The Wide, Wide World (was: One more question)

Dorian E. Gray israfel at
Fri Jul 27 20:02:04 EDT 2001

Georgia said...

> Dorian said:
> >I'm currently reading an online copy of a perfectly frightful
> >Victorian novel entitled ?The Wide, Wide World? (it's *so* soggy; there's
> >least one, if not two or three bouts of tears in every chapter!  And the
> >rampant, in-your-face Christianity gets on my nerves...).  I would never
> >that in a million years, but it's sort of interesting, which is why I'm
> >reading it online.

(You know, I *knew* as I was typing that *someone* on this list was going to
turn out to be familiar with TWWW, and was going to pop up and say positive
things about it!)

> I agree TWW is fairly lachyrmose - my copy has a wonderful frontispiece of
wch the title is "Ellen was wrought up to the last pitch of grief" - , but I
think it's fascinating as an account of one way to live as a woman in the
19th century. It seems to me an alternative Jane Eyre

Oh, I know I described it as frightful, but I don't really object to it (I
wouldn't still be reading it, if I did!).  As you say, it's an interesting
picture of the society of the time.  (Though I must admit to preferring Jane
Eyre's method of coping; she has more backbone than Ellen, I think.)
> I also think it's not at all badly written - there's a lot of quite vivid

You're quite right there, as well.  In fact, I think that may be part of
what bugs me about it; it's well written and the characters (the main ones,
anyway) are realistic, so I get annoyed at them for behaving in what I think
is a silly way.  I know my standards of behaviour aren't the standards of
the characters, but I just get like that with book characters - I yell at
Jane Eyre occasionally, too, and most of Jane Austen's characters.  Not to
mention (trying frantically to get back on-topic!) wanting to grab Polly by
the scruff of the neck, every time I read F&H, and drag her back from that
fateful piece of scrying/spying.  If a character is real to me, I want them
not to behave stupidly.

> (Better than the Elsie books at any rate - and they have been edited and
reissued recently for modern children.)

Ooh, must look out for those; I've been wanting to take a look at them for

> Another good thing about these books is they're so cheap to buy - that's
why I'm surprised people read them second-hand. My copy cost a pound.

I don't think I'd even pay a pound for TWWW, but I have bought some Austen
and others in those Penguin Classics (or equivalent) editions.  Though I do
sometimes buy such books second-hand, if I find them when I'm trawling my
favourite second-hand bookshop - I just add them to the pile!

Until the sky falls on our heads...

Dorian E. Gray
israfel at

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

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