And the rest

I’m pleased with the way this year has gone so far – so far – in that I’ve stuck to my resolution of regular postings, and got several of my subsections moving again: Chronobibliography, the Gothic novel, and Authors In Depth; as well as keeping my struggle through the pre-history of the silver-fork novel ticking along.

And after an absurdly long delay, I have at least read the book that represents the point at which Reading Roulette got stuck: Pique by Sarah Stickney Ellis.

Of course all this progress has had its usual consequence, in that I’m letting myself get carried away: I’m currently eyeing my list of “side-project” books, those which have come up in discussion and noted as worthy of consideration for one reason or another; namely—

Gains And Losses: Novels Of Faith And Doubt In Victorian England by Robert Lee Wolff: the third of the important studies of the 19th century religious novel, along with Joseph Ellis Baker’s The Novel And The Oxford Movement and Margaret Maison’s Search Your Soul, Eustace. I have actually read this with intention to blog; but it turned out to be another instance of pondering how to attack a book so long, I forgot what I wanted to say in the first place. The problem is that this lengthy work goes off on tangents from the main issue, so it’s a case of picking the eyes out of it. That said, it does do one insanely clever thing in its handling of the proliferating 19th century religious factions, which on its own makes it worthy of review.

The Man Of Feeling by Henry Mackenzie: this one came up apropos of Julia de Roubigné, which we agreed was a deconstruction of the sentimental novel, rather than a sentimental novel itself—raising the question of whether Mackenzie’s earlier work, too, had been so intended. There are certainly some novels (for example, John Robinson’s Sydney St. Aubyn) where it is difficult to tell whether or not we’re supposed to take the narrative at face value; but as I confessed at the time, I’ve never had any sense that The Man Of Feeling wasn’t written with a straight face, and the thought that Mackenzie had intended it as a criticism of the overwrought sentimentalism that infected English novels during the second half of the 18th century was intriguing.

Le Loup Blanc by Paul Féval: we touched upon this one in the lead-up to Féval’s Les Mystères de Londres, at which time I remarked of it, “The hero…is a Zorro-esque figure who fights against injustice—and may be the earliest example of the crime-fighter with a double life and a secret identity. (He’s also an albino, because if there’s one thing Paul Féval believed in, it was piling it on.)” ‘Nuff said.

Theresa Marchmont; or, The Maid Of Honour by Catherine Gore: this is also about the pre-history of the silver-fork novel, though in a different way. Gore was that genre’s leading exponent, and a clever and entertaining writer; but she got her start writing “proper” novels, and this was her first.

I think all four of those are worth tackling…sigh…though beforehand, I’d really like to get through both Pique and Mary Leman Grimstone’s Louisa Egerton; or, Castle Herbert—the latter with a view to re-starting that subsection conspicuous by its ongoing absence, Australian fiction.

Having finished reading Pique, I allowed myself a spin of the wheel for Reading Roulette—and ended up making a decision that, astonishingly enough, should make things a little easier around here rather than (as usual) exponentially harder.

The book I landed on was Octavus Roy Cohen’s Midnight, from 1922. A little research determined that this is one of Cohen’s mysteries, featuring series detective, David Carroll.

I have, in the past, simply carried on upon hitting a book like that; but I’ve decided I’m not going to any more. Since that time my mystery and series reading has multiplied exponentially into a major project (albeit one dealt with elsewhere); and on that basis, I’m going to eliminate such works from Reading Roulette. I will still read Midnight (at least, I won’t: I’ll be reading The Crimson Alibi, the first in the David Carroll series), but it won’t be written up here.

A second spin of the wheel then landed me on Sinclair Lewis’s Our Mr Wrenn: The Romantic Adventures Of A Gentle Man, from 1914; and that’s what I’ll be blogging.


8 Comments to “And the rest”

  1. Hello! Nice to hear from you. Do you know? I’m reading “Pique” too (it had been attributed to Ellis, but it is by Frances E.M. Notley). IMHO it seems Jane Austen meeting the sensation novel; but I’m only at the secret marriage in southern France, so I don’t know how it will evolve. I love the pastor’s family. I’d like to comment it here as soon as I’ve finished it 🙂
    About silver-fork, what do you mean with its ‘pre-history’? The reading of all the silver-fork is one of my targets too; I see its origin one decade about before Hazlitt’s article created the definition, in Jane Austen and in the still moralizing Edgeworth’s Fashionable Tales and its end…well, probably in Downton Abbey 😀 Can you please give me some suggestion to restrict the range?
    Bye bye. Luca.

    • Hi, Luca! I haven’t gotten properly into the background of it yet; they’re still arguing about the attribution, aren’t they? I’ll chase that up when I start writing about it.

      I mean that no genre appears out of nowhere. 🙂 In the case of the silver-fork novel, I discussed earlier the influence upon it of Disraeli and Bulwer-Lytton, and how they in turn were influenced by Goethe. But none of them were writing silver-fork novels as such; that is what I mean. With Catherine Gore, once the genre got going it turned out she was really good at it—and she ended up with a lot of popular and critical success—but she was already trying to earn a living as a writer before she turned to those sorts of novels.

      So if you’re just looking for silver-fork novels as such, anything by Gore written from about 1830 onwards would probably work. Her 1841 double-bill of Cecil; or, Adventures Of A Coxcomb and Cecil, A Peer are often considered her best. (She mixed up these books with historical fiction, but you should be able to tell from the title, or subtitle.)

      ETA: And I have just discovered that she wrote an earlier novel than Theresa Marchmont, sigh…

  2. Any chance of a more specific link to elsewhere? I’m interested in a place to talk about mysteries that isn’t Facebook (which I don’t).

    • There may or may not be groups you can join there, according to what you’re interested in. I tend to stick to the ‘individual thread’ area which is why linking is tricky: the URL changes every few weeks. But anyway, I’m currently here.

  3. Wow, if I was planning to do that much, it would be because I retired from my day job.

  4. Thank you Lyzard! 🙂 I’ve read some Gore’s books (Cecil among them) and she’s one of my favorite. By the bye: in her “Mothers and daughters there’s a Duke of Omnium, appearing just in a couple of lines as an English tourist in Florence; could it have influenced the much more famous Trollope’s Duke of Omnium?

    • Oh, that’s funny! Of course in context the Duke gets his title from the faux-Latin tag, omnium gatherum, but I wonder now if Trollope may have been unconsciously influenced by Gore? We do know he was a great novel-reader… 🙂

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