However one of the interesting books I was reading had a dull pg 56, so I'll ignore it and post from two others. Which I'll add to my list of reasons why it's not a bad thing to read multiple books at once. (I often have conversations with myself over whether this is a good or bad thing. My answers vary.)
"Educated women often either cultivated their talents privately and secretly, or risked ridicule by priggish critics who saw women's forays into the masculine world of intellectual discourse as an affront to polite feminine etiquette. The road to enlightened improvement for men was expected to involve university education and continental travel; for women, it involved bible study and child-rearing. Women were educated and raised to be companions, not connoisseurs; they were ideally suited to complement men, not compete with them.
However, social conventions ere not always strong enough to contain certain individuals."
-- Ladies of the Grand Tour: British Women in Pursuit of Enlightenment and Adventure in Eighteenth-Century Europe, by Brian Dolan (2001)
I added the start of the second paragraph so you'd have an idea of where the book was going from that point.
Tip for any of you who might time travel, and be incredibly wealthy (and thus able to travel) and in this particular time period - a completely acceptable reason to go abroad is to be ill yourself, or accompany an ill child or sibling or parent. And then go hang about the Paris salons, or gatherings at Spa (in Belgium, or wherever else you'd go to drink the waters) and chat about books all you wish. Because it was excusable for a woman to travel for reasons of health, not reasons involving education. Oh you don't actually have to be ill (though many were) - you can just say that. This is also apparently a good story if you have to go somewhere to privately (secretly) give birth to an illegitimate child. Or meet up with a lover. But for some reason not that many people were suspicious of the "oh but I'm ill" line as you'd think.
"The king continued to turn the pages, but the book was poisoned, and before long the venom penetrated his system so that the king had strong convulsions and cried out, "The poison has done its work!"
And now the Sage Duban's head replied, "Fortune repays an ungrateful tyrant's oppressive ways with the just punishment he duly deserves!"
--Arabian Knights, adapted from Richard Burton's Unexpurgated translation by Jack Zipes (1991)
I've read bits of this, but never finished this particular book. (The Burton one is multi-volumed, my copy of this translation is just one volume.) And I'm remembering why now - racism, wife killing, etc. In fact I should keep a tally on how many wives are killed off for sleeping with another man. But what does keep me reading are the great surreal and fanciful bits, like a poisonous book and a talking disembodied head. In the hardback copy I had as a child (belonging to my parents as kids) there's a picture of this head too - will have to look that up and share the art later.