19th Century Literature

Hallie O'Donovan hallieod at indigo.ie
Thu Aug 2 18:38:51 EDT 2001

Georgia wrote:

>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.

If the right age is about ten, I might be a bit past it!  But I'm 
looking forward to it, now that there have been so many replies.  And 
Dorian, thanks, but I did get a copy.  There were two pbs in this 
small second-hand bookshop, which I still find a bit odd, as I've 
never seen the book before, and I pretty much buy any of the Kaye 
Webb  Puffins I come across.  This copy is "shortened" - a fact I'd 
never have noticed had you not mentioned it.  It's written in 
*really* small letters with the copyright.

>  >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.

You don't happen to remember which one it was, do you?  I just got 3 
of these for a birthday present, and had one already.  Couldn't find 
this introduction, though there was something about his teaching "The 
Yellow Wallpaper" to Cal Tech(-bound?) students and how differently 
they read it.

>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.

Well, I was with you before on the 19th C novel reading, but I've 
stated my position about "people aren't reading any more", as Philip 
put it, so I can't very well back down now.   I have already admitted 
this is highly subjective - not based on this list alone, obviously, 
but still subjective.  I may just spend entirely too much time 
reading the list, the Alexlit newsgroup, the rabc and rasfw 
newsgroups, Amazon reviews, in bookshops, new, used and combined, at 
church fete book stalls, etc. etc.  But I'm certainly not alone, in 
any of these places!  :)


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