19th Century Literature

Ven ven at vvcrane.fsnet.co.uk
Sun Jul 29 20:06:27 EDT 2001

Jacob wrote

>Interesting.  I'm wondering if any Victorian authors are popular any
> more.  I mean, Jane Austin (is she Victorian?  I'm afraid I lose track of
> the cut offs for these things.  I think she's regency?).  I recently read
> a summary of a biography of Robert Louis Stevenson (not really Victorian,
> he was last half of the 19th Century). 

That's Victorian.

 It seems that about a billion
> biographies of this guy exist with new ones coming out periodically for no
> apparent reason.  And to be fair, he had a fascinating life full of action
> and adventure and including a sudden death at the young age of 44 at the
> height of his career.  But this modern pseudo-popularity seems to be tied
> more to his weird life than to his literature.  

His later years in Hawaii are not that well known over here.

He wrote some of the more
> enduring works--things you'd recognize like "Treasure Island" and "The
> Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde".  He wrote engaging,
> psychological thrillers and has, despite that, disappeared from our
> literature.  If he can fade to obscurity what chance does any lesser
> writer have?

Most of the people I know who are readers have read at least some 
19th century lit off their own bats. Irrc a while ago someone asked 
whether anyone had actually read Robinson Crusoe and I never got 
around to saying that a crossection of my  reader friends all had. I 
suspect it varies according to which country you are in. For 
example RLS is probably most read still in Scotland  -- where 
people are familiar with the Scots dialect -- and the same probably 
goes for Geo Macdonald's kaleyard novels. I can read novels in 
Scots if I'm sufficiently motivated, I have read Catriona and 
Kidnapped.  Another factor in national variation in reading matter is 
familiarity with the setting -- that's certainly part of the appeal of 
Dickens (music centre in head provides rousing chorus of "Maybe 
It's because I'm a Londoner) and the Brontes, among others.

19C novelists I read include Dickens, Wilkie Collins, Geo 
Macdonald, the Brontes: people I know read George Eliot, Jane 
Austen and Mrs Gaskell.

Finally has anyone else read MacDonald's Sir Gibbie? I've got an 
old copy of the full text. It's a fascinating book. 


magic, if present, can do almost anything

Diana Wynne Jones

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