Episode 11: Favorite Literary Couples

Transcript

Daniela: Hellooo lit nerds, welcome back to the Modcast. You’re probably wondering why I–Daniela, in case you didn’t recognize the voice–am your host this evening or morning whenever you’re listening. Well, it’s because today, we are short one member! Carrie–or as we call her, the glue that holds this podcast together–will not be joining us tonight. So if we sound a little out of order and/or chaotic it’s because we are. But no matter–no matter–the show will go on, because we have the rest of the mod cast crew: Diany, Lane, Forest, Leigh Ann, and Lexys here, and you’ll be hearing from each one of these lovely ladies later on. 

So today’s episode will be in the spirit of love, as Valentine’s day is among us. Now, while I know you can’t see me, I have the biggest smile on my face right now because I personally have always loved and looked forward to this holiday and unfortunately, due to this pandemic, sharing the love is a little difficult right now. We can’t exactly show physical affection to all of our loved ones, but hey, by staying safe, we’ll get through this together. So, [short pause] in order to hopefully make your Valentine’s Day full of love and romance and general good feels, we are here to discuss our personal favorite couples throughout literature.

So since I have the honor of being your host, I am going to start us off with my picks.

Um–I want to laugh–because I think my couple needs no introduction. I think many of you–if you’ve listened to our other episodes–might be rolling your eyes and dreading the words I am about to say but…My couple is Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester. [Emphasized,] My beloved Mr. Rochester. And I mean, can you blame me? They are the original “forbidden romance” trope. I mean, at least in my head they are. Don’t come for me if another forbidden romance predates theirs. 

I love the way they are instantly attracted to one another, yet neither of them does anything other than strive to be in each other’s proximity. [Pause.] I loved the flirtation, and Rochester making a point to let her know she was the most important woman in the room, even when he was in the presence of women of a higher social status than Jane–who at all times considered herself small and just his employee. Which I mean…is sad…because in modern times the equivalent to a man dating his daughter’s tutor or nanny–which AKA Jude Law–which we see as no biggie, but at the time….it was a biggie. And I just can’t help–I can’t help–how much I love the secret relationship. Like, I look for it in all my reads. Now while enemies to lovers -is- technically my favorite romance trope, forbidden romance is probably a really close second. Like, it’s neck and neck.

I love the idea that Brontë, a woman in the Victorian Era, thought of this whirlwind romance that she probably had no clue would still be idolized in present day 2021. Like, the fact that we have so [emphasized] many wonderful couples and I still feel butterflies when I read Mr. Rochester tell Jane, “Every atom of your flesh is as dear to me as my own.” Like, yeah, sure. Dude was just desperate to woo Jane after she found out at their literal wedding that he had a whole wife in the attic, but hey, those were some pretty smooth words. And for that reason, I am just convinced that women do romance so much better than men. 

Like, I can’t remember the last time I read a novel written by a man that made me feel exactly that same way. Like I, um, just last year finished reading Call Me By Your Name, and while yes, was it a beautiful romance?–was it so sensuous?–and you know, like, did I root for them? Yes. But at the–at the end of the day it was more of like, an erotic love than a romantic love. Like, I saw myself more in Mr. Rochester and Jane in the sense that I genuinely was wanting them to be together at the end and I genuinely wanted them to you know just be happy together. And I wanted to see them thrive. And I wanted to see them give a big F.U. to the people that didn’t want to see them succeed.

And now, since I think you all knew I would choose Jane Eyre, I did want to give y’all some honorable mentions of couples that really did it for me.

First, I want to shout out Bella and Edward from the Twilight series. Even though I wasn’t a fan of Midnight Sun, um, I still had to include them. They are my favorite couple that I love to hate. But they are also the couple that made 13 year old me realize I wished I had a supernatural boyfriend in high school that could read everyone’s mind. I mean, the power that alone holds, god, the evil I would inflict with that! Like, maybe that’s the reason no vampires are lining up at my door. So now, thanks to them, I can’t help but be a sucker for a good paranormal romance.

Next, Achilles and Patroclus [Patrick-lus] – [long pause.] Please forgive me for butchering his name, I don’t do it intentionally. I– [Laughs.] –have spent so much time on Youtube trying to say his name. And um, I fail every single time. It’s just like, not an actual word for me. But I uh,  uh, really hope I wasn’t that bad. 

But well they are characters in The Odyssey, and I am pretty sure The Iliad–Also don’t come for me. I have literally never read those books and I probably never will. But uh, if you’re looking for our resident Ancient Greek expert, you can consult Leigh Ann, who has not only read but translated The Odyssey into ASL. Um, but what I am referencing is this couple from Madeline Miller’s Song of Achilles, so which, if you know–You know, it is loosely based on The Odyssey. But, since I want you to–I really would prefer that people read this book themselves instead of me kinda spoiler alerting this. 

I want to leave you with this quote which Patroclus says about Achilles: “I could recognize him by touch alone, by smell; I would know him blind, by the way his breaths came and his feet struck the earth. I would know him in death, at the end of the world.” Like, oh my god–I almost cursed, but–Damn. Have you ever heard something so romantic? Like, god damn it. I am obsessed [drags out word] with this line. 

Okay. So now, anyways, I feel like I’ve rambled. So now I am going to pass the torch over and see what Lane’s favorite literary couple is. 

Lane: Okay, I’m going next. Uh, so I’m Lane, and my favorite literary couple for tonight is Laurie and Amy from Little Women. I know a lot of people like Laurie and Jo. I don’t think–

Uh, okay. Hold on. Okay. Okay, never mind. I can keep going, okay. I thought they were trying to stop me. 

Um, so I think that Laurie and Jo are too playful. I really don’t like them together. They fight way too much. And the reason that I like Laurie and Amy together is because Amy has always seen Laurie. Now we talked earlier, and Daniela hasn’t seen any of the movies; she hasn’t read the book, none of it. But in the 2019 version by Greta Gerwig, there’s a whole instance where she gets reprimanded by a teacher, and then when she’s walking home she sees Laurie and his school teacher, I think John? I can’t remember his name. 

But anyways, she says, “I’m Amy,” and he says, “I’m Laurie,” and she says, “I know.” So already, she, she sees him and she knows who he is, and she has the two drawings of him: the

one that he never even knew about and that she’s kept for years. And another thing, you know, like I was talking about with Laurie and Jo, they’re too playful. They’re too much like kids, but Amy holds Laurie accountable. 

When they’re at the party, she tells him, uh, she tells him, “I despise you.” And although those could be, you know, really hurtful words, what she’s trying to say is, you know, I know that you’re better than just wasting your time and your money doing nothing. You need to be actually doing something with your life. 

And another thing: I mean, he literally saved her one time, so of course that’s going to affect how

each of them correspond with each other and interact with each other. But he’s also been the one to comfort her, like when Beth gets scarlet fever. He’s the one that goes to see her every day and take her to the theater and out for walks and rides and all of that. And then when Beth dies, he’s the one that goes to fetch her and bring her back and he comforts her when she doesn’t have her family there with her. And when she’s writing her will, um, Amy’s pretty vain, which a lot of people think is her downfall. I think it makes her more human. 

But anyways. When she’s writing her will, one last thing she tells them to put in is that when she dies, she wants her hair cut off and given to her friends and family. And he realizes that that is such a hard thing for her to do, more so than it would have been for Jo. Like, in the 2019 version, when she cuts off her hair and they already had pet names for each other? I mean, come on. Even before they got married, they already had pet names. They were calling each other all sorts of stuff, so it was, it was pretty much fated. 

Um. So really, I, I think they’re perfect for each other. I’m grateful that they ended up with each other, and that it’s represented in such a, I don’t know how to describe it, in such a loving way. Like in the 2019 version.

Well, anyways. Um there’s a lot of messages in the chat, so I’m going to end here and give it to Diany. 

Diany: Yes, thank you, Lane. Um, I’m Diany, and my favorite literary couple is Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. Continuing with the classic novels. Um, I just, I love period dramas. I love Pride and Prejudice. And, you know, it was a book that I read more than once, and I’ve watched the BBC series, and watched the movies multiple times. And, um, yeah. 

Because I love period dramas, I’m currently reading the Bridgeton series, because I’ve watched the Netflix show. So I’m currently reading that. 

Um, but going back to Pride and Prejudice, um, I don’t know. I just love the couple, because I love how we as the reader go through this romance. And as the story progresses, we go through this romance, uh, as Elizabeth Bennet does. Um, you know, because when we’re in–When I first read it when I was in high school, I first met Darcy as I was reading the book, and I’m like, “Oh, he’s so pretentious!” 

And then as the story goes along, and, you know, the thing with Jane, um, um, with Jane Bennet, you know. It’s like, “Oh my goodness, I hate him! I hate him.” So it’s like, I’m feeling the same feelings that, uh, Lizzy’s feeling. And then, you know, we get to know more, more of him as a character, and then, you know, “Oh, okay. He’s not that bad,” you know. Like the whole Mr. Wickham thing. And then, you know–I don’t want to spoil it for everybody, but it’s like, “Oh my goodness, I’m sorry, I’ve, you know, misjudged you,” you know, just like Lizzy did! 

But, you know, we fall in love with the character just like Lizzy does, so I, I–I really love that. And, you know, one of my favorite quotes is from the end, you know, he proposes a second time and, you know, um. He’s like, you know, “I know you said no to me the first time,” uh, and–Let me find the exact quote because I had it here. Um. “My affections and wishes are unchanged, but one word from you will silence me on the subject forever.” 

It was like, “Oh my goodness! I–It–I love that quote. And from the movie, I love when he says, “You have bewitched me, body and soul,” which is not in the book, but I–I loved it. I loved that quote from the movie. 

Um. And one fun fact that I wanted to share, as the last thing, is that the book–that Jane Austen wanted to–

Well, the book, the title that Jane Austen wanted to put in, first was going to be called–before it was Pride and Prejudice, it was going to be First Impressions. And she’s really right, you know. First impressions are not always, you know, correct. And that, that’s how they are as a couple. 

It’s how I can relate because it was how I was with my husband when I first met him. I’m like, “He’s so rude!” Uh, like, he’s like–I didn’t like him at first, and now I think I’m married to the sweetest man in the world. So yeah, it’s completely true! I think, I think I’m–I lived a Lizzy Bennet romance myself, you know. But I–I just–I love it. I love the book and all about it. And this, this couple is my ultimate favorite. 

So um, now I’m going to give it to, um, yeah. I don’t know what order we are right now. Um, Forest started–I think we’re going to Forest next, so she can tell us her favorite couple. Sorry.

Forest:  You know, we’re just going with it today because, uh, you know. Without Carrie, obviously, we’re just a hot mess. Um, we have no–We have no guiding factor, no guiding person with us, so it’s just, you know. It’s, it’s what it is. 

Um. But I agree with Diany: Elizabeth Bennet and Darcy are honestly to die for. Fitzgerald and Elizabeth together always as one. 

Um. My favorite couple is the beginning from A Discovery of Witches, and I know you can’t see me, but I’m holding up my copy. Um. I love Matthew and Diana together as a couple because honestly, at first, it was all about, “I got to get the book from her, the book of life, so I know my species!” And then it turns into this desire to constantly be around her. And he thought it was, you know, the bloodlust, at first, but he was able to control himself through all of his blood rages and be like, “You’re my one true love. I’m gonna marry you.” And then eventually–No, I can’t say this because it’s going to be a really bad spoiler for everybody. But they’re so great. 

I’m getting overwhelmed because I’m also watching the tv show at the same time, and unfortunately, in the U.S. they’re only doing episodes every Saturday. And yes, I already tried to get a skylink tv account, which I cannot because you have to live in Britain for that and I don’t have a British zip code. Nor do I have a British skylink account with my physical address being there. So quite unfortunate. [In a British accent.] But, you know, with my British accent and everything it’s a struggle. A struggle. I die every Saturday. Every time I watch an episode. Because I just want to watch the whole thing from start to finish. But I cannot do that, either, because season three isn’t going to probably come out for another gosh-darn two years. It’s a travesty. A travesty! 

[Back in an American accent.] And now I’m wondering if Leigh Ann can still read my lips as I talk in a British accent…Kinda. Okay. 

But yes, after that lowly, unfortunate, unfortunate fact that I am suffering because of tv scheduling, I’m gonna go ahead and pass it to Leigh Ann. 

Leigh Ann: Okay! Now we’re back with our favorite Modcaster here, right? Am I right? Yes? Please? Yes, everybody’s nodding and giving me thumbs up. Yes, I was right. Of course I am. 

Okay. So my favorite literary couple. I really had to think about it because I do not go for like, any kind of romance at all. I usually avoid romance whenever possible. Even though like, non-romance genres will usually have couples in them, um, I just don’t get with them, you know? All of my OTPs–my one true pairings–I have like, this unrequited love. Because obviously they’re all going to be girls because I’m lesbian, and you know authors just aren’t having it whenever I ship anybody, but no. 

So I went with, um. I really reached back for this. This was written down–This story was written down around the same time Homer’s Odyssey was being written down, so this is, um. It’s Irish, so it’s, [stutters through Irish title] the Táin Bó Cúailnge, or in English it’s The Cattle Raid of

Cooley. And my translation is by Thomas Kinsella, and it’s a really old copy. Not many people

are translating this story. 

But I really like this, especially this one because it had a pronunciation guide, it’s got maps in it to help you really understand what’s going on here. And, the focal point of this book is, um, these people are–Basically they’ve gone to war for a cow. 

There’s this special, amazing cow. It’s a really big cow. It’s a great cow. They want it, so they go to war for this cow. 

But the thing that sets this off is the couple. In the very beginning, it’s Queen Medb and her husband King Ailill. So, they’re having a pillow talk at the very beginning, and they talk. Ailill just brings it up, like a man would, you know, and he says, um, “I was just thinking, Medb, how well-off you are now that you’ve married me.” And she was like, “I’ve always been kind of well-off, but why do you bring it up? Ailill’s like, “Oh, you know, nothing. I was just counting

everything in my head, how much wealth I have and all that.” And she’s like, “Well, I’m pretty wealthy, too. My father was the High King of Ireland, so I came here with all this stuff. I was the one who helped you out. You are a well-kept man!”

He gets upset by that, as a man does. So they call in all the servants. They start counting up everything they have. So they’re counting up all their, you know, all their pots and pans because back then, iron and copper were really wealthy things to have. And they start counting up their jewelry, their clothing. Then they gotta go outside and count their sheep and their horses. And then–Every single thing, they have the exact same amount. They are equal in wealth. 

And then they get to the cows. Now, they did have an equal amount of cows. Like, the cattle [stammers] were exactly the same size; they had the same number of ratios of female to male cows. But the problem was that one of the male cows, one of the bulls from Ailill’s herd, mated with one of the–not, not a mare, like a horse, but one of the cows from Medb’s herd, and they produced a bull. That bull–In the story, it literally says: that bull did not want to be owned by a woman, so it went over to Ailill’s herd. So he has one more than she does. 

She gets upset. She’s like, “I’m not going down like this!” So she sends a servant over to the next province to ask somebody to sell her a cow. She gets this close to getting a cow that’s gonna beat him and get–make her more wealthy than him, so she’ll win this argument. But then the deal falls through, and she says, “No. If they’re not going to give me the deal–”

A female cow is called a cow. Thank you! I needed that. I keep thinking of it as a mare. Um. 

But the deal falls through, she says: “We’re gonna take it by force.” So she declares war on the next province to get this cow. But the thing that makes this my favorite literary couple is Ailill says nothing. He calls all of his brothers and gets their army to join their army and he marches

off to war with her, no questions asked. Like, he knows that if they get this cow, if they get this bull, she’s gonna beat him in the argument. But he just goes with it. 

And like, throughout the whole book, throughout the whole story, he just goes with whatever she does. I love it so much. They’re truly equal. She’s a strong woman. And it’s like, obviously, he’s the man so he’s kind of he’s the quote unquote leader, the general of the army, but she’s the one calling all the shots. 

And there’s another general that they bring in so that he’ll bring three thousand men to fight for her, and he threatens to leave and take his three thousand men. She says, “No, because I can give you something.” So she sleeps with him. Ailill finds out, and his reaction is to say: “That’s so smart! Why didn’t I think of that?!” 

And it’s just the best. It’s the best. That–It’s the best couple. Like, if I ever have to be with a dude, which I don’t want to be with a dude, it would have to be a dude like Ailill. He would have to do whatever I say, even if we’re arguing. He would just let me win. He would help me win. He would go to war with me to win a cow to be better than him, because I am better than him. 

So that’s, that’s my favorite literary couple. And throughout the whole book the interplay between them is really amazing. You know, I think they do love each other, even though it’s like an arranged marriage sort of thing. But if they don’t love each other, they’re at least great friends. She had eight kids with him, and they went to war together. 

And he watches–he tries to watch her back when she needs to pee. Like they’re in the middle of battle, she has to pee, so she’s like, “Watch my back.” And he said, “What do you want me to do, stand here?” And she’s like, “Yeah, just stand there.” And so he’s standing there. And then a guy comes from the opposite direction–He’s looking that way–comes up from behind and takes her captive. She’s like, “Damn it, Ailill!” 

It’s, it’s just a wonderful little story. I definitely recommend The Cattle Raid of Cooley, just for a fun read, anyway. But if you like the kind of couple interaction where the man is just kind of going with it and she’s a badass, then I’ll definitely look into that. 

So that’s going to be mine! And I’m now going to pass it over to Lexys. 

Lexys: Okay. So my favorite literary couple, it’s from a book called White Tiger by Kylie Chan. It’s, um, not as popular in the States. She’s an Australian writer. So White Tiger is the first in a series of nine books, and they’re kind of broken into trilogies. 

I’ve made it up to book seven, but like, back in 2012, 2013, because they’re so highly addictive for me. I can’t ever finish them because I get swept up with school, so I’ve read the first book, like, three times in an attempt to go through the series. So the last time I read it was maybe like, a month ago. 

But it’s a, it’s basically a book series about, um, the Chinese gods and stuff. So the, the male in the couple, his name is, uh, Xuan Wu, and he’s the god of martial arts, and also like the god of water or something. And um, without revealing a ton of plot, because it’s a long series, um, he has a daughter whose mother died. She’s like, four, when we’re first introduced to her. 

And uh, his–Her mother died in a demon attack, and so she, he–He’s obviously like, a very wealthy man, doing all this government stuff, whatever. So he brings in Emma, who’s the main person, and she kind of becomes like–First, first: she’s an English teacher for Simone because Simone is half-Chinese, half-white. And in Hong Kong it’s very common for the wealthier children to know multiple languages. And so she starts teaching her English. 

And then soon after that, she becomes the nanny. Soon after that, her and Xuan Wu kind of start falling in love with each other, and but–But the part is, they can’t touch each other because of his godlike nature. If he touches her too much, he’ll actually suck her life force out and kill her. So they have this relationship where they’re slowly falling in love, and the only time they can physically touch at all is if he’s touching his daughter. So it’s like this really, very emotional relationship between them. 

They’re able to touch each other later on in the series, but the first book is always my favorite because it’s so pure. Because she ends up kind of viewing Simone as her own daughter while at the same time always recognizing that she’s not even fully a step kid. Like, she’s in this weird mother role, nanny. And then as the book goes on and he, uh, falls in love with her, she–

Part of the plot is that he’s pretty much gonna die in like, two years, so he’s leaving everything to her. So not only is she going to be taking care of the kid, she now has to run all of his estates. But

they get past all of it in their relationship, and it’s just–It’s really, really intense. 

But it’s really funny at the same time. Like, it’s not a fully serious novel. But it’s a really sad understory. And it’s just really life-relatable. And it’s, it’s just really, really great. But that’s my favorite literary couple. So yeah. 

Daniela: All right. Well, I think that’s all of us. I think everybody went, right? I’m not skipping anybody? Okay. All right So–to make sure because, as you guys have noticed, this, um, episode has been a little different. It’s been a little bit of a hot mess. But, um. I mean, hey! Look at us. We made it to the end. 

So um, I think that does it for us! And this will hopefully be the last time I am your makeshift host because, um, we desperately miss Carrie. And, um, I’m sorry for that introduction, but we hope you’re having a happy morning, evening, or night where–wherever it is that you’re from. 

Um, stay tuned for our next episode and our blog post! Because as 2020–I feel like 2021 has been a good year for us, and I personally think we have some great content coming up. Um, and I hope you have a happy Valentine’s Day! I almost forgot that one, thank you, Lane. Um, we hope you’re feeling the love. I hope this episode, um, inspired you to pick up your favorite books and just, you know, feel something. 

So um. So long, farewell, and happy reading, lit nerds! 


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