Well, boys and girls, here I am again, beginning yet another apology. Nothing new to report – just the same ongoing struggle to get my head above water and keep it there. I’m not going to make any rash promises about getting back to track – I’ve learned the futility of THAT – but I do have some hopes of a shortish post about a piece of poetry; we’ll see.
My next anticipated round of Reading Roulette has ended in frustration and annoyance. After Steepleton, the roll of the random number generator landed me on Under The Lash, a novel from 1885 by Matilda Charlotte Houstoun, an interesting, socially conscious writer, who was particularly active in the area of prison reform. Finding to my excitement that Under The Lash was available as a reproduction released by the British Library, I immediately rushed to secure a copy – discovering too late that only the second volume of this three-volume novel has been made available – something apparent a priori only in the very finest of fine print – the kind you don’t read until after the event.
Why do they do things like that? Why do they BOTHER?
Anyway, thwarted in that direction, I rolled for another book. Imagine my anticipatory joy – particularly in the wake of wrestling with a 300-page-long polemic on church factionalism – when the Reading Gods offered me this:
Right And Wrong, Exhibited In The History Of Rosa And Agnes. Written, For Her Children, By A Mother
Heavily didactic children’s fiction? – fabulous!
On the other hand, I am currently reading the next entry in my series examining the roots of the Gothic novel, William Hutchinson’s The Hermitage. I’m only about a quarter into it, but so far it has some interesting, and relevant, features: it manages to be heavily anti-Catholic despite being set in England before the Reformation (the hero is an “instinctive Protestant”, if you will); it focuses upon the machinations of an evil priest; it features some haunted armour (shades of Otranto); and it breaks periodically into rapturous descriptions of nature, of the kind we usually associate with Ann Radcliffe. The Hermitage is not always included in the timeline of the development of the Gothic novel, but so far it seems it certainly should be.