19th-century literature

Dorian E. Gray israfel at eircom.net
Fri Jul 27 19:53:22 EDT 2001

Helen talked about 19th century books, many of which I know...
> Considering that I regularly have knock-down drag-out fights with people
> whether Jo should have married Laurie, or whether Amy was a jerk, it seems
> me that _Little Women_ is still one of the most-read classics around.

One of my long-time favourites, since I first read it aged 9 or so.  (Yes,
Jo should have married Laurie; no, Amy isn't a jerk.  Much.)

> Anthony
> Trollope fans are quite common (Trollope's books aren't all that widely
> assigned, by the way, being mostly too long -- people read him for love,

Have not read any Trollope, though my parents own a complete set (in lovely
leather bindings, inherited from my great-aunt).  On my list of "to read,
one of these days".

> I've
> never had any trouble locating people who read and loved _Jane Eyre_ as
> children (well, young teens, anyway, and not for school).

I read "Jane Eyre" aged 16, if I recall correctly (and not for school!), and
it has remained a favourite.  Though I admit that I read "Wuthering Heights"
about the same time, didn't like it much, and have never re-read it.

> _Anne of Green
> Gables_ is 19th-century, though late.

And is another favourite of mine, along with the same author's "Emily"

> Lewis Carroll.

>From a young age!

> At least some of Edward
> Lear is still popular, though few children get the full Nonsense Books
> anymore.

We had it.  I foresee fights on the dread day that both my parents are dead
(perish the thought!) and my brother and I both want that book!

> Sherlock Holmes fans, good gosh, they're a phenomenon!

Another early favourite; I think my father read us our first Holmes story
when I was 9 or 10.

> George
> MacDonald's children's books -- less read by children, perhaps, but very
> widely read by fantasy fans.

A late discovery by me, but I acquired one or two recently, and enjoyed.

> _Huckleberry Finn_.

And "Tom Sawyer".  More of my childhood. :-)

> G.K. Chesterton.

Another on my to-read list.

> Emily Dickinson.

I discovered Dickinson in my early teens; how, I'm no longer sure.  Possibly
one of her works was in my school poetry book, inspiring me to seek out
more.  A favourite since then, anyway.

> Christina Rossetti. (Yes, the last two are assigned, but you also see them
> quoted everywhere and obviously loved.)

As witness me; Rossetti was not in my school poetry book - I don't know
where I came across her work now, but I can quote a few of her poems from
memory, and love them.  I once saw an illustrated (possibly by Arthur
Rackham) edition of the Goblin poem (can't now recall the title!), which I
would *love* to possess; the illustrations fit the wonderful words so very

> _What Katy Did_ is still extremely popular in England

Another of my childhood favourites.  Unfortunately, I was sick all over the
copy my mother had had since her own childhood (must have been about 7 at
the time).  I now own the three common books of the series ("What Katy Did",
"What Katy Did At School" and "What Katy Did Next") and have e-texts
downloaded from the web of "Clover" and "In the High Valley".

> I've just been reading Q.D. Leavis's _Fiction and the Reading Public_
> which basically says that Serious Reading Is Doomed, and is quite a fun
> for reasons unintended by the author. For instance, he says "The only
> of the past who could do anything like this [increase sales of a book by a
> favorable review as much as Arnold Bennett did] was Andrew Lang in the

Whew!  You just put, in passing, two things I never knew!  I always thought
Q. D. Leavis was female (though why, I have no idea!), and I hadn't realised
that Andrew Lang belonged to the 19th century; I read all his coloured fairy
books as a child, and thought they belonged in much the same category as
Enid Blyton and Elinor M. Brent-Dyer - i.e. "not of now, but not more than
about 50 years old".

> ... and deplorable as his taste and influence were, they did not interfere
> with serious standards. He was a single case, and faded into obscurity
> he could do any real harm."

Hm.  Not that obscure, if I was reading his fairy books in the 70s. :-)

Until the sky falls on our heads...

Dorian. (who also collects old school stories: step up, Talbot Baines Reed,
whose "Fifth Form at St. Dominic's" was first published in 1890-something!)
Dorian E. Gray
israfel at eircom.net

"I feel that if a character cannot communicate, the very least he can do is
to shut up!"
--Tom Lehrer

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