Archive for April 6th, 2012


Ubinam gentium sumus? Quonam eamus abhinc?


One little detail I forgot to mention while reviewing The English Novel, perhaps the only thing I could have said but didn’t (I really need to work on that logorrhoea), is that upon posting that review, I was officially all caught up.

I don’t know why I feel I have to review something, just because I read it. It’s a particularly noxious form of OCD, which I have tried and failed to overcome. The only possible solution I can come up with is to be rather more selective in my reading.

By way of which, I think I’ll be giving the non-fiction a rest for a while – it slows me down far too much; although that said, I’m certainly not sorry to have tackled either The History Of The Pre-Romantic Novel In England or The Mary Carleton Narratives.

On the other hand,  I will – finally – be getting back on track with my Chronobibliography, from which The English Rogue so painfully derailed me last year. To facilitate this, I’ll be doing a background post to remind us all where we were up to when we were so rudely interrupted, and highlighting the salient points of the historical period we’re about to enter. We’re going to be back in the realm of the roman à clef, and it’s important that we have a good grasp on what was really going on.

As part of being all caught up, I also allowed myself a game of Random Roulette – although not without some trepidation, after the horrors of Bartholomew Sapskull. This time the Reading Gods decided to treat me gently, and I landed upon:

  • Lady Patty: A Sketch by Margaret Wolfe Hungerford (1892)

Hungerford was a prolific and popular novelist, who in America published under the sobriquet “the Duchess”. She was twice married and had eight children, but managed to juggle her domestic obligations with a lengthy and successful writing career. Hungerford’s novels are best known for their witty dialogue, and have a reputation for being light and entertaining without rocking the moral boat. Lady Patty is that seeming contradiction, a one-volume Victorian novel; a reminder that towards the end of the 19th century, the power of the circulating libraries was on the wane. Hopefully I can imitate Hungerford’s restraint, and refrain from writing a review longer than the novel itself.

Another long-neglected project is Authors In Depth. This time around we’ll be back with E.D.E.N. Southworth, and her second novel, The Deserted Wife.

(Hmm… So in her first novel, a young wife is betrayed by her husband and her best friend, and her second is called “The Deserted Wife“? Call me crazy, but I think I’m sensing a theme here…)

And finally—although goodness knows I need another reading thread like a hole in the head—lately I’ve been introducing some friends to the delights of the Gothic novel. (The usual thing: Northanger Abbey –> The Castle Of Otranto –> ????) This in turn has led me to re-read Devendra P. Varma’s The Gothic Flame and Montague Summers’ The Gothic Quest (which, nota bene, I WILL NOT be reviewing here), and to ponder the fact that it’s been a good twenty years since I really indulged my taste for Gothics…