Brust, Steven, and Emma Bull: Freedom and Necessity; [personal] post-wedding post

And now good-morrow to our waking souls . . .  -or- Reader, I married him.

This past Saturday, to be precise.

If you were there—we hope you had a good time. If you weren’t—we wish you could have been. If it had been practical, we would have invited everyone we know and random people off the street to celebrate with us.

And yes, this has actual book log relevance, for two reasons. First, between reveling in wedded bliss (yay) and studying for the bar exam (boo), I have no idea how much time I’ll have to read this summer. (Again, I recommend BlogTracker.) Second, on Saturday, I insisted on an hour alone before getting dressed and leaving for the ceremony. Besides just enjoying the opportunity to sit quietly by myself and think, I also read pieces from Steven Brust and Emma Bull’s Freedom and Necessity. I didn’t get to re-read the whole thing, so I will post an actual entry about it when I finish the re-read—but it’s one of those books that’s important to me, in part for idiosyncratic personal reasons. This is part of a letter from one lover to another, late in the book.

Love, say the young bachelors, the wilder debutantes, the dissatisfied married men and women, is leg-irons; even those who seem happy in the state refer to it as being “bound,” as if love by its nature is a period of confinement. If that, too, is part of love’s proper definition, then I don’t love you. What I feel for you has given me freedom on a scale I have never conceived of—I, who have spent my whole adult life in the cause of liberty.

Do you remember . . . when Engels asked me to agree that my first duty is to my class, and I told him that, having examined some of the options, I would accept that as true? One of the things I weighed against my duty to my class, marvelling at the mingled fear and cold-bloodedness with which I did it, was my duty to you. That was my first inkling of this new freedom. Here was no destructive polarity, no exclusive choice between passion and principles. My duty to you required my duty to my class. To deny the latter would have reduced and blasted the thing I offered to you, and tainted the former with a mean and cowardly spirit. How many seeming clever people are there, who would declare that the overthrow of principle in the name of love is romantic? Am I far off the mark in imagining your Dianic scowl (the one the huntress must have worn when siccing her dogs on a trespasser) at the news that I would entertain for a moment such a choice?


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  1. Yeah!

    Congratulations to you both and may you have a long and happy marriage ahead of you –you know you’ll stay together when you stop worrying about which books are yours and which are his….

  2. Thanks very much, and we’re already planning to merge the collections, once we have space to get all my books out of boxes and see what we actually *have*…

  3. Congratulations from a random person off the street.

    I read Freedom and Necessity for the first time last year — I had somehow gotten the idea that it would be boring, foolish as that is given the authors — and I noticed that all of the romances I enjoy in novels have the “honor is important” theme. I wish I could read Komarr without knowing the characters at all to see what I would think of it there.

  4. Hey, thanks. Hmm, honor as a theme in romances–besides Bujold & F&N, I’m not even sure what else would qualify. What do you have in mind?

  5. I’m not entirely sure that’s honor, rather than self-preservation. But perhaps.

  6. The Lord Peter/Harriet Vane romance perhaps?

  7. Happy news! What a lovely quote. I seem to remember that you’ve read Ex Libris — but I don’t see it in your index. The essay in there about marrying book collections is very funny, and for me proved prophetic.

  8. Congratulations! I too was going to mention the Ex Libris essay, but I see I’ve been beaten to it…

  9. Thanks, guys.

    And, heh–Chad read Ex Libris, not I, though I may read that bit.

    I suppose I’m just too much of a certain kind of practical (or cheap) to be happy with the idea of buying two copies of the same book. We’re going to keep the hard-to-find stuff, probably, and I’m not giving up my beloved used editions of Fionavar with the original cover art (the poster of The Darkest Road‘s cover currently hangs over the computer), but other than stuff like that… Also, we tend to treat the physical volumes in similar ways, which helps a lot.

    We definitely realize that it’s a very tangible expression of this whole commitment thing, though.

  10. I’m not sure that honor is so different from self-preservation. It’s the defense of a particular part of oneself, the part with easily eroded principles and the belief that the right thing is worth doing. So it’s not too surprising that I was thinking partly of Wimsey and Vane.

    The most recent thing I read that dealt with the issue was Kushiel’s Dart, and I wasn’t satisfied with it. It is prejudiced of me, but when someone’s faced with a choice that’s impossible to resolve without some kind of loss, I really prefer that they choose against romance-genre cliche. Discussing this without spoilers, even though they’re spoilers that seemed obviously foreordained to me, is getting difficult, sorry. Anyway, a good point was made later about the character’s choice being the most true that could have been made, but it was still a bit sour for me.

  11. Kylee–Hmmm. I can sort of see what you mean about honor and self-preservation, but all the same, Harriet’s dilemma seems far more basic to me than that: absorption of the complete self, rather than some actions that aren’t consistent with one’s principles.

    But all the same I like the Sayers for the same reason I like F&N, the reason I quoted that bit: I hate the idea that love is a free pass or a good reason for, or necessarily results in, abandonment of the self.

    (I’m planning to pass on the Kushiel books, as I suspect that they would go down the wrong way.)

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