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Melissa Mead
Posted on Monday, January 24, 2005 - 02:48 pm:   

I can't remember which thread had this discussion, so I started this one-Dora, this link has some of her lesser-known stories:

http://www.classicreader.com/author.php/aut.14/
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Theodora Goss
Posted on Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - 07:58 pm:   

Thanks, Melissa! I couldn't help getting caught up in the first chapter of The White People (which was so obviously about the supernatural that I just had to take a quick look). Those Victorians really knew how to plot. I'll have to finish another day, but I'm really looking forward to it.

Danielle mentioned Middlemarch. Anyone else reading Victorian lit.?
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Tamar
Posted on Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - 04:29 am:   

'The White People' is a wonderful read. Highly Romantic and atmospheric, with that sort of innocent intensity writers of that era often had. Compelling, too - I bowled through it in a couple of hours.
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Melissa Mead
Posted on Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - 03:01 pm:   

You're welcome! I'd never even heard of "The White People" until I stumbled onto that site.
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des
Posted on Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - 10:34 pm:   

I've known 'The White People' by FHB for some years and has haunted me ever since. I was originally intrigued by it having the same title as a story by Arthur Machen.
des
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Amy Sisson
Posted on Tuesday, February 01, 2005 - 02:36 pm:   

I read an odd FHB book a few years ago for a history of children's lit class (it wasn't an assigned book; I chose it for an assignment): "Two Little Pilgrims' Progress", about two American orphans who go to the Chicago World's Fair in the 1890s and compare the journey to that in "Pilgrim's Progress". It was a bit saccahrine (sp? sorry! head cold!) but also charming in its way. I was lucky enough to find a cheap facsimile edition so got the illustrations too.
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Theodora Goss
Posted on Saturday, February 05, 2005 - 08:50 am:   

Read the following in a biography of Laura Stevenson, a children's book writer:

"Still partly an historian, Laura is currently completing a book about six late-Victorian writers for children: Beatrix Potter, Frances Hodgson Burnett, E. Nesbit, James Barrie, Kenneth Grahame, and Rudyard Kipling."

Definitely something I'd like to read, since it includes some of my favorite authors!

Here's a link to her bio: http://www.lauracstevenson.net/index.htm
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Lavonne
Posted on Sunday, February 06, 2005 - 01:06 pm:   

It's about time somebody wrote a book about late-Victorian children's writers! There's a short author bio in my tattered copy of Wind in the Willows (Oxford World's Classics) that makes Kenneth Grahame's life sound like one long disaster: mother died of scarlet fever, father an alcoholic, they ran out of money so instead of going to Oxford he had to become a gentleman clerk, then he got married *while recovering from emphysema*, etc...it's almost better than the book itself, and TWITW is one of my favorites.

Re: Victorian lit and plots, I read Thomas Hardy's _The Woodlanders_ last week and I'm still trying to figure out how he puts together such satisfying plots. It has something to do with how everyone's fate has grown out of who they are and what they've done--and with the character-driven-ness (is that a word?) of Victorian stories in general. Even Alice in Wonderland is character-driven.
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Melissa Mead
Posted on Sunday, February 06, 2005 - 03:18 pm:   

That sounds like a fascinating book. I don't suppose the author is any relation to Robert Louis Stevenson?
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Theodora Goss
Posted on Thursday, February 17, 2005 - 03:12 pm:   

Not that I know of . . .

There is something wonderful about Thomas Hardy's plots, isn't there? In workshops, one is always told that an ending should be unexpected but inevitable. Well, Hardy is the master of inevitable. It really feels as though Tess or the Mayor of Casterbridge (whose name at the moment escapes me) couldn't have had any other fates. And strangely enough he manages to write novels that feel absolutely realistic even though some of the action, in someone else's hands, might be absurdly melodramatic. But then, people do, really, act absurdly melodramatic at times. I know I do . . .
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Lavonne L
Posted on Thursday, February 24, 2005 - 03:52 pm:   

What would life be without a little melodrama, especially the absurd kind? I'm partial to walking in the rain (which is not as bad as it sounds, since I live in a warm place) and pondering my fate.

Hardy: yes on the inevitability, and YES on the realistic melodrama. Maybe it's because he takes his consequences so seriously--the choices his characters make, and the things that happen to them, stick to them and shape their lives into a story. No American-style driving away from your past into a different state for his (and maybe for Victorian?) characters. Unless you wanted to go out to India and into a completely different book...

It's often said, but I wonder if consequence-driven plot will become--or is already--outmoded. I hope not. But if Tess had had a car and the ability to drive, say, to Edinburgh, things might have been different. Romeo and Juliet might have ended better if they had both had cell phones (can you get good coverage in a crypt?). A movie I saw recently, I forget which one, had a tiny but crucial scene towards the beginning where it was established that one of the characters had left his cell phone at home. Otherwise the whole film couldn't have happened. And with Freud and Co., fewer and fewer people are repressing things, which perhaps leads to fewer misunderstandings. And less melodrama: instead of brow-clutching and standing outside your lover's window until you freeze to death, there's behavioral modification therapy. Is it the end of plot?? Is this why so many people are reading nonfiction?

Sheesh. How's that for melodrama?

I'm about to embark on some E. Nesbit, for the first time. Can anyone share recommendations?
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Theodora Goss
Posted on Monday, March 07, 2005 - 10:26 pm:   

Lavonne:

That's really interesting. I've been trying to wrap my mind around the implications of what you wrote, and I guess it presents one question: do we actually have less misunderstanding nowadays, because this is an age of communication? Have our technology and our self-help movements actually helped us to communicate more clearly and efficiently? If Romeo and Juliet were alive today, would they discuss their relationship endlessly, like teenagers on a WB drama? Would they, as you say, text message each other?

And can we escape the consequences of our actions, by getting in a car and driving? (I can see the America's Most Wanted special on Tess of the D'Urbervilles . . .)

One thought that comes to mind is that the consequence-driven plot may have seemed outdated in the 19th century. Trollope doesn't do much with consequences, at least in the Barchester books (but I haven't read that much Trollope). But then you have George Eliot, who is consequence-heavy: your actions will always find you out. Middlemarch is all about consequences.

It's late and I'm rambling, but I did want to say that I found your thoughts interesting!
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Theodora Goss
Posted on Monday, March 07, 2005 - 10:35 pm:   

E. Nesbit recommendations:

The Enchanted Castle
Five Children and It
The Pheonix and the Carpet
The Story of the Amulet

When I was young and reading E. Nesbit, I scorned any book without magic in it. But there were three E. Nesbit books without magic that I liked very much:

The Story of the Treasure Seekers
The Woodbegoods
New Treasure Seekers

I think I had a crush on Oswald Bastable. (Just a crush, not a deep and abiding passion, as a friend of mine had for Sherlock Holmes, and I had for some Baron on an Italian television show.)

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