Sunday, September 5, 2010

Mary Stewart-- Observations and "Tin Soldier"

I often notice interesting phrases or outdated phrases in novels, and then I want to hunt them down. This blog will be boring you with some of them from time to time. I have a feeling some of you might be interested in such things too; after all, interest in what came before is one reason for reading older novels.

I'm reading Nine Coaches Waiting, and I have run across some lovely language and some puzzling phrases. This sentences contains one from the heroine, Linda Martin, as she reflects on her loneliness (from the Fawcett Edition of the novel):

"but there are also times when a desperate self-sufficiency doesn't quite suffice, and then the search for the anodyne begins . . . the radio, the dog, the shampoo, the stockings-to-wash, the tin soldier. . . "(74).

The puzzling phrase is that one. I did some research, and I think Urban Dictionary might have pegged it in its entry for "tin soldier." I have left out the obscene parts of the definition:

1. A girl who is inactive during sex.

2. A girl who is hard to get into bed.

That might make sense in light of the context of the heroine's loneliness as an orphan and a woman. I also found a similar reference in a commentary about a Hans Christian Andersen tale called "The Steadfast Tin Soldier." The argument is that the tin soldier stands as a metaphor for sexual repression. Any other ideas, readers? 

It makes sense to me, and it's a fascinating tidbit and glimpse into the mind of the heroine in this novel.


Anonymous said...

I love the Urban Dictionary def, and I'm always hoping that hidden depths abound in written works, so my heart wants to believe in the sexual repression theory. As much as I want to be a believer, I'm leaning more toward the mundane and literal tin soldier. Everything else she lists are inconsequential everyday things. I think this was meant to be a list of banal and unconnected items. I just suck the fun out of everything, don't I?

lisalgreer said...

Hi, Anonymous. Thanks for your comment. They all seem like time fillers to me, and the tin soldier like a last commentary on them, but your theory is compelling.:) I am always finding intrigue and nuance where there might not be any. By the way, would you like to be entered into the Sept. book contest? I don't have your name. LOL. If not, that's great, too. Thanks for the insightful comment!

Clark said...

Oh my goodness.....This tin soldier meaning from Urban Dictionary is giving new meaning to some songs I remember back in the 70's. I never understood what the song was saying but now it makes sense! And we sometimes get upset what our kids hear in their music today! Just think about some of those 70's songs. And then if that wasn't bad enough...80's. "I want to kiss you all over" Exile...just a quick example...Donna Summers sounding like a love recording.....okay...moving on...sorry about the thoughts.

Fiddlette said...

huh...that is interesting! I love Nine Coaches Waiting...but yes, frequently in Mary Stewart novels, and novels from that time period, I'm at a loss with references like certainly would be interesting to know if you are right...and I tend to believe you are, lol!

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