While reading The Tales of John Oliver Hobbes and in particular Some Emotions and a Moral I was astounded by Hobbes’ wit. Her writing is both humorous and layered with meaning. For this reason, Hobbes’ book was ideal to annotate; it was entertaining to read and full of references to decode.
While reading the selections that I was assigned to annotate I appreciated her witty self-conscious comments in particular. Her prose features multiple moments of subtle self-reflexivity, which are impossible to ignore and important to parse. For example, in Some Emotions and a Moral, Lady Theodosia says to Cynthia:
“‘…these literary and artistic people are very dangerous. You never find two alike, and the only certain thing about them is that ultimately they will do something to make everybody uncomfortable” (Hobbes 48).
I cannot help but think that this passage refers back to Hobbes’ own role as writer. By reflecting on “artistic people” she points to herself as well—the artistically inclined author of our text. The last part of this passage resonated with me primarily: “ultimately they will do something to make everybody uncomfortable.” Although Hobbes’ text may not be necessarily provocative it does shine light on topics such as femininity, artistic genius, and class. In a way, by reflecting on these kinds of subjects she achieves a jarring affect (I was not expecting her to comment on these topics so openly!). Her biting wit makes multiple subjects transparent and therefore contributes to the text’s at times parodic tone.
With comments like these I am constantly wondering: Is there a greater project at hand or statement to be made here about art?
Overall, I truly appreciated Hobbes’ wit and self-reflexivity. It undoubtedly resonates with a modern audience, exposes the reader to Hobbes’ role as author and, ultimately, calls attention to the substance of her humour.