|Shoe Shopping, Soul Searching: "The great decisions of human life have as a rule far more |
to do with the instincts and other mysterious unconscious factors than with conscious will and
well-meaning reasonableness. The shoe that fits one person pinches another; there is no recipe
for living that suits all cases. Each of us carries his own life-form—an indeterminable form
which cannot be superseded by any other," Carl Jung, Modern Man In Search Of a Soul (1933)
Photo Credit: John Stillwell; PA
Source: The Guardian
An article, by Moira Redmond, in The Guardian looks at how footwear is displayed in literature; it's not a highly intellectual topic, or it might not at first seem so, but it is nevertheless interesting to see the way footwear plays a minor but consistent role in many novels that we have come to enjoy.
JK Rowling's list of what she wants to include when she guest-edits Woman's Hour includes "the myth and power of shoes": what a fantastic subject. Once you start looking, shoes shine out at you all over the place, from Cinderella's glass slipper to Dorothy's red shoes in the Wizard of Oz. (Though strangely they don't feature in Harry Potter much, apart from Hagrid, whose "feet in their leather boots were like baby dolphins".)This article got me thinking about shoes and boots. This, in turn, lead me down the rabbit hole of memory to the 1960s pop song by Nancy Sinatra, "These Boots Are Made For Walking," a song that I recently visited and enjoyed. It might be the same way with shoes, long considered the domain of women; yet, men can also enjoy a favourite pair of footwear, or two or three.
While men have shoes, too – think of Raskalnikov in Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment scrubbing the bloodstains from his boots and worrying about his socks – it is women who wear the really important shoes in books, and you can track women's lives via the key items of footwear.
Let's start with some little girls: the Fossil sisters from Noel Streatfeild's Ballet Shoes (and it's noticeable that many of her other books have been retitled and re-packaged to form a "Shoes" series). They have ballet shoes, white kid slippers, and tap and character shoes in patent leather with ankle straps.
This sounds twee, but it's not: the girls need to work and earn money, and these shoes are kit – even if there is a little sentiment involved in the way Posy cherishes her mother's ballet shoes.
In Judy Blume's teen classic Are You There God? It's Me Margaret, the heroine is nearly 12, and is told that if she wants to be one of the cool girls at her new school she has to wear loafers with no socks. Her mother thinks this is ludicrous, and Margaret gets blisters, but she does end up in a secret club.
Such doubts are easily and quickly dispelled after you take a visit to a sports store, where hundreds of different pairs of running and sports shoes line the walls; the choices of styles and colours can dazzle. There are as many choices as there are individual tastes.
Or if your tastes run more upscale, there are the fine shoe stores who sell Italian-made shoes. One of our former prime ministers was known to prefer Gucci loafers. The right pair of comfortable and well-fitting shoes can make all the difference between a fine day, or a miserable one.
You can read more of the article at [TheGuardian].