Dear Readers,

I now consider this blog to be my Juvenelia. Have fun perusing the archives, and find me at my new haunt, here.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Cranford--The Book.

I read the very brief, and very amusing, Cranford on a series of bus and subway rides throughout Manhattan. This was very incongruous, of course, because the book details a "lost way of life" in a tiny English country town, which is populated primarily by spinsters and widows. (!!)

The book has little in the way of plot per se, being rather episodic in nature, and it's only really appealing to those of us who adore Victorian culture; but within that context it's a definite must-read. Gaskell is a good clear writer with a really strong sense of justice and right and wrong. She's a proto-feminist in many senses, although she adheres to gender stereotypes, she idealizes the place as a sort of utopia of feminine values, among which she includes a good deal of kindness and community. She also uses a wry irony throughout the novella that is almost Austen-like.

In a lot of ways, it reminded me of a "girl's book" for middle aged women. It had the serial nature of classics like Little Women, A Little Princess or the Anne of Green Gables series, and was full of "scrapes" and mishaps and comings and goings, but also had an underarching group of mysteries and Gaskell, like the authors of the above, hits you with an emotional wallop every once in a while in between the hilarious episodes.

Definitely a fun read (and now I've read three Gaskell novels. Holy crap. My overindulgence in Victorian literature continues to trollop[e] any modernist/po-mo progress I make). Now on to watch the BBC adaptation online!

1 comment:

  1. bennett12:27 AM

    Did you read Gaskell's "Ruth"?

    If yes, what did you think?