In the Victorian era, hand-fans were used not only to cool oneself but also as a secret way to communicate the language of love. For example, by running one’s fingers through the fan’s ribs, one is trying to say, "I want to talk to you." The enigmatic language of the fan was widely used by both men and women.
I. A fan placed near the heart.
"You have won my love."
II. A closed fan touching the right eye.
"When may I be allowed to see you?"
III. A closed fan moved threateningly.
"Do not act so impudently!"
IV. A half-opened fan pressed to the lips.
"You may kiss me."
V. Covering the left ear with an open fan.
"Do not betray my secret."
VI. Hiding the eyes behind an open fan.
"I love you."
VII. Shutting a fully open fan slowly.
"I promise to marry you."
VIII. Fanning oneself slowly.
"I am married."
IX. Letting one’s fan rest on the right cheek or the left.
"Yes" and "No", interchangeably.
X. Opening and closing the fan several times.
"You are cruel."
XI. Fan in front of the face.
XII. Twirling the fan in the left hand.
"We are being watched."
XIII. Fan held over left ear.
"I wish to be rid of you."
XIV. Carrying an open fan in the left hand.
"Come and talk to me."
XV. Opening a fan wide.
"Wait for me."
XVI. Placing the fan behind the head with finger.
[Artwork: Secret, by Lee Yun-hi.]
WHAT IF YOU WERE JUST HOLDING A FAN AND NOT TRYING TO SAY ANYTHING BUT YOU ACTUALLY PROMISED SOME GUY YOU’D MARRY HIM
[I WANT THIS AU PLEASE?]
H. G. Wells: More than Just Science Fiction
A few weeks ago, Robert McCrum ruffled some feathers by choosing The History of Mr. Polly for his 100 Best Novels series on The Guardian. McCrum’s bold choice reminds us that in addition to being a major science fiction writer, “[Wells was also a great Edwardian writer of immense fame and influence who deserves to be remembered as a major literary figure, now somewhat eclipsed in the posterity stakes.”
If you already love Wells’s science fiction, or perhaps Dickens and Forster and Wodehouse, it may be time to check out Wells’s social novels. They’re charming, delightful, often hilarious, and reflect important Edwardian political trends (in which Wells was a major player at the time). These novels are every bit as enjoyable as The Time Machine and deserve your time!
Well then, let me show you, because that’s what I do for a living.
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“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
—Thomas A. Edison