23 March 2010

What I'm reading...

I've been spending a lot of time working on my Victorian author project.  Newly unearthed:
  • a new work of short fiction in an Anglican parish publication and credited to Evelyn Whitaker.  I've long suspected that she first published in religious press.  I also have hints of a couple of other similar publications to chase.
  • a listing of her name in a church history: Christ Church, Saint Pancras, London
  • which strongly suggests an association with Cristina and Maria Rossetti which accounts for the presence of painters in a number of Whitaker's writings and perhaps for the Pre-
    Raphaelite illustration on the cover of the 1886 Walter Smith edition of Tip Cat bookbinding exhibit of library University North Texas
  • the repository of records for Roberts Brothers (Boston) who were the authorized publishers of Evelyn Whitaker's works in the USA.  Catalog information notes re. endorsed royalty checks indicate a variant spelling "Whittaker" which may facilitate biographical research.  A trip to Boston is in my future.
  • so I'll have a lot of updating of my website:   http://evelynwhitakerlibrary.org/index.html

I've done a major review of the medical literature re. myasthenia gravis for a private client.

I'm reading a lot of Britsh Women Authors preparing for the BWWA conference at TAMU in April:

  • Mary Augusta Ward 1851-1920 a prolific and best selling writer of novels with religious themes and Victorian ideals.  She was one of the founders of the Women's National Anti-Suffrage League.  For more information:  Wikipedia Mary Augusta Arnold (Mrs. Humphry Ward)
Ward, Mary Augusta (Mrs. Humphry):  Robert Elsmere1888.  Kindle. Project Gutenberg. The best known of Ward's novels is this story of a young Anglican minister married to an orthodox wife with a "spiritual" sensibility.  His reason/intellect leads to doubt and he resigns his pulpit.  He struggles (they struggle) as he seeks a new path to faith and ministry through a historical Christ.  This book is an excellent presentation of the religious and philosophical discussions which grew out of the higher criticism (the biblical textual criticism) of the late 19th Century.  Ward, through Elsmere, attempts to answer both traditional faith and "positivism"  e.g. the philosphy of August Comte.  Fiction is my favorite way to read philosophy and theology and this book was interesting, engaging, informative, and a wonderful love story.  "Where and when and how you will, but somewhen and somehow, God created the heavens and the earth!"  "The decisive events in the world take place in the intellect.  It is the mission of books that they help one remember it."  "It is the education of God! Do not imagine it will put you farther from Him!  He is in criticism, in science, in doubt, so long as the doubt is a pure and honest doubt...  He is in all life, in all thought."  "All things change,--creeds and philosophies and outward systems,--but God remains." 

Ward, Mary Augusta (Mrs. Humphry):  The Mating of Lydia1913.  Kindle.  Project Gutenberg.  Is friendship without romantic love possible between men and women?  A look at the New Woman who turns out to be the old Victorian ideal of woman as "redeemer" of man.  Like Robert Elsmere this book has a strong villan, an older man attempting to destroy the faith/self of a younger/better man.

  •  Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell, 1810-1865, biographer of Charolotte Bronte and author of the delightful Cranford which was popularized in the 2007 BBC production, has been one of my  favorite authors for some time now.  Her religious views are Unitarian in the best sense as one who seeks common ground and unity among people of good will.    Victorian Web: Elizabeth Gaskell  Wikipedia Elizabeth Gaskell beautiful portraits of her
Gaskell, Elizabeth:  North and South.  1854.  Kindle.  Project Gutenberg.  First published in serial form in Household Words 1854-1855 and in volume form in 1855.  The story concerns a dissenting Anglican minister and his family (wife and daughter) who move from their parish in the South to the cotton textile manufacturing city in the North and interact with both the owner of a mill and the men and women who work in the mills.  Well-crafted characters and social interaction, especially between classes, are Gaskell's strong points.   A compelling read. Highly recommended.

  • Marie Corelli, 1855 -1924,  the People's Choice of her time, the best-selling author in both Britian and  America, although not greatly admired or appreciated by academic readers.  Her writing style is over-the-top, laden with  sensationalism and emotionalism. She presents an odd mix of religion/Christianity with theories of parallel universes, astral projection, and reincarnation.  I find Corelli's scientific knowledge shallow and pretentious.   Any writer who was so widely read and wildly popular must be considered interesting, but I did not much enjoy nor do I recommend Corelli.         VictorianWeb Marie Corelli   mariecorelli.org/
Corelli, Marie:  The Mighty Atom. 1896.  Kindle.  Project Gutenberg.  A quick read with an interesting view of childhood, faith, education.  Depressing in the same way that Joyce Carol Oates, Emily Bronte, Sylvia Plath are often depressing to me.

Corelli, Marie:  A Romance of Two Worlds. 1886  Kindle. Project Gutenberg. The author's first novel deals with art and music and parallel universes.  She attributes much (too much) to ELECTRICITY, particularly to "human electricity"   This book reminds me of John Fowles The Magus and Emily Bronte Wuthering Heights and magical realism, best represented by Isabel Allende and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

I download books free of charge, directly to my Kindle (.mobi format for Kindle 1) from http://manybooks.net/  which offers thousands of books preformatted in many formats for computer, smartphone, electronic books, ipod etc. etc.

Non-fiction:

Foster, Thomas C.: How to Read Novels Like a Professor. A jaunty exploration of the world's favorite litereary form. New York: Harper, 2008. I'm still nibbling this book.  In addition to being helpful to students preparing to attend or taking college literature classes, I think it would be helpful to writers.

2 comments:

Analee said...

I am always in awe of your reading lists; so diverse and extensive!

Good to see you both at church, and we are hoping to make SWC more of a habit.

Praying for you and David.

BrandyMcD said...

Hey, we're going to a conference at TAMU next month too. Hopefully a pretty drive this time of year...

Love reading your reading lists. It inspires me to turn off the computer a pick up a book!