able to incorporate this rhyme into my life in a more meaningful way than just knowing that it exists. The obvious solution, to me, is to use it as the inspiration for a coord. That’s easier said than done. If I liked to wear sweet or country, then I could easily use something like this Meta JSK as the base for an outfit.

As it stands, any Curly Locks-inspired coord that I would feel comfortable wearing would probably use more subtle elements like this:

Maybe some socks with a strawberry print/pattern would also work with the theme without making me feel like I was wearing something inauthentic to myself. Ideally, I would have some sort of handmade element in the coord, too, for the “sew a fine seam” part…

People in my life have always joked that I was the princess from The Princess and the Pea, but I think Curly Locks fits much better. Have you ever found a rhyme or fairy tale that you felt reflected your life in a special way? If so, please share it in the comments.

Stay fine,

Raven

If you like nursery rhymes and you want to look through more illustrations of this style, check out the source book on archive.org.

Lifestyle Lessons: Lolita Coursework

Hello, readers,

This back-to-school season has me thinking about how I spent my last two semesters at my undergraduate university. I figured I’d share the classes I took since I love looking at other people’s schedules. Please keep in mind that I obviously didn’t take any of these classes because I thought they would give me “lifestyler points” or anything like that. I’m American, and I majored in English Writing (fiction), I minored in German Language and Studio Arts, and I got a certificate in Children’s Literature. I had a very diverse course load as a result, along with some wiggle room in my schedule.

My Last Year

Fall Semester

  • Indo-European Folktales (a fairy tale course in the German department)
  • Painting 1
  • Senior Seminar in Fiction Writing
  • 19th Century British Literature
  • Basic Japanese Language 1
  • Ballroom Dancing 1

Spring Semester

  • Russian Fairy Tales
  • Drawing 1
  • Costume Design 1 (the only theater course I ever took)
  • Critical Approaches to Children’s Literature
  • Basic Japanese Language 2

I really loved how eclectic my last year was, and I adored all my classes. I put in 100% of my effort into all these courses, and it was probably the most rewarding year of my undergraduate career. Besides taking more literature and writing courses, I was able to start learning a new language, work on my artistic skills, learn about fairy tales and their importance to cultures around the world, and learn how to waltz. These are things that I will carry with me all through life. Plus, I was able to learn enough Japanese to justify a trip to Japan as my graduation present to myself.

* * *

If you have extra room in your college schedule, or if you’re not in college but have some time to take classes somewhere, you could consider taking a lolita-esque course. I love learning, and I’m always trying to discover new things. If you’re looking for a way to get more old-fashioned or lolita hobbies in your life, you could look at taking any number of appropriate classes. I broke some of them up into categories below.

Languages

I go into detail about three specific languages below, but you can really take any language if you have a personal connection to it or feel it’s lolita-esque in some way. You could take German because you like the sentimentality of The Sorrows of Young Werther, the German bisque doll makers, the Grimm brothers’ fairy tales, or the works of German composers. You could take Chinese to be able to handle Taobao better or get a better understanding of kanji. I don’t personally see a connection between lolita and Swahili, but you might, and you might enjoy learning that language. Ultimately, learning a new language in itself is a wonderful thing to do, and the process in and of itself always reminds me of times gone by.

English

You probably already know English if you’re reading my blog, but you may be using Google Translate. (Welcome, any non-English readers!) If you don’t already know English, it’s probably one of the most “lolita” languages that there is. So much of lolita fashion is inspired by Victorian fashions, but lolita is also hugely influenced by Lewis Carol’s 1865 novel Alice in Wonderland (although the visuals of the Disney 1951 animated movie might be a lot more influential than the text). I am a huge fan of Victorian literature, and I highly recommend reading those novels (untranslated). If you still don’t believe me that English is a lolita language, look at lolita brand names: Angelic Pretty, Baby, the Stars Shine Bright, Alice and the Pirates, Innocent World, etc.

If you already know English, you could push yourself and your appreciation of the language by taking a poetry or writing class.

*

French

Remember how lolita is extremely influenced by the Victorian era? Well, French was the language to know in the 1800s. A good education in Victorian England always included French, and the Russian aristocracy spoke French almost exclusively. Whether you think lolita fashion is inspired by Rococo fashion or not, the elegance and opulence of the era have certainly impacted our views on the clothing and associated lifestyles. Also, there is no denying that Marie Antionette herself is a major lolita inspiration. For those of you who like the look of antique porcelain dolls and like to emulate that look with lolita, the French were one of the major manufacturers/craftsmen during the peak of bisque dolls’ popularity. Let’s not forget the brands that love French, too: Metamorphose temps de Fille, Moi-même-Moitié, Atelier Pierrot, Juliette et Justine, etc.

If you like fairy tales, then you can read Charles Perrault’s fairy tales that were written down and adapted about 200 years before the Grimms started their work.

*

Japanese

For a street fashion that originated in Japan, is there really a more appropriate language than Japanese? Besides helping you out a lot if you ever plan to go to Japan for a lolita holiday, I found knowing some Japanese was just useful for navigating brand websites. I also enjoy anime and Studio Ghibli movies, and it’s very fun for me to be able to pick out words and phrases I know or hear a more nuanced and layered meaning that I can’t get just by reading the subtitles. Even if you hate anime, you can do the same thing with Kamikaze Girls. For me, Lolita will always come back to Victorian England, and there was a huge Victorian interest in Japan and all things “Oriental,” so you might learn a bit of the language as a historical homage if you’re not interested in anything modern from Japan outside lolita.

For those of you who like things that are specifically feminine, you might really like Japanese. There are many different styles of speech in Japanese, but one of the big divisions is that there is a distinct difference between feminine speech and masculine speech (much more so than in English, where “talking like a lady” generally means “don’t swear”). Also, hiragana used to be “women’s writing,” and it was used for personal correspondences among women of the court. I think hiragana is also just lovely to look at, although I have a really hard time writing in it.

Quaintrelle Skills

Taking a class is a great way to jump-start a new hobby. If you’re looking for something new you can do with your free time, consider taking a class that will teach you something you think is useful or wonderful.

Drawing and Painting

By Philippe Legendre-Kvater (via WikiCommons)

Drawing sketches and making watercolor paintings was a major pastime of gentry women, and it’s a great hobby if you’re looking for something that allows you to take some time out of your day and slow down. You might not want to wear your finest brand or prints that run while working with watercolors, but that should be easy to avoid. Learning how to draw can also help you if you like to design your own handmade clothes, or you can make beautiful drawings of your coordinates and use those drawings to help plan new ones.

I took college courses in drawing, painting, and costume design (which helped my figure drawing), and these courses will probably not focus on painting a lovely rose garden or sketching a bowl of fruit, and they will probably include abstract styles that may or may not interest you. The good thing about these courses is that they will get you to experiment with different materials, even if you’re not interested in the projects. Then, later, you can draw and paint whatever you want with the techniques you learned.

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Piano

Piano is the standard for Western instruments, and I’ve heard that learning piano is the easiest way to learn how to read music and understand music theory. However, I’m more interested in the social history of the piano and how playing the piano was an essential skill for educated women to have. It’s easy to imagine why learning how to play the piano was thought to make a girl more marriageable when you consider that there was no passive way to enjoy music before the radio. If you wanted to unwind at the end of the day, someone had to sing or play an instrument. There were lots of restrictions placed on musical women throughout time (playing a wind instrument was considered scandalous, as was playing a cello or a percussion instrument, and some regions would not allow women to sing in public/in front of men), but piano was supposed to be demure enough for women to play. This probably also had something to do with the fact that the piano is played while sitting.

While learning any instrument would have about the same modern value as learning to play the piano, I find piano lessons and classes much more easily than I find other instruments, except perhaps guitar.

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Ballroom or Historical Dance

Dancing was an extremely important part of social etiquette, and balls were major social events. I feel like dancing is one of the areas of our modern life that has changed the most, and knowing how to do ballroom dances is a thing most people learn specifically for weddings. These dances are lovely, tons of fun, and a perfect thing to do while wearing lolita.

This is a more difficult skill to develop than some of these other ones because it generally requires a partner, but that’s why taking a dance class is great. It guarantees you a partner while you’re learning. If you have a significant other or a friend that wants to take a dance class with you, then everything is going to be a lot more fun. My university and local community college both offer ballroom dance, but you can normally find lessons in clubs or dance studios, too.

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Sewing, Crocheting, Knitting, Millinery

I think being able to add handmade touches to your lolita wardrobe is an incredible thing, and learning these sorts of skills will let you do that. From a historical standpoint, I feel that sewing and crafting in general gives me a connection to the women who came before me and always had a box or basket of sewing work or made their families clothes. Plus, I really like that I know how to sew; it’s given me a much deeper appreciation for textiles and quality garments.

You might have trouble finding millinery classes near you, but my city’s public library system has tons of knitting and crocheting classes and clubs that welcome beginners. Once you know how to start with any of these hobbies, there are tons of free tutorials online to help you develop your skills and learn new projects. Knitting/crocheting is a hobby I would like to have just so I could be working on something I like while relaxing and hanging out with my boyfriend in the living room or watching Netflix.

Specific Interests

If you’re not looking for a new hobby and don’t have the time to learn a language, you can take a general course in various fields that might be a part of the lifestyle you want to live.

Music or Art History

Pick and era that inspires you, and then take a music history or an art history class that focuses on that era. You can learn the history of the development of Baroque art and its characteristics, and also learn to identify pieces and artists. You can be inspired by vintage fashion and take a course on jazz music.

I really liked the art history and music classes I took during undergrad, but I know a lot of people hate these classes. It’s true that there is a lot of memorization of names and dates involved, but you learn so much. Maybe I really like these classes because none of their content was ever included in my before-college curricula, and I feel like cultural history is something everyone should be aware of. After taking these classes, I feel like I just have a better appreciation for what I see when I visit museums or hear when I listen to “classical music” playlists on Youtube.

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Fairy Tales or Children’s Literature

My university had many courses that focused on children’s literature or fairy tales. I loved whenever I was able to take one of these classes because I was able to revisit familiar stories and books and notice things that had gone over my head as a child. It’s sort of the same feeling as when I re-watch a movie I loved back in childhood as an adult for the first time.

If this is an area of interest to you, you might also like to learn more about it in a formal class setting.  I learned a lot about how childhood has been understood and thought about throughout cultures and time from taking children’s literature classes, and I loved that the fairy tale courses I took introduced me to a wealth of new stories that I hadn’t heard before (like the one that inspired this JetJ JSK).

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So, readers, have you ever taken a class that you would consider lolita or appropriate to your lifestyle? What was it? Are there any classes you think I should have specified in my list? Let me know in the comments below!

Stay dedicated,

Raven