Call it “left-brain/right-brain” if you will. While my professional life has been spent mostly in the realms of medicine and science, my leisure time is significantly devoted to literature. My circumstances are now allowing me to pursue “a course of steady reading” through the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, and lacking a discussion outlet, I’ve decided to share my thoughts on what I read through this blog.

I recently regained access to a good academic library; while the growth of electronic literature has opened up a whole world of previously lost or obscure books. When I started this my idea was to unearth some of the 2nd- and 3rd-tier novelists from the 18th and 19th centuries, and see which of them may have unjustly fallen from the public eye – and which did so quite deservedly. However, somehow that evolved into a project looking at the chronological development of the novel, roughly between the years 1670 – 1750.

My reading and blogging, then, has two main threads. On one hand there is my “Chronobibliography” project; on the other, I am choosing novels at random from my completely untenable reading wishlist, with the boundaries set at 1751 and 1930. This thread I call “Reading Roulette”. A new subset of this is “Authors In Depth”, where I plan to look at the complete works of particular novelists, or as much as is extant. While in time I hope that this line of inquiry will bring to light some unjustly neglected novelists, quite likely the spotlight will fall upon novelists whose work is entertaining rather than high quality; even entertainingly bad.

So that’s the story. Please feel free to join in with comments, suggestions and even arguments!

I also write shorter reviews of my non-blog reading over at LibraryThing.

Meanwhile, the other side of my brain hangs out here: And You Call Yourself A Scientist!

— Liz

13 Comments to “About”

  1. Hello!
    My name is Luca Gandolfi and I’m a collector of 18th and 19th british novels, mostly today forgotten works. A couple of days ago I’ve bought “Almack’s” by Marianne Spencer Hudson and I’ve seen in librarything that you have a copy of this novel too. May I have your opinion about it and, if you have them, informations about its authoress’ biography?

    Many many thanks and best regards.

  2. Hi, Luca, thanks for stopping by. A lot of what I have catalogued at LibraryThing is “wishlisted” – books I would like to read but haven’t yet – and Almack’s is one of those. I’m sorry that I can’t help you out with that novel, but I hope that there are other novels of interest to you that we will be able to talk about in future.



  3. Liz,
    I discovered your blog through LibraryThing and I don’t think I have “run upon” another person whose interests mesh so entirely with my own. I, too, am fascinated by lost and obscure books from the 17th, 18th, 19th and early 20th century. (My fellow members of a reading group that I am in refer my treasures as “Jim’s weird books”. Almost weekly, a friend and I go on treasure hunts through antique malls, shops, second-hand stores, etc. in our area and that, along with bookfinder.com has allowed me to collect some interesting books. The “hunt” is never dull because I continually discover authors and works that I never knew existed. Your Reading Roulette sounds very much like the thing I do: Discover the “entertaing or even (but not necessarily) entertainingly bad” novels of the past. Some examples: The novels of Theodore Winthrop (Cecil Dreme, Edwin Brothertoft, John Brent), Marie Corelli (Thelma,, the Sorrows of Satan), Augusta J. Evans (St. Elmo, Infelice, Marcaria), Hugh Walpole (The Dutchess of Wrex, Above the Dark Tumult, The Killer and the Slain), Charles Lever (The Knights of Gwynne, Jack Hinton, Tom Burke), and the many, very strange works of Edward Bulwyer Lytton. As you can see, I am a rank beginner with much to explore. (Here is where you come in!). I am currently looking for anything by the early 20th century writer Stephen Mckenna.
    My screen name on LibraryThing is s4sando and I would like to include you as a Friend and keep up with the books you add to your library. Thanks for creating such a fascinating blog. I’ll be reading you with great anticipation. James Rowland

  4. Hi, James!

    A friend of mine used to say that the scary thing about the internet was the way it demonstrated that absolutely no-one was alone in his perversion. I prefer to paraphrase that and say that the great thing about the internet is that you can always find somebody to talk to, no matter how obscure your interests! 🙂

    I’m very excited to meet someone who understands the pull of the forgotten book. Much as I am profiting from the electronic-ising of old books, I do envy your book trolling expeditions. And hey, don’t sell yourself short: you’ve already taught me about one novelist I’ve never heard of, Theodore Winthrop – thank you! (I see I have a couple of Augusta Evanses and even a Stephen Mckenna on The List.)

    I will certainly catch up with you over at LibraryThing. And if I ever get my end-of-2010 reading wrapped up at my blog, I hope that you and I can spend some time together this year unearthing some treasures.

    Thanks so much for dropping by!

  5. I’ve been enjoying your reviews. I hope you get to Varney the Vampire at some point.

  6. Hi – thank you! Yes, I hope so too – Varney is certainly on The Wishlist.

  7. Hi, just stumbled across your blog somewhat randomly, and immediately got sucked in. Great stuff! Looking forward to reading more! I also keep a blog on books/movies at http://kasiapontificates.blogspot.com/. I read/watch all kinds of stuff, but I’m a lit scholar working largely on 18th and 19th century lit, so some of it might be of particular interest to you (there’s a recent post on Susan Ferrier’s Marriage, for instance – http://kasiapontificates.blogspot.com/2012/08/marriage-by-susan-ferrier.html ). Though I have to admit that my posts aren’t anywhere near as detailed as yours! Your blog definitely inspires me to put more effort into mine.

  8. Hi Liz!
    I see in LibraryThing that you have a lot of novels by Catherine Gore. I will receive my first Gore, “Castles in the air”, as a gift in a few days. Which is your opinion on this authoress? Many thanks and cheers 🙂 Luca

  9. Hi Liz, I’m an editor for ABOPublic, a new public scholarship blog dedicated to the study of women and feminist scholarship in and about the long 18th century. We’re affiliated with the Aphra Behn society and its journal ABO. We’re hoping to attract contributors from both the academic and non-academic world to contribute to our site. We’d love it if you’d consider contributing! You can reach us at ABOPublic@aphrabehn.org.

    Here’s the link to our site (still in the process of being launched): http://www.aphrabehn.org/ABO
    Also: http://www.aphrabehn.org/ and http://scholarcommons.usf.edu/abo/

  10. I just got done reading your post on Aphra Behn’s ‘The Fair Jilt’. GREAT WORK!!! I just finished talking a Master’s class in Restoration Lit, and your work is as good as any I read there. I’m working on a post on the same piece right now, but I fear it will pale in comparison to yours.

    You should really look into getting hosting and setting up your blog with Google Adsense so you can make some money from your traffic.

    I would like to extend to you an invite to do a guest post on my blog sometime if you would like, and you can share a backlink to your own blog.

    Feel free to contact me at jasonjohnhorn@hotmail.com

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!


  11. Hi Liz! I work at a historic site in South New Jersey and have been trying to gather information on a book titled “Death by Clue” by H.C. Beck. Have you run across it before? No worries if you haven’t! I love the work you are doing on this page!!

    • Hi! Sorry, I missed this message. I’m afraid I can’t be much help to you, though I do have several Beck books on my wishlist including Death By Clue. My notes there say it is part of a series featuring the Reverend Charles Cooper Mickle. I don’t seem to have located an accessible copy here, though: my notes also comment that it is “rare and expensive”.

      Anyway, good luck with your search and thanks for visiting. 🙂

  12. Hello. So glad to have found your blog. I am engaged in the same pastime over at my blog “Clutching My Pearls.” I look forward to reading more of your witty and perceptive book reviews.

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