19th Century Literature

shelly at the-seasiders.co.uk shelly at the-seasiders.co.uk
Wed Aug 1 10:58:55 EDT 2001

(Sorry, replying to several posts at once, as I had a day off work yesterday to go to Bath, so I'm a bit behind.)

Mary Ann wrote:
>What an awful name Queenie is.
In one of Elizabeth Goudge?s Heart of the Family books, the children have a chameoleon (sorry, can?t spell that) called Queenie.

>There?s a mostly-horrible character named Queenie in Rebecca West?s >_The Fountain Overflows_
I?ve just read this - someone (quite possibly Queenie L herself) ha given me the idea that RW was no good, so I was pleasantly surprised to find how interesting it was (though I wanted to get out the red pencil and cut at least a third of it). I get the impression that at the time Queenie was a working-class name, wch may be one reason why QD used her initials (another, of course, being concerns about how her work wd be received if she were known to be female).

Hallie wrote:
>a Burnett book called _The Lost Prince_
I thought this book was wonderful - obviously it?s melodramatic, but she does melodrama so well! The scenes of the gutter children?s gang are compelling in the way FHB makes us feel both horror and empathy, and the scenes in which the reader becomes an onlooker at high society seem authentically glamorous. But I may not be very objective - I probably read it at the right age (I think I was about ten) and it?s one of those books which has stayed with me. I still remember the suspense I felt when the hero?s locked in a cellar and can hear people going past on the London street outside the window.

>the taxi-driver today in Edinburgh ... knew all about _A Doll?s House_
Last time I took a taxi, the taxi-driver was an enthusiast for Henry James.

>so at university level there are no bored engineers studying >Middlemarch.
I don?t know if any of you have read John Sutherland?s explorations of literary puzzles - Can Jane Eyre be happy? etc. I have mixed feelings about these books, but one of them has a really interesting introduction in wch he talks about teaching English at MIT, & the different ways in wch techie people respond to lit - pointing out what?s not possible & that sort of thing.

As for how many people read 19thc lit, my 2d (to keep in theme) wd be that most people (in English society, anyway - can?t speak for USA, Continent or even the rest of the UK) just don?t read - I mean, read in wch most of us probably use the word; to put it most objectively, spending a significant amount of our leisure time reading. So to ask what proportion of the tiny percentage of the society who are actually readers also read 19thc lit may be a sort of non-question. I can?t think of anyone I know who reads who hasn?t read at least a few of the 19thc big names.


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